I have participated in my first NRA Convention during the weekend of April 14th as a guest of CZ-USA. The Convention took place in St. Louis, MO – the city I’m very familiar with and fond of. I have spent a lot of time in the area during my playing career and will spend more time nowadays on our travels with horses. This might not make much sense to many, but exit 49 on interstate 70 is a halfway point between our home in Wyoming and our farm in Florida. People of Missouri are one of the nicest if not the nicest in the country. Anytime I need equipment for the outdoors or farm supplies I can comfortably wait until the Missouri section of I-70. It is lined with everything that a gentlemen farmer and an avid outdoorsman could need. The only thing I have to pay attention to ahead of time is the weather. I drove through some of the most severe storms in that part of the country. I believe that severe weather is the reason for the kindness of the state’s people, the adversity they have faced over generations.
The other reason I enjoy St. Louis and the rest of the state are the two rivers that hug the region. Mississippi on the east and Missouri on the west. Both have tremendous historical significance to our nation. Mississippi providing major shipping route for centuries, it’s floods creating the most fertile soil in the nation and plenty of opportunities for outdoorsman to fish. Some people will disagree with the mention of the floods, I understand, but they contribute to replenishing the important nutrients to the soil. Missouri was a “superhighway” that Lewis and Clark used to launch their exploration of the west. If there was no other reason to remember that river for, it would be more than enough. Many generations of hunters, fishermen or just outdoorsmen have enjoyed the vast space and physical beauty of the American West that those two explorers first mapped.The city of St. Louis became the gateway for the first pioneers to settle the West after their return. The Gateway Arch is the fitting memorial to that time. The city also became shipping hub, manufacturing center and world renowned beer producer. These days what really stands out every time I visit are the passionate sports fans.
My first NRA Convention was a great experience on many levels. I had the opportunity to see all the new models that CZ-USA put out for 2012, got to meet Tom Knapp and some of the staff from CZ and Dan Wesson. The amount of people attending this convention was a pleasant surprise. The interest in all kinds of firearms is rising. Very important indication of the sentiment through the society. People need not forget to exercise all their rights otherwise government will have a reason to take them away.
The booths filled every space of the convention floor and the hallways. I had an opportunity to walk through the show one morning before the doors were open to general public and it sure looked much different than with thousands of people filling the aisles, especially on Saturday. The lines to view the displayed products at CZ-USA’s area were several deep.
I spent most of my time there signing autographs for fans who wanted to talk hockey, shooting, outdoors or just say hi. As one of the “celebrities”(I do not like to look at myself that way) I had an opportunity to meet CZ’s true shooting legend Tom Knapp. I could not believe the line forming way before his assigned time to sign autographs. People have their favorite athletes in other sports, Tom Knapp is legendary amongst shooters. Rightfully so, if you ever saw one of his performances.
I enjoyed meeting the CZ-USA’s guys Jason Morton, Dave Miller, Angus Hobdell of the Custom Shop, Scott from Dan Wesson and the gunsmiths Matt Hunter and Neale Flynn. I always had a great appreciation for the people doing the “behind the scenes work”. There are names I’m leaving out, but everyone involved in representing CZ firearms at the convention was great.
After trying to do my part to help promote the great products I was looking forward to “shop talk” with the guys about the new products or about the rifles,shotguns or pistols that have been in production for a long time. Some designs, like any variation of the CZ 75, never get old. Their reputation only gets better with decades passing by. I had a very difficult time deciding what my favorite handgun on display would be, too many to choose from. I already shoot a lot CZ 97 B and the review should be coming soon. I talked to couple of guys who actually came to St. Louis from the manufacturer in Czech Republic and they said it is a very popular handgun there.
There was plenty of fine rifles to choose from as well. What caught my attention most was the rimfire line. I am huge plinking fan. I also understand that improving your fundamentals by shooting rimfire rifles helps one to become better long distance rifle shooter. I would like to put together the CZ 455 Evolution .22 LR with a nice scope and possibly a suppressor. The design and color will make it our family’s favorite. The performance will probably make us buy more than one. I could talk about all the other rifles, rimfire or centerfire all day long. I will only mention one more CZ 527 Carbine 7.62 x 39. You can not get more handy or versatile rifle anywhere else.( I wonder if there is any chance of developing ten round mag) Many shotguns were looked at, but the ones who got picked the most I believe were Wingshooter and Ringneck Target. Two reasons. They are great and everybody is more than closely familiar with the rest of the shotgun lineup. I am personally looking forward to trying the Ringneck Target at the Colorado Youth Outdoors charity shoot in Loveland, Colorado.
Please check out their website www.coloradoyo.org It is one of the best charities I have ever been associated with.
My first NRA Convention was great,fun and educational experience. I’m hoping to participate in many more. Thank you NRA, Thank you CZ-USA.