By Jordan Gerard
Spring Grove Herald
Armed with passion and knowledge about things that go “bang!” – Houston County resident Eric Ingvalson said firearms have been his passion since he was a little kid.
“I had a BB gun when I was 10, and it just snowballed from there,” he said. “I enjoy hunting and sport shooting. It’s my football.”
His new gun shop, Driftless Arms, LLC will sell new and used handguns, shotguns, rifles and accessories like scopes, slings and silencers.
It is currently located at 19996 County 28, in rural Caledonia. Eventually, Ingvalson hopes to move the shop to Caledonia for a more convenient location.
Ingvalson is certified as a National Firearms Act (NFA) shop, which means he is licensed to sell more restricted firearms, silencers and other items.
“I am licensed to make custom firearms, sell silencers, gunsmithing and just about anything firearm related,” he said. “I am the only one in Houston County.”
Ingvalson said the process to get that license included a lot of paperwork and background checks.
His first step was to acquire a federal firearms license, which enables a person or business to manufacture or sell firearms and ammunition. That had to be approved by the township, the county and then the state and federal levels.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) keeps those records on file and any records of who purchases restricted firearms.
After that, he submitted records of every kind, including criminal, medical, taxes, fingerprints and more.
“Basically, everything that was me, is on record,” Ingvalson pointed out. “It’s very regulated, very strict.”
An ATF agent came to his shop and talked about the location and the business. “You always have to be in compliance with ATF. They don’t mess around,” he said.
Finally, on Nov. 1, 2016, Ingvalson received his license and was greenlighted to open his shop.
In addition to sales, he will also do gunsmithing and gun repair, which will be about 80 percent of the business, he said.
“I can do genuine gunsmithing like modifying parts, putting replacement parts in and also custom work,” Ingvalson said. “I find that gunsmithing comes very natural to me.”
He is working on two custom rifles right now – a varmint rifle and a long-range elk rifle that will consistently hit a clay pigeon sized target at 600 yards. The accuracy of the elk rifle can be improved upon if shot with hand-loaded ammunition.
“I can do pretty much anything gun related. I’m willing to take on any project,” he said. “If I can’t, I’ll send it out to very reputable gunsmiths.”
Other work includes refinishing guns, stocks, creating custom stocks and gun bluing.
Gun bluing is the process of intentionally rusting metal, such as going from red rust to black rust and then polishing it over and over again until the metal turns the notable blue-black color from which the name comes.
Traditionally, the process takes many days to complete and includes putting the metal through 10 coats of bluing and boiling. Ingvalson is able to do the same process quicker with chemical bluing.
The price range for a gunsmithing job has a price of just $25 and $35 an hour for labor, which is less than larger competitors, Ingvalson said. Most gunsmithing jobs don’t take more than an hour, he added.
Driftless Arms will also offer consignment and appraisals for individual firearms and collections.
“I am happy to do appraisals for estates, like a gun collection,” he said. “I like looking at collections and seeing what people have collected over the years.”
Because of his license status as a NFA shop, prospective owners are not allowed to fire the gun at an approved range unless the paperwork has been completed, so Ingvalson is willing to meet them at the shooting range in Caledonia where they can look at a particular firearm and shoot it with the proper paperwork.
Check out the Driftless Arms Facebook page at www.facebook.com/driftlessarms.