GRAD SPEAK: The Decaturville Armory Story with Fredrick Burriss

  • SDI Admin

Disclaimer: Normally, when we write a “Grad Speak,” we sit down with a graduate, interview them, and then write a story based on the interview. However, Fredrick Burriss wrote to us about his journey, so we decided to let him tell his story. The text has been edited for clarity and length.

Hello, my name is Fredrick Burriss, and this is the story of The Decaturville Armory.

By trade, I am a network architect and IT product owner. However, shooting has always been a hobby of mine. When I moved to Texas in 2014, I was exposed to an area of the country where shooting firearms was fully embraced and a part of the community fabric. Being a part of that culture encouraged me to learn more about firearms. So, for the next several years, I ended up working part-time at various gun counters in the Houston area in order to expand my knowledge of the firearms business.

It turned out that the more I learned about the firearms business, the more interested I became. After being around my mentor, Jack Weighat of Trinity Armory™, for a period of time, I decided to pursue gunsmithing, as I believe it is an amazing skill to learn and cultivate. But I also knew I needed to find a school that could teach me how to get started.
After reviewing different schools and the training that was available, I decided on attending SDI, as they offered an associate’s degree program rather than just a certificate.


Fredrick sighting in 6.5 Grendel during his time at Trinity Armory


I found SDI to be thorough and not for the faint-hearted, as I was juggling earning a degree while working full-time. After all, the next two years consisted of 6 credits every eight weeks, with no breaks. In addition to that, I was also working part-time on weekends at the gun counter of a large chain retailer. Despite the heavy workload, after the first semester, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. So I started making plans to own my own gun shop.

SDI’s assistance with constructing a business plan as well as helping me plan the shop itself was invaluable. After marrying my wife in Pigeon Forge, TN, the two of us started looking for somewhere close to set up shop. With help from Jack and using my education from SDI, I now had a strong idea of how to set up our business.

While I was conducting my research, I came across an area called Parsons, TN, which is located midway between Nashville and Memphis. This central location would allow us to have access to the two large markets while allowing for the lower cost of being in a rural area. It was also the home to my business partner and childhood friend, Ronald McCormick. With all those factors pointing us to Parsons, it became clear that the town would be a good fit for our business.


Fredrick’s Workbench


We would spend the next three years visiting Parsons semi-annually in search of an ideal location. Then, in 2021, we decided to sell our house and move into a rental property there. During that time, I was gradually acquiring all the gunsmithing tools that I could: a drill press, grinders, woodworking tools, whatever I could get my hands on. After about four months of living in Parsons, we settled on a 3,400-square-foot commercial building. It is a building with a lot of history to it. In fact, it was originally the county switchboard in the 1930s. Since purchasing it, we’ve been gradually building out the facility with safes, security doors, alarms, cameras, workbenches, and a ton of other items that we discover as we go.

But that’s just one aspect of our business. We firmly believe in the importance of adding value to your community. So, while building out the gun shop, we all enrolled in a locksmithing school so that we could sell and service safes and other security products for our customers. We are setting up as an IdentoGO facility so that we can do fingerprinting and passport photos. My wife and I also have obtained our TN Notary Public commission so that we can handle NFA items in their entirety, including doing the paperwork and fingerprinting in-house. Long-term, we’d like to add a separate range location as the second store. We have also added sublimation printing for shorts and drinkware as well as 3D printing for ammunition storage containers and other impulse purchases in both shops.


Side view of The Decaturville Armory


The last piece we are adding is a separate craft and gift shop as part of the store, working under us as a DBA. This will provide a place for other items like carry purses, crafts, knives, signs, etc. We have signed a contract with Coke and they supplied the gun shop and the gift shop with coolers for free to get us started. They were happy to partner with us to get a presence in this small town. They are even creating signage for the store for free, all of which will draw additional customers.

All in all, from enrolling in school to opening, it will have been a four-year process, which requires everyone to be all in and committed. I firmly believe that you can achieve your dreams if you are persistent and dedicated. But it doesn’t hurt to have a lot of great people helping and advising you along the way. Between Jack, Ron, SDI, my wife, and the community of Parsons itself, they have all played an important role in the formation of Decaturville Armory. But now comes the exciting part. Now we get down to business. The way I see it, the story of Decaturville Armory is in its infancy and we are so excited to see how it continues to grow and develop over time.

Until then, I am Fredrick Burriss, and this is The Decaturville Armory Story…so far.

To read more stories from SDI graduates like Fredrick, be sure to check out our full catalog of “Grad Speaks” here

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