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Cottrel: New shooting business takes time, effort

Business and commerce are important to the vitality of a community, but starting up one takes a lot more work than many of us realize. I’m glad local entrepreneurs are willing to make that effort.

Last week I wrote about one of the newer businesses in Bethel Twp., New Carlisle Sports and Fitness. Today, I’m looking at a new business between Enon and Fairborn in Mad River Twp. that has been open for just 6 weeks.

Located in the western half of the Fox Lite Inc. building at 8300 Dayton Springfield Road, The Fox Shooting Loft was more than three years in the planning.

“We saw a need, and we did our homework,” said President and Owner Doug Hoy.

Eighteen years ago a new addition for offices and expanded storage were added to Fox Lite, but according to Hoy, “that just didn’t happen.” A use for that wing needed to be found.

Market research told him that local residents could use an indoor shooting range in addition to a retail store, and he visited similar businesses in other areas including Michigan. In his opinion the Fox Lite structure was perfect for that use.

However, deciding what kind of business to open was just the beginning of his work. The paperwork was a challenge.

Zoning needed to be changed from light industrial to retail. He had to obtain a state business license and a federal tax number. He also had to secure the federal firearms license, which required quite a bit of study.

Hoy is also working with the county engineer, setting up parking and planning ahead for the expansion of Dayton-Springfield Road in 2014. An architect is being consulted to make the concept come to life.

Hoy and General Manager John Du Chesne had fun setting up the modern store. The building is brightly lit and incorporates skylights, which is no surprise since skylights are one of the items manufactured next door at Fox Lite. They were a perfect fit for the plan.

“We’re trying to break the stereotype,” said Hoy. “It’s a family-friendly, warm inviting place.”

The retail portion of the business opened Dec. 10, and the display cases are full of just about every item needed by area shooting enthusiasts.

In addition to a wide variety of pistols, shotguns, and rifles, the store carries ammunition, carrying cases, hearing protection, shooting glasses, targets, spotting scopes and cleaning supplies.

The only shooting sport related items I couldn’t find in the store were muzzle loaders, black powder and reloading supplies. However, these items could possibly be added at a later date.

The variety of gun safes available testified, in my opinion, to the business’s emphasis on safety. There were giant closet-sized safes with combinations and small biometric one-handgun safes that read fingerprints to open.

A computer screen and keyboard is set up at a desk next to the display cases and facilitates the customer filling out the Form 4473, the federal background check required for all purchases of firearms in the store.

“Within minutes we get a reply ‘Proceed, Deny, or Hold’,” said Du Chesne. “The FFI has a thick book of rules regarding sales, and I read it all.”

In addition to the computer, the store is set up to file and maintain all records as required by law.

Hoy and Du Chesne hope to be able to answer anyone’s firearms related questions.

“We haven’t done our job if when you leave here you don’t know everything you can about the gun and you’re comfortable and confident,” said Du Chesne.

While we spoke, two men arrived to practice and were disappointed to learn the shooting range was not ready yet.

The actual shooting loft above the store should be open in May, according to Hoy. Already local Boy Scout leaders have inquired about training to get those shooting badges.

Construction on the range is taking a bit longer than anticipated, but Hoy and Du Chesne want to be sure that all safety and convenience features are incorporated into the facility. It will feature a nine- or 10-point, 25-yard range with an auto-retriever that can digitally adjust to the distance required.

Once the range is open, Hoy plans to have safety, concealed carry and marksmanship classes, in addition to rifle and pistol leagues. For information, call 937-864-7979.

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