Perfecting his craft: Mitchell’s Rasmusson strives for proficiency in gunsmithing work
Kyle Rasmusson’s speciality is guns.
Rasmusson works diligently at building, repairing and designing all types of firearms. As a gunsmith at SoDak Sports in Mitchell, his expertise is sought out by firearms manufacturers and collectors.
He handles priceless firearms passed down from generations, along with costly weapons used for hunting.
But no matter the case, Rasmusson also specializes in being perfect and proficient at his craft.
“I definitely try my hardest to do the best job possible,” Rasmusson said. “I really beat myself up about the stuff that doesn’t always turn out perfect and I maybe spend a little bit more time trying to correct it or make it perfect. I definitely do take a lot of pride in the work I do here and try to do my best.”
Rasmusson’s gunsmith responsibilities are wide-ranging, and he said every day brings something different. He could do general gunsmithing or custom build for a customer.
He’ll assemble and disassemble, clean, repair and refinish all sorts of firearms. Rasmusson uses hand tools, power tools and machinist tools to perform his duties.
In short, he compares it to other professions.
“It’s like a doctor of guns for the most part,” Rasmusson said. “You diagnose and then you treat the problem that’s happening. It’s a little bit of the engineering mechanical side of things. So if you really like tinkering with things — guys in the motor industry — definitely take apart engines. It’s kind of the same concept, but a firearm basis.”
Rasmusson, 31, works on pistols, hunting rifles, military rifles and shotguns, among others.
“I would say kind of our bread and butter, if you will, is Grandpa’s old .22 that was found in the barn by the kids and they want to clean it up,” Rasmusson said. “We do a lot of — I don’t want to say full on restorations — but I’ve seen some guns that have been through hell and back.”
Rasmusson was a hunter growing up in Rapid City. He’s still an avid hunter and calls himself mostly a bird hunter. He’s also hunted elk, antelope and deer.
However, his first career choice was firefighting before deciding on a career change. He studied gunsmithing at the Colorado School of Trades, a two-year accredited program in Lakewood, Colorado. He joined SoDak Sports in 2016 and has built an impressive clientele, averaging close to 1,000 guns a year.
Rasmusson also assists at the SoDak Sports location in Aberdeen, while he routinely has customers within a 60-mile radius of Mitchell.
So he gets plenty of customer interaction, and that’s his favorite part of the job.
“I am definitely a people person in that regard,” Rasmusson said. “So getting to hear people’s success stories on guns that I’ve worked on is always really nice.”
Rasmusson’s workload has ramped up with the hunting season in full swing. When he first started at SoDak Sports, Rasmusson wasn’t accustomed to the area.
“We really hit the ground running and we learned a lot in the first year or two how to prep for it,” Rasmusson said.
Now he prepares months in advance by ordering parts from major manufacturers like Beretta and Winchester.
Rasmusson’s gun traffic also picks up this time of year and he receives inquiries from outside the state. He’s prepared guns for hunters as close as Nebraska and Minnesota, along with as far away as Texas.
Mitchell and surrounding areas get flooded with pheasant hunters from outside the region in October. That puts even more emphasis to again be perfect and proficient.
“I try to stay on a three-day turnaround time for guys, depending on obviously if I have to order parts from somewhere,” Rasmusson said. “A lot of my parts are coming out of New York, so there’s about a two-week delay period. I usually ballpark somewhere between three, four weeks to three days, depending on the job.”
And his job takes away from his hunting and personal gunsmithing time. He jokes his personal guns are the dirtiest out of everybody. But he’s also busy spending time with his wife, Dana, and their three children.
“I wish I got to work on a lot more of my guns,” he said. “On the weekends, it’s mostly occupied with family and occasional shooting.”