For nearly 40 years, Texas City shop has been a place for advice, gear and good stories
Jerry Tkac established The Shooter’s Corner in 1979 in a mere 500 square feet of space. Today, the family business he runs with his wife — who also is named Jerry — remains in its original location but has quintupled in size.
With counters and cases filled with knives, guns, ammunition, reloading supplies, optics, scopes and a wall of gun safes and other related equipment, The Shooter’s Corner in Texas City occupies about 2,500 square feet and has become a Palmer Highway landmark, managing to survive and even thrive in an era of big box stores and chains.
It’s a place where locals, whether they’re planning an African safari, aiming at an Alaskan adventure or just want a small handgun for a hip holster or purse, have long gone for advice, equipment and service.
Tkac draws from a lifelong love of hunting. He shot his first deer at age 9, but had brought down countless rabbits and squirrels before that. In addition to running his retail operations, he’s a licensed Alaskan guide and has participated in a number of African safaris, plus dozens of trips to Alaska and other mountain states.
“Hunting and a knowledge of guns was a part of growing up in my home town of Cibolo, Texas,” Tkac said.
He moved to Galveston in 1963. A year later, he moved to Texas City, where he worked as a licensed electrician. But his love of the outdoors and appreciation for responsible hunting and gun handling practices was always paramount, he said.
The more than 100 trophies — including a leopard, Cape buffalo and variety of bears and sheep — displayed at The Shooter’s Corner are testament to Tkac’s personal prowess in the field. But he’s also dedicated to ensuring a successful hunting or shooting experience for his customers, many of whom drop by his store throughout the day just to visit and share stories or good conversation.
From building customized rifles and arranging outfitters and guides for foreign and domestic hunts, to fitting a young person with a first handgun and recommending a basic skills instructor, Tkac is aware of the accountability that shops such as his must shoulder.
“It’s a big responsibility in today’s world to own or sell firearms, and a lot of different things drive the firearms business,” Tkac said. “It’s important that the gun not only fit the person, but fit their purpose, so the first thing I will ask a prospective customer is what he or she is going to use their gun for. In the past, most of our business centered around outdoors adventure and hunting, but today, personal protection is becoming more and more of a driving force in our sales.”
Once thought to be primarily the purview of men, a knowledge of firearms and how to use them also is attracting more women, he said.
“A lot of ladies are into handgun shooting these days, and their participation now accounts for a large chunk of the activity in the shooting sports,” Tkac said. “And truth be known, when it comes to handgun shooting, most women outshoot their male counterparts three to one because they listen to their instructors and learn to do things the right way.”
Tkac, himself a former member of the U.S. Army National Guard, is especially proud of the community’s law enforcement officers and members of the military and gives them a special discount on purchases.
“A lot of people have different heroes, but this is my hero,” said Tkac as he points to a recently published newspaper photo of longest-serving Texas Ranger Joe Haralson, a Texas City resident and regular customer. “It is people like him who give me my greatest satisfaction in this business. Their friendship and the knowledge that I have been able to help and support them in their work means far more to me than mere dollars and cents.”
Tkac also enjoys visiting with customers — new and old — and listening to their hunting tales and experiences, he said.
“I am genuinely interested in hearing about them personally as well as in providing them with personal service — I think that’s probably how we’ve survived so successfully now for almost four decades,” he said.