By Ann Luongo
Friends and business partners Brendon Bricklin and Toby Leary once shared a dream of bringing to the Cape a place where gun enthusiasts, hunters, military and law enforcement could all come to practice their shooting skills in a safe, controlled environment. They had both been passionate about shooting from a young age, and felt that the Cape would be a great place to make their dream a reality.
“I’ve been interested in hunting and shooting ever since my uncle, John, would take me deer hunting when I was about 14 years old,” said Bricklin. “Over the years, many of my friends would lament that there really was no great retail experience or public indoor range in our area (the Cape).”
Leary’s experience was a bit different. “My parents were very resistant to firearms and I had to wait until I was 18. They wouldn’t even let me buy a BB gun! On my 18th birthday, I went down to the Dennis Police Department to apply for my license to carry. Immediately, I started to think about how Cape Cod needed a really nice indoor training facility.”
Bricklin and Leary imagined a modern shooting-sports facility that contained all the features they were passionate about and felt were crucial to a successful business of this type – an indoor shooting range, a pro shop or retail section, a gunsmithing service, an archery range, and the ability to host courses in a large classroom as well as on the range.
“Several of our friends expressed interest in ‘doing something someday,’ but when it came down to actually making the plunge, it was just Toby and me,” Bricklin said. “After a seminal trip to a range and training center Nevada (2012), Toby and I returned with a passion to act. We began the process in earnest and, by the end of 2013, we had secured our local, state and federal credentials to operate as gun dealers (out of a small section of another business).”
When they shared their vision with members of the community, and their plans to create a state-of-the-art facility with range, training, retail, archery, service, etc., they were met with some skepticism. Some went as far as to say it would be impossible, and/or they’d never get town approval.
“After traveling the country doing research and seeing what we liked and disliked about other ranges, we narrowed down the specifics, located a building that was available, and with a business plan in hand, started selling ‘pre-construction’ memberships from our small store,” Bricklin said.
On July 4, 2013, Cape Gun Works celebrated its grand opening of a complete retail store (a former bank with a walk-in vault, which came in handy) at 145 Barnstable Road, in Hyannis. It was a small store of about 2,500 square feet and had access to a small classroom that held up to 13 people. But there was no gunsmith area, and no range.
“We needed funds to help with the project and finding a bank to borrow the remainder from was a challenge, too,” he added. “No local bank was interested, so we found a bank in Wisconsin that had a history of lending to gun ranges and understood the business model. We were basically importing a validated business model into virgin territory.”
The pair got it done, they said, and, by April of 2017, they celebrated the grand opening of the current facility (20,000 square feet) at 96 Airport Rd, Hyannis. They started out with three employees and now employ around 20 full-time and part-time.
Cape Gun Works has become the premier local indoor range, and has no competition for at least an hour’s drive, and the team has developed their set of core values which are practiced every day – passion, integrity, and excellence, with a strong emphasis on safety.
They offer classes, courses and training all in one place, and are actively inviting the public to take advantage of what they have to offer, which includes a nationally recognized concealed-carry and home defense class, endorsed by the USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association). This is an eight-hour class with live fire.
“We go over the legal use of force, when you should and should not use a firearm, the financial aftermath, and situational awareness,” said Leary. “We also teach a class called Intuitive Defensive Shooting, which is also from a nationally recognized program from I.C.E training. This is a defensive firearm class and it’s mostly range time. This is if you needed to use your gun to protect yourself or others and how to do it most efficiently and safely.”
Cape Gun Works also offers an action pistol shooting competition on Wednesday nights (walk-ins are welcome), as well as other programs such as Stop the Bleed (basic trauma intervention), CPR, and Countering the Mass Shooter Threat. Also offered are the Utah non-resident concealed carry course, and women’s self-defense (with a focus on non-firearms like pepper spray, tasers, and other tools and tactics).
“Many people assume the need a gun license to enjoy the range, but we have several options for them to have a great range experience under the supervision of our instructors and range safety officers,” Bricklin said. He’s referring to the wildly popular Date Nights, Ladies Nights, the Range Experience Package, corporate outings, birthday parties, bachelor parties, and other events.
The Cape Gun Works team consists of some of the best and most experienced around, who bring years of practical and tactical experience to the table. They include veterans of the armed services, former police officers, airplane and helicopter pilots, former gun-store owners, hunters, collectors, business owners, competitive shooters, general managers, and others.
With Cape Gun Works now fully established and supported in its community, Leary and Bricklin have found a number of ways to show their gratitude by supporting other organizations in the area. They donate to fundraisers for fallen police officers, and are involved in the Veteran’s Top Shot Invitational, which is an annual golf and guns event that raises money for two local veterans’ organizations.
“We are also involved in donating our 50-person function room to local entities such as Networking Group USA (business networking group) and will help them be a collection point for food donations for the needy,” said Bricklin. “We also donate the use of our building to the local fire department and the regional fire training academy for them to practice and train their ‘technical rescue’ teams for rooftop work and repelling, etc.”
They also give to booster clubs and schools through donations of memberships, classes, and events, Leary added. “We also look for opportunities to support charity fundraisers for local people in need.”
With a look toward the horizon, both Leary and Bricklin hope to see the business expand, and to see the interest in weapons training and education increase.
“Over the next several years,” Bricklin said, “I’d like to expand our course offerings, expand our corporate outing business and have more of the regional law enforcement agencies use our facility for their training and qualifications. (We do a fair amount of that business now, but there is room to grow.) I would like to become more of a destination and build a strong brand so we can be the largest and best facility and training center in New England. We want to be able to train as many responsible citizens as possible for their enjoyment and safety.”
For now, Cape Cod is the focus, and the partners are grateful to see their dream come to fruition.
“We are so happy to be here on Cape Cod, which has been our home, and to provide the best firearms training and shooting experience around,” Leary said. “We still have lots of room for growth and we look forward to continuing to develop programs that will support local law enforcement. We also believe the second amendment should be accessible to all law-abiding citizens.”
Bricklin added, “We’ve never looked back. Things are great and it’s very rewarding to do something you enjoy for work. It’s actually tough to call it ‘work’ when you enjoy it this much. We love introducing new people into the shooting sports and strive to have a comfortable and non-intimidating welcome to what some feel some amount of trepidation about.”