This online course is being offered as an introductory level course designed to give the student a basic understanding of firearm and toolmark identification. The units found within this course will cover the history of firearm and ammunition development, classification of firearms and ammunition components, test firing, proper methods of evidence collection, laboratory testing, microscopic identification, and much more.
Cost: $0-225. This course takes 19 hours to complete, on average.
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
Follow the process of identifying a particular firearm.
Discuss each of the cartridge case components.
Properly collect and preserve firearm evidence from a crime scene.
Describe the different laboratory tests that are performed for firearm related evidence.
Explain the creation and examination of toolmarks.
Discuss expert witness testimony in regards to firearm evidence.
Course Structure and Schedule
This is a non-credit course offering 4.36 ILUs. (What is ILU?) Average completion time for the course is 19 hours. The course cost is $225 per registration (with the exception of public lab employees, law enforcement, public attorneys, and federal employees – please see "Registration Information" below). A certificate of completion will be issued to students successfully meeting course requirements.
Table of Contents
Unit 1: General History and Background Information
Unit 2: Firearm Identification
Unit 3: Cartridge Nomenclature
Unit 4: Test-Firing
Unit 5: Proper Crime Scene Documentation and Evidence Handling
Unit 6: Toolmarks, Part I: Bullets & Cartridge Cases
Unit 7: Toolmarks, Part II: Non-Firearm-Related Toolmarks & Evidence
Unit 8: Shooting Reconstruction
Unit 9: Laboratory Testing
Unit 10: Firearm Accessories
Unit 10: Microscopic Identification
Unit 11: Databases and Resources
Unit 12: Standardization and Legal Issues
There are no prerequisites for this class. A printable version of the course content is available in PDF format in the course library for future reference. Course readings are also available in PDF format.
Mozilla Firefox (recommended) or Internet Explorer
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Macromedia Flash Player
(Free software plug-ins are available in the Getting Started area of the course.)
Basic computer skills required (i.e. turning on your computer, navigating to websites, etc.). The course is user-friendly but support is available if needed.
Anthony Iten is a Forensic Science Technician with Forensic Science Initiative. He graduated from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota with a Bachelors of Arts degree and Forensic Science Certificate. Anthony has spent time working in the Drug Chemistry and Latent Print sections in the St. Paul Police Department Crime Lab in St. Paul, Minnesota. His responsibilities include online course development and assistance in training professionals in the forensic field. He is currently developing a Latent Print online course. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-293-5186
Sarah is a Forensic Science Technician with Forensic Science Initiative. She has a Bachelor's in Biology from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Sarah has also earned her Master's in Forensic Science from Towson University. During her graduate studies, Sarah was involved in research funded by the NIJ. The project focused on finding new serological tests using DNA as the substrate. Her responsibilities include assisting with online classes, developing a relationship with vendors, and helping with training. Sarah is a native of Wyckoff, NJ. Contact: email@example.com, 304-293-9540.
Please read below to determine your eligibility. If you have any eligibility questions please contact Forensic Science Initiative at FSI@mail.wvu.eduBEFORE you register. Registration is accepted year-round for this course.
For general FAQs for the FSI online courses please click here.
“I just wanted to let you all know that I have enjoyed the online forensic classes that are being offered through W. Virginia University. I have completed the Introduction to Firearms and Toolmarks course. It was very interesting. I have found I would like to further my knowledge in this area of forensic science. I am finishing up the IBIS course. It too has been a wonderful experience. I look forward to continuing with the non credit classes. I hope there will continue to be classes added to the course list as the Forensic Science field has many disciplines to encounter. I think the courses are great for those just beginning in the field or even as brush up courses. The thing I like best about the courses is they are great to just experience a basic knowledge of the different disciplines of forensic science. Thanks to all the instructors who put together the course materials and take the time to interact with those of us who are completing the courses.”
"All the classes that I have enrolled in have been great. The courses have so much information. I am very confident that any situation I come in contact with will aid me.
I want to thank all the teachers and staff of West Virginia University for the service they provide to law enforcment and other public service employees.
“Overall a good course. Nice overview. In this period of seriously tight budgets, finding somewhere I can get online training, that is appropriate to my field is a great advantage. And continuing education is always good, even if it only shows that I'm still trying to learn.”