Scenes From NRA 2019: Guns, Gear, and Good Times in Indy

Scenes From NRA 2019 Indianapolis

John Boch for TTAG

Like the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot, the NRA’s Annual Meetings stand as a pilgrimage every gun owner should make at least once in their lives. Think of it as a SHOT Show of sorts for the everyman (and woman).  It’s big. It’s fun. You meet all sorts of people and see lots more. And almost everyone is courteous to a fault in what becomes the safest place in America for an entire weekend.

I had a great time at Indianapolis for NRA 2019.

Like 81,000 NRA members, I prowled the convention floor checking things out there. I saw countless new products and plenty of older ones. History came alive in some of the collector association booths, too.  Museum-quality old guns, many with a lot of pedigree behind them in fact.

And Rock Island Auction had a genuine Gatling gun, projected to sell for six-figures.

Not only that, but plenty of celebrities, political types and positive role models roamed the floors as well.

With my press credentials, I snuck in an hour before the floor opened to the general membership Saturday morning. That allowed me to make great time cruising through maybe a fifth of the floor space in under an hour.

Scenes From NRA 2019 Indianapolis

John Boch for TTAG

Fifteen acres of guns and gear. That’s 653,400 square feet. More than a grown man can cover in a single day and give it the time it deserves, even without the crowd there. Add in ten or twenty thousand people at any given time and things slow down considerably.

Among the first surprises for me…tucked into a corner of the floor, I found a vendor selling Trump 2020 gear with a constant line of ready buyers.

Scenes From NRA 2019 Indianapolis

John Boch for TTAG

And speaking of President Donald Trump, not far from the Trump 2020 booth, a company would custom-make magazines for your AR-15.

Scenes From NRA 2019 Indianapolis

John Boch for TTAG

MAGAzines. Certainly worth a chuckle.

Scenes From NRA 2019 Indianapolis

John Boch for TTAG

The NRA Convention had plenty of gear that would cause those with Trump Derangement Syndrome to melt down at every turn.

Obviously, the AR-15 reigns as America’s favorite rifle and booth after booth there sold either ARs, accessories for ARs or parts for ARs. Many of said booths were staffed by men with beards. Beards are very popular with the tactical crowd.

Towards the end of my Saturday pre-show sprint, I ran into a guy casually-dressed guy, sloppily concealing his gun and spare magazines and wearing one of those Secret Service-style earpieces. Initially I didn’t think too much about him until I saw another guy in a suit, with an ill-fitting jacket thanks to all the stuff on his waist and a matching radio earpiece. Somehow I knew his pocket dump would dwarf mine.

“Hmm, someone important is here,” I thought to myself. So I followed them and not twenty yards later, I ran into this guy and introduced myself just as they were about to start the National Anthem.

Scenes From NRA 2019 Indianapolis

John Boch for TTAG

A half-hour later, I ran into them again before it got too crowded.

Scenes From NRA 2019 Indianapolis

John Boch for TTAG

In talking with a couple of police officers in the press room as I waited to start the day, I found out Donald Jr. spent a day or two hunting near Crawfordsville, Indiana earlier in the week. The cops mused back and forth on the surprisingly small Secret Service protective detail traveling with him.

I chuckled and said Junior probably carries and, not only that, he probably shoots pretty well himself. In the interests of security I’ll leave the rest of the details out as well, even though all of the above have probably been publicly discussed before.

Meanwhile, among the exhibitors, just about everyone you can think of in the gun world had a booth. Of course, all the big companies like GLOCK, SIG, Beretta and others had massive, elaborate set-ups with scores of guns for people to handle along with neat displays.

Sadly, sloppy muzzle control seemed the norm for most and more than once I smiled and nodded a thank you to people who consciously avoided muzzling me.

Along with all the big companies, hundreds of smaller vendors showed off their products, too, hoping to get noticed to become the next Smith & Wesson or Springfield Armory. A handful of booth babes drew small lines for signed promo pictures and/or posters. I had a lot more respect for companies that had war heroes signing photos.

The biggest lines I saw, though, waited to see Chuck Norris at the GLOCK booth. Like the late great Gunny, Norris seemed to genuinely enjoy spending time with his fans.

Scenes From NRA 2019 Indianapolis

John Boch for TTAG

Frankly, I was kind of surprised by Norris. I expected a larger-than-life guy. Instead, I saw a guy that was probably about 5′ 8″ and weighed about 160 pounds or so. He looks to be in pretty good shape for a 79-year-old guy.

Scenes From NRA 2019 Indianapolis

John Boch for TTAG

Norris, even with his reputation as a seriously tough guy had armed protection, which surprised me. “Chuck Norris needs bodyguards?” I thought to myself. My wife said much the same when I mentioned it to her. Not just one or two, either. It looked to me that Norris had more “executive protection specialists” than the President’s son. And Norris’ guards looked a lot less friendly, I might add.

I took advantage of some of the breakout sessions to learn some valuable information from some of the best trainers in America. When you go to the NRA convention, make sure you save some time for the training sessions.  It gives you a chance to sit and rest your tired legs from all the walking while learning from some great instructors.

A perennial favorite of mine, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, gave his famed Sheepdogs! presentation on Friday and I missed it.

And then there’s all the people. I ran into one of my groomsmen (both times) as he walked out of a bathroom. I bumped into my best man (both times) and plenty of other good friends as well. People from all across Illinois and beyond.

That’s the great thing about the NRA Convention…you’re bound to run into someone – or a lot of someones – you know there.

Next year, the NRA’s Annual Meetings will take place in Nashville again. If you live anywhere in the Midwest, I encourage you to make plans to attend. Not only is Nashville a great (and very gun-friendly) venue, but the Country Music Hall of Fame is right across the street and the main touristy parts of Nashville are only a block or three away.  It makes for a great place to enjoy the local scenery for lunch and then go back to browsing guns and gear.

comments

  1. avatar Hexagon says:

    How dare you suggest the Chuck Norris needs bodyguards. Those tough guys were to protect the Indianapolis from Chuck.

  2. avatar GeorgiaBob says:

    If think you may have been a bit confused. The armed guards were not there to protect Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris was there protecting the armed guards!

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      No, I suspect they were there to protect Chuck Norris’ attackers from Chuck Norris while they calm him down & get him to let go of what’s left of the poor bastard’s spine.

  3. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    A good time in Indy would have been Wayne LaPee boiled in oil and then tarred and feathered,however in the BOD infinite wisdom the corruption will continue unabated to hell with the members or the organization.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      I’m a humble man; I just wanted a Roadhouse-style free-for-all to break out, punctuated by LaPierre, Hammer, and the other Fudds being bum-rushed out the front entrance in front of hundreds of cameras.

  4. avatar Domestic Hearse says:

    Indy, the last hurrah? Out with a whimper, instead of a bang? Destroyed from the inside by greed and corruption, and not by its liberal, gun grabbing enemies?

    The only thing that would have me considering Nashville would’ve been if Chuck Norris had wiped out the entire NRA executive board, knocked LaPierre into a prison cell, and appointed himself CEO of the NRA.

    Maybe next year, all of these companies paying money to LaPierre and his cronies might choose to display at an organization actually concerned with defending our 2A rights, rather than lining its executives’ pockets and negotiating said rights away.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Chuck Norris for NRA president, VP, and the BoD all in one!

      Turn “you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands” into “your cold dead hands won’t be taking anything from anyone.” 🙂

  5. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

    Walked past Don Jr. at a booth. Security told me “Move over.” I said “Why, there’s plenty of room”. I didn’t know he was there until someone said “Hey look, there’s Don Jr.” I was clueless. Something funny to tell my friends now. Chuck is short. Hickok45 is TALL; got to talk to him. Great time. Everyone was so nice, polite, (even Don’s security people). The kind place where you bump into someone and they say “excuse me”. I thought that only happened in Canada.

    1. Yes, Hickok45 and his son are very tall:

      https://www.instagram.com/p/BwyDQ6oF7l7/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

      For reference, Jeremy is 6 ft.

  6. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Aside from the politics. I’m glad everyone had a good time. I had a great time in Nashville in 2015 when the NRA came there.

  7. avatar Red says:

    “Like the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot, the NRA’s Annual Meetings stand as a pilgrimage every gun owner should make at least once in their lives.”

    Nonsense. I don’t support compromising organization that claim to support the Second Amendment and have spent their time over the decades killing it bit by bit, compromising what never should be.

  8. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

    Anyone know where we can buy a MAGAzine? So cool!

  9. avatar Daniel Lewis says:

    I almost did not go and I am so glad I did, I had an amazing time. The worst part is how many times I said oh I need one of these!

  10. avatar Craig in IA says:

    “Frankly, I was kind of surprised by Norris. I expected a larger-than-life guy. Instead, I saw a guy that was probably about 5′ 8″ and weighed about 160 pounds or so.”

    Similar reaction when I would run into Robert Stack or Hugh O’Brien in the exhibits years ago. All a hell of a lot shorter than they appeared on TV…

    I was also taken aback a bit by every other booth being one for AR accessories, parts, or junk most just can’t live without. I can’t believe the market can support them all and I can’t see how the majority of those vendors could even break even over the coming year. Still, I don’t regret walking through them for 3 days.

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