The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

April 30, 2014

NRA Convention a special experience

Your humble scribe journeyed this past weekend to the National Rifle Association Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. Not a bad drive from Beckley, but a world away as it is flat as a pancake and lots of cornfields. That’s not a bad thing, just different.

Unless you live under a rock somewhere, you probably know what the NRA is all about. To be honest, my brothers in camo, it seems to me that we live in a time where you’re afraid to say anything about anything. But having said that, I think we are safe in saying that the National Rifle Association is the leading force in America protecting the second amendment rights of gun owners everywhere.

I don’t think most of the population knows that the NRA is the leader, by far, in firearm education. Currently the NRA has 55,000 instructors that train about 750,000 safe gun owners a year. The courses they teach range from shotgun, pistol, rifle, muzzle loading, personal protection and ammo reloading. If that isn’t enough, the NRA also has more than 2,800 instructors to work with young competitive shooters.

Something that the NRA does that is near and dear to my heart is its involvement in Hunter Education. The NRA founded the first Hunter Education program in 1949. Today, the NRA offers the Youth Hunter Education Challenge. Youngsters in 43 states and three Canadian Provinces can improve their skills learned in Hunter Education programs. This is just nothing but good stuff boys and girls. Anything we can do to get young people hunting, and train them how to do it safely, we need to do it.

I am going to fool around and run out of room before I get to tell you about the actual NRA show, but they have so many good programs about firearm safety and training, I need to tell you about some more. In 1988, the NRA started the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program. This is usually administered by a state agency, and here in the great state of West Virginia it is taught by the DNR Law Enforcement Section. More than 21 million kindergarten to sixth grade children have been to this program, which teaches them to not touch guns and tell an adult when they see one in an unsupervised situation.

There are a lot more NRA programs, but I need to tell you about the convention itself. If you are a fan of any form of hunting, shooting, competitive shooting, gun collecting, camping, outdoor cooking and the myriad of accessories that go with it, there is more than you can see in three days at this show. Every gun manufacturer that you can name is there — Remington, Winchester, Browning, Colt Ruger, Marlin, Smith and Wesson, Glock, Mossberg, Benelli, CZ, Stoger, Bushmaster and I knew I should not have started this list because I will forget someone. Basically, if anyone is making guns, they are there.

The cool thing about all the booths that I visited was you went right up to the gun displays and handled the guns directly. That is what they were there for. The friendly staff of all the companies I visited encouraged you to handle those guns. It wasn’t just guns, every kind of optics that you could dream of — sight systems, stocks, barrels, holsters, everything about ammunition that is available in the free world.

You know, I was afraid that I would not do justice to what you could see at the NRA convention so — wait. Did I tell you Sarah Palin was there? And Ollie North? Ted Nugent? Alabama? I think I just better tell you to figure on going to the 2015 convention in Nashville, Tenn., and see for yourself. I’ll see you at the Remington booth. I just got to get one of those Versa Max shotguns.

— E-mail larryocase3

@gmail.com

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