Course Descriptions

Sonoran Desert Institute

View descriptions of each of the courses SDI offers.

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS FOR SCHOOL OF FIREARMS TECHNOLOGY

 

CREDIT BASED COURSES AND LABS

(Listed in alphabetical order, sequence for scheduling will vary)

AFY 100: Accuracy and Functionality: 4 Credit Hours

This course provides an understanding of procedures for cleaning, properly storing and accounting for firearms. During the course, the student will examine techniques for the complete and comprehensive cleaning of firearms. Diagnosis of problems of firearm functionality will be explored. Functionality will be addressed for rimfire, centerfire and black powder firearms. Additionally, firearm sights and sighting systems will be reviewed.

BBS 100: Basic Ballistics: 3 Credit Hours

This course will identify techniques for the development of ammunition. Included will be lessons on swaging and casting bullets. As an outcome of the course, students will be able to understand the basics of ballistics and techniques to develop more accurate ammunition.

BBS 200: Advanced Ballistics: 3 Credit Hours

This course builds on the outcomes of the Basic Ballistics course. The course will explain how ammunition accuracy is impacted by gunpowder and various projectiles. This course will address reloading techniques for various types of ammunition and will include article reviews discussing various firearm technology.

BTL 100: Basic Hand Tools Lab: 1 Credit Hour

In this lab, the student will engage in hands-on techniques with some of the gunsmith’s essential hand tools. The student will replicate appropriate tool methods on a variety of firearms with the aid of detailed diagrams and drawings. Techniques will be identified that gunsmiths apply in the use of files, rasps, hacksaws, drills, wrenches and screws. Maintenance techniques of these tools will also be identified.

CFL 100: Cleaning Firearms Lab: 1 Credit Hour

In this lab, the student is supplied with training lab tools. The student will demonstrate cleaning techniques by utilizing the tools from the lab to ensure a firearm will continue to operate properly. The lab provides step-by-step instructions on techniques to disassemble different kinds of guns and examine them for obstructions. The lab includes methods for cleaning and conditioning guns by removing greasy buildup, powder, and moisture.

FTT 130: Customizing and Woodworking: 4 Credit Hours

This course will describe methods to replace and repair gunstocks. Techniques on ways to properly select the wood and to shape the stock will be described. Included in those techniques will be methods to fit the new stock to the action of a firearm. Included in this course is how to custom fit a gun stock to a customer’s specifications and how to install a recoil pad. Students will demonstrate the process of gunstock inletting, and a hands-on lab on this topic is included.

FAT 100: Firearms Technology I: 4 Credit Hours

This course will describe techniques to replace the barrels of firearms. An outcome of the coursework is the formulation of techniques to fit the chamber and adjust the free bore and headspacing. Also, techniques to adjust the trigger pull on rifles, handgun, and shotguns will be described.

FAT 105: Introduction to Firearms: 4 Credit Hours

This course is an introduction to firearms technology and the field of shooting sports management. During the course the student will review firearm fundamentals and multiple types of firearms available. The student will be introduced to the necessary tools for comprehensive firearms repair.

FAT 200: Firearms Technology II: 4 Credit Hours

This course covers the preparation and finishing of metal. Techniques for polishing, bluing, Parkerizing, and browning of metal are explained and practiced. Also included are methodologies for the engraving of metal that will allow customization of firearms.

FTA 210: AR-10 Advanced Armorer: 5 Credit Hours

This course presents a comprehensive overview of AR-10-style firearms. Discussed in the course’s lessons are the history, development, and practical applications of AR-10-style firearms, including their parts, the function of each part, ammunition types and calibers, troubleshooting, maintenance and repair. Also presented are sight options, considerations for building or buying your AR-10-style firearm, customizing the AR-10 with coatings and accessories, and a step-by-step lab for completing an 80% lower receiver, installing a lower parts kit and adding on the upper receiver components.

FTA 211: 1911 Advanced Armorer: 5 Credit Hours

This course presents a comprehensive overview of 1911-style firearms. Discussed in the course’s lessons are the history, development, and practical applications of 1911-style firearms, including their parts, the function of each part, ammunition types and calibers, troubleshooting, maintenance and repair. Also presented are sight options, considerations for building or buying your 1911-style firearm, tuning your 1911 for accuracy and reliability, customizing the 1911 with coatings and accessories, and a step-by-step lab for completing an 80% frame, installing the parts kit and slides components.

FTA 215: AR-15 Advanced Armorer: 5 Credit Hours

This course presents a comprehensive overview of AR-15-style firearms. Discussed in the course’s lessons are the history, development, and practical applications of AR-15-style firearms, including their parts, the function of each part, ammunition types and calibers, troubleshooting, maintenance and repair. Also presented are sight options, considerations for building or buying your AR-15-style firearm, customizing the AR-15 with coatings and accessories, and a step-by-step lab for completing an 80% lower receiver, installing a lower parts kit and adding on the upper receiver components.

FTA 220: Planning a Comprehensive Gunsmithing Shop: 5 Credit Hours

This course includes establishing a structured plan for a gunsmithing shop. Included are considerations for equipment, shop layout, functional plans, and acquisition of purchases.

FTA 225: Developing a Business Plan: 5 Credit Hours

This course includes establishing a formal business plan for a firearms related business. Included are the various stages of researching and outlining a plan, consideration of marketing, financial, and other general business factors and presentation of a formal plan.

FTC 301: Capstone Project: 5 Credit Hours

This course will provide the structure to plan, develop, present and assess a shooting sports project that incorporates outcomes from other courses in the School of Firearms Technology. This course will be completed in consultation with a faculty member. The project will be based on an area of focus determined by the student and approved by the faculty member. Students may opt to use topics from other courses, including those in the optional FTA prefix series, as part of the project course. Note that optional courses may require additional fees.

GSL 200: Gunstock Checkering Lab: 1 Credit Hour

This lab supplies the student with tools, templates, and stock blanks to re-cut worn checkering and to checker new stock. The lab provides for a demonstration of the skills required in gunstock checkering.

MTL 200: The Rotary Tool Lab: 1 Credit Hour

This lab introduces the student to the rotary tool. The tool is a portable, lightweight, hand-held device and is included with the lab materials. The rotary tool may be used to throat gun barrels, carve stocks, drill, engrave, grind welds, and polish and finish metal for the removal of rebluing and rust. Mastering the use of this tool by the student will ensure quality service and intricate craftsmanship.

SFL 100: Stock Fitting and Metal Work Lab: 1 Credit Hour

In this lab, the student will operate the tools needed to fit the stock and trigger to meet a gun user’s requirements for a proper fit. A model of developing and adjusting the proper fit for a gun user is included.

SSM 200: Shooting Sports Management: 5 Credit Hours

This course will provide the foundation to establish a firearms-related business. Included in the course is a review of the practices, rules, and laws that govern the operation of a firearms repair and sales business. In addition, the course is an introduction to bookkeeping and appropriate business record maintenance related to shooting sports. Advertising and marketing will also be described.

TSF 100: Troubleshooting Firearms: 4 Credit Hours

This course will describe methods to determine causality of improper functioning of a firearm and appropriate methodology to troubleshoot. The course will address rimfire and centerfire rifles and handguns, as well as shotguns. Also reviewed are techniquesto convert (sporterize) military firearms to sporting arms.

NON-CREDIT COURSE DESCRIPTIONS (BALLISTICS AND RELOADING CERTIFICATE)

2197 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.

2198 Development of the Modern 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, hollow-point and wad-cutting.

2199 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.

2310 Metallic Cartridge Reloading Fundamentals

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.

2311 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.

2312 Reloading the Straight-Wall Case

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

2313 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.

2314 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.

2316 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.

2317 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.

2318 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.

General Education Coursework

SDI has partnered with a respected education company, Pearson Education, with headquarters in New York, to provide content for General Education courses at no additional cost to the student. Pearson’s Distance Education solution, Propero, is recognized by the American Council on Education (ACE). ACE’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit) has evaluated and recommended college credit for all Propero courses. Therefore, students earning a passing score of 70% or higher are eligible to receive an ACE transcript demonstrating the credits they have earned. Propero is aligned with SDI’s online delivery methodology to support students through asynchronous learning.

Arts and Humanities

AGT 100 American Government: 3 Credit Hours

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of American government and politics, focusing on the historical evolution of government and policies, and the major institutions and processes. Course goals include developing an interest in and understanding of today’s government, policy development, and politics, as well as developing critical thinking and information literacy skills in the areas of government and politics. Topics include the Constitution; federalism; civil rights and liberties; the structure and processes of the three branches of government; political socialization; interest groups and public opinion; political parties and the election process; and basic U.S social, economic, and foreign policy. Students will examine institutional structures and how they interact with each other to explain the processes of government and how the historical development of the United States has affected the contemporary political environment. Instruction includes an analysis of the formal and informal processes by which public policy is made; how individual actors impact the contemporary political environment; and application of informational literacy skills in the study of politics. This class includes the following eText: Shea, D.M., Green, J.C., & Smith, C.E. (2011). Living Democracy, 2010 Update Edition, National Version. 2nd ed. ISBN: 0205798411.

CRT 100 Critical Thinking: 3 Credit Hours

This introductory-level course presents a variety of topics essential to a student’s development in critical thinking. Students are introduced to concepts essential to the comprehension, analysis, and creation of arguments: induction, deduction, informal fallacies, Aristotelian and symbolic logic, modes of persuasion, perspective and bias, and language and meaning, culminating in the development of reasonable strategies for belief formation. Students will learn the processes of logical reasoning and how to interpret and construct well-reasoned arguments. Included is how to evaluate the quality of reasoning behind arguments, interpretations, and/or beliefs; mode(s) of inquiry used to gather and generate information; interpret evidence/findings, especially alternative positions different from one’s own; and formulate significant questions for exploration. Additionally, students will be instructed in how to recognize one’s own biases by viewing an issue through multiple perspectives; assess the reasonableness of arguments, positions, and beliefs; employ focus, organization, discipline, and empathy in approaching complex problems; and evaluate one’s own position or conclusions through reflective thinking. This class includes the following eText: Diestler, S. (2012). Becoming a Critical Thinker: A User-Friendly Manual. 6th ed. ISBN: 9780205063451.

ETH 100 Ethics: 3 Credit Hours

In this course, students will summarize contextual factors associated with the study of morality, compare consequentialist and nonconsequentialist approaches to resolving an ethical problem, explain the moral framework of virtue ethics, appraise alternative moral theories, compare the ethical issues presented by absolutism and relativism, freedom and determinism, reward and punishment, appraise the requirements for establishing a moral system, construct a personal moral system, and apply a moral system to a position on a contemporary moral issue. This introductory level course presents several ethical theories and explores contextual issues. Students are asked to examine ethical theories, moral assumptions and moral principles, apply ethical theories to moral problems, construct a moral system utilizing a theoretical framework, and apply the system to contemporary moral issues. This class includes the following eText: Thiroux & Krasemann, Ethics: Theory and Practice. 11e Edition, ISBN: 9780205053148.

Science and Mathematics

BIO 101 Introduction to Biology: 3 Credit Hours

This course presents the key areas of biology at an introductory post-secondary level. Students are introduced to the core disciplines of cellular biology, biotechnology, genetics, evolution, and ecology. Students will learn basic biology concepts and terminologies; the structure of the living world; and the relationship among DNA, mRNA, amino acids, and proteins. Instruction includes how to distinguish between two types of cellular division; classify components of animal and plant cells; analyze energy flows and membrane transport within the cell; determine the mechanisms of evolution; analyze different patterns of inheritance; distinguish different types of biodiversity; analyze population growth and decline; explain basic industrial biotechnological procedures; and outline components of ecology. This class includes the following eText: Simon, E. J., Reece, J. B., & Dickey, J. L. (2010). Campbell Essential Biology, 4th ed; ISBN: 9780321602060.

BSM 100 Business Mathematics: 3 Credit Hours

This course applies math fundamentals to business applications. Topics include a basic math review, business statistics, profit calculations, payroll, banking, interest calculations, insurance and taxes. Students will learn to solve mathematical problems; apply mathematical concepts to various business transactions and statistics calculations; and analyze business problems using mathematical equations. This class includes the following eText: Cleaves, C., Hobbs, M., & Noble, J. (2012). Business Math. 9th ed. ISBN: 0135108179.

ENS 100 Environmental Science: 3 Credit Hours

This course explores the relationship between man and the environment. Students examine the balance between natural resources and the needs of mankind as well as the scientific, political, economic, and social implications of environmental science. Students will examine the field of Environmental Science in terms of theoretical perspectives, economics, policies, and environmental ethics. Included is an exploration of population growth and demographic transitions; toxic substances and their effects; non-renewable energy sources and their impact on the environment; the biodiversity of earth and conservation biology and its benefits; and the foundations of environmental science. Students will learn how to analyze land use and planning for creating livable cities; evaluate soil as a system and its importance in the environment; describe the function of the earth’s atmosphere, its composition, structure, and changing global climate; and appraise the importance of water and marine ecosystems. The student will also understand how to examine renewable energy and analyze the types of waste generated and disposal methods. This class includes the following eText: Withgott, J. H., & Brennan, S. R. (2009). Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. 3rd ed. ISBN: 0136045316.

Communication Arts

ENG 101 English Composition I: 3 Credit Hours

This course develops written communication skills with an emphasis on understanding the writing process, analyzing text, and practicing writing for personal and professional applications. Students will learn to implement the steps of the writing process; identify essay components; and write effective and grammatically correct paragraphs and essays. Instruction includes how to analyze the role of reading and writing in academic and professional careers; apply strategies to achieve clarity and effective style in writing; differentiate between writing patterns; identify sentence types and parts of speech; discriminate between proper and improper use of punctuation; and to implement correct spelling. The student will also examine and then apply strategies and guidelines for writing an effective research paper. This class includes the following eTexts: Arlov, P. (2010). Wordsmith: A Guide to College Writing; 4th ed. ISBN: 0136050549. Aaron, J. E. (2010). The Little, Brown Compact Handbook. 7th ed. ISBN: 020565163.

ENG 102 English Composition II: 3 Credit Hours

This course builds on lessons learned in English Composition I. In addition to reviewing the writing process, students learn research techniques, citation techniques, documentation formats, and critical analysis. This course will instruct students on the various sources available for research and how to apply specific strategies and methods for finding information. Students will learn to implement the steps of the writing process and appropriate research and citation methods to write essays, literary analyses, and research papers; critique writing samples for style, substance, and appropriate research and citation; and differentiate between writing styles required by the different disciplines and MLA, APA, and Chicago style guides. This class includes the following eTexts: Aaron, J. E. (2010).The Little, Brown Compact Handbook, 7th ed. ISBN: 0205651631. Ballenger, B. (2009). The Curious Researcher: A Guide to Writing Research Papers. 6th ed. ISBN: 0205745261.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

PSCH 101 Introduction to Psychology: 3 Credit Hours

This course introduces human behavior. It includes the study of the theories and concepts of psychology including the scope of psychology, biological foundations and the brain, sensation, perception, motivation, personality, learning/memory, emotion, states of consciousness, personality theories, cognition, lifespan development, and applied psychology. In this course, students will examine the field of psychology in terms of history, key perspectives, issues, and current trends. Instruction will cover scientific and research methods; the anatomical structures and physiological functions related to psychology; sensation, perception, heredity, and genetics; consciousness, sleep, sleep disorders, and hypnosis as related to psychology; the underlying principles and basis of the psychology behind learning, memory, and experience; cognitive abilities and intelligence from a psychological perspective; the different phases and stages in human development; the different motivation theories; and the psychological basis of emotions. Moreover, students will examine sexuality and gender in relation to psychology; psychoanalytic approaches and humanistic theories to explain behaviors and traits in personalities; health psychology and approaches to health management; different mental disorders; psychotherapy, differing methods, and their effectiveness; the importance of thoughts; trends in social behavior; and the impact of social influences. This class includes the following eText: Ciccarelli, S. K. & White, J. N. (2012). Psychology. 3rd ed. ISBN: 0205832571.

SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology: 3 Credit Hours

This course explores sociological processes that underlie everyday life and focuses on globalization, cultural diversity, critical thinking, new technology, and the growing influence of mass media. Students will examine the field of sociology in terms of history, theoretical perspectives, research methods, and ethical issues. Included is an examination of cultures and their roles in social interactions and the factors that affect socialization; deviance and the reasons for such behaviors; and the different social stratifications. Included is an exploration of sexual and racial discrimination; inequalities in gender and age and their impacts on society; the various social groups and organizations within societies and their origin; poverty and its effects on society; factors that influence decision-making and choice; the history of politics; globalization; and the effects of transformation. Additionally, this course will investigate the role of family in socialization, including diversity in U.S. families and study trends in marriages, remarriages, and divorce; issues in education and factors that affect the educational system in the United States; religion in the U.S. and other world religions; urbanization, evolution of various cities, and growth in population in the U.S. and the world; the history and process of social change; and the effects of growth and technology on social interactions and the environment. This class includes the following eText: Henslin, J. M. (2011). Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 9th ed. ISBN: 020576312X.

Elective

BUS 101 Introduction to Business: 3 Credit Hours

This course provides students with an overview of business in an increasingly global society. Topics include the business environment, ethics, management, marketing, production, information systems, financial elements, entrepreneurship, and global business. This course serves as an introduction to business terminology, concepts, environments, systems, strategies, and current issues, and provides a solid business foundation for more detailed and higher-level study in subsequent courses. Students will gain an understanding of the key components of contemporary U.S. and international business in addition to the role of ethics and social responsibility within this sector. Included is an examination of how businesses can be organized and structured; the key strategies, tools, and issues involved in operations; and the key financial concepts involved in enterprise. Students will be instructed in how to analyze the various functions of and approaches to management, marketing processes, forces, and issues in a business enterprise; and to develop a business plan incorporating sound concepts, systems, and strategies. This class includes the following eText: Ebert, R. J. & Griffin, R. W. (2011). Business Essentials. 8th ed. ISBN: 0137053495.

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