Art Of The Gun Comes To Trinidad

TRINIDAD – Sometimes a gun is just a gun, but customization and craftsmanship can elevate it to art status.


Next month the A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art, in cooperation with Trinidad State and its renowned gunsmithing program, will feature Art of the Gun, a gun show highlighting the craftsmanship and history of American guns. The show will run Friday night through Sunday, the weekend of August 12, 2016 at the Mitchell Museum located at 150 E. Main Street in Trinidad.


Guns on display will include three from the museums operated by the NRA. These guns were chosen for their artistic style and exemplary craftsmanship. On the other end of the spectrum is “Gator” a four-barrel shotgun built by Trinidad State Gunsmithing students and used in a 1988 movie called Big Bad John. That movie was filmed in the Trinidad area and featured Jimmy Dean of Jimmy Dean Sausage fame as Sheriff Cletus Morgan. The gun has been modified so it cannot fire, but Dean noted that it had a real kick, saying “…my arm was numb for about ten minutes.”


Gatling gun fullAlso on display will be a replica of a Gatling gun built by Paul Moore of Aguilar. The Gatling gun was first used by Union forces in the Civil War and was the precursor of the machine gun. Moore’s replica features a brass plate, indicating it was built in Trinidad. It fires .22 long rifle shells and includes a carriage mount with wheels. It took Moore several years to solve a jamming problem caused by the different shape of modern cartridges. He built more than a dozen of them over a period of years. Moore no longer builds Gatling guns, but does sell the plans on the internet. 


Another gun that will be featured is a rifle made by P.O. Ackley, the father of the Trinidad State Gunsmithing Program, which began in 1947. The .270 Mauser is part of Trinidad State’s permanent collection and is considered a mid-grade Ackley. Ackley traded it to Trinidad Dentist Dr. Gordon Sanders in exchange for new dentures. It is believed the gun has never been fired.


Trinidad State Gunsmithing graduate Gary Yee is also an author and historian.

Trinidad State Gunsmithing graduate Gary Yee is also an author and historian.

During the show, Trinidad State Gunsmithing graduate Gary Yee, who is also an author and historian, will be building a flint lock rifle alongside the static displays. Yee’s rifle is based on a design from around 1730. Yee will be available to talk about the history of black powder guns and is looking forward to the interaction. “You work on the gun and people come in and interact and talk with you,” said Yee. “You get to educate the public about what you’re doing, maybe get them interested in taking a class (at Trinidad State).”  


The show runs from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. on August 12th, and on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the A.R. Mitchell Museum. Admission is $10 per person per day. Tickets will be sold at the door.


On Saturday night, August 13th, a banquet and silent auction will be held at Brix Sports Bar and Grill at 231 East Main Street starting at 7 p.m. The speaker will be NRA Director of Education and Training Bill Poole. Proceeds will benefit the Friends of TSJC Gunsmithing Endowed Faculty Fund. RSVP by calling Donna at 719 846-5541. Cost is $30.

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