Mark Your Calendar

NRA 2016 Annual Meeting and Conference is in Nearby Louisville, Kentucky.

Posted by on

I hate to admit this, but during my membership in the NRA-which spans some 43 years now-I have only attended three conferences, which includes attending this year's upcoming conference in nearby Louisville, Kentucky. The first one was in Indianapolis in 2014, and the second one was in Nashville, Tennessee in 2015. I am sorry that I missed the opportunity to attend all the others, because frankly, I didn't know what I was missing. I don't want those of you who are reading this to make the same mistake.

I also have to admit I began attending the NRA Conventions as part of my writing career. While I still go for that reason, I also go because it is a great experience, and one that I prefer over the SHOT (Sporting Hunting Outdoor Trades) Show in Las Vegas, which primarily previews the latest in sporting products coming down the pike. The NRA Convention does that too, but also does so much more.

SHOT takes place in Las Vegas each year, and is not open to the general shooting public. It is open to those involved in the trade (particularly media) and law enforcement, which has become the largest part of the displays. Handling of the products is limited, no loaded, personally carried defensive firearms are permitted in the venue (even by off-duty cops), and next to nothing is for sale. It is a restrictive environment, and requires a plane fare or a long ride in a car to get there from here. None of that applies to the NRA Convention.

The NRA Convention is open to all NRA members, and defensive firearms carried by lawful permit holders or off-duty cops are welcome. This tends to make the venue that is hosting the convention about as crime free as it has ever been in recent memory. At the previous two conventions, I didn't see anything that even remotely resembled a criminal anywhere near the downtown convention center. Loads of products (other than firearms) are for sale directly on site. Due to the welcoming atmosphere at NRA, I have made it my mission to purchase a new Case folding knife at each convention just because I can, along with whatever else I can pick up, like a cool Magpul cellphone case that looks like Magpul AR Magazine. You also get to actually handle the new firearms on display, an activity that is very restricted at SHOT. In both venues, factory representatives are on hand to answer any and all questions regarding their various products so you have the most up to date information available. The free tote bags that are given away at the exhibition hall come in handy for picking up all the product catalogues and other freebies you will encounter.

But there is so much more than new products to the NRA Convention. One of the greatest things about the convention, in these difficult times, is getting to mingle with like-minded Americans. It is truly refreshing after the daily bombasts delivered by the media and certain presidential candidates (or the President himself) against law abiding gun owners, to be reminded that you aren't in this situation alone. It is an annual recharging of your patriotic and common sense batteries, and the experience confirms that you are justified in your thinking all the rest of the year.

You not only get to meet fellow NRA members, but you get to hear from a number of Pro-Second Amendment celebrities, as well as some truly inspirational speakers that you might not be familiar with. It was at NRA that I first heard the outstanding and righteously outspoken Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke address the convention. What an inspirational message from a man who should be running for President!

The only admission requirement is NRA Membership. I urge you to join. We are facing an election which is pivotal to the survival of our Second Amendment Rights, and maybe the survival of our Constitutional Republic. If you don't or can't join NRA before the conference, you can do so once you arrive there right outside the convention hall. Go and take a look at all the products on display. It is a great opportunity to spend a lot of pressure free time examining the newest items the shooting sports has to offer. Take your family, and bring some friends new to shooting who may be interested in joining NRA. Then come back to Columbus and visit Vance's to make the purchase. Sound like a plan? Does to me!