Ballistics and Reloading Certificate – Non-Credit 2018 Update

Sonoran Desert Institute

This non-credit course combines SDI curriculum with industry leader Gun Digest's content to deliver a truly unique certificate program.

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Ballistics and Reloading Certificate – Non-Credit

The Ballistics and Reloading Certificate non-credit program provides the student with an understanding of the basics of ballistics and ammunition.

Potential Work Applications for Ballistics and Reloading Certificate Completion

This course is designed for the hobbyist. Students seeking to practice as a gunsmith or in a firearms-related industry may require federal and/or state approvals. A student who desires to work in the industry may need to obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL). This is required if the student intends to repair firearms for compensation. A student employed by a business that has an FFL may not be required to obtain an individual FFL. A student who desires to repair only personal firearms is not required to obtain a firearms license. Because of changes in requirements, the student is advised to regularly review the requirements for the FFL with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The student can find this information on the AFT website (

Sonoran Desert Institute does not guarantee job placement or employment. Disclosures regarding job placement or employment are included on the enrollment agreement and in this catalog.


With the successful completion of this certificate, the student should be able to do the following:

  • Understand the reloading techniques with various types of ammunition
  • Understand the basics of ballistics and techniques to develop more accurate ammunition

Total Program Cost

Tuition is $1250 with no additional fees, for a total program cost of $1250, which includes all course materials, content delivery, and shipping and handling.

Tools and Equipment

Tools and equipment are provided by the Institute and included in the total program cost. These items are shipped to the student with other learning materials and will belong to the student. Students need to have access to a firearm for certain courses and may need additional supplies to complete certain projects. Please visit the following link for a comprehensive list of supplies required for completion of assignments, per current course offerings.

Completion Requirements
To earn a Ballistics and Reloading Certificate, a student must do the following:
  • Complete all coursework required in the certificate program
  • Complete the program with an overall passing grade
  • Complete all program requirements within six months
  • Meet all financial obligations to the Institute
Completion of the Ballistics and Reloading Certificate does not require additional specialized training, practicum, or externships.

Required Lessons – Non-Credit Offering
Category Lessons
Program Related Basic Ballistics
Development of the Modern Cartridge
Advanced Ballistics
Metallic Cartridge Reloading Fundamentals
Reloading the Bottleneck Case
Reloading the Straight-Wall Case
Shotshell Reloading Fundmentals
Reloading the Shotshell
Introduction to Bullet Swaging
Bullet Swaging
Total of 11 Non-Credit Lessons Required

Non-Credit Lessons Descriptions

Chapter 1 – Basic Ballistics

– In this lesson, the science of ballistics is examined. Included in the materials are expectations of bullets of different calibers and their trajectory, wind drift and allowances, breech pressure, recoil and velocity.

Chapter 2 – Development of Mondern Cartridge

– This lesson explains the history and identification of cartridges. Reviewed are the different types of bullets and their uses: lead, jacketed, full-metal, soft-point, hollowpoint and wad-cutting.

Chapter 3 – Advanced Ballistics

– This lesson builds on the outcomes of the Basic Ballistics lesson. The lesson will explain how ammunition accuracy is impacted by gunpowder and various projectiles.

Chapter 4 – Metallic Cartridge Reloading Fundmentals

– This lesson covers both metallic cartridge and shotshell reloading, and provides the student with a basic understanding of the needed concepts and safety protocols for building quality ammunition. Included is advice on press and accessory buys, component necessities, step-by-step instructions, as well as brass cleaning and sorting.

Chapter 5 – Reloading the Bottleneck Case

– This lesson covers die sizing and resizing operations for the bottleneck case. Included are case priming, powder measurement, case seating, crimping, and decapping, as well as other required processes.

Chapter 6 – Reloading the Straight-Wall Case

– The lesson explores the specific differences in the process between reloading straight-wall cases and bottleneck cases. Case priming, powder measurement, case seating, and crimping for the straight-wall case are covered in detail.

Chapter 7 – Shotshell Reloading Fundamentals

– This lesson details the fundamentals of shotshell reloading. The student will learn about each of the components that go into a modern shotshell and how to put them all together, as well as how to identify and understand the different shotshell propellants. Additionally, the different manufacturers of shotshell reloading presses will be discussed.

Chapter 8 – Reloading the Shotshell

– This lesson covers the eight fundamental steps in the reloading process. The student will also learn how to reload buckshot and slugs and how to manage loads in extreme temperatures.

Chapter 9 – Casting

– This lesson is an introduction to bullet casting and serves as a basic primer for making one’s own bullets. The student will learn how to make the ingots used for casting, how to cast the bullets, and then how to size and lube them.

Chapter 10 – Introduction to Bullet Swaging

– In this lesson, students will gain a solid understanding of what swaging is, how it compares to other bullet-making processes, and how to utilize the equipment and materials available to begin swaging custom bullets. This lesson covers the principles of bullet swaging, the terminology used, how swaging differs from casting, and the different presses and types of swage dies that fit them.

Chapter 11 – Bullet Swaging

– This lesson builds on the previous one by providing instruction on how to actually swage a variety of bullets. Students will also learn how to change the nose and base shapes, as well as be introduced to the tools that are needed to swage bullets. Lead, jacketed semi-wadcutters, full jacket, flat base, rebated boattails, shotgun slugs, and airgun pellets are just some of the types of bullets that the student will learn to swage.