By Sarrah Peters
Chad Baker, owner of Apex Firearms and Trading, spent years in the military before opening his store.
Baker was a member of the Army Reserves for 16 years. He spent seven years total deployed during that time. He finished basic training on August 10, 2001, after being delayed by breaking both his feet during his first stint at basic.
“We all know what happened a month later,” said Baker. “I was gone that night (Sept 11, 2001) to Fort Campbell for two weeks, and then come back and got my first deployment orders on my daughter’s first birthday, I mean to the date.”
During his deployment, he spent time guarding a plane. As a result, he traveled a lot, going through much of the Balkans.
“We hit over 30 countries on that tour,” said Baker. “It was all on an airplane, I didn’t get off.”
During that time, there was an incident where a pilot miscalculated the distance to a ridge during takeoff. While the pilot circled trying to gain altitude, Baker and his crew-mates threw everything they could off the plane to lighten the load.
Baker came to depend on the other members of his unit.
“No matter if you are overseas or if you’re stateside, I mean you’re serving your country, but ultimately it’s about the guy to your right and the guy to your left,” said Baker. “You depend on them. That’s your family.”
Baker’s work with the military and law enforcement led to his dream of opening Apex.
“I have a lot of credentials when it comes to teaching the civilian side and military,” said Baker. “All of that led into this.”
Baker found out he had a heart issue that forced him to leave the military.
“When different doors shut, the doors opened where I could open this up,” said Baker. “It was a blessing in disguise.”
This gave him the opportunity to spend more time with his family, including his three children.
“She’s 15,” said Baker, about his eldest daughter. “I missed half her life. It’s rough on your family.”
Baker says that his faith and family are the two most important things.
Baker and his family treat their customers as part of their family.
“We are your mom and pop store,” said Baker.
“Very friendly and helpful,” interjected Jimmy Black, a customer.
The Bakers make it a point to make customers comfortable and treat them right.
“If you treat people right, they are going to come back,” said Baker.
His wife Kim also served in the Army, from 2001 to 2003. She runs a boutique in one side of the store called Kim’s Korner.
For more information about Apex Firearms and Trading, call 256-622-1004 or visit the store at 1762 Highway 77 in Southside. The store is open Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. On Thursday, the store is open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.