Podcast: Paul Helinski on the shooting industry

At the NRA Annual Meetings, we (the other bloggers and myself) had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with Paul Helinski, the President/CEO of GunsAmerica.com.

Paul is originally an IT guy, having gotten into the online gun business back in the mid 90’s. One of the things that he spent a good chunk of time talking about was how important it is for us as shooters to support our stocking dealers, and the dangers to the industry inherent in “direct to consumer” sales without going through stocking dealers. The relevant audio section is about 7 minutes long, you can listen to it here.


Paul makes a couple of pretty good points, especially about how the number of stocking dealers has been on the steady decline in the past few years. Supporting the shooting sports doesn’t just mean sending your checks to NRA, it also means getting out there and patronizing shops and stores that cater directly to the shooting sports. I didn’t necessarily agree with everything that Paul said – but when it comes to supporting our sport by buying from local dealers, he and I are in 100% agreement on that issue.

If the above flash player doesn’t play the audio correctly, you can either click here to download directly from my site, or here to listen from iTunes.


  1. I’d like to do business with the local dealers, but the one problem I have with them is the same problem I have with all small local businesses — they’re never open when I’m shopping. Every gun shop in Lafayette (except Sportsman’s Warehouse, the big chain) closes by 5 or 5:30 in the afternoon. I bought my oldest her first rifle, a pink-stocked stainless steel Cricket, for her 10th birthday. I had to buy it at the Castleton Gander Mountain. If Gander Mountain hadn’t had one in stock and we weren’t already planning to be down that way to visit the in-laws, I would have ordered it through Sportsman’s Warehouse. Through them at least I could pick it up at a convenient time for me, and not have to rearrange my schedule.

  2. Rob K,

    Check out Flat Creek Range. They’re located off Olympia drive and are open until 9pm Tuesday-Saturday. I don’t know anything about their customer service, but they do have the hours to service your needs.

  3. Well, yeah – I support dealers that are interested in supporting the shooting sports and being ambassadors to the community at large.

  4. I forgot about Flat Creek, but from what I’ve heard from co-workers who shot there, Flat Creek wasn’t really a fully stocking dealer, that they were mostly consignment sales and orders with their focus primarily on their range. They don’t have anything listed at GunBroker right now. I meant to take a friend over there to shoot full-autos for his birthday, but it didn’t happen this year. I’ll go check them out this evening, anyway.

  5. The Catch-22 is this:

    Because of a lack of stocking dealers, the same dealers charge a little too much for their wares. The lack of competition from more stocking dealers means that they can charge pretty much whatever they want, and that means exorbitant prices in some instances. I’ll be glad to transfer through them if they have a reasonable transfer fee, but I’m not gonna pay $100 more for a gun because they’re a local gun store.

  6. I believe in helping out the local gun shops 100%. I try to order through them as much as possible. Even if I’m getting custom guns straight from the gunsmith, I ask first if they can order it from them first. Otherwise, it’s a $50 transfer if they CAN’T get it, or $100 transfer if they can. Those are the prices at all the local shops in NJ, after them, tolls and gas get figured into the equation.

    As a bonus, the shop I do 98% of my shopping at supports my interest 110%. If it wasn’t for them, I most likely wouldn’t be shooting today.

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