Course Descriptions

Sonoran Desert Institute

View descriptions of each of the courses SDI offers.

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS – FIREARMS TECHNOLOGY

Listed in alphabetical order. Sequence for scheduling will vary. Includes courses currently offered under prior program versions.

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 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.

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. Students must be 21 years of age to select the FTA 211 course.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 (Formerly CZW 200): 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 gunstock 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.

FTT 210: 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.

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.

FTT 201: Firearms Finishes and Engraving, 4 Credit Hours

This course covers the preparation and finishing of metal. Techniques for polishing, bluing, Parkerizing, and browning of metal are explained. Modern firearm finishes, such as spray-on finishes, hydrographics, ferritic nitrocarburizing, PVD coating, and other methods are discussed. Also included are methodologies for the engraving of metal that will allow customization of firearms.

FTT 111: Firearms Inspection and Troubleshooting, 4 Credit Hours

This course will describe methods to diagnose malfunctions of a firearm and prescribe an appropriate troubleshooting method. The course will address rimfire and centerfire rifles, handguns and shotguns. Also reviewed are methods to diagnose modified and competition firearms as well as learning to diagnose malfunctions through cartridge case analysis. A lab on the topic of fastener repair will be assigned to the student, along with requisite materials to accomplish proper screw removal, repair, and restoration.

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 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.

*FTT 299: Firearms Technology Elective, 4 Credit Hours

See individual descriptions of courses that students select from to fill this elective.

FTT 214: Hand Checkering Lab, 2 Credit Hours

This lab will cover gunstock checkering for wood stocks as well as pistols. Checkering is a series of parallel grooves cut with specific tools and/or wood working cutters. You will be provided with a 75% completed Monte Carlo wood stock and checkering tools to practice this technique. This course will teach you how to set up a jig and how to use templates to cross checker the provided stock.

GSL 200: Gunstock Checkering Lab, 1 Credit Hour

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

FTT 104: Gunsmithing Tools Lab, 3 Credit Hours

In this lab, the student will engage in hands-on techniques with some of the gunsmith’s essential hand tools. The student will replicate detailed firearms disassembly using their assigned tools, with the aid of research and detailed diagrams and drawings. Techniques will be identified that gunsmiths apply in the use of files, rasps, hacksaws, drills, wrenches and screws, among others. Maintenance techniques of these tools will also be identified.

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.

FTT 100: Introduction to Firearms, 3 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 practice researching disassembly procedures and demonstrate a comprehensive project on the topic of cleaning firearms.

FTT 114: Custom Kydex Lab, 2 Credit Hours

This lab investigates the development and design of firearm holsters, including modern thermoforming designs. The student will participate in a detailed project on the topic of designing firearm retention devices, to include both the one-piece and two-piece designs. Lab materials will be provided to the student to customize a holster to a specific designation.

FTT 231: Machining and Manufacturing of Firearms, 3 Credit Hours

This course provides a comprehensive overview of machining and other metal manufacturing concepts. The student will discover the science behind metallurgy and how to shape metal for a desired result. The student will be introduced to milling machines, the metal turning lathe, polishing tools, and other firearms-specific machinery. Included in this course are the processes of welding, soldering, and brazing. Methods for configuring a barrel to a customer’s unique specifications will also be covered in detail. Also included is an overview of heat treatment, normalizing, and how to temper gunmetal.

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.

FTT 240: Shooting Sports Management, 3 Credit Hours

This course provides 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.

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.

FTT 221: Sights, Optics, and Accuracy, 4 Credit Hours

This course provides a thorough understanding of accuracy for the gunsmith. Included in this course are techniques on how to inspect a rifle for accuracy, tools needed to achieve accuracy, installation of sights, and mounting optics. Other topics introduce the gunsmith to modern bolt action trigger kits and how to check the proper fit of a bolt action rifle. A core component of this course is to describe the correct procedure of rifle bedding, including how to pillar bed both modern synthetic stocks and wooden stocks. This course also explains how to properly maintain long range hunting rifles for long-term storage and to mount a telescoping optic.

FTT 211: Stock Refinishing and Metal Work Lab, 1 Credit Hour

In this Lab, the student will practice and develop the stock finishing and metalworking techniques examined in FTT 210 and FTT 201. Students will sand, stain, seal, and finish the wood stock provided, and will polish the brass components and install them onto the stock. Also, students will be provided a browning solution to finish the barrel, and will be provided with a brass lap and compound to finish a rough crown of the barrel. Students will also continue the discussion regarding “classical” and modern gunsmithing techniques, learn more about muzzleloading concepts and finish the assembly of the Traditions Shenandoah Muzzleloader.

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 techniques to convert (sporterize) military firearms to sporting arms.

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS – GENERAL EDUCATION

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. Shea, D.M., Green, J.C., & Smith, C.E. (2011). Living Democracy, 2010 Update Edition, National Version. 2nd ed. ISBN: 0205798411.

SCIENCE OR MATHEMATICS

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. 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. Withgott, J. H., & Brennan, S. R. (2009). Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. 3rd ed. ISBN: 0136045316.

PHYSICAL SCIENCE

SCI 101: Intro to Physical Science, 3 Credit Hours

This course introduces students to the foundational ideas and concepts of physical science to gain a better understanding of the world. Topics covered include measurement, motion, force and motion, atomic and nuclear physics, elements of chemistry, work and energy, temperature and heat, and waves and optics. Direct application of some of these topics to firearms studies will be made to provide students with further context and real-world application.

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. 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: 0205651631.

SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES

PSY 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. Ciccarelli, S. K. & White, J. N. (2012). Psychology. 3rd ed. ISBN: 0205832571.

GENERAL BUSINESS

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. Ebert, R. J. & Griffin, R. W. (2011). Business Essentials. 8th ed. ISBN: 0137053495.

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