If you were a former member or used the Firing Line indoor shooting range on Roosevelt Street on the border of Whitehall and North Whitehall townships that closed a few years ago upon the passing of its owner, you owe it to yourself to check out the new Firing Line.
The Firing Line has been reborn and has transformed into a first class indoor shooting facility that sports a vastly improved and state-of-the-art air filtration system, exceptional sound proofing, classrooms, lounge area and retail shop in the enlarged former building.
This redesign was planned and implemented by Gerard Stezelberger, a Lehigh Township resident, who has been the owner of Relic Hunter Firearms and Military equipment shop on MacArthur Road. Stezelberger will be moving this small shop that’s stocked with a myriad of new and used firearms and military clothing and accessories to the Firing Line building by the end of September. His shop probably has as many if not more small arms choices than many big box stores like Cabela’s in Hamburg.
Upon moving into the former Firing Line, Stezelberger gutted what was the former office, reception/rental area and range itself. The latter was in bad shape. Said Stezelberger, “It cost around $20,000 just to have it cleaned. We tore out everything including the lighting, ceiling and antiquated and ill-inducing ventilation system, some of which was comprised of tiny office fans at each shooting bench that was intended to blow gun smoke from the shooter. The floors also received an acid etching and the range will have a rubber backstop wherein the bullets stay in the rubber with no pulverizaton over the older style metal type backstop that was in place.
In the renovation, Stezelberger has built an ultra-modern ventilation system over each shooting booth that brings in both fresh air while pushing smoke and fumes forward and filters it at the other end of the range using negative pressure. The end filtration result is an ou output that is 99.97 percent clean air is being introduced from behind and above the shooting stalls. This system meets and exceeds EPA and OSHA standards and is unique in this area.
The only thing that was kept from the former range were the motorized target hangers that take targets forward and backward to the shooter. “They were in good shape and we can still get parts for the motors, so we kept them,” said Stezelberger.
In addition, new and unique sound proofing was installed and mimics that in recording studios. “The 2x3 foot sheets of poly type synthetic dense foam costs $75 a sheet. And we installed it throughout the range to alleviate noise going into the rental, retail, lounge and classroom areas,” Stezelberger explained.
Stezelberger went on to say that he wants to make the new facility a membership club. And to promote that, he’s offering an introductory price of $29.95 a month or $299 yearly if signing up before the September 30, 2017 opening date.
And for the first 150 paid yearly Charter Memberships (which is about half sold as of Friday, Aug. 25), you’ll get a 10 percent discount for life.
The basic range membership of $29.95 month or $299 yearly, offers 10 percent off training classes, rentals, accessories, 25 percent off gun cleaning and unlimited range time.
A Basic Range Couples/Family membership is $44.95 monthly or $445 yearly; a Platinum Level Membership is $49.95/month or $499 yearly and that includes 10 percent off training, accessories, ammo, 25 percent off firearm rentals, unlimited range time, five free gun cleanings, first priority on available lanes Mon-Fri, and you may bring free guests, make range reservations and get first notice on exclusive events. There’s also a Platinum Family Membership for $64.95/month or $649 yearly.
The store also purchased a sonic firearms cleaner for those who don’t like cleaning their guns. The Firing Line can do it for you.
Aside from the range itself, Stezelberger said there will be free seminars for folks who don’t know anything about firearms, and in addition, the classroom will feature NRA firearms safety/handling/shooting classes for beginners to advanced shooters.
The lounge area will feature a continuous safety video that shooters have to attend before going into the range.
When asked how he started in the gun business three years ago at his current location, Stezelberger said he sold antique military equipment for 20 years to museums and collectors worldwide including countries like Normandy, France and Belgium. “I figured firearms was a natural need and people may need firearms as the world is not like it used to be and police can’t be everywhere to protect you, especially folks living in rural areas.”
So, if you were a patron of the former Firing Line, you’ll be amazed at the complete modernization of the new one.
For more information, call Relic at 610-451-1064.
It’s that time of year when the late summer doldrums affect fishing and dove hunting season is a few weeks away. But outdoors folks can pacify their cravings by attending the 12th annual Lehigh Valley Hunting/Fishing Extravaganza Aug. 26-27 at the Kempton Fairgrounds in the village of Kempton, Pa.
While most outdoor shows indoors, this show is mostly outdoors. While there are exhibits and equipment displays indoors or under roof, most events are outside.
For adults, and as in the past, a 10-station sporting clays shooting course is planned as is a tomahawk throwing station for young and old, a kids’ BB gun shooting contest hosted by Corey Brossman from Innerloc’s “Out There TV” who will award a Umarex BB gun as a prize to the top shooter, a 50 target 3D archery shoot on the grounds set up by Weaknecht Archery, and one of the most popular events, the kids trout fishing station in the on-premises creek that flows through the fairgrounds.
Kids can also register for a free youth model Remington 870 shotgun donated by Ed Razzis of East Penn Rebuilders. There’s also a free duck hunting trip that will be donated by Randy Birch Outfitters of Chincoteague, Va.
New this year is the Chelee Warriors Mounted Archery Group, a riding/archery shooting organization that will demonstrate Native American archery skills on horseback. According to Bob Danenhower, show co-director, the mounted group will go through different courses with simulated 3D targets and competition ring targets. “It’ll be something special and unique for people to see,” said Danenhower.
As for equipment displays, Rick Weaknecht, show co-director, said, “There will be a variety of archery manufacturer’s with demo bows and crossbows for showgoers to try. And Parker is bringing its interactive trailer for 3D shooting demonstrations.”
Other events are Jason Lentz’s archery novelty shoots that include a running deer target, simulated live turkey, iron buck, ping pong and poker shoot.
New too this year is Randall Arndt’s Gem Mining demonstrations that should interest all age groups. Plus, trapping and predator calling demonstrations, bird dog competitions (must register) and bird dog seminars by Pleasant Valley Farms and Cabela’s.
Tim Klock, international chainsaw carving champ, will be on hand to demonstrate his carving art and next door Stihl will have a power saw display along with the company’s other power tool line.
Speaking of wood carving, G&C Lumber will bring their lumber sawmilling equipment to demonstrate their operation of milling timber into planks and cuts that can be purchased at the conclusion of the show.
Back again will be the Dogs of War Vietnam Military reenactment along with the folks of the Primitive black powder encampment and demonstrations.
On Saturday, the shows’ hunting and fishing flea market always draws a crowd and it’s where deals can be made for new and used outdoor equipment, art, clothing, firearms, fishing gear and other related equipment. Tables must be reserved on a first come basis by calling Bob Danenhower at 610-398-7609.
You can also register your mount for Weaknecht’s free Big Buck Contest that will award an array of prizes.
For photo buffs, why not enter your best work in the shows’ annual photo contest, with this year’s theme being “The Seasons.” For entry and judging, photo’s must be mounted on matt board no larger than 16x20 and should be placed in a matt board sleeve to protect it. Participants may enter up to three pictures with an entry fee of $5 per photo. The contest will be judged by fair visitors and on Sunday, Aug. 27, prizes be awarded thereafter. Entries may be dropped off at Bob’s Taxidermy, Kernsville Road in Orefield, Weaknecht Archery in Kutztown or the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in Summit Hill. For more information, contact Jeannie Carl at 570-325-4336.
Show admission is $5 for adults, $1 for children ages 8-12 and children under 8 are free as are all Boy and Girl Scouts wearing their uniform tops. On Sunday, admission is free for veterans, active military, police, firefighters and emergency responders with proof of service. Free t-shirts will be given to the first 400 paid adults each day. Show hours are 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. both days of the show.
For GPS users, Kempton Fairgrounds is located at 83 Community Drive, Kempton and off I-78 at Krumsville Exit 40. From there drive North on Rte. 737 to the grounds entrance. For more information check www.lehighvalleyhuntingfishingextravaganza.com.
As we’re in the last of the summer doldrums with fishing being poor because of rain and dove hunting is only upcoming, now’s a good time to catch up on what’s new in the outdoor related marketplace.
If you’re firearms buff, collector or historian, Jerry Lee’s 2018 Gun Digest is a necessary read. In fact, you can spend the remainder of the summer reading this vast collection of firearms information Lee has assembled in his latest work.
This 1.25-inch, 567-page softcover has enlisted the top shooting and gun writers in the business to cover a variety of stories, test fires and reports from the field on subjects covering rifles, shotguns and handguns new, old and vintage collectables. There’s also history lessons on the cartridges of Smith & Wesson, Savage Arms, pistols from behind the Iron Curtain, even the Fitz Special one of the most collectable Colt handguns and invention of John Henry FitzGerald.
Lee covers the eight great rifles for dangerous game, the 1855 Rifle Musket, custom gun works by such notables as C.J. Kai, Lee Griffiths, Keith Heppler and many more.
For those contemplating the purchase of an AR rifle, Lee offers a primer. If you’re a .44 Special aficionado, read how it’s still special after 100 years.
Lee also lists hundreds of ammunition calibers with their velocity, energy and trajectory specifications. And towards the back of the book, a comprehensive list of all firearms including flint and percussion and their respective nomenclatures and varying prices and collectable values. There’s even a section on airguns.
Available at better bookstores and Ollie’s, this all encompassing encyclopedia of firearms is offered at $36.99 or can be ordered direct from F&W Media, Cincinnati Ohio by calling 513-531-2222.
While on the subject of firearms, and if you’re like me who likes to shoot them but not clean them, listen up. You can throw away those messy cotton cleaning patches because Swab-Its has a better idea.
This Springfield, Mass., company has a line of innovative patchless, lint and fiber-free foam Bore-Whips, Bore Tips and Gun Tips to make gun cleaning chores easier.
Bore-Tips are tough, reusable and washable foam tips engineered for a specific tight bore fit, providing 360-degrees of contact within the lands and grooves of the rifling, says the company. There’s no more need for jags or having to load poor fitting patches or cleaning rod and they’ll thread onto standard 8-32 and 5/16-27 cleaning rods. Just looking at them it’s easy to see that they can perform better than patches and can effectively deliver cleaning solvents and oils to the firearm.
Their tips are available for most small calibers, and 12, 20 and 410-gauge caliber shotguns. And they’re color coded for easy caliber identification. Without a doubt, you’ll now enjoy cleaning your firearms.
They’re available at many gun shops and specialty sporting goods stores, even Amazon. Or direct by calling 413-543-1442.
If you’re a crossbow hunter, have you heard about the hottest crossbow to hit the archery market?
Rick Weaknecht of Weaknecht Archery in Kutztown says he can’t get enough of them. This, even though they’re priced at $1,300 and $1,800 depending on model. And that’s his price as the R9 model lists for $1,549 and their R15 for $2,049. That’s a lot more than a good rifle or shotgun.
Ravin, a Superior, Wisconsin company, has engineered a crossbow that is claimed to deliver 3-inch groups at 100 yards. No decent bowhunter would take a shot at game animals at that distance. But the company merely wants to show the crossbows’ accuracy.
According to Rick Weaknecht, all the shortcomings of crossbows have been corrected in the Ravin. For example, Weaknecht says most crossbow breakages result from bowhunters shooting a bolt into something to release a cocked arrow. Ravin, however, allows the hunter to crank the cocked arrow down for release with their nifty Versa-Draw built-in cocking system.
Both Ravin models have an extremely compact cocked width of 6 inches and an uncocked width of 10.5 inches. The R9 is listed at 390 fps arrow speed while the R15 is rated at 425 fps. In addition, the bow has a frictionless flight system whereby the arrow and string free float above the rail thereby eliminating friction for accuracy and longer string and cable life. This is part of the company’s unique HeliCoil design that is unlike any other crossbow.
For more information, call Weaknecht Archery (610-683-7405) or check Ravincrossbows.com.
If you’re an avid bicyclist and have done the local IRT and D&L trails but seek new areas to explore, you may want to pick up Patricia Vance’s “Backroad Bicycling in Eastern Pennsylvania,” book. Within this 200-page softcover she details 25 rides for Touring and Mountain bikes in the Keystone State.
Aside from being a research science associate at the University of Pennsylvania, Vance is a member of Bicycle Club of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley and has authored “Cyclotouring: The Traveler’s Guide to Bicycle Touring,” so she knows of what she writes.
Her well detailed book covers the areas of Philadelphia, Valley Forge, The Brandywine River Valley, Bucks County, the Poconos, the Endless Mountains, Pennsylvania Dutch Country and Gettysburg. And the trails she includes are for both road and mountain bikes and for cyclists of all abilities.
Vance has ridden and logged the trails she writes about which includes the most scenic, uncrowded and enjoyable cycling over country roads, mountain trails, bicycle paths and city streets. Her rides range from a 10-mile spin through the row houses of Old City Philly to a 55-mile ramble in the rolling hills of the Poconos. There’s even a covered bridge tour.
Each chapter includes a detailed map, mile-by-mile tour directions and information on mileage, terrain and difficulty. She also lists places to eat and nearby bicycle rental and repair shops (important if your bike gets a blow-out or chain should break). As an added feature, Vance provides commentary on the history and culture of this picturesque region.
As an example of her work for the nearby Poconos and Promised Land State Park, she writes, “This ride overlaps on PA 402 and at 26.4 miles on the Promised Land ride, you’ll cross the Pocono climb at 9.8 miles and when combining the two routes, results in a loop of about 86 miles. You can create a two- or three-day trip with overnight stays in Promised Land, Canadensis, Dingmans’ Ferry, Otter Lake or Lake Wallenpaupack. The terrain (here) is moderately rolling throughout. All roads are paved and suitable for any bike.”
Most importantly, her bike shop listings include, Cedar Bicycle, about 25 miles east on I-84 and 629 Pittston Ave., Scranton, 570-344-3416; Action Outfitters on US 6 and PA 209 in Milford on I-84, 570-296-6657; and Pocono Bikes on PA 940 in Pocono Lake about 10 miles southwest of Canadensis, 570-646-9443.
A portion of her history lesson on this locale is as follows, “The first European inhabitants of this area were a group of Shakers, a religious sect who came here from New England. The Shakers cleared the land of trees only to find it too rocky to farm. When the colony failed, they bitterly named the area “The Promised Land.”
Of course Vance includes a trail map of this state park as she does with all the 25 trails in her book.
For the “Ride” segments, she zero’s out the location by starting at the Promised Land park office on PA 390 and Pickerel Point/Lower Lake Road. From here she instructs to go South on PA 390. At 6.5 miles, the road crosses a small creek leading into Mountain Lake. This is part of Sky Top Lodge. There is a walking path around the lake with benches next to the road. From there she lists mile markers and directions to the next mile post and mile marker.
Vances' book is published by The Countryman Press (Back Country) in Woodstock, Vermont, and lists for $16.95. Its 8.25x5.5-inch size is compact enough to carry in a seat bag or backpack.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.