Thank you for visiting our site on this most interesting form of visual electronic communication. I feel privileged that you have taken the time to explore via the Internet your interest in PGS and Gunsmithing. Many exciting things have happened in the career field of Gunsmithing since our site was developed in 1996. It has been my hope that someone in the Sporting Goods retail field would recognize the need to service the firearms that they sell.
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For too many years only the factories offered service to the public on their firearms. I would compare this to buying a car from a dealer then having to drive to Detroit to have it serviced. Gander Mountain has pioneered the concept of placing Gunsmiths in each of their stores along with sales associates who are familiar with the firearms they sell. PGS graduates staff many of Gander Mountain stores that are expanding throughout the Northeast and Midwestern United States.
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The Pennsylvania Gunsmith School staff has a rich Gunsmithing history and has spanned the length of 3 generations from its founding to the present day. This demonstrates the staff's commitment to the school's continuity and longevity for now and into the future.

A. W. Thacker, Founder

Mr. A. W. Thacker founded Pennsylvania Gunsmith School in February 1949 to meet the occupational demands of many returning World War II veterans who were in need of training. Under the guidance of Mr. A. W. Thacker and several highly skilled Gunsmith artisans, the school was formed to fill the training void, which was once occupied solely by apprenticeships. Mr. A. W. Thacker retired in 1951



George R. Thacker

Chief, as his students respectfully called him, had been responsible for training hundreds and hundreds of successful Gunsmiths from across the nation and the globe for over six decades. His love for people and love of Gunsmithing has ignited the fires of enthusiasm and knowledge for many successful people who now lead both small and large Gunsmithing shops and firearms manufacturing firms. He had an uncanny ability to diagnose a firearm problem quickly and was told that he is the foremost expert in firearms on the planet. Chief has been awarded a patent on a new and unique Over and Under Shotgun. He has also developed compensators for handguns, rifles and machine guns. He has been an adjunct instructor for the Central Training Academy, Department of Energy, located at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His strong presence is felt by his love and admiration of people and their inherent abilities to accomplish any task and make a difference in the lives of others.


G. Robert Thacker, Director

Bob joined PGS as an assistant instructor in 1975 after attending and completing simultaneous studies at Robert Morris University and Pennsylvania Gunsmith School. Shortly thereafter he was appointed as a fully tenured instructor. His enthusiasm and dedication to Gunsmithing and PGS has quickly catapulted him to Assistant Director, Acting Director, Vice-President and now Director. He is instrumental in quickly bringing new and innovative concepts into the classroom and works closely with the Program Advisory Committee, employers and individual Gunsmiths to ensure that the training program meets the occupational demands. He has been an adjunct instructor for the Central Training Academy, Department of Energy, located at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bob is an avid hunter and shooter.

Bob's vision for the school is that each student is impacted in such a way that they maximize their individual learning potential and become the kind of Gunsmith they aspire to be.


Program Advisory Committee

The PGS Program Advisory Committee meets twice a year and its main purpose is to advise the school on current Gunsmithing practices so that the proprietary curriculum meets or exceeds the demands of employers. In today's competitive market place, it is crucial that PGS graduates are the best trained school graduate Gunsmiths in the nation and this committee is charged to ensure that this vision is maintained. The members are both practicing Gunsmiths and those individuals that are directly responsible for hiring Gunsmiths. Therefore, students can rest assured that the PGS training program will assist them in their career goals.

Pictured left to right: Dean Batchelder, Gunsmithing Technical Support Department, Brownell's, Inc., Montezuma, IA.; Jon Witwer (Guest), Gunsmithing Technical Support Department, Brownell's, Inc., Montezuma, IA.; Don Baughman, Manager of Gunsmiths, Krieghoff International, Inc., Ottsville, PA; Marc D'Aguanno, Director of Research and Development, Brownell's, Inc., Montezuma, IA.; Tony Veronesi, Owner, Veronesi Gunsmithing, Seminole, PA; Roy Christensen, Manager of Gunsmiths, Gander Mountain, Kenosha, WI.

Not pictured: Dave Gregor, senior Gunsmith, Advanced Gunworks, Dallas TX; Lewis Patrick, senior Gunsmith, Black Heart International, Phillipi, WV, John Welburn Ed. D., Adjunct Faculty, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.


Administrative Staff

PGS has an experienced administrative staff that can assist students in admissions procedures,       financial aid, placement and student services. These dedicated individuals work hard to serve the student body and are available during the class day and no appointments are necessary to talk with them.


Mrs. Carrie Wilson, Director of Institutional Quality and Financial Aid, and VA Certifying Official


Mrs. Robin Mahon, Communications Director and Admissions Specialist


Mrs. Maria Bergman,  Director of Placement,  Administrative & Student Services


(Not Pictured)

Ms. Constance Travis, School Store and Administrative Support Specialist


Instructional Staff

The PGS instructional staff is a group of highly talented individuals that have a keen interest in Gunsmithing, firearms, shooting and hunting. Together, they have over 50 years combined Gunsmithing experience. They have a deep desire to teach and nurture students in the craft that they love. A person can be a superb Gunsmith, but a poor teacher. PGS instructors are both superb Gunsmiths and teachers. They understand that people come from different backgrounds, have had different life experiences and are visual learners. They teach by example and demonstration.  Continuing education in both Gunsmithing and teaching is a mandatory requirement to maintain faculty status.

Instructional staff pictured with Director Bob Thacker.


Guest Speakers

PGS frequently has guest speakers that will both lecture and demonstrate firearms and associated tooling. On occasion these lectures and demonstrations are combined with on-site Gunsmith job interviews. Graduates are eager to share their experiences seeking employment or setting up an independent Gunsmithing shop. PGS has a strong association with the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) that provide in depth seminars on Federal Firearms Laws and Regulations.



Do you have Questions about our Gunsmith Training Program?  Here are some of the answers that will help you choose PGS as the school for your future career in Gunsmithing.

Would you like more information about the Master Gunsmithing Program?
Please contact us and we will send you our PGS information packet.

Member of Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges


PA Gunsmith School is located at 812 Ohio River Blvd. in Pittsburgh PA 15202. You can call us at 412-766-1812 or visit our Contact Us Page.
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