Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default The Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy

    October 20, 2016

    The Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy, LLC announced the signing of a mutual proposal and project option with The Buncher Corporation to build a 177,000 square foot facility on 6.8 acres at the Jackson’s Pointe Commerce Park in Jackson Township, Pennsylvania. Ellwand will lease the building for 20 years with various options. The Buncher Company engaged F.J. Baehr Architect, LLC to design the facility shell and work with Buncher staff preparing engineering analysis and supporting research. The plans will be presented for review to the Jackson Township planning staff and final Jackson Township Supervisors’ approval. The goal is having all the required permits to start work at the beginning of the 2017 construction season.

    The Academy was fully approved in April 2014 to build the facility on 23 acres on Route 19 in Cranberry Township, PA. Jackson’s Pointe is located 3 miles north of the Cranberry Township site on US Route 19 at the PA State Route 528\Evans City interchange of US Route 79, one exit north of the Cranberry exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Mr. Dave Gemperle, Ellwand president, explained the reason for the move. “We were quite happy with our Cranberry Township plan on the site we had under option with Gigliotti Properties. We were very impressed with the professionalism of the Cranberry Township staff and Mr. Dominic Gigliotti. It was a complex approval process and working with the CT staff, we were approved with zero hearing delays.”

    “ Mr. Bob Gehm, of Gem Real Estate, introduced us to representatives from The Buncher Company who asked us to consider moving just up the road to their Jackson’s Pointe project. Though happy with our Cranberry Township approval, we took a step back to evaluate the proposal.” The principals evaluated the pros and cons of a move including the delay in opening, re-accomplishing design work, and location.

    “ In the end, the decision was based on two points. One was location. Being at the Evans City exit will be very convenient for our clients. The primary reason for moving, though, was The Buncher Company’s involvement. They’re a highly respected Pittsburgh company with a reputation of honesty and professionalism. Every expert we talked to advised us to fully consider taking them up on their suggestion to move. We’re very happy with the agreement we were able to work out.”

    According to architect Mr. Fritz Baehr, also an Ellwand principal, the facility will have all the same features as the original Cranberry Township location, though it will have a different layout accommodating the different sized site. These include 61 firearm shooting lanes in 9 firearm bays designed for different type of activities. There will be a 75 foot fully law enforcement compliant bay allowing entry of actual police vehicles, a second 75 foot traditional shooting bay, 3 bays 25 feet long two of which allows for concealed carry practice and shooting of reloaded ammunition, and one 150 foot Class III bay. This is topped off by both 100 yard and 200 yard indoor bays with a “dial a crosswind” component. Mr. Baehr explained the crosswind component feature. “When we did our research and spoke with law enforcement about the long range bays for their training, one of the special tactics instructors asked if we could add a crosswind. So, we researched it and included it in the design. It will be available to any long range shooters since you always have wind when shooting outside.” Long range shooters will be able to work on their target reloads right at the ranges in a fully equipped reloading shop.

    “There will also be a small restaurant, two membership lounges, 8 classrooms, a fully staffed gunsmith shop, a business conference center and 4,000 square feet of retail space. If you want to talk about shooting sports, there’ll be someone to strike up a conversation with,” Mr. Baehr said. He added, “We’ll also have a bay for BB gun shooting.”
    “The Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy is a full-service, comprehensive training and retail facility supporting the full spectrum of shooting sports interests,” said Mr. Bob Staby, the Director of Operations. “What sets us apart from other shooting facilities is our employing nearly 40 full-time and part-time instructors. Our management team is made up of a dozen highly experienced individuals who are already experienced and certified instructors with backgrounds in law enforcement, military, civilian and youth program shooting. We’ll be looking for staff experienced in all these types of shooting sports. Since our initial press in 2014, we’ve had resumes sent to us from outstanding individuals, and we haven’t even begun to advertise for staff.”

    “Our strength comes from our core management team who are certified to run instructor and range safety officer workshops, which all of our staff will go through for 3 weeks before they begin working with clients. Locally, we’ve trained over 300 firearms and archery instructors in the last 10 years and we have a deep bench of potential part-time staff interested in the project.” Mr. Staby said the instructor staff will rotate between several positions. “Each range will have a Range Safety Officer when active, they’ll teach one on one and group classes, and staff the retail store. When you talk to someone at our facility it will be a highly experienced and fully certified multi-discipline instructor, a very unique environment in this industry. Their responsibility is ensuring each client gets the best service for their situation.”

    The key to the facility will be its dual focus on training and recreation. Mr. Greg Hester, Director of Programs and Training, explained this structure. “On the Programs side, we’ll have the law enforcement use, competitive leagues, youth groups, and women’s shooting sessions…to name just a few. On the training side, all our staff will have a basic foundation as certified NRA and US Archery instructors. We have an opening curriculum of 50 different classes taught throughout the month. People will be able to sign up for classes when convenient for them since we’ll be offering them on a regular and frequent schedule. We’ll also have a monthly guest speaker and a larger dinner affair a couple of times a year with a big name shooting sports guest speaker to raise money for specific charities. Mr. Baehr designed our archery wing to convert to a great banquet facility.”
    The main floor has 25,000 square feet for indoor archery in multiple bays including action archery and a 98 meter range to accommodate Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) practice and crossbow shooting. Mr. Paul Aiken, Ellwand’s Director of Archery, described the archery layout as having the bays set for progressive skill levels. “It’s an honor system of sorts where a shooter can work on his proficiency before moving to a higher skill bay. We’ll be able to help clients get started and coach them as they improve.”
    Mr. Gemperle explained why the facility is so comprehensive. “We started with a blank sheet of paper even though our team had extensive experience. We determined as a group we’d been to a couple of thousand ranges, collectively taught tens of thousands of students, and were certified to train and certify instructors in multiple disciplines. We analyzed what we knew from our experience and then we hit the road, visiting over 200 facilities across the country. We talked to owners, managers, customers, suppliers, range designers and sent our management team to National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation seminars. We established relationships with range equipment manufacturers, shooting sports retail experts, wholesalers, and support companies.”

    “Most of all, we listened. We asked what they would do differently if they did it again and they all told us the same things. All of this was used to create the business plan. The physical plant necessary to support the activities was designed into the structure by Mr. Baehr. Safety is the core of the entire facility and its operation.”
    “When we were doing the hearings with Cranberry Township, the response we got from the public was overwhelming. We have people from around the country anticipating our opening. None of the management team can travel locally without someone stopping to ask about our progress. Our facility is open to the public, plus will have three different levels of membership providing discounts and special features. This includes scheduling range time via the Academy’s website, access to the membership lounges, and guest passes. There will be secure lockers for members and gun cleaning service for all clients.”

    “We’re very please everything is coming together and anticipate an opening in the Fall of 2017. For now, folks can follow our progress on our website, www.ellwandssa.com. “

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy

    Best news this year.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy

    So excited. This made my day.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy

    The folks at Ellwand have been receiving requests for investment information, including information regarding 'founder' memberships that could be part of an investment package.

    SEC defined “Accredited Investors” should contact Ellwand directly at 724-453-8000 or ellwandssa@aol.com for information.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy

    Any update on this? I haven't heard anything about this in a while.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy

    The deal with Buncher fell through quite a while ago. Apparently, fundraising efforts have been ongoing. Rumor has it that the Cranberry site is back in play.

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