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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2013 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits

It’s not often that I get to work and I’m so excited that I can barely perform even the most menial of tasks.  However, April 29, 2013 was different.   I was asked by Rock Island Auction Company several weeks prior if I wanted to attend the NRA Annual Meeting to be held in Houston, TX.  I immediately accepted and had been looking forward to it ever since.  I was also asked to be one of four employees who would drive down to Houston and schlep all the gear for our booth.  Granted, there was a 16-hour drive on each side of the event, but my excitement prevailed for many reasons.

First off, it was just going to the event itself.  We’re talking a National-level trade show!  You see events like ComiCon or CES all over TV when they take place and this time I was going to be at one of those events… but for guns!  I could barely imagine all the well designed, brightly lit booths garishly boasting their wares to an already eager audience.  Second, I had never been to Texas before and I never turn down a chance to see a new place.  Besides, new locale means new foods to try!  In my mind I had already made a small checklist of things to eat consisting of: a Texas steak, Gulf seafood, and Texas barbecue  As if those things weren't enough, then I started reading about the event itself.  The list of celebrities and industry celebrities was impressive to say the least.  There were such household names as Rick Perry, Stone Cold Steve Austin (never thought I'd mention those two fellas in the same sentence), Ted Nugent a.k.a. "Uncle Ted," and UFC legend, 9-time Welterweight Champion, and Illinois native Matt Hughes.  There were also scores of professional shooters and members of various shooting teams present, noted authors, exhibition shooters, outdoor TV show hosts, and training experts.  Oh, and did I mention that I transported a Model 1890 Colt Gatling gun to the event to be featured in our booth?  How's that for fun?

Model 1890 Colt Gatling gun.

Young man, invited to attend the NRA Annual Meeting, surrounded by firearms, gets to see a state he has never been to, has to haul a Gatling gun. To say I was a bit excited was an understatement. As if all this wasn't enough to get excited, I also discovered that we would be the only auction house present at the entire convention. This is an event for the best in the industry and we would be the only one making an appearance. I felt pretty proud about that and knew it was time to get the game face on and make a great impression.

The RIAC crew sets up for the exhibitions.
The RIAC booth was packed each and every day from when the doors opened to the closing announcements. It was 1200 square feet of what we do best: showing off our consignors' items and answering a ton of questions about them. There was lots of great gun talk with folks who appreciated all the different genres we brought: Colt revolvers, Winchester lever actions, German military, sporting rifles and shotguns, Smith & Wesson, and some great U.S. military pieces. Parents brought their kids to share in their lifelong hobby and to cultivate it in a new generation. We answered a ton of questions about the pieces we brought, learned a lot, and spread the good word about what Rock Island Auction Company does every single day for gun collectors. We also met a lot of good Texans and discovered a whole new brotherhood of firearms enthusiasts! A lot of planning and organization went into this event and it definitely paid off with how smooth everything ran, the amount of people that came to our booth and stayed to talk, and a great overall presentation. We impressed more than a few people in Texas and can't wait to hear how much more impressed they'll be once they get that first full-color, three volume Premiere Auction catalog!

Our booth was packed to the gills!

These fellas must've talked guns and U.S. history in our booth for at least half an hour! I just had to sit, listen, and get an education. This is what makes these fests awesome!
The booths were a blast to look at as well.  Every major gun manufacturer was represented and we were especially pleased to see we were present with our Quad City neighbors, Les Baer, Rock River Arms, ArmaLite, and Springfield Armory.  Ammunition manufacturers had great showings and great booths!  If you wanted something firearms related it was here.  Whatever your interest, there was a booth for it showing you the latest and greatest in the industry.  There were booths for scopes, magazines, uppers, lowers, optics, lights, lasers, clothing, jewelry, knives, swords, safaris, indoor ranges, bullet stops, art, taxidermy, reloading supplies, targets, and the list goes on!

If you want to see all the booths and pictures, please check out the album on our Facebook page.  YOU DO NOT NEED A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT TO SEE OUR PICTURES. 

It was a great weekend, filled with amazing toys and even better people. I'm proud to be in this industry and the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits only solidified that feeling. In fact, RIAC has already committed to attending next year’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN! We are booked up and I can’t wait to see what changes next year will hold. Especially the shorter drive.

Some folks admiring the Gatling gun.
Three generations of enthusiasts admiring our German handgun display to be auctioned in September 2013.

The Winchesters and Colts almost always had a crowd around them!

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