Mike Wendl, owner of Wendl’s Weapons in Carroll and Shooter’s Outlet in Arcadia, plans to consolidate the two stores into a new, larger facility in Carroll that will include a state-of-the-art indoor firing range.
Mike Wendl, owner of Wendl’s Weapons in Carroll and Shooter’s Outlet in Arcadia, plans to consolidate the two stores into a new, larger facility in Carroll that will include a state-of-the-art indoor firing range.

May 18, 2018

Every week, customers who visit Mike Wendl’s gun shop — some traveling from Des Moines and Omaha — ask him when he’ll offer an indoor range.

He finally has an answer for them: Likely within the next year.

And he’s adding an indoor archery range to sweeten the pot.

“We’ve been kicking around the idea for two years, and we finally pulled the trigger on it,” Wendl said.

Wendl, owner of Wendl’s Weapons in Carroll and Shooter’s Outlet in Arcadia, plans to consolidate the two stores into a larger retail and classroom facility that will be built on the east portion of the former Carroll Auto Salvage lot, near M.C.’s Country Cafe.

Wendl has plans for a 4,000-square-foot retail and classroom facility, with an additional 2,600-square-foot indoor shooting range that includes six 25-yard lanes.

“I want to make the new range a destination range that people will come for miles for the experience,” Wendl said. “We don’t want to just be an ordinary gun store and range — we want to make it a destination.”

The state-of-the-art range will feature equipment manufactured by Action Target in Utah, including digital retractable targets. Those using it will even be able to shoot 50-caliber machine gun ammo there.

“This range can handle anything you bring that’s legal,” Wendl said.

Firearm rentals will be available at the range, up to fully licensed, fully automatic machine guns.

Those using the range can stop by and pay for just one day of use, and various membership tiers will be offered as well. Wendl is looking at offering a pre-opening membership special for those who want to sign up early. He also plans to offer league nights and competition shoots.

His current plan is to have the new store open seven days a week, offering more hours than his current stores do.

Although Wendl is still pinning down the types of classes he’ll offer at the new store, customers have expressed interest in a variety of types, including beginners’ and women’s classes.

Wendl’s employees will become National Rifle Association certified to teach classes and supervise those using the range. The range also will be monitored with cameras, and the store will have a full-time gunsmith on staff.

Employees will be available to offer assistance to those using the range; safety is the store’s No. 1 priority, Wendl said.

“If we know they are a new shooter, they’ll be watched like a hawk,” he said.

The range also can be used for police and sheriff department qualifying shoots. Police Chief Brad Burke said that will be particularly convenient for the department’s low-light and no-light shooting drills — during the winter, they’d be able to complete those exercises at the range during the day rather than waiting until night.

Wendl’s stores carry Benelli, Volquartsen and Vortex Optics products and have every major gun brand available, as well as suppressors, Wendl said. The stores also offer custom orders and gun transfers.

Another recent, popular addition has been Black Rifle Coffee products from a veteran-owned coffee company based in Salt Lake City.

With the new store, which will include a much larger retail space, Wendl and his employees are continuing to evaluate additional products that should be added.

“We’re still trying to figure out what customers need that’s not readily available,” Wendl said.

And although he doesn’t have plans to offer archery products, he hopes the proposed archery range will help the store appeal to a wider range of customers.

Wendl is finishing up the various permissions he needs to begin construction and hopes to start building as soon as possible. If everything runs smoothly, he hopes to have the store completed by December or January.

The Carroll City Council recently gave Wendl permission to discharge firearms within the city limits, which normally is prohibited. The permission, which applies to the store’s indoor concrete-encased range, lasts two years from the store’s opening, after which the council will re-assess and consider extending it indefinitely.

“I can’t think of any term other than ‘giddy,’” council member Clay Haley said at Monday’s City Council meeting. “Everyone I talk to who’s interested in this is giddy.”

Plans for the new store line up with the Department of Transportation project adding an additional lane to U.S. Highway 30 near Grant Road, and Wendl added that he is working within the relevant guidelines from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The indoor range would be encased in concrete, and Wendl plans to install additional insulation to help deal with sound. It’ll also include state-of-the-art air-quality ventilation.

“You don’t have to worry about any bullets going astray, and sound is going to be very minimal,” Wendl told City Council members. “At shooting ranges we’ve toured, being right outside, basically, slamming a car door would be louder than what you would hear (from inside the range).”

In addition to his regular customers from several hours away, Wendl has customers around the country who order products from his stores.

“People are already driving from Des Moines and Omaha to visit the shop,” he said. “If we have the range, they’ll be inclined to invite more people. There’s a need and a want for it.”

He hopes the new store and range will appeal both to experienced shooters and those who have never picked up a gun.

I’m excited to see the look on people’s faces,” Wendl said. “We want to open people’s eyes and get people to enjoy (shooting) and see what it’s like.”