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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2000:01:01 00:00:50

STAFF PHOTO/BROOKE WILLIAMS Pam Burke, Ashley Dickinson and Nicholas Manns work together at Burke’s Gun Shop.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2000:01:01 00:00:26

Store manager Pam Burke discusses merchandise with customer Joe Zona.

Discussion of expanding services at Burke’s Gun Shop to include firearm training and a shooting range began in the Burke family around five years ago.

“Because of the new handgun owners, we wanted to have a training center and be able to offer classes so that people who are buying personal protection firearms are comfortable using them,” said store manager Pam Burke. “That’s what kind of led us to where we’re at right now.”

Burke’s Gun Shop, formerly housed in the Shamrock Auction building in Laceyville, moved to Trail Road near the Wyoming County Fairgrounds in Meshoppen last February.

“It was important to stay close to Route 6 when we moved to the new location,” she said.

The family continues to hold auctions at the old location, but moved its retail operations to Meshoppen in addition to introducing new offerings.

“It was a bit of a daunting task to get here between buying the property, tearing down the old bar that was here, going through the planning commission and all the inspections,” Burke reflected. “We were almost a year behind schedule getting moved in, but we’re happy to be here now.”

She runs the business alongside her husband Brian and their children Ashley and Brian.

The new, bigger location, which is open seven days a week, has over 1500 guns in stock. This includes major brands such as Smith & Wesson, Ruger and Christensen Arms.

The “try it before you buy it” program for used firearms allows customers to buy a box of ammo and a target, then go into the range with a safety officer to try it out.

Burke’s also carries youth firearms and left handed rifles, as well as ammo, targets, protective gear and other accessories.

“You name it, we’ve got it,” Burke said.

The new indoor shooting range is open to the public and memberships are available. For folks who shoot more than a few times a month, Burke said a membership is most cost effective.

The range has seen success since it opened, with leagues starting up soon. On the weekends, the Burkes see families coming in to shoot together, as well as couples having “date night.”

There are also options for corporate events, birthday parties and bachelor/bachelorette parties.

Reservations are recommended during the weekends, as it’s typically the busiest time.

Local law enforcement and 4-H groups have even approached Burke’s about using the range.

“It’s something we really wanted to have to provide fun for the community,” Burke said.

People who do not own a gun can rent one for a shooting session, which requires filling out a waiver and questionnaire.

Anyone shooting in the range has to legally be allowed to purchase firearms by federal and state standards, she explained, but a background check is not run for these sessions.

Also new to Burke’s Gun Shop is National Rifle Association-certified classes, including standard gun safety, basic pistol, basic rifle, personal protection in the home and “Refuse To Be A Victim.”

One-on-one instruction with a trained individual is also offered in the range.

“If you buy a firearm, you want to be comfortable with it and you want to have the training in order to use it safely,” she said. “That was the driving force really behind us opening the shooting range.”

By next summer, the Burkes hope to have a restaurant named Burke’s Country Club up and running next to the gun shop. Since the family was behind on its plans to relocate their business, the restaurant also experienced delays.

With Burke’s Country Club, they plan to sell basic fare such as sandwiches and salads.

For more information about Burke’s Gun Shop, visit burkesgunshop.com.