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D.O. Reichard


As always, we prefer to let experts tell our story.

Experts Say: ''A Visit to an Alternate Reality''

As I write this, it is 4:00 a.m. and I am sitting at the South Bend, Indiana regional airport, on my way home from visiting an alternate reality. I feel like Captain Kirk, trying to makes sense out of the fact that I know I am in the United States of America, but wondering if I had just been transported back to a time when my parents were young, and I viewed the world out the side window of a 1966 Plymouth Belvedere.

This alternative reality actually exists (I’ll double check when I get home just to make sure), in the form of the Sand Burr Gun Ranch, located just outside of Rochester, Indiana. I was there in order to track down Massad Ayoob to film our second instructional DVD addressing how to handle the immediate aftermath of a self-defense shooting. When I needed to catch up with him, he was teaching a class at the Sand Burr Gun Ranch.

The Sand Burr Gun Ranch is owned and operated by the Reichard family, consisting of patriarch Dennis “D.O.” Reichard, a 34-year veteran of the Rochester, Indiana Police Department, who is currently assigned as the department’s homicide detective. Joining him in the operation of the range and gun store is his wife and business partner, Cindy, along with his charming daughter Ashley. For years I have heard of this .44 magnum shooting cop from Indiana who is a maestro with a .44 and one of Massad Ayoob’s staff instructors for the Lethal Force Institute, so I was pleased to spend three days with the Reichard family while I tracked down Massad to film the DVD.

The Sand Burr Gun Ranch is located on 90 acres of rural Indiana woods, with the ranges consisting of three large combination rifle and handgun ranges, along with several specialty steel and bowling pin handgun ranges carved out of the white pine timber that covers the remaining acreage.

A converted garage serves as a full service gun shop and gunsmithing facility and it is crammed to the rafters with both old and new items. Because D.O. is a revolver man, the new-gun inventory consists primarily of Smith and Wesson revolvers although there are a few new semi-autos, in stock. D.O.’s influence is so strong, that his entire family and most of the staff of volunteer instructors required for a smooth and safe a 20-student LFI-1 class carried revolvers.

If you drive North on Old U.S. Highway 31 from Rochester, and look for the sign to the Sand Burr Gun Ranch, you will drive right by the private driveway which serves as the entrance to the range, because there is no sign on the road. I can respect that, since my own shooting business has no sign either. People get there because someone told them where to turn. That makes sense, as D.O. has put many of the local bad guys away, and while there is a pretty good likelihood the locals know where he lives, why advertise the exact location?

By now, you might be wondering why the talk of an alternate reality? It is because, as one coming from the land of lattes and political correctness, it was refreshing to find a place where men have not been emasculated, women could be both down to earth and feminine, and everyone shot big bore revolvers. It’s like the clock stopped somewhere in the early 80’s, and time passed by the Sand Burr Gun Ranch. That is not a bad thing.

For years, D.O. supplemented his meager police salary by reloading ammunition for the local shooters, and working on their revolvers. The remnants of this history are illustrated in the stock of his gunshop, where new Crimson Trace Laser Grips which retail for a couple hundred dollars, share shelf space with old stock, like the Herrett’s wood grips for a Colt Mark III revolver, circa 1970, with an original price tag of $8.00 still affixed. Pretty cool, to an old revolver man like myself.

But, don’t let my trip down nostalgia lane taint your thinking: D.O. is not stuck in the 80’s. In fact, one of the neatest things I saw was a Smith and Wesson, M+P .38 revolver with a Big Dot front sight. Recently, the folks at Sand Burr Gun Ranch decided to expand their part-time gunsmithing and specialty gun shop into a full-time endeavor, turning the garage into Ashley’s daytime job, with D.O. still doing the gunsmithing in the evenings and on the weekends.

The facility also hosts different instructors, and while I was there, both Massad Ayoob and John Farnam were teaching classes. In addition, the Reichards occasionally teach private classes themselves.

Why the name Sand Burr Gun Ranch? Because, as D.O. relates, when he bought the place, all he could do with it was grow pine trees and sand burrs, a small grassy annoyance that acts like a cocklebur, only smaller. For years, he called his gunsmithing business Reichard’s Firearms, but went to the more colorful name in 2004 when he bought the property on which he had lived for years. The Reichards got serious about building the gun range, and when they carved out the berms for the shooting bays, and they felt a name change was appropriate. At about that same time, Ashley left her job as a microbiologist and moved back home to work for her father as manager of the gunshop, which then opened for business full-time.

As mentioned earlier, Reichard is a homicide detective, and works full-time in that capacity for the Rochester, Indiana Police Dept. But, all good things must come to an end, and Detective Reichard is looking beyond his days as a police officer, and is building his next and final career. He has additional plans for the ranges as he gets the time and energy, but for now, it is still a pretty cool place to visit and train. The future looks bright for Sand Burr, with plans in place to start their own line of entry and intermediate level of firearms classes, along with hosting outside, itinerant instructors, such as Massad Ayoob and John Farnam.

I look forward to watching their growth over the coming years.

Marty Hays in Journal of the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network, June 2008

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