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A startup ammunition company is constructing a facility and hopes to grow in Sheridan

Charlie Korabek
Absaroka Valley Ammunition

Absaroka Valley Ammunition (AVA) is one of the latest tenants to take up residence in Sheridan, leasing property and constructing facilitiesadjacent to the Sheridan County Airport. With construction set to begin in August, there are plans to manufacture popular calibers of ammunition.

“We’re going to be starting with some pistol calibers, specifically 9 mm, that’s the most popular pistol caliber in the world,” said Absaroka co-founder Jim Weaver. “We’ll also be producing 5.56 mm NATO rounds. Those are also the most popular rifle rounds fired in the world.”

Absaroka Valley Ammunition is just one of several businesses that have relocated to Sheridan in recent years. Co-founded by Weaver and Dr. Michael Strahan, itfollows a trend of firearms and ammunition companies, such asWeatherby, that have relocated to the Cowboy State from elsewhere, largely due to Wyoming’s gun-friendly laws and culture.

“We've got a pretty good balance here,” said Charlie Korabek, Chief Operations Officer with AVA. “Jim and I are both former military guys. I'm retired Air Force. Jim is retired Navy. Together, we have over 40 years of service. Jim specialized in ammunition bullets. I've been an avid reloader for the last 40 years.”

Though ammunition production isn’t set to begin until April 2023, the reception that they’ve received has been positive.

“We've gotten a great response from the community here bringing this business to the local economy, hopefully bringing jobs and then working with the local college here in town to hopefully bring some students out of the college into the into the workforce here and bring some generational wealth here to the shared area,” Korabek said.

Plans are to start small and expand the company over time. This includes the square footage of their facilities in addition to the number of employees they hope to hire.

“We’re going to start with 15 to 25 employees and as we grow, the number of employees will grow with us,” Weaver said. “Within five years, we should have around 45 to 60 employees. Right now, we're planning on a 15,000 square foot manufacturing plant with [a] 3,800 square foot office structure attached to it, and then in the future, we'll be adding on to those.”

Weaver said the name Absaroka reflects the history of the area. In the 1930s, farmers and ranchers in western South Dakota, northern Wyoming and southeast Montana, who were disillusioned with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Democratic control of legislatures,sought to create their own state. Sheridan would have been thenew capital.

“The name Absaroka comes from the Native American term meaning bird with big nose, which kind of covers the crow, the raven, magpie, those types of birds,” Weaver explained. “We’re latching on to the Raven. And if you look at our logo online, or on ourFacebook page, you'll see the logo looks like a bullet, but it's also a kind of a raven face. And the eyes are ‘A’ so with the beak [its] AVA, which stands for Absaroka Valley Ammunition.”

Construction is set to begin in approximately 30 to 40 days.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.

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