Customer Spotlight

At Manchester Firing Line, our objective is to always help people feel safe and become comfortable with firearms. It is a message that has resonated with men and women, people of all ages, and from all walks of life. Many have said that learning to shoot has been life-changing—and often in ways they did not expect. We want you to meet some of them and read their stories. Please look for our new series of monthly profiles of some of our friends and fellow shooters. Read their testimonials and see why Manchester Firing Line is much more than just a place to shoot.

All customer spotlights will have a featured story on our website and social media pages. They will be invited to special events and will receive a customer spotlight gift loaded with MFL items and a 1 hour free Range Time card. If you would like to be considered for our monthly customer spotlight feature, please email tbowen@gunsnh.com, we can't wait to hear your story!

  • Ashmee Ellis: A Healing Journey

    ​Most people would not consider a firing range to be a place of healing, but for Ashmee Ellis, it was exactly that. After Ellis lost her mother, she was grieving and stressed.

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    ​Most people would not consider a firing range to be a place of healing, but for Ashmee Ellis, it was exactly that. After Ellis lost her mother, she was grieving and stressed. She had heard others say that shooting helped them clear their heads and release tension; she hoped it would work for her. Ellis had been to a gun range just once before but it had closed down. She went to Manchester Firing Line, and from day one, her life started to change.

    ​“From the minute I walked in, the staff made me feel welcome and comfortable,” she recalls. “I was really nervous and not sure if I was doing the right thing. I’m normally very shy and don’t talk much, but in no time, I was chatting with the instructors and feeling right at home. I went in feeling weighed down by sadness, and I came out feeling better. I also knew that somehow I was going to keep feeling better. I vowed to go back and I haven’t stopped.”

    ​Ellis usually visits the Manchester Firing Line (MFL) once a week, and especially enjoys the weekly Ladies’ Nights. “I love the camaraderie of shooting with other women,” she says. “We come from all walks of life and are all ages, but we have a bond. There are other moms like me, as well as grandmothers, young women and mothers and daughters. Everyone’s very supportive. We all want each other to do well. 

    ​“I also love the little gifts you get,” she laughs. “I’ve saved all of mine—they are the cutest things! I have a littlerose pin with the MFL logo; a ChapStick that is shaped like a tiny gun; sometimes they give out lotion or hand sanitizer. The gifts are just tokens, but make it fun!”

    ​Ellis has shot a variety of guns, but focuses primarily on her favorite, a Glock .45. “I like to try different weapons, just to expand my skills, and the instructors are very encouraging about you trying something new. They come right over and work with you on stance and handling, making sure you are on the right track from square one. Ieven shoot an AK-47. If someone told me at the beginning that one day I’d be shooting a weapon like that, I’d have said that they were crazy but now it’s second nature to me, thanks to the teaching I’ve had.”

    ​Ellis also gives Manchester Firing Line high marks for customer service. “The experience you have here is exceptional and you don’t have this experience at other ranges.  They go above and beyond here to make sure you get what you need.  I’m spoiled!”

    ​Ellis urges anyone else who has thought about shooting to try the Firing Line. “There is no better place to be a beginner. I’ve had a number of friends ask about learning and I’ve brought them all here. They will answer all of your questions and make you comfortable. It’s a great place to get started.”

    ​As for the healing that Ellis initially sought, she credits the Firing Line with helping her find her way to a better place. “This place, and learning to shoot, played a huge role in helping me cope with my mom’s passing,” she says. “I was in a very sad and dark place when I first walked through that door, but now I’m much happier. Every time I return, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come not only in my shooting, but also in my personal journey and my return to a healthier mindset. The Firing Line helped me find my way back. I’ve gotten so much more than great shooting out of my experience. They got me excited about something again and built up my confidence—they made me feel that I could get through this sad time. The Firing Line truly changed my life and I’m extremely grateful to them.”

  • Bob Coombes: Safety Is Number One

    ​Ask long-time member Bob Coombes what he likes about shooting at the Manchester Firing Line and he quickly reels off a long list of positives—good instructors, great environment, lots of camaraderie—but top of his list is how safe he feels.

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    ​Ask long-time member Bob Coombes what he likes about shooting at the Manchester Firing Line and he quickly reels off a long list of positives—good instructors, great environment, lots of camaraderie—but top of his list is how safe he feels. “From day one, I felt safe and comfortable here,” he says. “It was the perfect environment in which to learn to shoot.  I still feel safe, and I tell that to anyone who asks about joining.”

    ​Coombes, who lives in Manchester and is an incident manager for a large warehouse distribution system company, first tried shooting in 2016. “I was initially interested in learning because of the craziness of the world,” he recalls. “I thought I should take the opportunity to learn how to protect myself. I quickly found that I enjoyed shooting and the learning process. Soon, I was bringing friends. I just fell in love with the place and the staff. 

    ​“I really can’t say enough about the Firing Line,” he continues. “Everything is very well organized. Even on weekends, which are very busy, they keep everything running smoothly, and everyone still has time to say ‘hi’ and be social. You can tell they care about their members. My hat is off to them.”

    ​Coombes shoots a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm handgun, a .357 Magnum revolver, and a 9mm 17-shot Ruger, although he primarily uses his Smith & Wesson. “When I first came, I didn’t even know how to hold a gun!” he laughs. “But thanks to the great instructors here, and practice, I’m now fairly proficient. I try to practice with purpose, as muscle memory is important. I come here regularly, by myself or with friends and family. Shooting isn’t a manly/macho thing. I think most of us come becausewe want to be able to use a weapon safely and protect ourselves, but we also come because it’s fun. We have a great time with the people here. We all encourage each other to get better.”

    ​Coombes notes that going to the Firing Line is also an exellent stress reliever. “It’s not just the act of shooting, but talking with friends and meeting new people. It’s the interaction. One hour is never enough. I’d happily be here every day!”

    ​Coombes is very active with the Elks Club, which supports the local community through donations to food pantries and other causes. The Elks are also very involved in helping area veterans’ groups and providing for veterans’needs.  He credits the Firing Line with being a regular benefactor to the Elks’ fundraising efforts. “The Firing Line is committed to assisting veterans and veteran-based causes and they have been a strong supporter of our efforts in that area,” he says. 

    ​Coombes encourages others to learn to shoot, urging them to try it at least once. “Many people have an innate fear of weapons,” he says. “But once you understand the purpose of a weapon, that it is a tool, and how to use it safely, you find it changes your perspective. Once you start shooting, you will most likely be hooked!”

    ​As always, Coombes speaks highly of the Firing Line, and especially their commitment to safety. “The staff is like family to me.  We have a blast here, not just with the shooting but the whole experience. But even with all the fun, the thing that still impresses me the most is that safety is always their number one priority. They have every procedure in place to make you feel safe at any time. And when you feel safe, you can relax, learn and enjoy your time here. I tell you, when I’m shooting here, I’m as safe and snug as a bug in a rug! It doesn’t get any better!”

  • Jay Hochman: “Firing Line Is Family”

    For Jay Hochman, Manchester Firing Line felt like family even before he lived in New Hampshire. Hochman hails from Long Island, New York but had married Kim, who is from New Hampshire.

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    For Jay Hochman, Manchester Firing Line felt like family even before he lived in New Hampshire. Hochman hails from Long Island, New York but had married Kim, who is from New Hampshire. On visits to the Granite State to visit her family, they would often go to the Firing Line to shoot. “Everyone was very welcoming there,” recalls Hochman. “We always had a great time; the staff made it a nice family outing.” 
    ​Trips to the Firing Line might have remained just occasional visits had not Hochman’s in-laws become ill. His wife wanted to move closer to them to aid in their care, and Hochman agreed, so they moved to Manchester in early 2020. On Valentine’s Day 2020, Hochman opened a special card from Kim. “It was a $200 gift card for the Firing Line,” he grins. “A thank you for my moving up here. She knew I wanted to become a member, and now I could. Best Valentine ever!”

    ​Hochman had done some shooting as a young man but never really trained with firearms. “Like most young men and boys, I was always intrigued by things that go ‘boom,” he laughs, “but I’d never had time to learn or even owned a gun. My wife had grown up shooting with her dad, so it was really she that got me hooked. Now I’m at the Firing Line most days of the week. It’s been wonderful. I used to be in the catering and limousine business. Still, I had an injury and have been out on disability. Some days are still hard, but being at the range is a great stress reducer. Shooting clears my mind and releases that stress. I call it ‘lead therapy!’ It gives me something else to focus on. It’s also good to know that I can protect my family if I need to; there is peace of mind in that.”
    ​Hochman has nothing, but praise for the Firing Line’s instructors, who he says have become friends and who he credits for giving him thorough training. “They teach you everything about how to safely handle a gun, from how to clean it to how to safely store it, as well as how to use it. They never make you feel foolish as a first-time shooter if you have a lot of questions. If you are interested in buying a weapon, they help you find the gun that’s right for you. There are hundreds of guns to try at the Firing Line, and trying out different weapons is important. A gun should feel right in your hand; it should feel comfortable if you will be comfortable operating it. I now own a VP9 and a Glock 43. After five months of shooting, I’m fairly proficient with my VP9 and am learning to shoot with the Glock. I’m also working on building an AR-15 now—I’m left-handed, so I need a custom gun—and one of the instructors is assisting with that project.”

    ​While Hochman is proud of his shooting skills and all he has learned, he says it’s the camaraderie that makes the Firing Line a special place, as well as the expert instruction. “It’s become a club, a family,” he says. “It’s like when Norm walked into the bar on that TV show ‘Cheers,’ and everyone hollered ‘Hey Norm!’ That’s how it feels when I walk into the Firing Line. I go all the time, with friends, with my family. In the summer, my brother-in-law and I would bring our wives to shoot, then go have a cookout later and do board games—it became part of our date nights! I go with my father-in-law, too. In fact, for Father’s Day, we rented two lanes and we all went. Jake, the owner of Manchester Firing Line, even sponsors one of my bowling teams and gave us all shirts. That got the guys interested and now some of them have become members and are learning to shoot, along with their wives—it’s that kind of place. Once you come and try it, you want to go back.”

    ​Hochman also feels that shooting at the Firing Line has made him closer with his son. “My son’s in college; he’s 19, and when we first moved up here, we were having some problems. We started shooting together, and it’s brought us closer. We both tried guns we’d never shot before, so we were learning together. It’s been a real father/son bonding experience.

    ​“When I started coming, it was all about the training and learning to protect my family, but now, it’s recreation, too,” he continues. “If I’m having a bad day, I come here, and it’s an escape. I always feel better after I’ve been to the Firing Line.”
    ​Hochman encourages anyone interested in learning to shoot to check out the Firing Line. “They will make you feel at home, and the help you get is amazing. If you get involved with shooting on a regular basis, it’s so convenient because you can reserve lanes, and they have lockers for keeping extra ammunition—they think of everything to make the experience professional and pleasant. And it’s a great Valentine’s gift!”

  • Jennifer Sherer: Aiming for Empowerment

    Jennifer Sherer had always been intrigued by firearms and as a young woman, had wanted to learn to shoot. However, life was hectic and somehow lessons were never possible—until recently.

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    Jennifer Sherer had always been intrigued by firearms and as a young woman, had wanted to learn to shoot. However, life was hectic and somehow lessons were never possible—until recently.  Now a single mom, Jennifer felt an even stronger desire to learn how to safely handle a firearm, and to own one herself. She took a pistol class in August of 2019, and quickly realized that she wanted to learn more.  She also knew she needed more one-on-one instruction if she was to feel truly comfortable with a handgun.  At the Manchester Firing Line, she found not only the training that she wanted but much more. 

    ​“I was really nervous early on, when I took my group class,” she relates. “But when I started working with a private instructor at the Firing Line, the change was amazing. He put me at ease right away. He taught me how to handle the gun properly and emphasized that if I always follow all of the safety protocols, there is nothing to be afraid of. Once I became comfortable, I wanted to keep learning and started taking additional classes. I now shoot a rifle and have enjoyed exploring my proficiency with other guns, such as a Glock 20 10mm, an RPD machine gun and a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver, among others. It’s been very empowering.”

    ​Jennifer has become so proficient that she is now an assistant instructor at the Manchester Firing Line, helping with group classes. She feels that because she is a woman, female students sometimes relate better to her. “There are a lot of women taking classes now and they can be unsure and a little afraid just as I was in the beginning,” she explains. “But when they hear my story, they feel more comfortable. They know that they can learn just as I did.”

    ​Jennifer’s daughter, who is 17, totally supports her mother’s interest in shooting and now joins her at the range, where she is also taking lessons. “She got to fire an AR-15 the other day, which makes a really loud boom,” recalls Jennifer. “At first she was afraid, but then when she did it, the look on her face was amazing. You could see the confidence, because she overcame her fear and used her knowledge. We have a great time shooting together, and I feel it has bonded us.”

    ​Jennifer, who works for a defense contractor, BAE Systems, says her coworkers have also been intrigued by her expertise as a shooter and applaud her time spent training. “Many of them are avid hunters and shooters so it’s helped me build stronger relationships with them. They understand why I enjoy it. Every time I go to the range, I learn something knew—whether it’s how to improve my aim, how to shoot at a longer distance, or how to correct my stance. The whole experience has just improved my confidence overall. I NEVER want to have to draw my gun but knowing that I can operate a weapon safely and can defend myself or my daughter, is a great comfort.”

    ​Shooting at the Manchester Firing Line has also opened the doors to new friendships for Jennifer, who frequents the range as many as five nights a week. “The staff is great to be around and I’ve met some really nice people who have become friends,” she says. “There’s a small group of us that shoot together regularly now. The Manchester Firing Line’s atmosphere definitely fosters a sense of camaraderie, so that’s been an unexpected benefit. Also, when I’m at the range, even though we are shooting, it’s peaceful. It gets rid of a lot of stress and I’ve had a stressful life. When you’re shooting, you are so focused that you let go of everything else. It’s a great escape.”

    ​When Jennifer started shooting, she never dreamed of competing but that changed this fall, when she entered a charity event for Dreams for Marines, a nonprofit. Manchester Firing Line regularly hosts charity events and is a long-time supporter of veterans’ causes as they are a veteran-owned business. The Dreams for Marines event involved contestants firing 10 rounds at a target 35 feet away using a .380 handgun. To Jennifer’s surprise, she won. “It was so much fun!” she enthuses. “After I won, I met with the top officers of the organization, who were former Marines. I was thrilled when they invited me to shoot with them, and even asked my advice. Marines don’t shoot handguns that much, they fire rifles, so they actually welcomed a few pointers. I was over the moon! I couldn’t believe how far I’d come.”

    ​Jennifer hopes to become an instructor and help more people become as comfortable with firearms as she is. “There are not a lot of female instructors out there, so I think I can make a difference,” she says. “Manchester Firing Line encourages female instructors and students so it’s a good place to teach and to learn. I’ve fallen in love with teaching from my time assisting and I’m passionate about learning all I can. I want to share that passion with others.”​

    ​For those who are curious about learning to shoot, but still hesitant to begin, Jennifer has this advice: “Sign up for a class or private lesson. Go ahead and take that first step. It’s not that intimidating once you get good instruction, and Manchester Firing Line is a great place to go. A class can help you feel at ease handling and using firearms and give you more power over your own safety.  Knowing I can protect myself and my daughter has made all the difference in my own education and perception of firearms, and I think many others will feel the same once they start the learning process.”