By Scott Meeker
If one watches Steven Burton adjust the sights on a bow, it’s obvious that the task is second nature to him.
“It has always been a hobby,” he said. “That’s what we do in our spare time, hunt and fish.”
Burton has worked full time with the Columbus (Kan.) Fire Department for the past nine years. He was looking for something to do in his spare time, and in 2009 he opened the first Outback Archery in Columbus.
It has been a successful venture, he said, and expanding into a new market seemed like the next step.
“We’ve had a very large customer base from the Missouri area, and we’ve had several people constantly telling us they wish they had a shop in Joplin that offers what we’re offering now,” he said.
“We waited for the right time and then jumped on it.”
Outback Archery, 410 E. Seventh St., will cater primarily to those who enjoy bow hunting and archery, while the Columbus store is split in terms of bait and tackle and hunting supplies.
“That’s a goal with this store,” Burton said. “I’d like to eventually be a one-stop sporting goods store.”
The store carries major bow lines such as Matthews, Mission, Bowtech, Diamond, Elite and Fred Bear, as well as apparel, arrows, targets and other hunting accessories.
Hands-on experience is a major component of what Outback provides for customers.
The store will offer TechnoHUNT, a simulated video shooting range — a “very expensive toy” — that Burton said he is excited to bring to the Joplin area.
“It has a computer system that projects more than 700 videos filmed live. It could be anything — a snake, deer, turkey or elk,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to get. The screen you shoot at has sensors all over it. You put a blunt tip on an arrow, and upon contact, the cameras and laser system tell exactly where you hit and dictates your score.
“There’s nothing like it. It’s going to be a big deal for Joplin.”
The simulator will be available for tournaments, league play or for people to use for practice and to build skill. It will cost $12 per person per 30-minute session.
The store also features an eight-lane, 20-yard indoor archery range. Burton said it will be suitable for paper and 3-D targets. League nights for men, women and children will eventually be offered.
Burton said bow hunting and archery in general is one of the fastest-growing sports.
“More women and children are taking up archery every year,” he said. “Anybody can be good at archery. With the right equipment and the right coach, anyone can shoot and hit the bull’s-eye.”
The store will open for business Saturday, and Burton said a grand opening is planned for a later date. Store hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.