After years of teaching students how to sing and play musical instruments, former Marlinton Elementary and Marlinton Middle School music teacher Rick McLaughlin is humming a different tune. While he is still teaching part-time at Hillsboro Elementary School and offering private voice lessons, he has finally found time for his second passion – archery.
In August, McLaughlin opened Harmony Outdoors, a one-stop-shop for all your archery needs.
“I’ve always wanted to open a shop,” he said. “I’ve been in archery a long time. I can remember as a little kid my dad shooting and I always wanted to.”
McLaughlin is particular about what he carries in the store and makes sure to have only quality items.
“I am a Parker dealer – they’re based in Staunton, Virginia, and also a Morrell targets dealer,” he said. “I carry just about every accessory that you could want for your bows or your crossbows. I can get other brands, but those are my main two.
“I chose Parker for a couple reasons,” he continued. “One, they are made in America. Two, they sell both bows and crossbows which, with the new crossbow law, is important. And three, their pricing is great and they have a lifetime warranty on all their stuff.”
The store also carries equipment for younger archers, whether they are participating in the Pocahontas County Schools archery teams or hunting.
“I have all the stuff for the kids – the Genesis bows, the targets and the arrows for them,” McLaughlin said. “Everything for the archery team – cases – anything they need.
“I also have some basic hunting supplies – some scents, some camouflage things and I can get pretty much anything anyone needs,” he continued. “If it’s from Parker, I can usually get it next day. If it’s from my other distributor, it’s two days because it’s coming from Louisville. If people need stuff for the season, we’re pretty much ready.”
As well as selling equipment, McLaughlin repairs bows and arrows for customers.
“I’ve been working on a lot of bows,” he said. “I put strings and cables on bows. I’ve fletched arrows. I’ve tuned bows, set them up, re-served the string. I pretty much can do any of that.”
Along with equipment and targets, Harmony Outdoors has a target range archers of all skill levels can use.
“Right now it’s seventeen yards and we can accommodate eight shooters,” McLaughlin said. “In two lines, the people shooting the bottom targets would shoot first and then they step back, and the people shooting the top targets would shoot. Eventually, I’d like to get it pushed out to twenty yards, but I’m going to have to create an archway to push it on back.”
McLaughlin also plans to provide lessons for new archers who request extra attention.
McLaughlin wants the place to be inviting and a has plans to offer several community-oriented programs to bring together the archers of the county.
“At Christmastime, we’re going to have ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ Christmas,” he said. “Everybody I know that hunts or shoots archery has stuff in their closet that they don’t use anymore – that’s still perfectly functional. So, whoever it is that wants to do it, they’ll bring in something they have that they don’t use anymore, that’s functional. I’m going to have a deck of cards on my targets, face down, and everybody shoots a card. Whoever gets the highest card gets first pick of the presents.”
He also plans to start an archers league.
“We’re going to try to have a winter league,” he said. “We’ll create teams and have a league night. Each team has their own league night or, depending on how many teams we have, how many league nights we need. They’ll come in and shoot. I’ll have a handicap scoring system so that everyone has a chance and then at the end, we’ll take the money and spring for pizza and have a little awards ceremony. Some of them, silly awards, some of them, serious awards.”
The store will also have a “trophy wall” where hunters can bring in pictures of them with the game they bagged with their bows or crossbows.
McLaughlin is serious about the products he sells and, as an IBO world champion, he knows his stuff.
“I was an IBO world champion so if it’s good enough for me, then it should be good enough for anyone else,” he said. “I was heavy into competition archery from probably 2000 to about 2006 or 2007. I was more of an NFAA [National Field Archery Association] shooter.”
After being on hiatus for several years, McLaughlin is excited to be back to his archery roots.
“It’s exciting for me to actually get back into it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. There’s still a lot of work we have to do on this old building, but we’ve come a long way in a short time.”
While he is focused on archery at this time, McLaughlin plans to add a line of fly fishing equipment and supplies to the store.
Being that this is his first business venture, McLaughlin credits fellow business owners in Marlinton for helping him get on his feet.
“I’ve never been a business person before, so I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of help. Nelson [Hernandez] from the Old Clark Inn has been extremely helpful. Rick and Liz Malcomb over at J&P have been wonderful. They have been awesomely helpful. Bucky Turner and Dave Peacock came down with Bucky’s truck and put our sign up. There have been a lot of people helping us and that’s where it’s nice being in a small town – a lot of good folks to help you.”
Harmony Outdoors is open Tuesday through Saturday. Tuesday and Friday, 3 to 8 p.m. and Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. It is located on First Avenue across from J&P Furniture.