New Oak Harbor business aims to educate gun buyers

Selling firearms isn’t where the transaction ends for Dean and Dawn Cox, owners of Snowowl Arms and Training Facility.

The Coxes said they always wanted to open a gun store, but aimed to set themselves apart from the competition by providing training geared toward first-time gun owners.

“Other gun shops just sell guns. They don’t provide the training that is needed for first time gun owners,” said Paul Burt, a customer and owner of Burt’s Saw &Mower.

“(Dean) has a knowledge of what’s going on,” Burt said.

Dean Cox is a Navy chief petty officer and master-at-arms with 18 years active duty and five years in the reserves. He also has 14 years in military law enforcement and 10 years as an instructor training supervisor.

Dean explained that he has always loved firearms and it was his dream to open his own range.

Dawn Cox said she encouraged her husband’s goal of business ownership, and she was on hand for the opening of Snowowl in August.

Dean Cox’s goal was to have a full outdoor range, but said they were unable to obtain financing for an actual range.

“Once you put gun store or gun range on an application, the interest seems to dry up very quickly,” Dean Cox said.

While their future plans still include opening their own firing range, Dean and Dawn offer an indoor laser range where Dean teaches the fundamentals of gun safety and marksmanship with realistic Glock-like pistols.

Dean Cox said it is a very effective training tool because customers do not have to purchase costly ammunition.

Dean said he understands that there is no substitution for the real thing, though, so he often takes his students for live-fire training at North Whidbey Sportsman Assn.

The association is extremely supportive of the work he is doing in teaching firearms safety and educating gun owners, Dean said.

On Whidbey, there is an abundance of advanced firearm training available, Dean said, but very little basic safety and fundamentals training for new gun owners.

Dean added that obtaining licensing was surprisingly easy. His federal firearms license allows him to conduct gun sales as well as gun transfers for customers wanting to conduct private sales of their current firearms.

“Our business model is not solely supported by selling guns,” said Dean.

Snowowl, he explained, averages only about 10 gun sales per month. The rest of the business is buoyed by the sale of accessories, including flashlights, knives and holsters.

While he’s the expert on firearms and training, Dean Cox said Dawn is the brains behind the business operations.

It is Dawn’s love for snow owls that resulted in the business’s name and logo.

Dawn Cox has a bachelor’s degree in health administration and is only six classes shy of completing her master’s degree in business administration.

Dean said he didn’t launch the business to make a fortune, but rather because of his love of guns.

“I didn’t want a real job after retirement,” he said.

Business has been slow but steady, and plans include adding more classes and, evenutally, offering a monthly Ladies Night.

More in Business

Whidbey Coffee gets new facility, wholesale manager

One of Whidbey Island’s homegrown businesses is getting a double shot of… Continue reading

Record file — Freeland entrepreneurs Jill and Steve Rosen recently purchased Whidbey Island Ice Cream. The Rosens also own Freeland eateries Rocket Taco and Freeland Freeze.
Freeland business owners scoop up Whidbey Island Ice Cream Co.

Whidbey Island Ice Cream Co. has new owners. Steve and Jill Rosen,… Continue reading

Rosalie Gale photo
                                Foamy Wader owner Alexa Allamano works on one of her nautical-themes pieces of jewelry in her Langley storefront.
Langley jewelry store takes inspiration from the sea

Lifelong Pacific Northwest resident Alexa Allamano has always been fascinated by the… Continue reading

Organic Farm School excels in new digs

The Organic Farm School survived its first year at its new Maxwelton… Continue reading

Fight off that turkey coma with variety of weekend activities

There are several events happening this weekend, sure to revive even the… Continue reading

Whidbey Seatac Shuttle, Christian’s Towing voted Best of Whidbey

Due to production errors, categories under “Services” were inadvertently omitted from the… Continue reading

Annual awards banquet draws crowd of the ‘Best’

Annual awards banquet draws crowd of the ‘Best’ Business and community leaders… Continue reading

Best of Whidbey: A career shaped by simple childhood desire

Those that want dog-training lessons and private canine tips need look no… Continue reading

Best of Whidbey: Aesthetician in business of making clients ‘feel good’

For aesthetician Melissa York, community and relationships are a big part of… Continue reading

Online rental sites reshaping Whidbey’s lodging industry

Every September, Whidbey Island Center for the Arts officials are faced with… Continue reading

Whidbey Coffee releases bottled cold brew

Whidbey Coffee unveiled its newest enterprise this week, Beachbomber Cold Brew. “It… Continue reading

Nichols launches National Geographic Quest cruise boat

Holmes Harbor accepted Nichols Brothers Boat Builders latest contribution to the maritime… Continue reading