Gun For Hire… The Family Friendly Shooting Range
When you think of the shooting range, you don’t usually associate it with family friendly environment. Firearm ownership within the typical society is often associated with the stereotypical cliche of wearing head to toe camouflage, driving a pick up truck, and chewing tobacco. One misconception that many share about firearms is that if its not in a James Bond movie or on law enforcement, then it’s being used to hunt or commit a crime.
Gun advocate and range owner Anthony Colandro wants to tackle these misconceptions and firearm stereotypes head on. Colandro wants shooting to be a universal family experience, one that you can share with anyone including your wife & kids. His establishment Gun For Hire is sorta like the bowling alley or ice skating rink of shooting ranges. It’s a family affair.
Gun For Hire is located in northern New Jersey. With the strict gun laws of the NJ state, it’s pretty much the only facility of its kind in the area. You can shoot there without a firearm owner’s permit. They have all the supplies you need to get started, just as a bowling alley provides bowling balls and shoes for you. Gun For Hire has over 120 guns readily available in all varieties for aspiring shooters to try. The facility features 19 indoor ports, state of the art targeting systems, & over 90 training courses.
Q&A with Anthony Colandro
What was your inspiration behind Gun For Hire?
My inspiration was to build a gun range & training facility that was like no other gun range or training facility in the country. It was to be family and female friendly. A place where people can come feel comfortable… have a burger, shoot a gun, chit chat, and hang out with the family. Breaking all the stereotypes of it being a testosterone, blue collar driven man’s world.
How long have you been working with gun ranges?
I started with Gun For Hire in 1992 while I was training at other ranges. I officially opened Gun For Hire at Woodland Park Range in April 2013.
Prior to Gun For Hire, Have you did anything else gun related?
I gave private instruction at other gun ranges under the name Firearms Training Center. I used to have a small boutique type company where I would go around and teach people how to shoot guns. Mostly civilians.
What sparked your passion for firearms?
I grew up in the inner city of Newark in the 60s during the riots and guns were taboo. Like every other forbidden fruit I was obsessed with guns but only had metal and plastic toy cap guns when I was a kid. So when I turned 18 years old, I got my first firearm and a friend of mine Charlie Padula, who was a police officer, took me shooting at a Police Range. Since I’ve been shooting at 18 years old I haven’t stopped, I became obsessed with it. I had to study everything about it, learn about guns, learn about training, and taking training and education courses all over the world. I’m an NRA master training counselor, I’ve studied under all of the old gun trainers. For my presentation of teaching firearms and safety, I’ve melded it all together to use in my facility.
What kind of things are you doing at the Gun For Hire facility to ensure that you maintain the image of being a range for everyone?
We have female employees. We have employees of color. We’re 14 miles from Manhattan and right near Giants stadium so we’re in a culturally diverse melting pot of every size, shape, and color. Our range is spotless. Having female employees as soon as you walk in the door, helps female customers feel comfortable. Having a kid friendly environment makes everyone feel comfortable. We treat everyone like family. When people come here, they’re treated with respect, they’ll notice that the place is clean… safety is key. I tell my people our mantra is safety & courtesy. Everybody leaves with a smile on their face… that tells me that they’re gonna either come back or that they’re gonna tell 500 other people about it. That’s how I ensure to keep this success model going forever.
What is your most memorable moment at Gun For Hire?
My most memorable moment would be a sweet 16 party. We do many bachelor & bachelorette parties but this time we had a sweet 16 party. What happened was the girl invited 25 friends and the parents of 19 of her friends said no. Only 6 of her friends were allowed to come because it was gun related. The 6 of them came with their parents and they all shot and had a good time. They posted a ton of photos on social media. I later heard from the parents that the ones that missed it caught a lot of flack from their kids and their kids regretted missing out on the experience. Our job here is to help break those stereotypes. What’s wrong with having a Sweet 16 party at a gun range shooting a gun? Would it be any different than having a Go-Cart party? You’re opening yourself up, there’s always acceptability for liability or accidents for anything. Rather you’re bungee jumping or parasailing, everything that’s fun or exciting has risks. Even ferris wheels… amusement parks have accidents all the time. We run an establishment where we’ve been open for 2 ½ years and we’ve never given anybody more than a band-aid.
At Gun For Hire, do you ever get any celebrity clientele?
Yes, Many! Tyson Beckford, Ne-yo, Bon Jovi… there’s a lot more but some of them don’t want us to use their names. Movie stars, pop artists, athletes… they’ve all shot here.
What is your passion outside of firearms?
My passion is reading. I read at least 20 publications a day. Newspapers, periodicals, magazine, and one or two books a week. I read everything from world history to politics, fiction to non fiction. My other passion is to travel. I love to travel domestically & internationally. I try to travel every other month.
I’ve heard you’re a cigar aficionado. Tell me about that.
I appreciate the leaf, which is vegan by the way. Right now my favorite cigar is CAO Brazilia. It has a Brazilian wrapper, it has a beautiful dense smoke, they burn nice & have a very smooth taste. I like to sit back & enjoy a smoke with the guys. We have an outdoor smoking lounge here at the range.
Tell me about a life situation that made you a Better Man.
While building and opening this range, I endured a divorce and also had to deal with the backlash of the Newtown tragedy right before we opened our doors. Taking the biggest financial step and the biggest gamble of my life. The Newtown tragedy really put a lot of pressure on us as we were trying to open a range. I managed to survive through all of this and a few months later the business was a resounding profitable success and I managed to come out of it unscathed and a better person where I’ve never been happier and I’ve never been more healthier in my life. Following this, I decided that I was going to change my life and I made the decision to have gastric sleeve surgery. I was 409 lbs, 58 waist and a 5x shirt. Now,18 months after the surgery, I’m 225 lbs, a 34 waist, and a Large shirt. All of that rolled together, I look back and think of an old English quote that says “There but for the grace of god goes I”…. I get choked up when I think about it because I don’t know how I managed to survive fighting all of those fronts at once and still come out a winner.
So in actuality Gun For Hire made you a better man?
Yes it did, Gun For Hire made me a better man.