Burke’s Gun Shop and Indoor Shooting Range (top) as it is seen from Trail Road in Meshoppen Township. The entrance and firing lanes are on the right side of the building. As seen from the “comfort room,” Brian Burke and Nick Manns (above) practice with two different targets. Brian Burke (below) sets the lane computer to one of 27 program settings.
Photos and story by Rick Hiduk
(Also published in the Rocket-Courier)
Finishing touches are being applied to Burke’s Gun Shop and Indoor Shooting Range, a new facility west of Meshoppen that is on the verge of opening. The Burke family is anxious to make the move from the current location in Black Walnut and eager to provide the area with a unique recreational and educational experience.
In addition to expanded retail space, the building at 138 Trail Road has a range rental department, classroom, and 10 state of the art fire lanes. Burke’s will have both male and female instructors who will serve as key trainers at the facility, and patrons will be subject to all applicable state and federally mandated background checks. The two state-of-the-art firing ranges were professionally designed for maximum safety.
“We’re trying to make shooting responsible and fun,” said Nick Manns, a certified range safety officer and sales associate who joined the Burkes in 2012. Pam Burke and Ashley Dickonson manage the business.
Brian Burke considers the new venture a natural extension of the retail gun business. The number of people purchasing firearms is on the increase, and the Burkes were concerned that buyers may be using and depending on guns with which they are not adequately familiar.
“With the state of the world today, we thought that people coming in to buy a hand gun need to be trained properly,” Brian offered.
“Over the past decade, the gun industry has been fueled by fear,” said Pam. “At Burke’s Gun Shop, we believe that sports shooting should be fun.”
“And that people who want to be able to protect themselves can do so comfortably, with knowledge,” Manns added.
Those seeking time in the shooting ranges will not only be able to book range time in advance but walk-in as well. In addition to gun safety, patrons will also be apprised of the legal issues surrounding gun ownership and self defense.
All staff members are trained safety officers and will help customers choose the weapon that is best suited to them, in terms of size and needs. Just as importantly, Brian noted, training should be specific to the weapon and not relegated to a spouse or friend. “They might have bad habits,” Brian suggested.
The new business will offer a “try it before you buy it” plan, and the cost of renting the firearm will be subtracted from the purchase price.
The shooting area is designed to accommodate everyone from beginners to law enforcement officers needing specific training scenarios. A “comfort room” and air-lock double entrances separate store customers from the firing ranges. Each of five lanes in the two separate ranges is computer controlled. One range utilizes an all-wheel-drive system for moving the target. The other range uses a static line that is geared more for specific training.
The ranges are designed so that any ammunition striking the walls, ceiling or floor is deflected down the alley into the RBT (rubber berm trap.) Though all shooters are required to wear ear muffs for hearing safety, patrons may be surprised at how the design of the gallery also reduces the sound. From the shop, shots are merely audible as pops. From the parking lot, the noise is no louder than a nail being expelled from a pneumatic hammer.
Subject matter on the targets available for shooting vary from serious to whimsical, potentially depicting a hostage situation or a sink-a-ship game, respectively. Of the latter, Brian remarked, “For people who come in as families, we have games. We want this to be about safety and fun.”
The Burkes are waiting for a final certification that will give them the green light to shut down the shop in Black Walnut and make a quick move to Meshoppen, where the indoor shooting range is ready and waiting.
Once they are situated, a number of classes and courses will be announced for the public, including NRA Basic Rifle and Pistol courses, and NRA Basic Personal Protection in the Home. Gun ownership by women and their safe handling of firearms is also of great interest to the Burkes. According to Pam, there will be group classes and one-on-one lessons in rifle and pistol shooting for women.
Follow Burke’s Gun Shop on Facebook for the big announcement of the opening of the new facility. Hours of operation will be 10 am to 6 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 am to 8 pm on Thursday and Friday; 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday; and noon to 5 pm on Sunday. For more information, send and email to info@BurkesGunShop.com or call 570-869-1119.
Brian Burke fires at a Sink-a-Ship target, one of many games of skill geared toward increasing accuracy.