By Ryan Cornell
STRASBURG -- Shoppers strolling through downtown Strasburg can expect to come across the familiar Christmas-themed storefronts and winter wonderland scenes, but one store's display isn't as common.
Resting in the front window of Signal Knob Weaponry sits a black Armalite AR-50 rifle measuring nearly 5 feet and about 42 pounds. A scope is attached atop the gun's barrel, which is used to fire its 5½-inch .50 BMG bullets.
Ron Funk, who has repaired and refinished firearms at Bucks Mill Gunsmith in Waterlick since 1996, opened the gun shop on Holliday Street in early November.
His shop sells ammunition, accessories and a variety of firearms, including handguns, vintage military rifles and a collection of assault rifles. He said his customers range from enthusiasts in their early 20s to those in their 80s looking for guns for hunting, self-defense and target shooting.
A row of Glock 9 mm pistols sit behind a glass case in the store. Funk said the handguns sell for about $500 each.
"The market's always strong for a gun shop," he said. "It's how you carry your shop and also how you price out your things. We try not to mark our stuff up the way a lot of stores do. The reason being, we like to push our products, we want to sell our stuff."
He said business usually picks up right before the start of deer season, before the winter holidays and the time leading up to spring gobbler season.
"Remember last year at the first of the year, when they were talking about banning assault weapons?" he asked. "Then everybody went on that AR [assault rifle] frenzy? Everybody was buying ARs, you couldn't keep one in stock. That's fallen by the wayside."
Like all reputable gun stores in the commonwealth, Signal Knob Weaponry processes background checks of all of its customers through the Virginia State Police. Funk said the processing time differs for everybody.
Despite the fact that there are multiple gun shops dispersed throughout the northern valley, he said there's always room for another.
"Because the thing is, there could be some things that we could get from a different supplier that other people can't get," he said. "And they could probably get some stuff from their supplier that we can't get."
The lifelong Waterlick resident said he can offer appraisals of people's guns and hopes to develop a friendly atmosphere.
"We just want to be a hometown business," he said. "We want people to come in here and we can order whatever they need and get whatever they want if we don't have it in stock, and take care of the community."
Motioning to the behemoth of a rifle in his window, he noted that it's used to shoot targets up to 1,000 yards away and has the push back similar to a 12-gauge shotgun.
"A lot of people want to buy it because they just want to shoot one," he said. "They hear about it and they just want to try shooting it one time."
Where: 122 N. Holliday St., Strasburg
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday through Wednesday
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org