Huge weekend in Mesa, AZ. American Conservative Union Foundation asked to team with our NFRA Convention. They scheduled a Regional Battleground one-day CPAC event the day prior, in our hotel, leading into our event. A Smashing Success. Panels on Israel, Second Amendment, Property Rights and more. First time NFRA (me, as President) got on an ACU CPAC stage, albeit a regional CPAC. Disclaimer, it was the 2A panel and I am on the NRA Board, I am also on the ACU Foundation Board. Best experience for all-volunteer NFRA was to watch the young, smart CPAC professionals do their work with ease.
If you haven’t been to GRPC, you should next year. You know that I am an NRA Board member. I have attending GRPC longer than NRAAM (Annual Meeting), just happened that way. Neat thing – GRPC registration, two receptions, box lunches, and 25 pounds of books and research is free-to-you via some great sponsors. You just have to get there, and have a place to stay (GRPC arranges for discounted rooms in the HQ hotel block of rooms). I spoke Saturday morning, part of a panel with two other NRA Directors “Gun rights in the Trump Era”. We had 15 minutes which goes quickly. Our panel is posted on FB WillesLeeNRA. The best part of the weekend is the complete list of who’s who speakers, presenters, and guests. Many friends are here. Many folks I hadn’t met. Hosted by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and their political twin Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) led by Alan Gottlieb (we are board members together at American Conservative Union). Julianne Gottleib and Andrew Gottlieb make this a family affair, with longtime guru Joe Tartero, Dave Workman and more. This year, Dallas, always near or at the airport to facilitate folks getting quickly in an out. A treat was to have a day-long Communications Day on Friday – 2A media, social media, radio and TV brainiacs to discuss the industry, compare notes, trade best practices. Friday night reception included BFF Amanda Suffecool’s Concealed Carry Fashion Show, the room was rowdy. All Saturday is rapid fire presentations, with a reception that evening. Half Sunday is the same. Wrap up about 1:00pm after a session of resolutions. My schedule, you see from my previous blog post, is so tight this fall that I had to cut this trip to the minimum. Next year needs to be more time because this was a great event. Tried here to present photos different from the ones I used on my page or personal page.
I don’t travel or go to as many meetings as many of my peers, and not nearly as much as some leaders. But, I don’t care about their schedules. I care about mine. I knew the end of summer going into fall would be crazy. Not whining, just moving around a lot. I decided to base off the east coast rather than trying to do this back-and-forth from Hawaii. I’d lose way too much in travel time. Plus, the long-distance travel wears me down more than, well, when we were all younger. Been to Georgia and back, a tiring (successful) over-nighter to speak at a great Georgia Republican Assembly Convention. To Nashville for a couple days prior to the formal RNC – Republican National Committee – meeting (I am a former state party chairman), and straight to Milwaukee for four days of the Inaugural NRA Carry Guard Expo. When I drafted this post, forgot to add in: also did five days to Springfield Missouri for the NRA Board meeting. Back to Virginia, trip to Delaware which kept me from the NRA World’s at Peacemaker. Had a visit a little south for the Americans in Wartime Museum, next day was the NRA Car Show at NRA HQ in Fairfax VA. From Virginia about to launch to Dallas for the Gun Rights Polity Conference GRPC. I missed last year with knee surgery and want to see my friends this year. I speak on a panel Saturday morning. But, all the other attendees and speakers are friends, or I want them to be friends, so I’ll be busy. Between trips, quick stop in Virginia to switch suitcases, actually saves me a couple hundred dollars not in a hotel. But, only 48 hours to get from Dallas, to get home to Virginia, change suitcases – the next is already mostly prepacked – and fly to Phoenix. Phoenix is my event, or at least of the organization of which I am President. The National Federation of Republican Assemblies Convention. My team has it locked and cocked but still I have to learn about a lot of our guests and prepare some six or seven speeches. A day to get ready and meet local friends, a day of the American Conservative Union one-day Regional CPAC ( I am a member of the ACUF Board of Directors), our convention (Try doing this many introductions and speeches with interesting material!!), two NFRA board of director meetings including NFRA elections for national officers (I am running for reelection as President). Love to slow to see the sights but can’t wait to get home. One week in Virginia with meetings then to Hawaii for a week of meetings and to check on the house. Each of those stops has at least a major event, if not several meetings or smaller events. Range time, meeting with staff and volunteers, dinners, gun shows. All the time waving the flag, recruiting, doing work, or networking for NRA and NFRA. In between is a flash of visiting elderly parents, trying to keep up with media and social media, making sure (in this case) everyone knew NFRA was actively supporting Roy Moore’s Senate runoff (win) in Alabama. Youngest daughter once posed this question. “Dad, you do things so well. How come you can’t do retirement better?” Knew it’s be crazy for this couple of months.
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.
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.
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.
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.