Ballistics and Reloading Certificate Pre-2018

Sonoran Desert Institute

Curriculum Update

As of January 8, 2018 this program has changed and will no longer accept enrollment. For current curriculum, please click the link below.

Current SDI Programs


The Ballistics & Reloading Certificate combines SDI’s tried and true curriculum with additional info from our partners at Gun Digest to give you a comprehensive course that covers ballistics, reloading, casting and swaging.  The program includes a top-of-the-line Hornady Lock-N-Load ® AP ™ Reloading Press, along with your curriculum and additional materials. We believe that this is one of the best values for a practical learning reloading program available nationwide.

This non-credit program is designed to fit your schedule and budget, all while providing you with the education you need to make a living doing what you love.

Certificate in Ballistics and Reloading

Ballistics and Reloading Certificate

LESSON Basic Ballistics
LESSON Development of the Modern Cartridge
LESSON Advanced Ballistics
LESSON Metallic Cartridge Reloading Fundamentals
LESSON Reloading the Bottleneck Case
LESSON Reloading the Straight-Wall Case
LESSON Shotshell Reloading Fundamentals
LESSON Reloading the Shotshell
LESSON Casting
LESSON Introduction to Bullet Swaging
LESSON Bullet Swaging

Additional Program Information

Program Objectives

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

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