Gary grew up in the mountains just west of Salem, Virginia. In the 1950's, that part of Virginia was still very much part of the frontier rifle culture and Gary began hunting and target shooting at about the age of 10. At that time, he lived accross a rural lane from Wallace Gusler. When Mr. Gusler gave Wallace an original percussion longrifle, Gary wanted one too. He started hunting with a flintlock in 1959 and killed his first buck with anoriginal .46 caliber flintlock in 1962.
Gary finished building his first flintlock rifle in about 1962 - he had started a percussion half-stock in '58 or '59 but never finished it. That first rifle was relief carved and had a lock largely sawn from solid steel by hand.
By 1962, Wallace had moved to Williamsburg and opened the Gun Shop. As a student at Virginia Tech from 1965 to 1969, Gary spent his summers working with Wallace in the shop. In the early years of the shop, the two of them spent a lot of evenings redeveloping the skills and technology of the 18th-century. By the winter of 1967-8, Wallace was able to document the building of a hand-made rifle in the film "Gunsmith of Williamsburg." Gary regrets that he missed being an apprentice in the film because it was shot while he was away at school.
Gary graduated from Tech in March of 1969 and, after working a few months in the shop, enlisted in the Army in that fall. He returned to the shop in 1972. That summer, Wallace left the shop and Gary soon became the Master. He worked there building guns, training apprentices and talking to thousands of visitors. He has described working in the shop as "like teaching school except you start over with a new group of students every 15 minutes." Since leaving the shop in 1990, he has been working in administration for Colonial Williamsburg and has built very few rifles. When he retires in a few years, Gary expects to become an active builder again.
You can visit Gary's website at flintriflesmith.com.
Contact Gary Brumfield at:
209 Buford Road
Williamsburg, VA 23188
phone number: 757-565-3654