Edward Wilks - The Tradesmen Gun Store - The Wilks Family

The Wilks Family, Fall of 2011: Ethan, Gloria, Max, Amelia, Edward, Miriam

The Wilks Family


     In the fall of 2011, Edward Wilks and his family were approached by Firecracker Films and Metal Flowers Media about starring in their own year-long television series on “Family & the 2nd Amendment.”  The show, “ Americana ” would focus on the Wilks family and their dedication and respect for Family, Religion, America, and Firearms.  It helped that the name of their town is "Rifle, Colorado."

     The Wilks family was considered because of their strong commitment to their large family, their Christian values, their love of country... and most importantly... the fact that they earn their living through the custom building and selling of specialty firearms, including fully-automatic machine-guns and silencers... which are legal in Colorado.  They also teach firearms training classing including Advanced Combat Training, self-defense, concealed weapons permit classes, and even children’s classes.

     Many families were considered, but only ten families made it to the finals, and the Wilks Family is on that list.  Edward and his wife, Gloria, have been married for 19 years.  She is a stay-at-home mom who home-schools their four children: Miriam 11, Ethan 9, Amelia 4, and Max, 2.


Rifle Family Vying for Their Own TV Show
CBS News - Channel 5 - KREX Grand Junction, Colorado
By: Hilary Martin

     A Rifle family is in the running to get their own television show. Firecracker Films, a production company, and Metal Flower Media, a casting agency, is searching for a family to be the subject of their new show, Americana. The show is aimed at showcasing the American way of life, with the first season being a family that celebrates the 2nd Amendment in their everyday life.

     Enter the Wilks family. The family of six owns and operates Tradesmen Gun Store and Advanced Combat Training in Rifle, and teaches gun safety classes. They're also one of 10 families in the running to be featured in the first season of Americana.  "They're trying to show what made America great," said Edward Wilks.  The production companies continually work on creating reality shows. They've brought to life hit shows like TLC's My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.  The Wilks say their family and friends saw a posting on Facebook about the show, so they decided to apply.

     "Our hope is to break down those misconceptions," said Edward Wilks, "that people who own guns, they're right-wing conspirators, they're home-grown terrorists, they're gun nuts, they're trigger happy."  Edward and Gloria's four kids have grown up around guns, even getting one as a gift on their third birthday.  "They [the production company] wants to follow Gloria and the children and their shooting activities," said Edward Wilks. They say the show would also showcase their classes and business.

     There's no secret that the name of their town is an added bonus.  "When they saw our location was Rifle, Colorado, that was one of the selling points," said Wilks.  While some families may worry about what being the part of a reality show might do to them, the Wilks don't worry though about their family dynamics or values changing.  "We hope for it to be a positive experience for our family and a good example to America about guns," said Gloria Wilks.  "If things were to change we would pull it immediately," said Edward Wilks.

     Officials at Metal Flower Media say the family that makes the show will be chosen in the first part of 2012. They say it's too early to say when shooting might begin. Although the show has been picked up by a network, the company isn't able to say which one yet.

Wilks Family 2Gloria

Family Shoots for TV Role
By Dennis Webb - The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

     Tuesday, December 27, 2011 RIFLE—Eleven-year-old Miriam Wilks has no doubts about what she wants to do when she grows up.  “I want to take over my dad’s store and hopefully do everything he does now,” she said.  That Miriam’s dad, Edward Wilks, owns a gun store and operates a shooting school is one clue that the two are part of a not entirely ordinary family. Guns are a big part of the lives of Edward and Gloria Wilks and their children, which has helped land them among 10 finalists for “Americana 2,” a documentary-type television series on families that embrace the Second Amendment.  It will be produced by Firecracker Films, which is responsible for Discovery’s “Daredevil” series and Animal Planet’s “Stranger Among Bears.”

     “We are exploring a rich and vital piece of Americana for a revelatory, heartfelt docu-series,” Mark Soldinger, chief executive officer for Firecracker Films, said in a news release. “The show will remind the viewer what it means to be American — where Americans come from, what Americana is all about, and what is really worth fighting for.”  When it comes to a passion for guns and the right to own them, Edward Wilks holds his own, and his passion has rubbed off on his family. He taught his wife how to shoot on one of their first dates, he said.  “He would take me out and go shooting, and he would do different drills with me,” Gloria Wilks said.  “As soon as we got married, I gave her her own gun,” her husband said. “She absolutely fell in love with it.”  Now Gloria Wilks owns four guns.

     Their children get their own first gun when they are 3, and thus begins a careful process of teaching them proper gun handling, and eventually shooting.  “By the time they’re 5 or 6 they’ve gotten quite proficient in shooting,” Edward Wilks said.  The couple has three other children: Ethan, 9; Amelia, 4; and Max, 2.  Miriam isn’t yet allowed to shoot on her own; Wilks said that won’t happen until she’s 14. But already she is an incredible shot, he said, as he showed off videos he has made of her demonstrating her skills. An accomplished combat pistol shooter, she is training to be an instructor at his school, with a focus on working with other children.

Police background

     Starting early in gun instruction is nothing new in the Wilks family. Wilks said he was “very young” when his grandfather, Lynn Hill, first taught him to shoot. Hill, who owned a gas station in Rifle and was a Garfield County commissioner, gave the same lessons to Edward’s mother, Sue Hill Wilks.  “My dad gave me a .22 when I was 9 and taught me how to use it,” said Sue Wilks, who lives with her son and his family.  Edward Wilks’ father worked as a Department of Defense contractor. Although he went to school in the Rifle area for a few years, Wilks spent many of his young years in places including Puerto Rico, California and Spain, where he served on a Mormon mission.  He met Gloria in California when she was 19 and he was 21. They were engaged 12 days later and married within two months. But Wilks bridled at California’s strict gun laws, and they moved to Colorado.  He got a job as a Rifle police dispatcher, then as a deputy in the Garfield County Jail, and after going through the police academy he ended up becoming a New Castle police sergeant.

     In 2005, he jumped at the opportunity to buy a gun store and pawn shop in downtown Rifle. The store, the Tradesmen (phone number: 625-GUNS) also is a full-service gun store in a city with a gun for its name. In addition, Wilks teaches people of all ages basic and advanced shooting techniques, concealed-weapons-permit classes, and advanced self-defense and tactical shooting for handguns, shotguns and rifles.  “Women right now are a huge student base,” said Wilks, who’s a staunch believer in the difference guns make in personal safety.  “Firearms are used 2.6 million times a year to stop crime and violence, most often without a single shot ever being fired,” he said.  “I have students who have shot attackers,” he added.  Those students “are alive today because they took my class and they paid attention,” Wilks said. 

Stereotypes, misinformation

     Colorado’s permissive gun laws contribute to a low crime rate, he said.  Without the Second Amendment, he contends, none of the others would be possible.  “Hitler would not have invaded America because of everybody having firearms,” he said.  Wilks said he was alerted to the casting call for the coming television show by friends, and he hadn’t previously had an interest in having his family participate in a TV show.  “However, let’s be honest, we see it as a good opportunity to be on television and try to be a good influence and a source of positive, beneficial information for the public,” he said.  Wilks said it could be a good opportunity to counter stereotypes and misinformation. However, he said, if his family is picked and he sees any signs that they’ll be presented in a negative way, he’ll end the filming.  Other rules also would apply to filmmakers.  “You’re not going to disrupt date night or family night or any of that stuff,” he said.  Family night is Monday night for the family. Fridays are date nights for Wilks and his wife. And every night includes chores, prayers and Scripture readings for this family, which likewise sets aside Sundays for church and spending time together. 

     This is a family with priorities, and one of its biggest is guns.  That’s evidenced by that .22 that Wilks’ mom got from his grandfather. She since has passed it on to him, and Wilks already knows where the family heirloom is headed next.  “I will give it someday to Miriam,” he said.  As he said that, his pride in his sharp-shooting eldest child, and aspiring business successor, was evident.


Tradesman owners considered for television series
Rifle family finalists for series about Second Amendment Rights
John Gardner - Citizen Telegram Staff - Rifle, Colorado

     With the popularity of cable reality shows depicting the lives of gun shop owners, such as ‘American Guns' and ‘Sons of Guns' on Discovery Channel, it would beg to argue that the town of Rifle is precision made for just such a show.  And so, it may come to be.  “They were especially fond of the fact that the town was named Rifle,” said Edward Wilks, owner of the Tradesman Pawn and Gun Shop in Rifle. Wilks was approached by a Metal Flowers Media and Firecracker Films to star in a show about what else? Wilks' Gun Shop and the Wilks family.

     “Guns are a very big part of our lives,” Wilks said.  But family is the biggest part of their lives. And the whole family believes soundly in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which will be a focus of the television series.  According to a press release from the production company the show will highlight families who value Second Amendment rights and who live by the fundamental principals and core values of which the country was founded.  “This series will take a patriotic look into the everyday lives of middle-America,” read the statement from Firecracker Films CEO Mark Soldinger.  That is the reason, Wilks believes, the production company is interested in his family.

     Edward and his wife Gloria, have been married for 19 years. They've lived in Rifle for 19 years, but Edward grew up here as well. He's worked at the Tradesmen since 1998 and has owned the business for the past seven years.  The show, according to Wilks, if his family were chosen to appear, would focus on his family and their interest in firearms. From his youngest daughter, Amelia, 4, who received her first rifle at age 3, just as her older siblings, Ethan, 9, and Miriam, 11, have and younger brother Maximilian, 2, will as well.  Miriam is already an accomplished combat pistol shooter and is training to be one of the school's next instructors, with a focus on working with other children, Wilks said.

     Wilks is waiting to find out if the production company will choose his family to appear in the show.  “Now that everything is sent off, we just sit and wait,” Wilks said.  Edward said that while he's a fan of other gun focused shows like Discovery's ‘Sons of Guns' and ‘American Guns', he expects this future show to be different.  “There will be no fake drama here,” Wilks said. “No fake fights. We want to promote the good aspects of gun owners.”  Wilks expects to find out if his family is selected for the show later this month. For now, it's just more target practice.

NRA News Story on The Wilks Family

Video from CBS News - Channel 5 - KREX Grand Junction, Colorado - Hilary Martin

Photos of Family (standing), Ethan, and Miriam by Kelley Cox.
Photo of Family (sitting) by Dennis Webb.