By GENNA FREED
Dan Lerma has a passion: toys that shoot.
He’s not alone.
Lerma and his wife Angie, of Findlay, together with Duane Shaferly and Dave Barchent, host the annual Flag City Toys that Shoot Show. The show features air guns, BB guns, cap guns, slingshots, and many antique toys.
Saturday’s six-hour show, held at the Lighthouse building on U.S. 224, featured 50 vendors from Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana, and as far away as Texas, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa and New York.
“There’s a handful of guys who started the air gun shows 25 to 30 years ago and consider this one of the best,” Lerma said.
“We just have fun. The only bad thing is cleaning up the mess” afterward, he said.
Those who attend the Findlay show would like it to be held more than one day a year, Lerma said, but “this is all we can handle.”
Larry Hannusch of Houston, Texas, and Tom Gaylord of Burleson, Texas, praised the show as “fabulous” and “excellent,” and said it was well worth the drive.
Lerma said his passion for toys that shoot started early.
“I collect slingshots,” he said. “My dad wouldn’t let me have a BB gun, but he said I could have a slingshot. Well, I got really efficient with a slingshot, breaking windows and stuff. But I started collecting them and the next thing you know I’m going to gun shows and flea markets looking for slingshots and I’m finding pellet guns … One thing led to another and I started buying and selling.”
In the future, Lerma plans to keep the Findlay show at the Lighthouse, a building owned by Findlay Area Youth for Christ.
“Some have said maybe we should move to another place, but I want to support what the Lighthouse stands for. We are God-fearing people and we’re not ashamed of it. That’s why we start the day with a pledge and a prayer.”
As far as space, which is limited and sells out a year in advance, Lerma plans to set up tents around the property for more vendors if needed.
“Larry, who came all the way from Texas, was willing to set up outside. He just wanted to be at the show,” Lerma said.
There are about six air gun shows on a circuit that many of the vendors and buyers attend each year, including Findlay’s. They vary in content. Some are exclusively air guns, others feature particular brands like Daisy. Findlay’s show is a mixture.
“When we started the show we were begging people to come and they said, ‘Well, Findlay’s kind of out of the way,'” Lerma said. “Now, people are begging to get in. They like Findlay and it’s turned out to be a good show. It’s grown and is getting a name. Everyone is saying this is the show they have to go to. We just started at a clean place, gave them a place to lodge, places to eat and a good location.”
Table registrations are already beginning for next year’s event, the 10th annual Flag City Toys That Shoot on April 11.
For information, visit the group’s website at www.flagcitytoysthatshoot.com or call Lerma at 419-422-9121.
Newman Freed: 419-422-5151
Send an E-mail to gennanewman