Not Just For the Guys

Not just for the guys…I was fortunate that IFC sent me to the NRA Annual Meeting this year, in Dallas, about three weeks ago. Although I have been a Life Member of NRA for many years, it was the first time I had attended the NRAAM. Registration to the event is free, if you are an NRA member. Also, most of the seminars and educational sessions were free to attend as well. I highly recommend that you go.  Next year’s event will be in Atlanta, Georgia (a little closer to home), on April 24-27th.  Hotels are available to book now:

Just a quick word about logistics. I have attended many large conferences in my life and the organization for this event was stellar. It is obvious that the NRA has invested heavily in their annual flagship event. Everything from the shuttle buses to the hotels, to the on-site assistance available, signage, sticking to the schedule…it was all handled superbly.  Kudos to the NRAAM personnel.

14 Acres of Guns & Gear – It’s True!

Because I had heard about the “14 Acres of Guns & Gear”, I wore my hiking boots — and was very glad I did!  The first thing that strikes you is the sheer enormity – the scale – of the event.  The famous “Wall of Guns” had drool-worthy classics on display. Every conceivable vendor was on hand to show you their latest guns, gear and gadgets. There was an entire aisle devoted to safari and US-based hunting trips.  Ammunition and gun manufacturers competed for your ear, each one seemingly one-upping the other.  There were trainers for every shooting sport, and hands-on displays for dry fire systems. Booths featured specialized targets, home defense, and self-defense. Sales staff were on hand to share their product knowledge, and strategies for use. Suppressors, scopes, RDS, weapon mounted lights, tactical lights, slings and cases…on and on.  Literally there was just about everything firearms-related available!

IFC Trusted Partner On Deck

While in the Exhibit Hall, I stopped to chat with the good folks at Firearms Legal Protection, one of IFC’s Trusted Partners and they obliged with a photo.  Always good to see friends when away from home. Check out their services at the link above.


Women & Guns

And women — women were everywhere.  Women are the fastest-growing demographic for new shooters and first-time firearms purchasers in the country, and they are an enthusiastic bunch!  Shoot Like A Girl was there with their semi-trailer where you could shoot any of the guns they had on hand, free of charge. Vendors and trainers are finely attuned to this sustained, multi-year trend in new firearms purchasers. Consequently, they are adopting and adapting marketing, training strategies and even changes in manufacturing, to accommodate this huge new influx of women gun owners. Sorry guys.  The world of guns and shooting is no longer a ‘good old boys club’.  There are an awful lot of women who have a passion for various shooting sports and disciplines and they are pretty impressive. And relentless! More on that later.

The Seminars

Apart from the several exhibit halls devoted to toys that could break even Elon Musk’s bank account, there were multiple tracks of educational and training seminars, also available at no charge.  My only complaint was that — despite going ’round the sun many, many times in my life, I have yet to figure out how to be in two places at one time. Choices were difficult even though some sessions were offered more than once. This is a link to the 99 sessions offered during the three days, just to give you a sense of the many opportunities.

I attended two sessions offered by John Correia/Active Self Protection (“Lessons Learned From Analyzing 50,000 Gunfights” and “Top 5 Myths Concealed Carriers Believe, Revealed”). John walked us through his analysis of many situations captured on video. He emphasized the importance of making Good, Sane, Sober, Moral and Prudent decisions.

I also attended two sessions offered by Lt. Col. Ed Monk/Last Resort Training (Considerations for Armed Responders to Active Shooter Attacks”).  These were provocative sessions designed to get you thinking seriously about “what if”.  Mr. Monk described what a person might encounter, what to do (and not do), as well as tactics for how to be effective and survive in such a situation. Very sobering stuff.

(Photo is of three IFC Life Members (from left: myself, Presenter Ed Monk, Dave and Todd)

NRA Clubs & Associations

However, the first session I attended, was the “NRA Clubs & Associations Workshop”.  Our very own Dave Funk, President of IFC, was one of the two featured presenters, and he did an excellent job.  He discussed the multi-faceted social media approach we used in 2022 to ensure the passage of Iowa’s Freedom Amendment.  This was the Constitutional Amendment that added language to the Iowa State Constitution to protect Iowan’s Second Amendment rights from infringement.  (Prior to that amendment, Iowa was one of only six states that did not have such language in our Constitution.  To remind you of the company we were in, the other states were California, New Jersey, Illinois, etc.  You get the drift.)

Not a Wardrobe Malfunction

But a funny thing happened mid-speech…(Only funny, because no one was hurt!) Dave Funk was presenting at a podium on the stage. Moriah Day, Executive Director of the Kansas State Rifle Association (also presenting), and NRA Board member, Dave Halbrook (pictured here), were also seated on the stage – when it collapsed!  It literally folded at the middle seam and both of those seated, suddenly were down!  They quickly recovered and left the stage.  What did ‘our’ Dave do when this occurred?  Glanced over, assessed the situation, grabbed the mic, stepped off the stage and continued his slide show presentation, unruffled, while maintenance fixed the stage. This was the first event on the first day and to say it started off with a bang is an understatement 🙂

There were several NRA Board members who attended the Clubs & Associations meeting, along with members from Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, California, Michigan,New Mexico, and others I cannot recall. The information exchange was great and I made several new contacts and brought back many useful ideas. If that had been the only session I had attended, the trip would have been worthwhile.

The “Women’s New Energy Brunch”

This was the single special event I attended. It was billed as a “unique opportunity to learn about NRA’s programs, outreach efforts and mission as relates to women”, networking, etc. It was all that and more. There were several women NRA Board members in attendance, and sponsors as well. The most beneficial part was the breakout sessions, where you could choose which topic you wanted to learn more about. For example, I am very interested in the NRA’s ‘Women on Target’ program.

The various board members each led a discussion on “their” topic/area of expertise. However, what was really revealing was the introductions among the women participants. We were each asked to briefly describe our interest and background with firearms. There were ex- and current military, law enforcement, competitive shooters of every discipline, firearms training instructors, women’s shooting group leaders, reps from national women’s shooting organizations, state gun rights reps, RSOs, gun shop owners – you name it.  As I said earlier – women were everywhere, and enthusiastic, at the NRAAM.  It was inspiring.

So, Iowa ladies – I leave you with this question: If you’re reading this, you are likely an IFC member.  Are your friends who shoot, also IFC members?  Strength in numbers — and I know you are out there! Get your friends involved.  Encourage them to join IFC. (It’s not just for the guys!) 🙂

Second Amendment Matters

P.S. – Look familiar?!!!