Mufflers and guns may seem like strange bedfellows, but Mark Cole says he was just connecting the industry dots. In 2000, he opened the Performance Muffler Shop in Las Vegas. In addition to welding mufflers, his crew got into the business of fabricating parts for off-road vehicles called Side-by-Sides.
“When the economy went down that business slowed down, and I started talking to my customers,” Cole says. “Everyone who had a Side-by-Side had a gun also.”
- Guns and Ammo Garage
- 5155 S. Dean Martin Drive, 440-4867
- Daily, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
So last year, Cole converted part of his muffler shop into the Guns and Ammo Garage. It was strictly retail until early February, when the permit came through for an adjoining 12-lane shooting range. A self-proclaimed adrenaline chaser, Cole says the range is a safe, state-of-the-art venue for local gun enthusiasts and tourists alike, where highly trained range officers can teach novices basic gun handling or work with experienced shooters on marksmanship.
There’s a waiver, of course. There’s a safety briefing and protective equipment. Then you and your range master get positioned in a lane. Packages range from “Dirty Harry’s Revolvers” ($84.95 for two targets, a T-shirt and 15 rounds split between three Smith & Wessons) to the “Zombie Hunter Package” ($139.95 for 25 rounds each with an AK-47 and an Uzi, 20 rounds with either an HK USP 9mm or a Glock 9mm, 5 rounds with a shotgun, two targets and a T-shirt). Locals can take advantage of discounted range time, and Cole is working on weekly discount nights for ladies and industry members. Also in the works is a basic weapons class to augment the existing concealed weapons certification.
While Cole admits he wasn't really a "gun guy" before opening the Garage, he now has a favorite firearm in the arsenal—the Thompson submachine gun. Better known as the “Tommy” gun, it became infamous during the Prohibition era, used by both crooks and cops. The surprise he felt when he first fired it, Cole says, is something he sees on the faces of a lot of first-time shooters. The range has a video feed that displays shooter sessions for their friends and family in the gallery, and they will soon have the option of buying DVDs that capture their personal experiences.
“They’re very serious when they get the gun. Then their eyes get real big, and it’s funny how fast their face changes. There’s exhilaration, adrenaline, then they just start smiling," Cole says. "It’s four emotions in the blink of an eye.”