County gun range sees larger crowds
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Between tragic fatal shootings in various states last year to arguments on Capitol Hill between politicians, one thing is certain: American citizens who want to own firearms are making that happen in increasing numbers.
At the Indian River County shooting range, the recent mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Co., have not been a major topic of conversation among clients, but what is evident is that people are very interested in having and knowing how to use guns to protect themselves, said Holden Kriss, range manager.
"About 75 percent of the shooters (who visit the range) are non-hunters and almost all of them are recreational shooters," Mr. Kriss said.
"People want to be familiar with their guns and so we provide a place for that at the range," he said.
The range averages about 300 visitors per day during this time of the year, Mr. Kriss said.
William Charles "Chuck" Schmeer, manager at Paul's Guns in Sebastian, said people in Indian River County are very interested in purchasing guns and ammunition.
The demand for the products have made the costs go up and are making it difficult to order enough stock from suppliers, he said.
"We can order things if we can find them," Mr. Schmeer said.
The items he would usually sell cannot be found now at previous prices. Many times, the same product has doubled, sometimes tripled in price, he said.
Mr. Schmeer does not attribute the increase in demand for the firearms and munitions to one single thing, but rather, a culmination of circumstances.
"It's Christmas time, there were the shootings and the things that (President Barack) Obama plans to do. Everything is happening at one time," Mr. Schmeer said.
People are concerned they will not be able to purchase guns and ammunition for much longer, so they are even willing to pay a little more for what they feel will keep them safe.
"People put their trust into them. I choose to place my trust in a higher power," Mr. Schmeer said.
Gun and other outdoor sportsman shows are often held at the Indian River County Fairgrounds and thousands attend.
On Feb. 23-24, Patriot Productions will present a gun show at the fairgrounds featuring more than 200 exhibits, express concealed weapons permit classes and more.
Mike Strickland, event organizer for Patriot Productions, which is based in Roseland and takes shows all around Florida, said attendance at recent gun shows across the state have continued to increase over the past four years.
At the gun shows, people buy new guns, sell guns, purchase ammunition or accessories and more. Over the two-day period, sales reach between $40,000 and $55,000.
Even though the products available cost more in stores, having various vendors at the gun show makes prices more competitive, resulting in a benefit for the buyer, Mr. Strickland said.
He expects the February show to draw at least as many people as last year, approximately 5,000 in two days.
Entry fee is $6 for adults and children older than 14. Children younger than 14 are admitted free.