PONTOON BEACH — Up-and-coming business STS Armory held its customer appreciation day Aug. 6 with a noble cause in mind.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., customers learned about and donated to Got Your Six Support Dogs, and they also tested a new shooting simulator, STS Armory co-owner Katie Johnson said.
Got Your Six Support Dogs, a nonprofit organization, provides service dogs to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The cause is personal to Katie and her husband and STS Armory co-owner, Jesse Johnson.
“We both have a lot of family members that have served in the military, and military guys need as much support as they can get,” Katie Johnson said.
Nicole Lanahan, founder of Got Your Six Support Dogs, has worked as a certified professional dog trainer for 15 years, and has trained not only police, service and military dogs, but has also taught pet obedience classes.
The partnership between STS Armory and Got Your Six Support Dogs is a natural one, Johnson said.
“Got Your Six are personal friends of ours, and their mission statement is very effective: to provide service dogs to veterans for free,” she said. “To see them work with the dogs firsthand is really cool. They stand behind us and we stand behind them.”
STS Armory derives its name from Soteria Training Solutions, the word soteria being the Greek Biblical term for protection and salvation. The business opened its doors in November 2015, after the Johnsons obtained a home-based federal firearms license and started a training company in 2009.
“Business really picked after concealed carry passed in Illinois,” Johnson said.
Approaching STS Armory with a master’s degree in business under her belt, Johnson said one of the industry’s appeals is the wealth of new information.
“I built my first AR rifle recently, and I’m learning more and more about guns every day,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to continue finding knowledge in your field.”
With a passion born out of a need for self-defense and strengthened in her meeting and marriage of her husband — proclaiming that she “fell in love with him and guns at the same time” — Johnson recognizes the most vital element of STS Armory and all it stands for.
“Safety is our number one goal and concern,” she said. “If you can’t handle a firearm safely, then you shouldn’t have one. ”
The customer appreciation day was a rousing success for STS Armory and Got Your Six Support Dogs.
“We had a great turnout,” Johnson said. “Sixty-five customers tried out the simulator and a number of people stopped by to drop off donations.”
STS Armory will continue its bond with Got Your Six Support Dogs in the next few months, with a gun raffle planned for January in support of the organization. Johnson said there also are plans to add an indoor shooting range within the next year.
STS Armory, 4127 South Drive, is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. For information, call (618) 931-4867.