American Faces No. 89
This may be the most polarizing American Faces story yet, due to the background behind my subject. But making a judgment like that, I think, is wholeheartedly wrong. I’m not trying to start anything, or even end something. I just want you to take a few moments and get to know Sam.
Sam Smith has been a part of his Northern Minnesota community in one way or another his whole life. He loves his wife and kids and served his country in the Navy and has served people in traumatic times as a first responder. There is compassion in his eyes, and his “protector” spirit is clearly evident as Sam speaks about his life.
This family man doesn’t take lightly the ownership of his gunshop called Off Grid Armory in Shevlin, MN near Lake Itasca State Park. The store – literally off the normal grid – offers firearms, ammunition and an amazing array of old military gear and historic guns rivaling many museums. Sam and his staff strive to train people in responsible gun ownership and strategies for self protection, should the need arise. It’s not just about a gun sale. It’s about getting to know his customers, what their specific concerns might be, or how that firearm might serve them in their chosen shooting sport. For Sam, it’s about us all being good to one another, and it starts by him listening to his customer. The classes Sam and his staff teach on site are usually full. His students learn to safely use, care for and handle their firearms – vital responsibilities learned while friendships are forged.
If you're still reading, thanks for sticking with this story. If the background of the image caused you to pause, I’m glad you didn’t make a snap judgment and scroll on past. Because if you had, you would have shortchanged yourself, missing out on getting to know a little bit about Sam. Yes, he’s the owner of the Off Grid Armory. He’s also a fellow human being, a man who has served our country, a caregiver and a guardian for his community.
Thank you for your service Sam!
Photos/Story by: Nielsen Studios
Editing by: Scott Whitman