If you ever get invited to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Industry Day at the Range, you’re in for a treat. NSSF’s annual Shot Show event comprises of exhibitors showcasing their product line in guns, ammunition, gear, and other related industry items that stretches 12.5 miles. At Range Day, imagine that but you’re given the privilege of shooting the products in the live-fire setting, some of which haven't hit the market yet.
A nice place to shoot a bunch of guns for that day... pic.twitter.com/LjT9foKxW0— Matt Vespa (@mVespa1) January 28, 2020
First, as what will be repeated many times, if you’re a part of this industry or write about it in some way, please get to know the NSSF communications staff or know someone who does. This gets you in the front door, as it’s not open to everyone. It’s an invitation-only event. Wear comfortable shoes. Bring a backpack, water, and protective eyewear. Ear protection will be provided, but its best to bring your own. In my case, I borrowed some from my good friend Stephen Gutowski, who covers the firearms beat for The Washington Free Beacon. Remember the three basic fundamental rules about range/gun safety: 1. treat every gun as if it’s loaded. 2. Always keep the barrel pointed down range and away from people. 3. Keep your bloody finger off the trigger or around the trigger guard until you’re ready to fire.
Bus pick-up locations will be provided by NSSF and its best to get there early before it gets crowded. It’s an early day. Like get up at 6 A.M and be ready to head down by 6:45 A.M kind of day. The first bus leaves around 7:45 A.M, but the line for that bus will start to form around 7 A.M. The drive to the Boulder Pistol and Rifle Club is about an hour. The location is perfect for one to spend an entire day shooting guns. There is something for everyone. There are plentiful handguns, shotguns, rifles, long-range rifles, skeet shooting, and long-range rifle practice. They also had automatic rifles there. I never tried until Shot Show. Just remember to lean into it. The rifle is was able to fire automatically was an AK-47. Sorry, I don’t have any footage; there was no one around who could assist me.
Like with many aspects of Shot Show, you can be the first one at range day and you won’t be able to shoot all the guns. Yes, it’s cruel, but in the words of Saint Mick Jagger, “you can’t always get what you want.”
I fired an AK-47 and AR-15 with a red dot sight at full-auto and wanted to fire every cannister at the station. Alas, I had to move on. Winchester, Federal Ammunition, Rock Armory, and other companies had a variety of firearms based on their modifications. I’ve never fired a 1911 chambered in .380 ACP supplied by Winchester, so I decided to give it a try. It was good shooting from that Browning compact. There were Springfield’s XDX series of handguns which I also shot well with, but Glock is a different story. I know they’re well-made. Our own Katie Pavlich owns a few of them. They’re reliable. It’s not a bad firearm. I get that; I just cannot shoot well with it. The Glock exhibitor staff was gracious and detailed all the features of their handguns. Sadly, Sig Sauer was not present and there weren’t any stations where I could shoot a 1911 that fired .45 ACP. I fired a Rock Armory 9mm 1911, which was fine—but the real 1911 caliber eluded me. Granted, as I said, it’s impossible for one person to shoot every gun at range day.
Browning 1911 compact .380 ACP pic.twitter.com/QkEl84Xxfq— Matt Vespa (@mVespa1) January 28, 2020
One rifle that is always a lot of fun to shoot is the M1A rifle series. The M1A Tanker was part of a long-range series and is a shorter-barreled version of its full-size brother. It’s a powerful weapon system, shooting .308 Winchester and based on reviews, can go quite a distance of 200-300 yards. Undoubtedly, it can go much further. The Beretta station was also vibrant. This is a brand of firearm I’ve never tried and was looking forward to it. I believe they gave me what looked like a Px4 Storm and an APX RDO. I was not able to whip out my phone in time to take a picture, as there was quite a line behind me, but the two handguns, both shooting 9mm, were excellent. The red dot sight on the RDO was ridiculous. The other firearms I did not shoot very well with was Heckler and Koch’s SP5. Just as I was about to make some adjustments with my trigger finger and realigning the sights, my magazine was empty. They obviously don’t give you full magazines at this event, but it was cool to fire the gun the kept John McClane in Die Hard alive against Hans Gruber and his band of thugs.
Springfield’s M1A Tanker and H&K’s SP5 pic.twitter.com/y9EJtkvpSW— Matt Vespa (@mVespa1) January 28, 2020
The Mossberg station was also insanely fun, firing a semi-automatic 940 JM Pro. It can hold nine shells—and it was a helluva lot of fun.
I have no experience with skeet shooting, so I steered clear of that one. I also avoided the long-range rifle stations, as I have no experience shooting 1,000 yards or more. It’s on my to-do list if I can go next year. And I hope I can. I would like some help next time, however, and see if Team Townhall can shoot all the guns next year. Now, there is one thing that could make the experience a bit uncomfortable and that concerns the wind. Our own Beth Baumann went to range day last year when the conditions were incredibly windy. It was calm this year, which some attendees observed with relief.
Hopefully next year, we can have a full video on every firearm fired by a member of the Townhall team.
Oh yeah, there were definitely suppressed AR-15s there: