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 as 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 specialized weaponry such as hydraulic and pneumatic weaponry systems.
Although most weapons are based on the same principles, learner armamanet 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 specialize according to their working environments:
- Artillery Division: guns
- Armoured Corps: tanks equipped with guns, machine guns, bombs and mortars
- Infantry Division: rifles, machine guns, grenades and mortars
- Air Force: fighter aircraft armed with rockets, machine guns and bombs
- Navy: Anti-aircraft artillery, torpedoes, and missiles
Conditions of work depend on where they are working. It could be a workshop, ship, aeroplane, assembling factory for weaponry or even on a battlefront.
The armament fitter must also have a thorough knowledge of a wide range of arms, ammunition and explosives, warheads and specialised weaponry such as hydraulic and pneumatic weaponry systems. The armament fitter specialises according to his working environment:
- Artillery division: Guns.
- Armoured corps: Tanks equipped with guns, machine guns, bombs and mortars.
- Infantry division: Rifles, machine guns, grenades and mortars.
- Air force: Fighter aircraft armed with rockets, machine guns and bombs.
- Navy: Anti-aircraft artillery, torpedoes and missiles.
- working with one's hands
- doing a responsible job
- the variety of the job
- solving difficult problems
- knowing that a mistake could endanger the lives of others
- having to work in uncomfortable positions, such as on an aircraft
- the possibility of injury on the job
An armament fitter should:
- be meticulously accurate;
- have orderly working habits;
- be well disciplined;
- be very responsible;
- have mechanical interest and ability;
- have mathematical ability;
- possess physical fitness and strength;
- have good vision and colour discrimination;
- have good eye-hand coordination;
- have finger dexterity.
National Senior Certificate
Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics
Recommended Subjects: Physical Sciences
There are three ways to qualify as a registered artisan:
1. An apprenticeship is a 4-year contract between company and apprentice, comprising a 12-week theoretical training, which includes 4 subjects at national exam level.
2. A learnership is a structured learning programme that leads to a qualification in a certain field. The learnership programme includes a theoretical and a practical component. It usually takes about a year to complete. The training takes place on-site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets on-the-job experience whilst training.
3. FET 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 (this 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 FET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.
For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest FET College. FET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MERSETA or CHIETA. 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.
- the SA Defence Force (Army, Air Force and Navy)
- SA Police
- arms manufacturing companies such as Denel
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