Typically, firing rounds in Sylva is a surefire way to get ticketed — Sylva like most towns don’t allow guns to be shot in the town limits. But Tuck’s Gun and Ammo owner John Prentice can now test his weapons out right near the store, in an enclosed ballistics chamber that is.
The 500-pound bullet trap filled with ballistics rubber wrapped in Kevlar can withstand a variety of pistol and rifle rounds, absorbing 90 percent of the sound and all of the noxious gases emitted from the barrel — as well as the shock of the bullet. Prentice said the model he is buying, made by the company Bullet Bunker, is one of the best on the market.
“This is by far the safest,” Prentice said. “You can actually take a fully automatic weapon and unload it into this thing.”
Prentice was holding off on purchasing the $1,500 apparatus until he got approval from the town’s police chief and board members to discharge weapons in town. Prentice’s pitch was given the green light at the board’s last meeting.
The exception will save him from having to load up the truck with guns every weekend and haul them out to the nearest shooting range, at Moss Knob in the Nantahala Forest. There, rain or shine, he would have to test fire and tweak them to make sure they’re safe and working properly.
Anytime repairs were made to a gun, it had to be test fired; anytime someone wanted to return a gun claiming it didn’t work, it had to be test fired; and anytime new models were brought into the store; they were most likely test fired.
Now, all that can be done at a shed a few feet from the store on East Main Street.
“It saves a lot of running around,” Prentice said.
Not only did they have to load up and drive to the outdoor shooting range, if he or the gunsmith forgot to pack the right tool it was another trip to town and back.
Since opening last year, Prentice said his business has been growing, and he will soon expand into another retail space next door. And as business continues to grow he said the only thing that would be better than the Bullet Bunker is an indoor shooting range in Sylva.
“I’d love to have an indoor range,” Prentice said. “An indoor range in town would be the best.”