Like many enterprises that make up the ever growing FireLake complex at Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the tribal member-owned BDC Gun Room stands in stark contrast to what stood in its location just a few years ago. Sitting in what was once a wheat field off Hardesty Road three quarters of a mile east of State Highway 177, the 39,000 square foot indoor range and firearms sales floor has become a gathering point for shooting sports, personal safety education and law enforcement training in Pottawatomie County.
“Like I said after our first year, all new businesses face a tough road when starting out. Though we’ve been here for longer, opening this big of an operation was like starting over,” said owner Jack Barrett.
A former Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s deputy, Barrett and his staff host numerous firearm safety training courses each month. The extensive space and two shooting ranges also provide a safe, indoor location for local law enforcement agencies to train and qualify on their service weapons.
“BDC has been great for local agencies like the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Tribal Police Department,” said Tribal Chief of Police James C. Collard, Ph.D. “We, and many of our sister agencies in the community, have a safe, warm and nearby place to train and recertify on our service weapons, which is a benefit to our officers and those we protect and serve.”
Those who don’t carry a badge also have opportunities to learn how to safely and responsibly operate and shoot a firearm. BDC offers carry and conceal training classes, league shooting competitions for all skill levels from expert to first time shooters, and even provides instructions to local boy and girl scout troops.
“The concealed carry class is not a class on how to shoot your handgun,” noted Barrett. “It is a class on how to legally carry and when you are allowed to use one in self-defense. We see people taking our ‘Defensive Handgun 1’ class as well as taking hourly individual instruction, so they can learn how to shoot well and gain the ability to effectively use their handgun to not just survive a lethal encounter, but to win.”
Unlike many of the other businesses at FireLake, BDC Gun Room is a privately-owned commercial enterprise. While Barrett is a tribal member, he is owner and operator of the business. The tribe owns the property and leases it under the HEARTH Act, which allows tribal nations to determine and control leasing options on land held in trust by the United States. Because it is on trust land, BDC Gun Room pays CPN’s tribal sales tax, which funds government services like road maintenance, public works and police protection operated by the tribe. To date it has paid more than $300,000 in tribal sales tax.
Looking ahead to his third year, Barrett says that he’s hoping to bring a restaurant or food service enterprise in to provide a place for patrons to grab a bite to eat before or after they shoot. Financing for a food service enterprise may be available through the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation, and those interested are encouraged to contact Barrett directly.