The Arms Room is stocked up on safety measures
The national economic outlook may be gloomy, but don't tell that to Bill James.
James, who recently opened the Arms Room, a family owned and operated gun store and indoor gun range in League City, is seeing brisk business as more people take their safety into their own hands.
It's not just men who are buying weapons and training to use them, said Catherine Warrington, who works the counter at the new business at 3270 Gulf Freeway South, League City.
"A lot of women come in with their husbands and boyfriends, who are helping them get into shooting," said Warrington, 21, of Santa Fe. "We're also seeing some (women) coming in with their girlfriends, and we're seeing families coming in with their kids."
Many customers stop in to practice their firing on the 15-lane shooting range, while others enroll in concealed handgun classes or drop off weapons to be serviced by the three gunsmiths on staff.
The 20,304-square-foot business also provides space for law-enforcement agencies to conduct training and officer certification.
James said his business' success has been phenomenal. In 2006, he opened a small gun shop off FM 518 and Landing Boulevard in League City, using inventory bought from a Houston gun shop that went out of business.
"We started off slow," said James, 63, a retired Army helicopter pilot who lives in League City.
He said the gun shop off FM 518 was hard to see because of trees.
Things quickly changed, however, with the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, he said.
"The day after his election, gun sales skyrocketed … went off the charts," said James, who taught military science at Clear Creek schools from 2000-'06. "We're talking 600 percent growth. That's beyond strong."
There were so many customers, in fact, that James enlisted the help of some of his regular customers to man the counters to help sell guns.
The surge, he said, was fueled by worries that Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress would to restrict firearm ownership — a scenario that has yet to unfold.
Since opening the Arms Room in July at the site of a Circuit City that went belly up, gun sales have remained strong, albeit nothing like the post-election rush, James said. The business has 30 employees.
"It's tapered off. The bubble's kind of burst, but (sales are) still pretty strong - but nothing like it was for almost six months after the election. The fourth day of November, my world went crazy."
The Arms Room is a gun aficionado's dream come true. Customers can either bring their own weapons to shoot, or rent one at the business, whether it's a handgun or sport utility rifle.
The business also sells cleaning and loading equipment for guns, camouflage clothing, noise suppression hardware and a large selection of knives.
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