Armament fitters are responsible for inspecting, servicing and repairing firearms, artillery weaponry, and weaponry equipment. They also have knowledge in the use of ammunition and explosives.
Their tasks are as varied as the diversity of weapons used in modern warfare. The modern defence force consists of various divisions, each with its own special types of weapons, and so the nature of the work will depend on the division in which they are employed. Learner armament fitters are trained in the basic principles of fitting, including filing, sawing, chiselling, screw-and-nut threading, drilling and turning. Knowledge of metals is required for work with iron, steel, carbon steel, aluminium, alloy steel, copper and its alloys and magnesium and its alloys.
Armament fitters are expected to have a thorough knowledge of a wide range of arms, ammunition and explosives, warheads and specialised weaponry such as hydraulic and pneumatic weaponry systems.
Although most weapons are based on the same principles, learner armament fitters are expected to dismantle and reassemble a wide variety of guns and pistols until they know the general description, names of parts and the loading, unloading and cleaning process of almost every conceivable weapon.
The main task of armament fitters is the servicing and repairing of firearms in order to keep them in sound working condition. They are sometimes expected to manufacture small parts, but an armourer usually does this.
As firearms cannot function without ammunition, and bombs and mortars are useless without warheads, it is essential that armament fitters have a sound knowledge of the chemistry of explosives as well. They need to be familiar with different types of explosives, as well as their properties and uses.
Armament fitters specialise according to their working environments:
Schooling & School Subjects
National Senior Certificate
There are three ways to qualify as a registered artisan:
1. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.
2. A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.
3. TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.
All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.
For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.
Some employers also require candidates to obtain a shooting licence.
Director, Vector: A Division of Denel (Pty) Ltd.
P O Box 5445
Tel. (012) 620-9111
SANDF Recruiting Centre
Private Bag X281
Tel: (012) 339-4074