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 Board meeting

I’m slow or have to figure how to do this in a more timely manner.  Our meeting ended Saturday night, not writing until Wednesday. September NRA Board meeting is routinely of less scale than the others. Some because of the annual schedule of competitions, training, hunting season and such, and some because of the legislative calendar. As an example, I kept the two committees from last year and now am on five committees – Military & Veterans Affairs, Outreach, Grassroots Development, Legislative Affairs, and Federal Legislative Affairs. Only Legislative Affairs met this week, though Grassroots held a meeting by conference call last Monday (I missed while on a plane out of Milwaukee Carry Guard Expo). I am often conflicted-out of committees because of my schedule, so this time I dropped in to Gun Collectors.  Over the course of four days with some 10-11 committee meetings, we conclude with our thrice-annual Board meeting for the better part of a day.  In between committees, and during some evenings, we have formal (scheduled) or informal (just us getting together) activities or explore on our own. I am not often in the mid-west (Springfield MO), so lots of explore-fun. I don’t take or post many meeting photos, and the full Board meeting does not allow for photos or recordings (nor any electronic devices).  One event each meeting is the President’s reception. This was pretty special. Johnny Morris, of Bass Pro Shops, graciously hosted us to a sneak preview (opens later this month) of his Wonders of Nature 300,000 sf, 35,000 animal (mostly fish species) Aquarium. Amazing. One walks for a little over a mile to experience every nature environment (hmmm, I don’t now recall the arctic). It was neat. Bass Pro and NRA, both leaders in conservation, have a solid partnership. We, the NRA Board, in turn, invited the leaders of the Professional Bull Riders Association (in town on tour) to further our partnership with them.

Now for a little business before moving to the next blog post.  President Pete Brownell recounted some of the many successes operationally and legislatively NRA enjoyed recently. He focused us on the future of Carry Guard and the need to work as a team (all our committees) as we move into 2018. 1st VP Richard Childress highlighted our on-line Hunter’s Education Program and the move by PETA and Humane Society to villianize our American culture of hunting. 2d VP Carolyn Meadows recapped NRAAM with 82,000 attending. Exec VP Wayne LaPierre gave an overview of the huge amount and span of NRA staff work, including working with Interior Secretary Zinke.  NRA ‘brand’ is solid, people believe in and trust us. Details of General Operations (Josh Powell) and Institute for Legislative Affairs (Chris Cox) went next. Operationally: many new and good staff changes, Carry Guard is ahead of goals, basic firearms training and CCW training is increasing, and NRA is introducing a college version of Refuse to be a Victim. Legislatively: we got Gorsuch at SCOTUS, Attorney General Sessions, rolled back the Obama social security crap and ended Operation Choke Point (those affects are going to felt for a while), Reciprocity should come to a vote this fall, Sportsman package this week (just passed out of committee).  Each committee chair reported, in turn. While a lot of updates, there were few action items for the full Board to consider. Bottom line for now – NRA is in “good” post-election financial and organizational shape going into 2018, and becoming better organized for myriad General Ops functions.  “Good” is highlighted because we recovered better than we thought we could following a tough 2016-2017 (this is a good thing), nor are we in ‘great’ shape. There are a couple months until the next full Board meeting, though committees meet throughout the year. For more, go Like www.facebook.com/WillesLeeNRA.

No other organization does more across the 2A and firearms spectrum as NRA. Always under heat for not doing enough (Reciprocity vs Constitutional Carry), doing too much (Carry Guard), not doing it well-enough (blended training), I’ll add this note compiled from various sources. If not for NRA stepping up in the 70’s with ILA (sort of a result of the run up to the ’68 gun control legislation) then we don’t have ANY concealed carry. In fact, at the same time we were winning Florida conceal carry, it was debated whether to altogether ban handguns. If not for NRA continued defending of freedom, we don’t have many states now with conceal carry, and more than a dozen with constitutional carry. This is on top of our self-determined mission to conduct firearms training and safety. Put all that together, and arguments over whether NRA should be in the insurance business become moot.  Without NRA, there is no firearms insurance business. With NRA as the gold-standard, there is no doubt that everything will be measured against NRA training and insurance protection. Instead, this is the time for all 2A-supporting organizations to work towards the same goals – national reciprocity (constitutional carry will come), hearing protection and bringing common sense to the NFA, Sportsman package, Second Amendment Guarantee, securing hunting in our American culture.

This week is the World Championships at Peacemaker. Yeah, NRA runs that, too.

Museum is inside the massive Bass Pro Shops.
Not afraid because, I don’t have to be faster than the bear, just faster than you.
NRA Gun Collectors Committee

Most photographed display of any in the three NRA museums
Jim Supica ‘splaining, Phil Schreier in overwatch.

An idea of the scale -this is one of several dozen such Aquarium displays.
No photos nor recording allowed. This from after room has cleared so you can see we really do work.