Jackson company offers clients a variety of guns to experience
by Kelsey Dayton
— August 13, 2013
George Andrulonis, 17, had only shot 22 caliber guns. But on Saturday he shot a 308 rifle. His brother, Kyle Andrulonis, 19, shot a Remington 700.
“I’ll probably never be able to shoot a gun like that again,” he said.
The Andrulonises were visiting Jackson from Massachusetts with their family and had signed up for an afternoon at the gun range with Jackson Hole Shooting Experience.
Unlike a lesson or a day at the range, Jackson Hole Shooting Experience lets people try the guns they’ve always wanted to shoot — like a 50 caliber BMG, which is usually only handled by people in the military, said Shepard Humphries, owner of Jackson Hole Shooting Experience.
“For some people, this is a once-in-a-life time experience,” he said.
Humphries and his wife Lynn Sherwood started the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience four years ago as a part-time experiment. A friend of Humphries had asked him to shoot and sight-in some guns the man recently inherited. After a day of shooting Humphries’ friend told him he could have a business teaching people how to shoot different guns. The idea intrigued Humphries.
Humphries, now 40, grew up in Tennessee. He was a teenager when he bought his first .22 rifle and began to shoot cans.
“It’s just so satisfying to hit a target,” he said. “Once you shoot a few and get the tinks, you can’t stop.”
Humphries went onto a career in law enforcement working in a jail in Southern California and then working for the Town of Jackson police department, becoming a member of the swat and sniper teams.
Sherwood, 41, was terrified of guns for much of her life. She wouldn’t touch them, even to move them in her home. A few years ago she realized it wasn’t the gun she was scared of, it was the person holding it. She decided to take a basic pistol course to learn the mechanical workings of guns. The course included a day at the range where she found she shot better than the man next to her, who’d been shooting for more than 50 years. The competitive nature in her came out and she was hooked. She loved the feeling of empowerment shooting provided and she wanted to share that with others, becoming an NRA Instructor for rifle, pistol and shotgun and began to teach community courses.
It took a few years for the business to take-off, but by the summer of 2012 Jackson Hole Shooting Experience became a full-time operation and today business exceeds the couple’s initial expectations.
The company offers personalized experience including options for kids, or shooting clays, or training for out-of-state hunters who don’t often get to practice with their guns. But the most popular of everything the company offers is the multi gun-experience. The multi-gun experience allows people to try 15 to 25 different guns in an afternoon.
While there are other ways people can learn to shoot — classes and lessons — the shooting experience is unique in the combination of instruction and types of guns available. The company stocks everything from antique models to expensive military caliber options to more common guns like a Glock handgun.
Humphries owned a few guns before he started the business, but a benefit of the business is the opportunity to amass new ones — he now has about 70. There’s a few Humphries would still love to own, like a .338 Lapua, a long range, large caliber sniper rifle, he’d love with high-end optics.
When Humphries started he thought his clientele would consist mostly of conservatives from places like Texas. “I’ve come to realize the conservatives in Texas have more guns than I do,” he said. Many of his customers are people who haven’t spent time around guns — that’s why they are interested. Or they are people who normally don’t like guns, but feel if ever there is a place to shoot, it’s in Jackson Hole.
The Andrulonis family belongs to a gun club at home and enjoys shooting. While on vacation in Jackson they signed up for a multi-gun experience, wanting to try guns they’d otherwise never get to shoot, like an AR 15 and AK47. Even though they all already knew how to shoot, there’s always something to learn when you have an expert sitting next to you, Barbara Andrulonis said.
Plus, it’s a rare activity that everyone in the family can do together.
“It’s a pretty level playing field,” she said. “Mom can do something her teenage sons like to do.”
At the end of the afternoon, the family of four agreed it was a highlight of their vacation.
“Oh, yeah, I’d do this again,” Greg Andrulonis said.
His wife greed. “It was better than hiking down that mountain.”
— “Peaks to Plains” is a blog focusing on Wyoming’s outdoors and communities. Kelsey Dayton is a freelance writer based in Lander. She has been a journalist in Wyoming for seven years, reporting for the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Casper Star-Tribune and the Gillette News-Record. Contact Kelsey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follower her on twitter @Kelsey_Dayton
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