From left, Fred Oliphant, IV and Nick Meyers are the owners of Midwest Gun Doctors.

Midwest Gun Doctors is a new Cascade firearms dealership that opened July 2021. The shop has a special focus on providing proper education for its customers, especially first-time gun owners. The owner, Fred Oliphant, IV, said the business began as a diversification from his black oxide business, a material used for corrosion resistance and the appearance enhancement of products and often related to nuts, bolts and directional drilling.

Oliphant said, “In 2015 my father-in-law wanted to retire from the auto-body business so I purchased his business and the equipment for the black oxide operation he was running. Leading up to the (COVID-19 pandemic), the black oxide business had been slowing down, so it was a perfect opportunity to take on another business opportunity and not just be stuck on one field.”

Oliphant said he initially started the business with a partner but ended up having to buy him out and find a new partner, his brother-in-law Nick Meyers.

“A good friend of mine, Donny Manternach, and I were just throwing the idea around and agreed at the same time that it would be good for me to diversify from my current business and have something that could have a go at together. He helped me start up the business and get a lot of things going, but it’s a huge time commitment as far as retail hours and being able to research and find products and his job increasingly got busier. We hit a point where I ended up buying him out and am currently in the process of taking on my brother-in-law as a new partner.”

Having collected a considerable knowledge of guns while enjoying it as a hobby, Oliphant said it was the perfect new direction to take his business.

“It’s always been a hobby and it seemed a natural way to add a business. People who know me always came to me with their questions so it seemed a natural way to expand.”

As a large portion of gun purchases are seasonal with the purpose of hunting, Oliphant said business is cyclical.

“It started out really good and we’ve been well-received by Cascade with a lot of local support. Like any business, you have your ups and downs and this business is relatively sporadic. Leading up to deer season we were very busy, now things have slowed down a bit, and the next hunting season will get busy again before another slowdown. It goes in cycles. Leading up to hunting season, that was the focus. Everyone wanted to make sure they had the right ammunition, maybe an additional shotgun, something like that. The rest of the time it’s either target-shooting focused or there are occasionally people who want a self-defense item.”

Oliphant said education is a primary mission for Midwest Gun Doctors and that safety should always be the primary concern of any gun owner.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about people who have firearms. The main thing I’d like to say is that they seem scarier when you don’t know anything about them. It’s always safety first. Depending on where you’re looking there are four or 10 overall points of safety. If someone wants to start I’d say to try a .22 rifle or a shotgun. That’s generally what most people feel comfortable with. My experience is that newer shooters are less comfortable with handguns until they are more familiar with shooting itself.”

For anyone interested in becoming a gun owner, Oliphant said they must be prepared to fill out government documents and submit to a background check unless they have a valid Iowa carry permit signifying they have already received one. In the end, Oliphant said he would rather educate a customer on guns than sell them one if it’s not right for them.

“I would rather have someone come in not knowing anything and ask questions so I could guide them in a direction that suits them, even if they end up not buying something from me. I’d rather discuss what it is they’re wanting, maybe explore other options they didn’t consider and just educate people. That would be my main concern, that people leave educated whether they buy something or not.”