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Chester County Press

Target Shooting Solutions opens in Avondale

08/16/2016 12:55PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

As the blazing summer heat pounded down on the freshly paved parking lot of the new Target Shooting Solutions in Avondale last Friday, the beads of sweat that showed on co-owner's Remo Toto's face glistened like the tell-tale sign of the many layers of approval and hard work it took for Toto and his son and co-owner Alex to get to this point, three days before the store's official opening.
Built on the site of the former Boomer's entertainment complex, Target Shooting Solutions, which opened this week, is a 26,000 square foot facility that has little in common with the typical bunker-like, military green encampment style of target shooting businesses. The lobby is bright and airy, with high ceilings, a fireplace and comfortable chairs. Off to the right, a 7,200 square-feet retail store offers a wide variety of firearms for sale, as well as accessories and protective equipment.
To the left of the entrance, there is a 20-lane shooting range – divided into two separate banks of ten lanes each – that are entirely encased in concrete. Of the many safety checks installed at the the range, perhaps the most important will be a bullet-proof armor plate metal at each range, that works with a trap to snuff out a bullet's acceleration after it is fired. Regulated ventilation systems will properly keep fresh air pumping into the ranges, and all of the lead and brass used in bullets will be recycled.
“Starting a brand new business is relatively rare in the firearms business,” said A. Paul Reed, the chief operating officer and general manager of the Avondale facility. “The advantage that we have is that everything is state-of-the-art, from our air handling system, and from our safety procedures to our phone and computer system.”
The demographics for opening the store considered the largest of its kind in the Tri-State area, were perfect, Reed said.
“We wanted to answer the question, 'Does it make sense to put a gun store here?'” Reed said. “The number of factors we looked at – numbers of cars on the road, to numbers of National Rifle Association (NRA)  members in the region, to the number of competitors – everything said that the answer was 'Yes.' In about an hour to an hour-and-a-half time from the facility, we have access to about three million people, who are potential customers, as a result of our location.”
The timing of the target shooting facility's opening this week coincides not only with the very beginning of the peak season for gun sales, but the often headstrong dialogue about firearms that has been heard in America for the past several years. Heightened by the magnification of mass shootings that have played out on television screens, as well as print and social media, the movement to further restrict firearm usage through legislation has reached a fever pitch.
On one side anti-gun activists believe that the law, adopted in 1791, is an outdated relic written in the age of muskets, and a law that has lost its muster during a time when semi-automatic assault modern sporting rifles are  now being sold by the millions. On the other, organizations like the NRA have leveraged their considerable influence to fight back, claiming that tougher laws will bind the hands of responsible gun owners. 
The battle for control has long been a talking point of recent political campaigns, on the local, state state and national level. Most recently, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested that if she were elected, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would seek to repeal the Second Amendment, which has generally been interpreted as the law that grants the right of gun ownership to individuals for purposes that include self-defense.
For Reed, it's a conversation that is rightly needed, but one that is sometimes clouded by perception.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding about the firearms industry, especially in light of current events,” Reed said. “There is no question that many people have an understanding that all guns are bad. It's definitely not true, because guns have been in our culture for a few hundred years. The truth is that large numbers of people – in fact, the vast the majority – pursue the legal, lawful, ethical and safe pursuit of this hobby. 
“Like any other powerful technology, it can be used for good and for bad,” he added. “The key is that we are promoting and doing everything in our power to promote the ethical and safe use of firearms as a sporting hobby. We're strong believers in the Second Amendment, but the reality is that we're not a bunch of gun nuts who are only concerned about the government coming in during the middle of the night and taking away our guns.”
The partial solution to perceptions and bias can be found in education, Reed said. Perhaps the most important component of the facility's design are three classrooms that will be used not only for training and safety seminars, but potentially for community-based events that invite residents who do not own firearms.
Over the past year and a half, Remo and Alex Toto were regular visitors to London Grove Township meetings, where they went through the usual hoops of obtaining the proper licenses and zoning ordinances needed to open a business in the township. Along the way, they met with opposition from a few local residents who claimed that an indoor shooting range was not only unlawful, but unsafe.
Those who oppose the business are not likely to leave any time soon, and Reed understands that in order to succeed, Target Shooting Solutions will have to attend to the needs of its customers and members, while also keeping an ear open to those who will continue to oppose the idea of an indoor firing range in their area.
“We understand that there are people who have concerns about firearms,” he said. “So far, the support has been overwhelmingly supportive. It is easy to fool yourself into thinking that if one or two people like you, then the entire world must like you. We're cognizant that this is not true. We've had people who have addressed some concerns, and we have addressed them.
“We understand that for those who did not grow up around firearms, they may not understand why people want to pursue the safe and ethical use of firearms. In reality, 99 percent of gun owners are interested in pursuing the safe and responsible use of firearms. No responsible forearms owner wants to see the events that have happened in the past couple of years. It's absolutely heinous, and we all want the right laws in place to deal with that.”
Target Shooting Solutions is located at 1056 Gap Newport Pike, Avondale, Pa. 19311. To learn more about Target Shooting Solutions, visit www.targetshootingsolutions.com, or call 610-910-0105.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com.

 


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