2012 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits

by B.B. Pelletier


The 2012 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits, in St. Louis.

The NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits: it runs for three days instead of four, yet it out-attracts people 2:1 over the SHOT Show. The public can’t get into the SHOT Show except on the last day by buying a $50 ticket; but if you are an NRA member, you walk into the exhibit hall of the Annual Meetings for free. If you aren’t a member, they’ll give you a one-day dispensation for a small fee. And, unlike the SHOT Show, there are things to actually buy, as well as tons of guns to win in drawings — both free and paid.

Ostensibly, the reason for the event is the annual election of a new president and board members, but the main attraction are the exhibits. They’ve been described as a mini-SHOT Show, because most of the exhibitors are the same, though their booths are just a fraction of the size of the ones they have at SHOT. This show fits into about one-fifth the space needed for the SHOT Show, meaning that most major American cities can host it because they have civic centers adequate for the task — where the SHOT Show has grown to a size that just a few cities can handle it.

Airgun range
And at SHOT, people always complain that they don’t get to shoot the guns — well at least those who aren’t in the press don’t. But at the NRA Show, there’s an airgun range in the same building where, for a small fee, a family can try their skills with a number of popular airguns. Pyramyd Air hosts the airgun range and helps to staff it, though a platoon of NRA-certified instructors also serve as volunteer range safety officers.


For safety, every shooter on the airgun range sat and fired off a rest. A horizontal bar limited the guns from elevating too high.


Not all the shooters were kids! This lady experiences an Air Arms EV2.

Mac always tells me the SHOT Show is great for people-watching. At the NRA show, I’m under far less pressure and can watch people a lot more. It’s interesting to see them react with the brands that are second-nature to me. I might walk past a Rock River Arms booth full of all sorts of AR-15s and not turn my head, but at the NRA show I saw people lined up three deep with each of the company’s representatives. Those poor guys and gals got no rest because the entire time the show was open customers were tag-teaming them. As soon as one would leave, two more vied to be next. The same holds true at every booth at this show, because the public isn’t jaded like those in the industry. They may not see a display like this more than once in their lives, and they intend to get as much from it as they can! Try to imagine what happens to 70,000 kids in a candy store over a three-day event like this.

Another benefit of the NRA show is that it’s a second chance to see things I didn’t see at SHOT. Or perhaps things that weren’t present at SHOT but are there for the NRA show because it comes several months later in the year. This year, the special thing was two new airguns coming from Daisy — both under the Winchester name. One is a 16-shot BB and pellet rifle styled like an M14. It’s powered by two CO2 cartridges and holds both the CO2 as well as the BB/pellet clips inside a structure that looks like an M14 magazine. Joe Murfin, Daisy’s VP of marketing, told me the rifle gets up to 700 f.p.s. with BBs. This is definitely going onto the test list!


Daisy’s Joe Murfin holds the new Winchester M14. It’s rifled and shoots both BBs and pellets.

I also got to heft the new 1911 Winchester Model 11 CO2 pistol. Now, there’s a product with an identity crisis! The last time Winchester made a handgun was in the late 1800s — when they were trying to convince Colt to quit building lever-action rifles! It worked then, but I doubt that anyone even cares today. This new BB pistol is all-metal, heavy and features blowback action that shooters are going to love. And, like the 1911A1 firearm, it’s single-action only. This will be another one to test this year.

At the Umarex booth, I was surprised to learn that the beautiful new P38 Walther BB pistol is single-action, only. The P38 firearm was noteworthy for carrying a round in the chamber and being fired double-action for the first shot. After that, the blowback of the slide turned it into a single-action shooter with a much lighter trigger. But the new air pistol is going to be single-action, only. It’s certainly gorgeous to look at and is a heavy chunk in the hand. I suppose people will be willing to do without the double-action feature. I’ll probably test one to see how it does in the accuracy department.

Collectibles
One of the coolest sections of the whole show is the collectors’ row. Dozens of the finest collector clubs from around the country vie to amaze the public with some of the finest vintage firearms ever seen in one place. Some of these clubs are legendary — like the club from Ohio that actually invented the modern gun show 80 years ago. I’ve seen collectibles that are never seen outside of a museum, and no one museum can come close to the variety of models on display at the NRA show!


This Winchester 1873 One of One-Thousand is one of the five best examples known. It is worth at least in the high six figures, if not over a million dollars.


There were several glass cases filled with exquisite miniature arms such this 2mm pinfire revolver. The box it’s in is the size of a book of matches. Tools all have ivory handles. Made around 1860!

I stumbled on a kindred lover of old Ballard rifles in the collector’s section. We exchanged stories and information for half an hour, though he did most of the talking. I got some good pointers from him that I’ll soon try on my Ballard, and he steered me to Swiss black powder, for which I finally found a source in Texas! Soon, my old girl will be puffing the great blue clouds she was brought up on, and hopefully the groups will shrink accordingly.

Besides the collectors’ section, some of the older firms such as Colt displayed the guns of their past right in their booths. These are guns that they once made on a daily basis, but which have long since entered the history books. Imagine what it feels like to stand next to a real Gatling gun worth six figures and see the Colt name on its plaque — right where it has been since the indian wars!


A real 19th century Gatling gun by Colt — and you could walk right up to it!

Besides the exhibits, there were live musical performances, celebrities galore, workshops and seminars on everything having to do with the shooting sports — and bunches more. When you look at the crowd that attends these meetings, you realize that today’s NRA is heavily weighted toward successful people who make their own way in life. It’s no wonder both political parties regard the organization with respect; they’re the heart and soul of this nation.

I suspect this show broke the record for attendance, as the aisles were too crowded to walk most of the time. And the people were enthusiastic about being there. It was a real supercharged event that sapped me of my strength each day.

The show ended on Sunday, and we all returned to our workaday lives, enriched by the experience of the long weekend. I was never more tired than when I left the last time; but if everything goes right, I’ll return next year when it’s practically in my back yard — in Houston.

49 thoughts on “2012 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits

  1. I forgot to mention in the report that many blog readers introduced themselves to me while I was in the Pyramyd Air booth. I really appreciate meeting everyone and want to thank all who introduced themselves. And, CW, I’m watching for your comments! 😉

    B.B.


    • Wow! what an event! Looks like I’m gonna have to keep my eye on this one. I plan on attending next year. That range looked great.

      from the Dependant Republik of Kalifornia

      ka


  2. Apart from the plastic stock that M14 looks really nice.

    In some ways I think it’s sad that Canada doesn’t have the gun culture you guys have, I like firearms, I like the way they look, the fine mecanical pieces that make them but they’re so hard to get here and some that you just can’t get.

    The PA airgun range is a really neat idea, it must be so much fun to be able to try so many different guns, all in one place, there’s nothing like trying something out before you buy.

    J-F


  3. I second J-F’s comments. That M14 is some beautiful piece. Now if it can shoot……

    I attended my own show of sorts here in the Democratik People’s Republik of NJ, the annual Delaware Valley Norton Riders ride in. Held each year on the second Sunday of April at Washington’s Crossing State Park in PA, this ride-in seemed to be the largest show I’ve attended and I’ve been coming here since the late 90’s. In addition to hundreds of Nortons, there was Scott Flying Squirrel, a Vincent HRD, numerous restored Japanese bikes from the 60’s and 70’s, BSA’s, Triumphs, Royal Enfields and on and on. But the point of this departure from topic is to BB. I saw a BMW with your name on it – not literally but figuratively speaking. I’ll send you a photo or two later this week for you to examine (a BMW, what else).

    Fred DPRoNJ


    • Fred,
      My brother and I are restoring my dad’s 64 tr650 in a Matese frame and Rickman body. Love those old Triumphs!

      From the Dependant Republik of Kalifornia,

      ka


      • Yep – there were also a couple of John Player Specials there and atleast one Triton (that’s a Triumph engine in a Norton featherbed frame for those that haven’t come across this term before), plenty of BSA Goldstars, 441 Victor Specials and on and on – most in better than showroom condition and ALL RUNNERS.

        Fred DPRoNJ


        • Interesting… Triton. Not sure if I have ever of one. Was a Norton frame better than the Triumph? The Norton, BSA, and Triumph all seem so similar to each other. All used Whitworth tools too. Still have a set.

          ka/DRoK

          Fred, hope you don’t mind me joining you in protest of the political condition of my state by your long time handle.


          • The more the merrier. What we need to do is let our legislators know we aren’t happy with the crap they are ramming down our throat. I already have written a letter to my local paper in NJ and the Council Speaker for the City of NY calling Bloomberg the equivalent of Stalin (no offense, Duskwright) for his rabid anti-gun stance and organization. I’m still waiting for mysterious cars to be parked outside my house, spying on me as an enemy of the City of NY.

            As for the origins of the “featherbed frame”, Norton was looking for a better frame as their racing frames were cracking. They contracted with a pair of brothers in Belfast, the McCandless brothers in 1949, who designed a new frame that was revolutionary for the day. Having won the Isle of Mann in 1950 (a very dangerous, public street race course), the Norton factory rider, Harold Daniell, described the handling as “driving a featherbed”. Here, you can read all about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Featherbed_frame

            While the Isle of Mann is still run, I hate the course as it’s nothing but brick walls, curbs and light poles. Many a fine racer has died trying to go faster than prudent, falling and sliding into an immovable barrier. The pros no longer will race there and the FIM has banned it from professional racing.

            Fred DPRoNJ


            • Yeah, a letter. To Feinstein, or Boxer? They respond with a nice selfpraising, unrelated to the issue letter, thanking me for my support! At least Brown doesn’t respond!

              ka/DRoK


              • When in the PRCa, I stopped sending those NRA protest cards… Waste of a good stamp, given the hypocrite Feinstein…

                I still recall her PR event in the 80s — tossing “her handgun” over the Golden Gate. What she didn’t reveal was that her CCW (and how many people have concealed carry permits in San Francisco!) listed TWO handguns.



            • None taken, Fred

              In fact, Stalin’s times were the most liberal for gun owners and users. Handguns were in posession of almost every Communist party member, .22 rifles were sold as sporting goods and there was no registration or permission to own a shotgun. If you happened to feed a criminal with buckshot – thanks from the Soviet state, comrade, great shot. Even after demilitarization in late 40’s the gun climate was still ok and tolerable. Anti-gun hysteria is mostly a product of Khrustchev’s times and final screws were tightened under Brezhnev. So, call him Khrustchev, comrade 🙂

              duskwight



    • Hi Mr. Pro” I used to go to the Forks of The Delaware in Allentown and always wished there could be one in the DPRO but that would never happen.I hope some day you could get out and begin to be able to buy and not look over your shoulder.But I know that it’s hard to give up your job.home etc.
      but you seem to able to cope with NJ’s harsh laws so I think in spite of them you are able to make it
      and live with them.Sorry to Lecture”But I am still bitter of when I lived there and couldn’t even order
      a can of pellets on line from Pyramid never mind an air gun.So now I’m free and money is my restriction now.Good Luck”I’m sorry that I thought pro NJ actually meant YOU WERE PRO NJ and couldn’t understand why.Edith set me straight


      • Mike,

        We used to live in Maryland. While not as restrictive as New Jersey, it certainly was a pain when it came to firearms.

        I suggest that you let the past stay there…and enjoy the here & now. Just about everyone has financial limitations, so you’re in the same boat as the rest of us. Learn to love what you now have and not regret whatever has passed. You can’t change the past, so you might as well make your peace with it & move on. Also, I might add that Fred seems to be a very positive, happy guy. So, I’m thinking that he’s found a way to deal with the restrictions. It doesn’t seem to stop him from fully enjoying what he has…and I admire that in him.

        Edith



  4. Just heard from Tom, who’s driving back from the NRA show. He threw a belt on his F-150 in Norman, Oklahoma, which is close to one of the big Indian casinos. So, he can bide away his time while waiting for his truck to be fixed. Is he lucky or what? 🙂

    Edith



    • Ain’t doin’ no gamblin’. ‘Ceptin maybe drivin’ a 20 year old truck! But you know what? The tensioner pulley failed and that’s why the belt came off. And they have the parts, so God willing, I will still get home today.

      B.B.


    • The lucky part for Tom is that he threw the belt in Norman today and not last Saturday!

      I would like to go to a NRA show someday. I joined the organization this year after learning that they were the source of the grant that got our 4H shooting club started.

      I did a product review for Pyramyd Air on my new Bronco Target Gun a week ago last Friday, but every time I checked to see if it had been shown, it hadn’t. I know it takes up to seven days, so I wasn’t concerned until yesterday. When I checked on their site yesterday, the Bronco Target Gun wasn’t even listed! In its place, was a Mendoza/Williams adjustable peep sight. What’s going on?

      By the way, I am very pleased with the Bronco. At 25 yards, its accuracy is comparable to my scope equipped higher powered springers. My only criticism was that the safety cannot be applied when the gun is not cocked. I like to keep my guns stored with the safety on. So the Bronco will appear the same when cocked and ready to fire, and when it is safely discharged.

      That is the only thing I would like to be different. The quality and finish of the gun is excellent, in my opinion.

      Les


      • Les,

        Yeah…I’ve asked Pyramyd Air to change the # of days to 14, but they won’t do it. If a gun review gets done in 7 days, it’s a miracle. I’m now working on the summer catalogs, so it’s time to double up on my work hours.

        Anyway, I looked for the pending reviews for the Bronco & found yours. I read it & approved it. However, the new website does not update automatically. It sometimes takes a day or so before new stuff appears. You can always to go the old site to verify that your review is live. The old site updates immediately.

        I don’t know what you’re saying about the Bronco target GUN being replaced by the Mendoza peep sight. Here’s the gun:
        https://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Air_Venturi_Bronco_Target_Pro_Air_Rifle/2709

        I wonder if you may have done a search on the site for the Bronco and happened to be searching in the accessories category instead of all categories or just the gun category.

        Edith


        • Edith,

          Thanks for checking that out.

          What I did was search by brands. “Air Venturi” shows only the regular Bronco; the peep sight; and a couple of scope rail options.

          I was worried they had dropped this fine gun. It was out of stock when I ordered it, and noticed it only stayed in stock a few days after shipping mine. Apparently, there is a healthy demand for it, as there should be!

          Les



            • Les,

              Wait a minute. I see what happened. I looked at the display of products which must have been below where you were looking but you needed to scroll down to see it. Instead, you clicked on the Air Venturi link in the shaded box near the top of the page. Those 4 items were just a sample of what’s in the Air Venturi category. Did you see the link below that? It was a hyperlink for “All Air Venturi Airguns/Products. If you’d clicked on that, you would have seen all the items, including the target Bronco.

              Edith


              • Edith,

                Yes. That was what happened. Only seeing the four products, I left the page instead of going lower.
                Thanks for checking that out. I’ll look harder next time.

                Les



  5. BB,I just have a quick OT question…..do you have any need or use for some .41 Magnum cartridges??
    I know it’s not a really popular pistol caliber……I stumbled on some at a flea mkt.


  6. BB,
    You know I approve of the Swiss black powder. Also, your truck is almost identical to the one we have here, but I bet(hope) yours is cleaner! I Thanks for letting us see the show. I like the M14, and it should be no problem to re-stock it will some oil soaked walnut if necessary.


    • BG_Farmer,

      Never bet that your truck is cleaner than B.B.’s! Turns out a noise in his truck that our mechanic couldn’t hear (but Tom…who has hearing loss COULD hear) was a couple bad pulleys. Almost $400 later, he’s back on the road & on his way home.

      Edith


  7. I can’t make it to the nra show or shot show from the peoples republik of michigan but I will go to the kalamazoo daisy swap meet since I found a source of transportation that hasn’t been criminalized yet.


  8. My brother and I attended the NRA show in Louisville, KY a few years back. We were both like kids in a toy store. Scheduling conflicts have prevented me from attending since, but I look forward to making it to one in the next few years. We stopped by Pyramyd’s booth during that show and found them to be nice folks.


  9. BB: are they making firearm replicas of the break open revolver that is shown in the Indiana Jones movies,I believe it was a semi auto revolver. Did you see any at the NRA? Thank you PR


  10. Wow, they have polished up that old Gatling gun. I was just watching a video on the British defeat at Islandlwana by Zulu tribesmen. That clip will really convert you to the value of a magazine rifle; those Martini Henry’s were just too slow. And they would have like a Gatling gun even better.

    Speaking of our British friends, it looks like Pippa Middleton could be facing a lengthy prison term in France for hanging out with guys who brandish guns at photographers. Do not brandish. But with my Lee-Enfield in hand, I cannot root against her Royal Hotness. I think it’s time to sing the lines from the British anthem.

    “Confound their politics
    Frustrate their knavish tricks…”

    Matt61



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