Gander Mountain Academy updates its lessons in gun safety, handling, and marksmanship with virtual shooting technology that was once only available to military and law-enforcement agencies. The ladies-only basic fundamentals class gives women a foundation in the mechanics of handguns and how to use them safely. Students start by winnowing down the right type of gun for their needs, be they self-defense, hunting, or reclaiming the garage from infestations of gremlins. Next, instructors with callused trigger fingers explain the safety rules of handguns, compare ammunition options, and demonstrate proper grip, stance, and trigger control.
At an age when most young men would be happy to move out of their parents' basement, Martin Stubstad wasn't in too much of a rush. That's because back in 1977, Martin was building his own business, Archery Headquarters, bow by compound bow, and his base of operations was in his parents' cellar. Today, the business not only occupies its own space, but it's the go-to shop for hobbyists and professional bows-folk alike. There, quiver-curious visitors can do more than just purchase archery supplies, such as bows, arrows, and apples. Certified instructors teach classes, from a one-lesson intro course to more advanced shooting classes, while archers practice their skills in the shooting lanes on the range.
Thirty years ago, Sun Control had just two part-time window-tint installers. Today, they're 15 strong?each certified to install window films not just in cars, but also in homes and commercial locations. They also benefit interiors by keeping them cool on hot summer days and filtering out damaging UV rays that can fade upholstery. For homes, tinting reduces heating and cooling costs and decreases glare while still allowing in natural light. To ensure proper fit and a seamless look, the 3M certified installers cut films and bless them with a lifetime warranty.
With more than 386 locations dotting North America, JCPenney Optical's ubiquity is matched only by its extensive selection of contact lenses and designer frames that includes brands such as Armani Exchange, Liz Claiborne, and Nicole Miller. Despite this wide reach, all lenses are cut at the same optical laboratory, ensuring a consistency of quality and a pretty good idea of where to look if your glasses run away from home. Each location has an independent state-licensed doctor of optometry, who can perform vision exams and help clients determine which type of vision correction will work best.
Named one of Parents magazine's Top 10 Birthday Chains in 2010, Color Me Mine's international franchise of DIY ceramics studios cater to an older crowd as well. Hundreds of unadorned ceramic pieces—including vases, flatware, and busts of Elvis—await the attentions of muses of kids and their keepers alike, as do glazes in earthy tones and bright crimsons to frighten bulls away from china cabinets. Guests follow simple step-by-step instructions that leave plenty of room for creative expression. When painters are satisfied with their work, the professional kiln-workers help glaze and fire it for them before customers retrieve the finished piece a few days later.