When I was several years younger and many inches shorter than I am now, my mom signed me up for .22 rifle lessons at the gun range at Claremore’s favorite university, which was known as Rogers State College way back then. I dutifully trooped up the Hill a couple times a week and learned the basics.
During my senior year in high school, I raised my right hand and swore to defend my country, which involved learning how to shoot an M-16 in a mud pit in sunny San Antonio. I took the concealed carry class a few years ago and was delighted by my paper target, taking it home so I could frame it (which I somehow never got around to doing). These days, I have a couple of hand guns, and my husband (the outdoorsy one) has plenty more. He also enjoys shooting his crossbow and his newest purchase, a recurve bow. (Apparently that takes him back to his childhood summers spent at the YMCA.) Personally, I’ve never shot a bow, which made me the odd woman out when I visited Bill’s Sporting Goods last week.
Bill’s Sporting Goods was opened in Claremore in 1978 by Bill Lowe, a Sequoyah graduate. The original store was primarily a pawn shop, B&R Gun & Pawn, which Bill opened with his brother, Roger. He married Donna in 1980, and after their two daughters were born, Donna began bringing them to work with her at the shop. The pawn shop started with guns, and then archery, with Donna handling the archery department. The Lowe family is a close one, and they spent every weekend together shooting both guns and bows. Daughter Abbie is now a full-time employee at the store.
Thanks in huge part to the Department of Wildlife, archery is now a sport in schools within all 50 states. Mathews Bows created the “Genesis” bow, which can be used by anyone regardless of size. Company reps visited schools in inner-city Boston, and archery in schools was born. In Oklahoma, Coweta was the first district to offer the activity. With a lot of help from Bill’s Sporting Goods, archery is a mainstay in Rogers County schools, and there are more students participating than in any other county in Oklahoma. According to Donna, the addition of archery is fantastic because it’s available to anyone, no matter a person’s size or athletic ability. A fourth-grade girl can compete at the same level as a senior boy. Of course, it still has rules, like good attendance and a solid GPA. Oklahoma now has so many kids competing in archery that it’s necessary to hold regional tournaments before reaching the state level.
In an effort to expand the interests of the students, Bill and his team host a free shooting day for Rogers County students each May. In order to participate, each student needs to bring a parent, and then he or she can shoot clays, traps, and 5-stand at Tulsa Gun Club. It’s a neat opportunity for students to learn all different aspects of shooting.
Bill’s Sporting Goods carries everything a customer needs for archery, firearms and ammunition, black powder, scents, clay throwers and traps, and more. They sell bows in all different colors, y’all. The store stocks guns for all budgets and experience levels. Professional brands can be found at Bill’s that aren’t even available at big-box stores such as Bass Pro. They can mount and bore sight scopes, as well as rig and repair bows. More than half of Bill’s clients travel from surrounding areas and other states. There are a couple of reasons for this: it’s a combo of the extensive merchandise that is carried in-store, and Bill’s staff. All of Bill’s employees are full time, and have been there for a long time. The staff has a combined 130 years experience in its field; can’t really say that about many of the competitors.
Bill’s Sporting Goods is open Monday – Saturday from 9a – 6p. It’s located at 1016 S. Lynn Riggs, just north of Burger King. Find the latest on the web at billssportinggoodsok.com or follow them on facebook.
Keep it local, Claremore!
-MCM Staffer Ashley,
who really needs to learn to shoot a bow.
Perhaps a pink one?