KOUTS | Ryan Davis’ gunsmithing hobby has become his passion and his career.
After years of learning how to make and repair guns, saving the necessary funds and finding the right location, Davis opened Cross Saber Gunsmithing shop in late October.
He describes it as a mixture of a machine shop and a woodworking shop.
“Metal and wood are the two components of the trade,” Davis said. “Anything related to a firearm a gunsmith does, be it with wood or metal with even some chemistry thrown in.”
Davis was a roofer before entering the Army in 2001 and serving a tour of duty in Iraq immediately following 9/11. After leaving the Army as a staff sergeant four years later, he worked in the roofing trade while he was a member of the Army Reserves.
“The whole time I was in Reserves I was on a roof,” Davis said. “But I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life.”
While in Iraq, Davis was send to small arms maintenance school and was his company’s armorer for 18 months.
It was time was well spent learning how to fix the weapons of war.
“I was a little bit of a hobbyist before the Army,” Davis said. “But there it was different. More (weapons) broke in Iraq when we were using them than when we were just going to the (gun) range.”
During his four years as an Army Reservist, Davis took video courses in gunsmithing given by the American Gunsmith Institution.
After leaving the Reserves in 2009, Davis attended the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School in Pittsburgh for two years. Then for the past two years, he worked and saved in preparation for opening his own gunsmith shop.
“I’ve been collecting books and tools for 15 years even when I was in the Army,” he said. “I’ve known I’ve wanted to do it for a long time.”
He spending months seeking the right spot for the shop, and selected a location in his hometown of Kouts.
“I picked Kouts because I was born and raised here,” Davis said. “It’s where I live and it’s my community. It’s in a nice central area and we fit in well. The Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area is nearby.”
Although it may take Davis several years to recoup the $10,000 in savings and personal loans he’s put into the business, he’s not concerned.
“I’m reinvesting everything not being used for loan and overhead,” he said. “I’m constantly acquiring new tools and equipment.”
Fall and the start of deer season was the right time to open, Davis said.
“Customers are excited that we’re here,” he said. “I’ve been told they’re glad and happy to see and to have access to a gunsmith in the area.”