I’ve never been a gun person. I have relatives who are hunters and I’ve done some skeet shooting in the past, so I’m not anti-gun. But firing off some rounds has never appealed to me. So what compelled me to review Lock n Load, a reality series that airs on Showtime when watching customers come in and buy guns didn’t interest me in the least? I watched the series trailer and was immediately drawn in by the show’s host/creator/gun store owner, Josh T. Ryan.
With his 50’s slicked back hair and a laid back, inviting charm, plus the ability to relate to any person who walks through the doors to The Shootist, the family run Colorado establishment that he runs, Ryan is a star. He’s reminiscent of Duff Goldman of The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes. Instead of coming up with the perfect cake for any client, like Goldman does at his Baltimore store, Charm City Cakes, Ryan seems to be able to read the people who come in looking for guns and find the right firearm for them.
Lock n Load is a hidden camera show, with recording devices set up around The Shootist main store front, as well as the basement firing range the store offers clients. In the six half hour episodes included in this Season 1 DVD, you’ll meet a wide variety of people. There’s the pastor who finds a positive link between religion and firearms; the eight year old boy and his grandfather who take Josh out shooting; a Christian couple who discuss their views of guns and life; and the proud senior who invites us to see his collection of vintage firearms. In addition to the people who come and go, we also meet Arlene, the matriarch of the gun store (she’s quite a character) and we’re there when Ryan comes in to The Shootist and discovers that the store has been robbed.
I’m surprised that Lock n Load aired on Showtime and not one of the many basic cable channels that specialize in this type of content. Yes, there is some salty language, which could have easily been ”bleeped” out, and there was already one existing Lock’n Load series on basic cable, the one starring R. Lee Ermey that aired on History Channel, but I imagine this series would have reached a wider audience had it not been a premium channel series only. I’ll be interested to see if a second season sees the light of day.
What surprised me most about watching Lock n Load was the urge I had to pick up a gun and take aim at a target. Like I said, I’m not a gun person and I haven’t handled a weapon since my days in the Boy Scouts. But in sitting through several episodes of the series, I got caught up in the enthusiasm of the customers and especially Josh Ryan. Instead of making the clients come off as red necked buffoons and making Ryan seem like a cooler than you type of guy, they made Lock n Load, and the gun culture they’re celebrating interesting.
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