Business has been steady since the United Sportsmen’s Company (USC) opened its Guttenberg storefront on May 15 selling handguns, rifles, shotguns, ammunition, magazines, optics, knives and accessories.
“We specialize in custom made guns, scopes, reloading components, and ammunition. We also sell camouflage clothes and duck decoys,” said the Freeport, Ill., based business owner Brendan Walsh. “We buy estates, if somebody is retiring and selling all their guns and vintage collections.”
Walsh enjoys educating beginners. “I can help kids, ladies, all genres of new shooters. I love to teach new people, not just for home defense but to keep the freedom – to teach people that we are a free country and we have to stay free,” Walsh said. “Nobody should oppress us, whether it’s the right to vote, freedom of religion or right to bear arms – it’s the same thing.”
The Guttenberg store is the third branch of Walsh’s four-year-old business, and he offers national and international travel adventures as another service through the company. “We’ve been traveling the world from Africa to southern Argentina and Europe on hunting adventures, and we have a lot of friends at home ranches around the world, so I can place people with the best outfitters for their needs and what they want to see.”
Walsh and his wife, Mary, have a five-generation farm in McHenry County, Ill. Their daughters, Katie (19) and Nicole (24) study soil science. He opened up shop in Guttenberg, he says, because he wanted to spend more time near river. Walsh started coming to Guttenberg 25 years ago to fish, stay at The Landing, enjoy a meal in the park and interact with the community.
For Walsh, hunting goes hand in hand with conservation. He cites the Pittman-Robertson Act, which his grandfather helped enact in 1931. By imposing a 10-11 percent tax on firearms, ammunition, handguns and archery equipment, over $4 billion has been generated for wildlife conservation. That money is placed in the Wildlife Restoration Fund and annually pays for up to 75 percent of costs for wildlife restoration, habitat acquisition, hunter education research and shooting range development. The Wildlife Restoration Program maintains more than 45 million acres of land in the U.S., and helps train 750,000 Americans annually in safe firearm practices.
Nearly two decades ago Walsh started a nonprofit, the United Sportsmen’s Youth Foundation. Its mission is to teach children about conservation; unite sportsmen, agriculture and communities; preserve land particularly in areas of rapid development; provide and preserve multi-use habitat for children; provide outdoor learning centers near schools; teach children that personal involvement can positively impact wildlife and habitat; and offer all youth the opportunity to participate in and enjoy the great outdoors through safe, responsible use.
“We do banquets, fundraisers and raffles to raise money to buy parks and shooting facilities for kids,” he said. Recently, a community garden became a part of one of the foundation’s parks. Today, there are 38 chapters of the organization including one in South Africa and one in South America.
USC Guns in Guttenberg is open Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is also available online anytime. The company is hosting a gun show and auction on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Riverview Center in Dubuque from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the auction starting at 4 p.m. A bus will provide transportation from the area to Dubuque. For more information, call 815-599-5690 or visit the website.
Photo by the author.