Election Section

Friendly favor becomes gold mine

The Associated Press
Saturday May 26, 2001

EUGENE, Ore. — What started out as a favor for a friend may turn into a major business for Scott Koffler. Three months ago, the 40-year-old millwright received a patent for the Shoot Tube, designed to safely handle test firings of handguns. 

“I always dreamed of being a millionaire,” Koffler said. “I never dreamed of falling into this.” 

It all started with a conversation between friends. Koffler was talking with Troy Standard, the manager of Ace Buyers in Albany. 

Standard had been buying handguns that didn’t work properly and was looking for a way to test them before buying. Standard had seen a device at one of the other Ace Buyers locations, but didn’t feel it was very safe. 

He talked with Koffler, whom he’s known for about eight years, because he knew Koffler had the skills to build such a device and he trusted him. 

“I know he’s good at welding and has contacts with people for the materials to make the shoot tube,” Standard said. “I knew he would do it and do a good job with it.” 

After some thought, Koffler sat down with his computer and designed the Shoot Tube, which is 31 inches high and 6 inches across. It sits at a 20-degree angle from the floor, a natural and comfortable angle for a shooter to aim into. The tube is welded to a 10-inch by 24-inch piece of flat plate that’s one-half inch thick. The top of the tube has a blast cap and it is filled with sand for three-quarters of its length, allowing it to stop a bullet. 

“If a bullet goes into sand it has to expand,” Koffler said. “Since the tube keeps the sand from expanding it only goes down 4 inches.” 

About a week after the first conversation with Standard, Koffler brought him the finished product. It worked like a charm. 

“I was overly impressed. It was far beyond any of my expectations as far as quality and attention to the necessity for safety,” Standard said. “He went beyond what we talked about.” 

After Koffler had made about 20 for various people, he decided to check and see if there was a patent on something similar to his device. 

“I did a patent check and there was nothing out there,” Koffler said. “I filed a U.S. patent on it and that’s how it started.” 

Three months later Koffler had the patent. Then he realized he needed a limited liability license, which has been his major holdup in starting production. The license protects him if the Shoot Tube is sold within the state of Oregon, but outside the state he could be held liable. 

“I think I’m going to go with a bunch of disclaimers. Don’t do this and don’t do that,” Koffler said, as a way to get around the liability problem.