They may look like the typical suburban American family but the Wyatts are anything but, writes Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli
RICH and Renee Wyatt, and their two kids, Kurt and Paige, are not the the typical suburban American family.
They run Gunsmoke, a retail gun shop and a repair facility. Rich says: “We also do a large amount of gun, firearms, shooting training and we do that with regular, everyday people.”
The Wyatt family business and passion for firearms are featured in Discovery Channel’s (Astro Channel 551) series American Guns.
In a phone interview, Rich explains: “I was interested in guns in the eighth grade (at age 13). I wrote a report in my English class about running a gun shop, Gunsmoke and that’s what my family and I
“I went to school to learn to be a gunsmith, to fix and repair and make guns. Then I went to work for the police department for many years as an armourer (a person who fixes the guns and teaches people how to shoot.”
Things went Rich’s way when he successfully got the business going. “We sell, buy and build guns, but the thing that we probably like the best is teaching people how to shoot guns.”
Gunsmoke also has safety classes for its customers to promote the positive and safe use of guns. In over 28 years, Rich has taught over 10,000 people.
“We’ve had people from all over the world train with us, even those from Asia where though they’re not allowed to own a gun there, they think it is fun to come here and try shooting,” he says.
“I hold classes because it’s something I love and I want to teach other people. My mentor, Colonel Jeff Cooper, who’s known in the US as the father of modern pistol craft, talked about our responsibility and how important it was to impart knowledge to others.”
Renee adds: “You’ll see on the show that my husband is a very dynamic man and he does many things well. Most of all he’s a very gifted teacher.
“If you take a class with him, it will not only change you as a person, but also your life and your perspective.”
They admit that they are very lucky that Rich has been able to use that special talent and make a business out of it. “Not everybody can do what he does in the way that he’s able to do it,” Renee says.
Of Rich and Renee’s four children, two are involved in running Gunsmoke. Kurt, 22, specialises in hand-engraving, while Paige, who turns 18 in October, works with the customers. The other children are too young, so they are not involved in the show.
“Doing the show has its setbacks. We’ve not been able to spend more time with our younger children, but at least we get to spend more time with our older ones,” says Rich.
“Kids (Kurt and Paige’s age) these days don’t want to be around their parents, so we are thankful that Kurt and Paige are willing to be with us day and night.”
Rich and Renee talk more about the show:
What’s the most bizarre order you’ve ever received? Was there anything you had difficulty making?
Rich: We run what’s called a prototype shop, where we’re building what have never been made before. So it’s very difficult to do.
As far as bizarre goes, you’ll see some of that on the show, from cannons to little tiny guns called a knuckle duster, which is very, very small and fits into the palm of your hands.
Have there been any accidents, like a misfire or where you were hurt?
Rich: No, not that I can recall. I mean, I’ve gotten hurt but I’ve never had a negligent discharge that resulted in somebody being hurt.
Renee: We’ve never had anybody have a gun go off unintentionally or in an unsafe direction where somebody would have gotten scared, hurt or anything like that. We’re very, very conscientious about safety and this is our first priority at all times.
What was the most precious firearm that you’ve ever created?
Renee: You’ll see a very special episode, where my children and my husband created, from a design in their head, a very special firearm.
It is a semiautomatic 45 Caliber pistol of the highest quality, made for me for our anniversary. It’s 100 per cent silver plated. The grips (on each side of the handle) are made of mother of pearl and embellished with 10-carat diamonds.
It’s absolutely unbelievable to see. That is by far the most valuable — both in sentimental value and in actual monetary value.
How many customers do you get in a day and how long does it take to make a gun, on average?
Rich: We get a lot more now that we’re on Discovery Channel. If you are to walk into our store right now and say “we want you to make a gun”, it will take us over a year to make it for you.
Renee: The actual process will not take a full year but there’s so much going on at Gunsmoke right now that we have a long line of people waiting.
Has the show received any negative criticisms from the anti-gun community?
Rich: I anticipated some of them to really come out against us but they haven’t done so. I don’t know why. I guess they really like the show and can’t come up with anything (negative) to say.