Nathan Murrell truly believes in the Second Amendment. So much so, that he chose Bear Arms as the name of his Missouri gun shop.
To say that guns are in his blood is a bit of an understatement—Murrell is following in his father’s footsteps by owning a gun store. He learned the family business at an early age in a gun shop owned by his parents.
Then in 2014, he opened Bear Arms in El Dorado Springs, a rural southwest Missouri town of just 3,600 residents.
Executive Direct Peter J. Hermosa said, “By striving to provide quality service with a smile, Bear Arms has become a pillar of the small community, and something of a rarity in a modern world overtaken by mega stores and chains: A true mom-and-pop shop that is the go-to place for shooters in Murrell’s neck of the woods. This is a great U.S. Law Shield facility we recommend Members check out.”
The store opened in boom times for gun sales during the tail-end of the Obama administration, when the regular threat of new and restrictive gun laws spurred customers in the U.S. to buy firearms in record numbers. Bear Arms met the demand by selling both new and quality used firearms, reloading supplies, as well as shooting and hunting gear.
Murrell admits that sales have slumped as the gun-buying furor has faded since the 2016 presidential election.
“Sales have slowed quite a bit, and there is not that panic to buy,” Murrell said. “However, we’re still seeing strong sales, even if people aren’t coming in with a hurried need to buy something. Instead our customers are now more relaxed, and not so rushed to purchase certain firearms.”
Thinking Outside the Box
Instead of worrying about the decline in sales, Morrell thought he would instead try to bolster his business by adding a service—an indoor shooting range. But there was one problem: His shop didn’t have the room to support even a small range. So he had to think outside the box. Literally. He invested in a modular shooting range.
“It is basically a gun range in a shipping container,” Murrell told U.S. Law Shield. “It supports two lanes, but you can add on as you need, and the company that makes these has options for 16 or more lanes.”
The two-lane range is designed strictly for handguns and, on the outside at least, doesn’t look much different from a common shipping container. However, the unit is fitted with a regular door instead of a cargo hatch, and has a trap at the end of a 50-foot shooting lane that is designed to handle most pistol calibers. But Murrell said that’s not all it offers.
“What really sold us on this is that you can shoot pistols at paper targets, but it is also outfitted with a MILO Shooting System, which is essentially a projector system so you can shoot zombies or go for a cowboys theme,” he said. “There is even an option for law-enforcement training. This is something that we think will appeal to customers.”
The modular shooting range is fitted with an HVAC system that circulates and filters the air while also heating or cooling as necessary to provide a comfortable, year-round shooting environment.
A native son of the Show Me State, Murrell traveled to Las Vegas to see a MILO system in action.
“We went to the factory and were able to try it out,” he explained. “With the MILO system you can shoot laser guns as well as live guns, so it is something that should appeal to both the newbie and the experienced shooter.”
The big appeal for Murrell is the flexibility the unit provides and the opportunity for future expansion.
“We’re trying to let people near us have a place to shoot winter or summer,” said Murrell. “We’re going to see how it will do, and we like the option that we can add to it. This is really a way for us to look at another avenue to generate more business.”
Murrell hopes to see the range installed by the end of July or August, and said that he believes it could be a draw for customers—especially since there isn’t another indoor shooting range within 100 miles. “We hope the shooting clubs and anyone who just wants to get in some time will give our range a go.”