John R. Kelly

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June 3, 2012
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Steve's Army Surplus in Mound House aims to please

At Steve's Army Surplus in Mound House, the men are men, the Airsoft guns are Clint Eastwood rugged, and the camouflage is - pink.

There are the Booty Camp shorts and tops as well as pink camouflage pants, tops and hats. Several of the pink camo items have a portion of the sales donated to breast cancer research (they have tags explaining details).

"The girls just love it," says Cathie Hinkle, a girl, the wife of Steve, co-owner, and proud purveyor of traditional testosterone trappings and now a whole lot more.

Like zombies.

"We just ordered some zombie targets (for the indoor shooting range)," she says. "Hopefully, they'll be in this week. Everybody's into zombies now, for some reason."

All froufrou aside, Cathie and salesman Rick Olmsted say that many customers at the recently opened location, in the shadow of the Bunny Ranch, have been most interested in the Airsoft items. And the 10- by 30-foot range offers instant test-shooting gratification with a gun chronograph to measure the velocity, rate of firing, etc.

The zombies are sure to be toast. And Cathie says a white ring forms where the shot meets the undead.

Airsoft, in addition to being a brand name, is also a sport in which participants use replica firearms to shoot round, non-metallic pellets. Participants typically emulate the tactical equipment and accessories used by modern military and police organizations.

Two similar alternatives are paintball and reballing, a paintless paintball with firm foam pellets. Cathie says that, for some reason, paintball guns are bigger sellers in the Carson area than at their Reno location or in Virginia City, from which they recently moved after five years. She says that although the B Street building was haunted, that's not what scared them away. Rather, it was the high rent prices and lower demand that chased them to the valley floor.

But the Hinkles say they aren't having any trouble scaring up business in Mound House, which is appropriately named because they feel as though they've found a new home as well as store location.

"I love it," Cathie says. "We got a really good feeling here. A great community. Everybody's been really nice. We have a lot of families coming in, and they're all excited walking through the door. I really like that. It's a perfect spot for what we're doing."-Because Airsoft weapons are constructed and weighted to handle and feel like real weapons, public safety agencies, police and armed services units are purchasing the much-less-expensive items for training purposes.

Airsoft parts such as scopes, sites, handles, etc., will fit on the actual weapons that they simulate, which include AK and M4 rifles and full-metal Beretta pistols.

Cathie said Steve's Army Surplus contracts with the Nevada National Guard and Sparks and Reno police departments. She also said that members of Carson's Department of Public Safety are now coming in to purchase items.

Steve's carries new BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) and ACU (Army Combat Uniform) pants and tops from Propper International, the largest supplier for the Department of Defense. It also stocks used BDUs and ACUs.

Back in the day, surplus stores were the place for teens to buy once-trendy painter's pants. Now, Cathie says, the kids prefer their combat boots (made for walking) and, especially in the Carson area, backpacks.

The move is also another exciting beginning for the couple, who began their surplus vision quest in Hawaii in the 1990s, opened and sold stores in California and then fell in love with "really cool" Northern Nevada.

"Now, we have surplus there (in Mound House)," Cathie says. "In Reno, we have surplus and touristy stuff. In Mound House, we're capable of doing sales like we have in Reno."

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jun 6, 2012 04:56AM Published Jun 3, 2012 05:30AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.