April 13th, 2024

Canadian Gun Hub permanently closes after struggling to make profit

By BRENDAN MILLER on March 27, 2024.

Rocky Rutledge, owner of Canadian Gun Hub, uses a plasma cutter to disassemble large steel beams that frame the indoor shooting range. The Canadian Gun Hub has closed its doors permanently this month.--NEWS PHOTO BRENDAN MILLER

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

Medicine Hat area’s only indoor shooting range has made the difficult decision to close permanently, citing higher utility and rental costs as well as firearm restrictions imposed by the federal government.

Canadian Gun Hub opened in Dunmore in 2016 as a shooting range and expanded into firearms classroom training and retail shortly after.

Its eight-bay shooting range was a popular location that was used to host corporate events as well as bachelor and bachelorette parties and provided a safe location for unlicensed users to shoot guns they wouldn’t legally be allow to touch.

Facing potentially higher rental costs and rising utility fees, as well as seeing a decline in customers, owner Rocky Rutledge told the News he decided to shut down earlier this month.

“The day we decided, ‘hey this has to close it’s not worth it anymore’ was the day we ripped the open sign out of the window and started tearing down our range,” says Rutledge.

Rutledge says gun shops across the province are struggling to stay in business following federal gun regulations including its 2020 probation of the sale of assault-style firearms and components as well as a national freeze on the sale, purchase and transfer of handguns that was imposed through Bill C-21 in 2022.

“We cannot sell the handguns so we weren’t able to attract new members,” explains Rutledge. “We were also stuck with all the accessories. Nobody’s buying new handguns. So handgun cases, handgun magazines, holsters. When people buy a handgun they buy all these accessories.”

Rutledge says the restrictions left the Canadian Gun Hub with hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory that was illegal to sell, as well as limiting the selection of guns available to shoot inside the range.

“So our inventory becomes worthless,” explains Rutledge. “Then suddenly a lot of people just got demotivated. The enthusiasm for people to come to the shooting range really dropped.”

Rutledge says the Gun Hub has seen a drop in membership and fewer customers buying firearms.

“The economy really deterred people from even using their guns or renewing their memberships to use their guns,” says Rutledge. “Every time we turn around, it’s another thing taken away, another hit, another expense.”

Rutledge says many of his remaining customers are frustrated with the regulations and are often seeking clarity on what they are allowed to own.

“We hear it all the time, everybody’s confused,” says Rutledge. “Nobody knows what the next rule is gonna be. Nobody knows what the current rules are. Some people think they can’t even own their handgun that they still have.”

Rutledge says high rental costs and utility bills have also contributed to the range closing permanently. He says he wants to thank the community and his customer base for the support since 2016.

“We do appreciate all the support over the years,” adds Rutledge. “All the friendships we’ve made in the past. Everybody contributed to make the place great. It wasn’t just us. It was our customers that made it awesome.”

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