PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center's Armament University is now offering a suite of new small arms training courses to instruct engineers on weapons manufacturing and assembly.

The Small Arms Design and Weapons Maintenance courses teach engineers about the functionality and design of different weapons systems so they can incorporate this knowledge into their technology projects, said Jan Luce, Armament University professional development specialist.

While Armament University team members were conducting focus groups known as Cohort studies, it was discovered that many newly hired engineers had limited experience with firearms, and that introductory weapons classes at Picatinny could provide them with their first hands-on experience with the systems they work on, Luce explained.

"The class teaches design engineers the fundamentals of weaponry - the velocity, functionality of the different weapons that Soldiers carry into battle...how you take the weapon apart and put it back together," he said.

The classes were designed with the intention of giving the students an understanding of the functionality of the various weapons systems. For example the pistol series demonstrates the three types of semi automatic pistols (single action: Kimber 1911, traditional double action: Beretta M9, and double action only: Glock safe action polymer).

Disassembly of the weapons allows engineers to better understand the varying design concepts, said Matt Stracco, education and training technician.

While the Armament University has offered a similar course in the past, these new courses offer a much broader range of small-arms systems.

Engineers can take classes in small arms design and maintenance for an array of different weapons systems including pistols, tactical combat shotguns, assault and sniper rifles, medium and heavy machine guns and grenade launchers.

The courses are being taught by certified armorers from the companies that manufacture the firearms. Prior to this year, Armament University employees had planned to requisition weapons from the Army and request an expert armorer from Aberdeen Proving Ground to instruct classes at Picatinny.

However, the university was not able to obtain the weapons for the classes, because of the Army's need to send weapons into theater, Stracco said. Realizing the need for Picatinny engineers to receive hands-on training with various small arms weapons systems, Stracco sought armorer training from different firearm manufacturers who could not only provide certified instructors but could also provide the weapons for the classes.

Having the vendors provide the weapons and teach the course allows students to continue to train with a service-ready weapon so engineers will understand what Warfighters are using in theater, Luce said.

In conjunction with the small-arms curriculum, Armament University also offers the Weapons Manufacturing and Lecture Tour. This allows engineers to tour facilities such as Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger to see first-hand weapons production, as well as participate in live-fire training under the supervision of a trained expert, Luce said.