- Associated Press - Sunday, April 15, 2018

CASTLE ROCK, Wash. (AP) - Scott Hooper holds a rare Japanese Arisaka rifle in his hands, a gun capable of splitting in half within seconds for easier transport. The World War II-era rifles were constructed for paratroopers, who needed an easily carried firearm, and are highly prized by collectors.

“You’ll probably never see one again,” Hooper said as he snapped the rifle back together.

Antique rifles like the Arisaka, which came from a large estate collection, aren’t the only firearms for sale at On Target Outdoors, Hooper’s new sporting goods store in downtown Castle Rock. The store also features a range of weapons from personal handguns to large caliber and semi-automatic rifles and also offers a selection of fishing tackle and bait.

But some of his used guns carry more than 100 years of history.

“There’s not too many places you can walk into and see old Winchesters made in the 1800s on the shelf,” said Hooper, a 39-year-old Castle Rock-area resident.

The store, which opened with limited hours in November and seven days a week in January, fulfilled Hooper’s long-held dream.

After graduating high school, Hooper worked in the former gun shop at the Four Corners Grocery in Castle Rock for about five years. He spent years afterward working in management and sales roles at large corporations in the Puget Sound region. But the faceless and impersonal corporate style didn’t suit him. So he put his money toward building On Target Outdoors.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” Hooper said, “and I’m getting old enough to where, if I don’t do it now, I’m not going to.”

On Target Outdoors in located in the former site of Hill Creek Outdoors, a tool store and saw shop.

Before he opened the gun shop, Hooper hunted and fished nearly year round. Now, running his own business seven days a week, he hasn’t had a day off since January. But he keeps his family involved any way he can, especially his children.

“They’re getting old enough to where they know that this is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Hooper said. “They can come in and listen, and I can teach them a little bit about how to run a business.”

Hooper is a historian as much as a businessman. He said he enjoys showing younger customers how and why some of the older guns were made, knowledge that he learned from older gun owners.

And for others, he’s a troubleshooter.

“They’ll have a cup of coffee, and they’ll come in and just ask questions, and we’ll able to help them out, help them through problems and stuff like that.” Hooper said. “Everybody comes in once or twice, and they’re on first-name basis. A lot of times I’ve coached their kids in baseball or their kids go to school with my kids.”

Hooper said he still has plenty of room to expand. But for the foreseeable future, he plans to keep things local.

“I’m from Castle Rock. My wife grew up in Castle Rock. My kids are going to graduate from Castle Rock. I don’t plan on going anywhere else,” Hooper said. “I’m not here to get rich. I’m here to keep the lights on, take care of the customers, and make an honest living.”


Information from: The Daily News, http://www.tdn.com

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