Words by Justin Hunter | Images by Al Blanton
In the early 1980s, Pat Patton opened Pat’s Archery and Outdoors as a hobbyist shop in Jasper’s English Plaza on Highway 78. Because Pat worked as a full-time land surveyor, he would go to work in the morning and open up the shop in the afternoon. Back then, the doors weren’t open six days a week, but the local hunting community rallied behind the local business.
In those days, Pat’s was exclusively an archery store that carried a couple of auxiliary hunting items, like tree stands and outdoor clothing. As the business grew, Pat’s inventory branched out beyond the boundaries of archery with a heart to serve a broader target audience.
Nearly 40 years later, Pat’s has developed into a full-line hunting and outdoor store whose product lines include archery, firearms, fishing, hunting, and outdoor gear. The store’s online presence has allowed it to stay current in a shifting economic climate.
To the credit of the knowledgeable staff and wide gun selection, Pat’s Archery is the largest firearms retailer in Walker County. The gun counter experience is not intimidating, but is a welcoming, safe space for all current or potential gun owners. Pat’s also has two bow masters on staff: Paul Lay and Jake Williams, men who are essential components of the hunting community. Paul and Jake have set up hunting bows for generations of hunters from all over the Southeast.
“Pat’s Archery and Outdoors is here to serve the Walker County community,” says current owner Reed Jackson. “We love being a part of the transformation of the county’s image, as far as the hunting and fishing world.”
Reed began working at Pat’s in 2008 during a critical junction in his life and career. Unsatisfied with his corporate job in Savannah, Georgia, and the 2007-2008 financial crisis, he decided to return to Jasper with his wife and child. While working at Pat’s, Reed discovered what he wanted to do with his life. In the spring of 2011, he graduated from UAB with a bachelor’s degree in General Business and took over Pat’s in August of the same year.
“Matter of fact, while I was studying for my finals of my last semester at UAB when Scarlett, my second child, was born,” Reed says. “I actually had to leave mom and baby at the hospital to take a final. I’m pretty sure I passed because my professors had sympathy on me.”
In Reed’s office hangs a photograph of him at eight years old. He is holding up the first fish he caught with a fly rod, and the photo was taken on a camping trip with his dad in New Mexico. He has loved hunting, fishing, and being outdoors his entire life.
“I love the business. I love the customers. I love hearing people’s stories,” Reed says. “You get somebody who has never gone duck hunting before. They are excited and they haven’t even left yet. You sell them the gun on Friday and the next Monday they come back into the store to show the ducks they killed or the deer they just killed with a bow they got on Friday. There are a lot of really gratifying things that we see that we are helping people. It may not seem big to anyone else, but it is cool for us. I really enjoy what we do here at Pat’s and our team has a lot of fun while we are doing it.”
Pat’s Archery and Outdoors is more than a gun shop or a hunting supply store. It taps it into the heart of Walker County, supplying hunters and fishermen with the tools necessary to create memories that will last a lifetime. 78