Need For Speed

Our NRA Range hosted the 3rd Annual NRA Car Show at and around NRA Headquarters in Fairfax Virginia. Bigger than last year, plan was to have 300 cars on display. I dropped by HQ the day before to see if I could help, and to watch the panic before a major undertaking.  Wow. Absolute calm. Organized like a military operation. Briefings, brief-backs, the entire plan mapped out on the chalkboard. personnel assignments. Schedules. Nice. Met the family -Natalie, Nina (we’d met at a Friends dinner several months ago) and Dad.

Love this view of HQ.
Walking through, under the HQ wings, to the parking lot.
Personal favorite. In Hawaii, I have a beautiful 2001 XK-8. About the same color.

By the time I arrived Sunday, Mike Johns, master organizer and NRA Range Manager, had 412 show up! Great day. Great weather. Great outreach for NRA. Music was blaring, a mix of Country and Rock and Roll. Spectators kept flowing in, I ended up parking in the second level of the back parking lot. Taking a break from the heat, ran through the NRA Museum. They give free guided tours all day but I wasn’t there to stay, just to cool down. Cruised (no pun intended) the NRA Cafeteria, sat with friends having lunch. When I went back later for a burger, it was packed.  The success will drive (no pun intended) a 4th Annual, probably about this same time next year. A lot more photos , live video at FB WillesLeeNRA and personal page.

Avoid This, If Possible

Duh. I was in Fairfax Virginia on a Saturday afternoon. Had several firearms, usually do. Thought it’d be a great to get some range time at the NRA Range at NRA Headquarters. Always, I check in with Mike Johns, the superstar range manager. When I arrived, a little past 3:00 pm, a range officer suggested I go straight to a lane, several were open. Donning ear and eye protection, I gatherd paper targets, my bag and got shooting. Needed to work on a couple issues with my stance and sight picture, and seemingly inability to hit the center of a circle in a consistent manner. In 20 minutes I noticed there was more activity. The place was packed. Looking through the large windows into the lobby, could see a line forming with people sitting around waiting to get a lane. Blew off the magazine already loaded, packed up, and opened the lane to let another shooter have Saturday afternoon fun.

Sometimes, can’t avoid shooting with the crowd. Work, family, travel, chores leave only a weekend to hit the range. If we can, might be best to aim for less crowded times. PS. Still was fun #pewpew 

Americans in War (living) Museum A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

A favorite. Quad .50s. Four M2HB, mounted on a half track. Expressly forbidden for ground use against troops … but extremely effective against them.
Guy with the concept, organization, and gumption to make this happen. Allan Cors. Happens to be a friend and immediate past President of the National Rifle Association.
Nokesville Virginia …. is a really small town.

An event you don’t want to miss next year. Once a year, Allan Cors opens up his museum. And, it is a happening. Hundreds of military vehicles, dozens of tanks, countless small arms and many varied pieces of war equipment. Allan Cors is a fixture in the world of collectors. He  began this collection with a Jeep, half track, got one tank, grew to more. Now he has a brigade or two worth of vehicles – combat, tanks, APC’s trucks, tracks, utility, artillery, you name it. The warehouses are full. Volunteers rebuild and maintain the vehicles in operational condition. Right. Each of these vehicles operate. A narrator on a loudspeaker system, reminding of us M.A.S.H. gives explanations, updates, schedule changes and special exhibitions.  It is made clear from the beginning and repeated multiple times through both days of the weekend show: this living museum is not about the equipment or tactics. Those are just the medium to reinforce the message of homage to the men and women who got, kept, and keep our freedom. Everywhere you look, folks in period uniform with the correct equipment and accessories are manning the vehicles and equipment. A cavalry unit rides by on horseback. The crew of a Russian T-34 pose for photos with spectators. Young and old “soldiers” give painstakingly detailed information about the materials, battles or generals and soldiers of the time. I spend a lot of time in the WWII section of the field, my particular war history interest. Four or five M4 Shermans, a lot of Ms Stuart light tanks, and a couple M3 Grant medium tanks. I also spend time in reflection in the Cold War era section – all the vehicles I’d have fought T-55s, T-62s, a BMP next to a PT-76 and  those of allies, Swedish S-Tank, Brit Centurian (actually a bit before my time). In addition to military, there is first responder representation – LEO, fire, EMS to include a large chunk of the steel girding and wall from the World trade Center.  Several live demonstrations throughout the day -tracked and wheeled vehicles from several countries, a flame thrower, culminating in an ‘assault’ by platoon-sized forces. In a hanger to the side there are tables full of souvenirs, t-shirts, military surplus gear and all proceeds go back into the museum. Logistically, it is a breeze and as organizaed as the rest of the event. Local police help with traffic flow. Volunteers guide you into a parking lot filling a field, and overflowing into the acres on the other side of the hedgerow. There is a food tent, and a food truck – hotdogs, shave ice, water, sodas. Pot-o-potties off to the side behind a sample of modern vehicles compliments of USMC. Had never heard of Nokesville Virginia, just down past Manassas, before this event. It is tiny, but this museum left a big impression. The museum will move soon to a larger piece of land closer to I-95. There is more, including a great live FB post at FB WillesLeeNRA. Also some video which doesn’t translate well to the blog format, and more still photos. 

Elementary

This was a little weird, in a good way. My parents, you know from Facebook posts are 97 & 95, threw me a curveball. I am not often in town (northern Virginia) so usually my wife and siblings deal with more than my preparing an occasional meal (bad on me, but for now it is what it is).  On my way to join them for dinner, Mom calls to ask if I’d take them out for the evening. Mom got this idea that Pop just HAD to attend the community annual business meeting, they’d been attending since 1966. Notwithstanding, getting late 90-year-olds fed, dressed and out of the house, that’s not the weird part. The meeting was in MY elementary school. OK, weird, or odd, or just retrospectively different. I sat in the cafeteria for the first time since way before many of you reading were born. Decades, multiple decades. You may not know my age but could figure it out by my more-publicly-known West Point class i.e. old. Got this urge and went and found my classroom. Holy cow, even with renovations and updates, the same small walk-thru closet! Sneaking my way around the halls, glanced out a window and saw the field (now with a finished track??) I learned to love soccer and track & field. I was different then, in this school. We had come back from five years growing up in Europe on military bases. I transformed in Junior High and became ‘me’, for better and worse, in High School. But, this school, that cafeteria, classroom and field are strong memories.

Every lunch, walked through those doors.
Difficult to make out the playing field w glare from the hallway lighting.

Better part of a week, in Missouri

THIS is ‘Merica. Snowflakes discouraged (or worse).
I’ve done crazy. But, these boys are CRAZY.
NRA Sporting Arms Museum in Bass Pro Shops Springfield MO

Driven through usually St Louis to Kansas City, or reverse, just transiting the state. Not normally in Missouri, made sure this time to see some of the sites.

Our host for this meeting was a very generous Bass Pro Shops conservationist, fisherman, patriot Johnny Morris. One afternoon, we went to Big Cedar Lodge, outside Branson MO on the Arkansas border. The Ozark’s are beautiful and reminded me of the Shenandoah mountains. Did a golf cart for the nature trail. Then could tour their museum but .. instead had a little time for sporting clays at the Bass Pro Outdoor Academy. I’m crappy for lack of practice (I don’t) but enjoy seeing how crappy each time I get the opportunity. One of my ‘team’ was Steve Hornady (yeah, THAT Hornady. You probably have a box of his ammo in your bag.) who repeatedly told our young guide that we had time for ‘just one more’ station (we shot a lot). I missed some pigeons but you can be certain that when I broke clay … it was mostly luck. Damn, those things are fast. Pig roast was part of dinner, country music off the back of an old flatbed, cigars around the corner with the cool guys afterwards.

Unfortunately bailed on the Historic Automobiles Museum to spend more time shopping at Bass Pro Shops and shooting some video at the NRA Sporting Arms Museum.

The Professional Bull Riding Association was in town for the weekend, part of their tour to determine the finalists for the World Championship coming in November.  Having joined us at yesterday’s NRA President’s reception, PBR invited us to their rodeo.

Team for sporting clays.
Bulls, cowboys, and hot women. They be like “sure grandpa, you can take a photo.”

Mean bulls, crazy cowboys, and hot cowgirls. My kinda of Americans. EVERYONE bowed their head in prayer. Then, they had this 20’x15′ US flag that four veterans rappelled from the rafters, THEN, their Governor (Greiten’s is a former SEAL) friggin’ rappelled down to join us in the National Anthem for which E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. stood (and doffed their cowboy or baseball caps). Like I said, my sorta people.

NRA Museum is never five minutes

Had a couple minutes after the range at NRA HQ to stick my head inside the NRA’s National Firearms Museum. Just to see what’s up. In a rush, only 45 minutes later I was on my way having gotten a rush (no pun intended) again from the new displays, speaking to every museum visitor from far and near, and touring the new Thompson .45 display and soon-to-be Bolt Action Rifle display with the passionate Ernie Lyles, NRA Museum Special Projects Coordinator and President of the Virginia Gun Collectors Association. Phil and Jim were NOT  there this hour (but can’t do a museum post without mentioning them).  

Arrived! Flag salutes our blue line of defense.

IMG_1411

Newest display, ready next week. Bolt action rifles thru history. Ernie gave me an overview.
Thompson display is only one week new. On loan, all from one collector. Heavy, with only a decent rate of fire… love ’em and always wanted to carry one just like Vic Morrow.
Up from Norfolk, VA. He’s serving (Navy) and so is she (a sailor’s wife).
Family was here from down the road. Boys liked it, dad was fascinated, mom was with baby sister.