The shop, which sells new and used firearms, offers the usual stock of Beretta, Glock, Kimber, HK, STI, Sig Sauer, Dan Wesson, Rock River, Springfield Armory and Taurus, has been open for 18 years. In February, the shop, a go-to destination for those living in and around Houston, was purchased by Rick Handsel, who proudly says that he thinks it is much more than just another old-school gun shop.
“We have an even mix of customers of all ages, and we like to be inviting to our diverse clientele,” explained Handsel. “We have a seating area with coffee and donuts, plus vending machines. We made this a comfortable area for our older customers to hang out and chat before or after going into the range.
“But another part of the store is geared toward Millennial shooters – those under 35 – and it features video games and pool tables, as well as TVs on the wall.”
Peter J. Hermosa, Executive Director for Texas & U.S. Law Shield, said, “Texas Law Shield is proud to work with ranges like Shooter’s Station that are friendly and welcoming to both new and experienced shooters.”
A decision was also made to limit the firearms-related signage as well, and the shop has gotten a fresh coat of paint, partially to draw those younger shooters, but also to appeal to the surge in female shooters, which Handsel says now accounts for 20 percent of the shop’s customers.
There are now regular competitions held at the shop especially for women.
These moves are smart business in the changing gun-sales climate. The eight years under Barack Obama were great for those in the business of selling firearms, but since the election of Donald Trump, firearm sales have fallen nationwide — including at Shooter’s Station.
“Sales are off about 60 percent year on year, but we have seen it start to pick up in the last 30 days,” said Handsel. “It was certainly because of a change from the top down. Once Trump got in office, and we know he is a fan, a supporter of the NRA and a shooter, people haven’t had the urgency to buy. That has been seen at our shop for sure.”
However, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t still coming to shoot. While the video games and pool table — not to mention the donuts — might be attractive, it is the range that draws customers to Shooter’s Station. The range is especially popular with competition shooters, many of whom travel from across the state to shoot there.
“We’re the place where serious shooters and competition shooters come to sight in their rifles,” Handsel explained. “We have the perfect environment for it and summer is big business for us.”
July in Houston can be hellishly hot and humid, with high temperatures near 100 degrees. That isn’t the kind of weather that typically makes people want to go to outdoor ranges. Shooter’s Station has found a niche in providing a comfortable indoor alternative that still goes the distance. Rifle shooters, as well as handgun enthusiasts, can fire off a few rounds in climate-controlled comfort.
“Our neck of the woods has some extremes, including heavy rains in the winter months,” said Handsel. “We get the hot and cold — and neither is inviting for shooters.”
Shooter’s Station is designed for those who take target shooting seriously and offers the ability to shoot without elevation, windage or humidity. It provides shooters the ability to be super accurate — so much so that Handsel said it is common to see regulars shooting in the same hole time after time at 100 yards.
The facility is designed to handle up to .338 caliber. While Shooter’s Station does business as a Class III dealer of automatic weapons, those aren’t allowed on the range for safety reasons. Shooter’s Station isn’t trying to be like the Las Vegas machine-gun shops that cater to those looking to blast off a hundred rounds. Instead, as Handsel noted, it is really about control and consistency in the shots the customers make.
“Our range is for that consistency, so that when the shooter goes to a match they can dial it up as they see fit,” he added.
The indoor range is also designed with comfort in mind, with AC and purification systems running. The latter meets OSHA standards to literally clear the air with 50 cubic feet of clean air moving past the lanes. This takes out all the lead and powder, as well as other contaminants, to make for a welcoming experience.
The filtration system is also something that would make the environmental crowd pleased as well, as HEPA filters capture those contaminants before the air is released outside.
“There isn’t cloud of gun powder inside our range,” Handsel said proudly. “I like to think we have one of the nicest indoor ranges in Texas.” — by Peter Suciu, contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog