HENRYVILLE — A popular Paradise Township shooting range is now under new ownership, and is now sporting a facelift. Mattco Inc., founded by the Mattiolli family, purchased Sunset Hill Shooting Range in 2019, and has since made some improvements. Mattco Inc. also owns NASCAR-affiliated Pocono Raceway in Long Pond. Sunset Hill has been a fixture in the township for more than 60 years.
Sunset Hill Shooting Range in Henryville is open and taking reservations by appointment only until Monroe County enters the green phase of the Wolf administration’s phased reopening plan. In the meantime, Sunset Hill is adhering to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including face coverings, sanitizing weapons before and after each use, social distancing and proper hygeine. The range has also installed an outdoor sink for guests and instructors.
According to Rangemaster Dylan Molinaro, when compared to May 2019, the National Rifle Association reported an 80% jump in gun sales, which he attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Gun sales were initially deemed “essential business” by the state early on during the outbreak. Gun sales were reported to have skyrocketed in the Poconos soon after.
Recent increases in gun sales have prompted the new owners to introduce a program that allows buyers to learn how to use the firearm properly at the range.
“We’ve noted the spike in gun sales over the last few months by novices and first time gun buyers,” said Nick Igdalsky, CEO of Pocono Raceway and Sunset Hill Shooting Range. “So we introduced a new program called, Try, Buy and Train. It’s kind of like a test drive before you buy.”
The program allows buyers learn to shoot safely before the purchase with NRA training included in the sales price.
“Based on the customer experience that day and whichever options they liked the most,” General Manager Carl Cimino said. “(Buyers) can come back and receive specialized training with our NRA certified instructors here on staff. Not only do you get to buy a gun, you get to learn how to properly use it.”
According to Igdalsky, Sunset Hill is the only range with such a program, presenting a unique opportunity for buyers.
“Anytime there is an unnerving instance in the world, guns and ammunition sales jump…it’s just what happens,” said Igdalsky. “We want people to enjoy it and have fun, but keep in mind the safety needed when operating a deadly weapon. This is quite groundbreaking as no one else has done it.”
Part of renovations made to the range included a replacement of Sunset Hill’s berm area, which acts as an area for shooters to “fire bullets into”.
“Most outdoor ranges don’t have the capability to encapsulate or capture all the lead.” Cimino said. “We added a 100% environmentally pure and safe steel berm trap that actually captures 100% of the lead, so none of the bullets go into the ground and no lead in the soil.”
According to Molinaro, more than 100 guns sit under the pavilion on the firing line, providing a “buffet” of firearms ranging from BB guns to sniper rifles and 37mm grenade launchers. The range recently brought in a selection of fully automatic weapons.
“The weapons we carry are very cool, like all the gamers when they shoot these games online, like Fortnite or Call of Duty, well, we actually have all those weapons here,” Igdalsky said.
Enthusiasts will also have access to instructors to guide them “the whole way,” Igdalsky said.
Molinaro said that having NRA-certified instructors working with shooters makes the range unique. Instructors load the weapons, teach proper positioning and hold, as well as how to aim and “everything that can be expected of the firearm before they pull that trigger.”
“Everyone that comes in here works with our professional instructors, many of which are military veterans, police veterans and they know how to safely handle and teach gun safety,” Molinaro said.
Multiple packages are available for enthusiasts looking to enjoy a day on the range.
“Our rental gallery sees many different people coming in alone or in groups,” Igdalsky said. “Many groups come up for a fun activity for the day, just a day outing or some come to try different guns for the love of the sport.”