PINETOP — Southwest Shooting Authority owner Cope Reynolds said the move of his business to Arizona was all about following the freedom.
Southwest Shooting Authority opened Feb. 27 at 674A E. White Mountain Blvd., in the Pinetop Post Office plaza. The business moved from Luna, N.M. Reynolds described himself and his crew at Southwest Shooting Authority as strict Constitutionalists and felt Arizona would be a natural fit for their business and their beliefs.
“(Arizona’s) a more Constitutional-friendly state,” he said.
Reynolds pointed to the state’s pro-gun rights laws, like constitutional carry and Castle Doctrine, where someone involved in a legally justified shooting cannot be civilly sued, and an active militia as inspiration behind the move. He said they are also fans of Gov. Jan Brewer, sometimes flying Arizona’s flag while in New Mexico, particularly during the SB 1070 illegal immigration debate, and they also support current New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
Reynolds said there is still a lot of work to do in the approximately 7,000-square foot store, such as getting all of their inventory set up.
“It’s going to take a couple of months to get our feet back under us from the move,” he said.
Southwest Shooting Authority began operations in 2003 in Farmington, N.M., a city of nearly 46,000 people in the northwestern part of the state. In 2010, Reynolds said they wanted to move out of the city and moved to Luna that September. Luna is located seven miles from the Arizona border.
Reynolds said Luna ended up being “too rural,” as walk-in traffic was very low. He said Southwest Shooting Authority had to count on Internet sales, as well as training sessions, to stay afloat.
Reynolds said he was originally planning to simply open a satellite store in Arizona. When he saw the building in which they are housed now around Feb. 1, they decided to move. He said the move and repairs on the building began immediately.
While inventory is low because much of it was sold before the move, Reynolds said they sell handguns, rifles and shotguns, mainly of a defensive nature. He said they also sell firearms for recreational and hunting purposes.
Southwest Shooting Authority sells ammunition, accessories, hunting supplies, tactical gear for law enforcement and more. The store also sells disaster preparedness gear, like food supplements, lanterns, tents, backpacks and multi-use diatomaceous earth. Reynolds said what they carry will depend on what the White Mountain market wants.
Southwest Shooting Authority has a reloading section in the store and performs gun repairs and modifications, a process known as gunsmithing. The store is also a complete Glock center with its own “Glocksmithing” section.
The second aspect of Southwest Shooting Authority, Reynolds said, is the training classes they offer. He said they offer about 14 different classes, ranging from defensive firearms training to wilderness survival and disaster preparedness training. He said he and other staff members are certified by the National Rifle Association to teach firearms training.
Reynolds added he travels all over the country for firearms training. This year, he said sessions are scheduled in Albuquerque, N.M., and Iowa.
On top of the classrooms, Reynolds said he hopes to add a tactical training area by early May. He said the training area is less like a shooting range and more like situational training for different types of hostile situations. For example, he said the area can be set up like a house that is the scene of a break-in or a bank robbery.
People in the training area, Reynolds said, will use dimensionally-identical Airsoft guns, which fire six-millimeter plastic BB pellets, and wear special gear. The point of the training area, he said, is to help people protect themselves against a criminal element that is becoming better trained, higher in number and increasingly violent.
“We’re trying to train people for survival in the streets,” he said. “It’s very turbulent times and it’s only getting worse.”
When they are not running the store, Reynolds and his wife, Amy, host radio shows online on the Just Measures Radio Network five days a week. Amy hosts a one-hour show called “Living Way Out Here” about rural living and Cope hosts a two-hour show called “The Shooting Bench” on self-defense, survival and disaster preparedness.
For more information about Southwest Shooting Authority, call (928) 367-AK47 (367-2547).
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