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Canton Twp. shotgun stock designer known around world

By Diana Rossetti - CantonRep.com staff writer

Stark County holds bragging rights for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, more golf courses than many Florida areas and those revolutionary Timken roller bearings.


Funny how one dedicated trapshooter has built a world-renowned reputation for designing custom wood shotgun stocks and hardly anyone here knows about it.


His name? Dennis DeVault. The business? DeVault Industries, 3500 12th St. NW.


Case in point: Ollie McPartland, 53, is here this week from Perth, Australia. A marksman for 10 years, he’s got a German-made Kreighoff K-80 shotgun, for which he wants a stock custom-designed to fit his facial bone structure, his hand and shoulder.


All the way from Perth — 11,632 miles — for a custom stock? There is good reason. Starting at $14,000, the Kreighoff is considered by many one of the top 10 shotguns manufactured in the world. The sky’s the limit on these firearms. Price tags on most would make a tidy little nest egg.


Unlike the traditional sport of trapshooting here in the United States, McPartland and his buddies gather for shooting “down the line” in which a squad of six marksmen moves down a course. Each gets two shots at a clay pigeon, an inverted saucer about 41/2 inches across, sent flying into the sky at unpredictable angles by a machine known as a trap. Three points for downing the “bird” with the first shot. One point for the second.


McPartland first spotted DeVault’s column online at www.devaultind.com.


“Everything Dennis writes, I understand,” said McPartland. “I’ve been a fan of Dennis through reading his newsletter.”


When he arrived in town, he and DeVault, a lifelong trapshooter, set about making a custom stock mold using wood and auto-body putty. The model bears no resemblance to what will be the finished stock.


Fine wood waiting


Standing on shelves at DeVault’s plant are blocks of wood that eventually will be transformed into stocks that easily could be described as works of art.


Turkish walnut is the most expensive, followed by English walnut; claro, a hybrid walnut; and American black walnut.


The Aussie with Irish roots chose English walnut. At McPartland’s request, Cindy DeVault, Dennis’s wife of 34 years, will carve four shamrocks on the finished stock. There also will be a unique, carved three-finger grip design that is DeVault’s invention. It will be five to six weeks before the finished stock is ready to be shipped.



“We’ll duplicate the mold on our machinery. Basically, for as busy as we are, it takes that long,” DeVault explained. “We don’t use stain or fillers. The grain is so beautiful that you wouldn’t want to change that. There will be probably close to 14 coats of polyurethane on it when it’s done.”


Tuesday night, the men went shooting at North Lawrence Fish and Game, where McPartland took aim at 200 targets using the mock-up of his new stock.


“He did great,” said DeVault, 57. “We’ve been doing a lot of shooting in the last few days and it’s been a lot of fun.”


How DeVault did it


You could say Dennis DeVault cut his teeth on clay pigeons, but his mother, Delores, might object.


Call it an urban legend, if you will. But for years, DeVault’s dad, Paul, ran the Mapleton Gun Club outside of East Canton and little Dennis practically grew up there.


Over the years, he shot with some of the best and taught the rest, though he won’t tell you that.



In 1979, DeVault completed a machining apprenticeship at The Timken Co. and later opened his own fabricating shop. Trapshooting fell by the wayside as family and business became priorities.



But one day in 1990, he recalls a customer who asked him to bid a job. He complied but the customer handed the bid back to him and asked if he saw anything missing. “Yes, my name’s not on it,” he replied.


“That’s right,” the customer retorted, “and it won’t be unless you teach me how to shoot.”


It marked the beginning of a career that has turned international customers into shooting buddies.


Krieghoff, shotgun royalty


H. Krieghoff of Ulm, Germany, which was founded as Sempert & Krieghoff in 1886, had been producing European hunting guns for more than 60 years when the company explored the opportunity in the late ’50s and early ’60s to add competition shotguns to its line. Today, the Model 32 and K-80, and, lately, the 20-bore K-20, have made Krieghoff a household name among gun connoisseurs in the United States.
 

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i saw the article. i just have a problem with the picture on the front page. everyone on here understands what is going on in the picture, but it just doesnt look right, a guy pointing a shotgun in someones face.
 

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This is great and yes I will be attending the PITA Grand thanks to Mr. M and his staff. I will be available to assist folks with fitting their existing guns but will not ba able to do a custom fitting for a demo stock. I will be flying and will not be permitted to bring all the tools needed. If anyone wants lessons during the week I will be available to do that duty as well. The photo below is the customer with The Crew. It was a real pleasure to have him here and just a reminder safety is always and forever a top priority in our company. The newspaper may have done a better job of explaining what I was doing but print space is limited and I did not write the story or have the ability to alter what was written. Thank you to Joe for posting this thread and I will post the finished stock when it is complete.

Dennis DeVault

In the photo from the left Cindy, Dennis, Tracy, Bryan, Ollie (our guest), Carl & Mike



 

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hey dennis i agree with you about how the newspaper do their articles. they should know better than that. safety and good gun handling is well understood by the shooting community, i would hope that the repository would do a follow up in the sports section and maybe explain what you were doing.
 

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I spoke with the writer yesterday and she told me the paper got a bunch of calls about what it was I am doing in the photo. I have to talk to her on Monday about a follow-up story when the stock is complete and that is when we can do the safety story. I do this every day and sometimes do not think about it because it is second nature to me. Even though it is second nature I always check the gun before we begin and open it up every time I check the fit even when I know it is not loaded, just a habit. Thanks for the thought.

Dennis DeVault
 
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