The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

A Family Tradition: The Great American Outdoor Show

Just two miles from the capital building complex of Pennsylvania, a family tradition of over 60 years is held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. The Great American Outdoor Show, formerly known as the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, is comprised of hunting and fishing outfitters, hunting guides, a shooting sports hall, educational programs, seminars, and even concerts which are spread throughout nine different halls and two arenas. The event attracts over 180,000 people from 48 states and injects an estimated 75 million dollars into the local economy, over the nine days it is held each year.

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Robert Dunn has been attending the Great American Outdoor Show and its predecessor since he was a teenager.

Exhibitor Robert Dunn of Dunn’s Sport Hunting Worldwide, who is now 72, has been attending the show since he was a young teen and been a vendor since 1972. Dunn’s business acts as a broker for hunting in fishing trips, connecting people all over the world to different hunting opportunities. Dunn observed that while the show has changed over the years, the people and general outlook towards hunting have not.

“The old management lost the show because of their inaction. They would not spend money on entertainment for the attendees. When you have a family spending $50 on tickets, $15 on parking, and then everyone inside wants to sell you something, it tires people out. Since the NRA took over, they brought in speakers, exhibitions and concerts, which attendees love,” said Dunn.

A variety of taxidermy examples can be found at the Show. Here a lion is found with a springbok.

A variety of taxidermy examples can be found at the Show. Here a lion is found with a springbok.

Dunn noted that generational hunting was very much alive in real. He recalled a story where the client, who was interested in taking his two children on a hunt, who had previously been on a hunt with his father and brother 15-years prior through Dunn’s outfit.

While Dunn believes the former show manager, Reed Exhibitions, inaction cost them the show, others point to the events that transpired after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. In early 2013, Reed Exhibitions announced that no “modern sporting rifles” or related products would be allowed at the show. Following that announcement, hundreds of exhibitors and a majority of the celebrity speakers canceled their attendance, which resulted in the show being canceled.

The National Rifle Association was selected to pick up the reins and the show resumed in 2014 as the Great American Outdoor Show. While the show remains true to its roots, the NRA has sought to bring more firearms manufacturers. Wandering the Shooting Sports Hall, attendees can see the latest offerings from companies such as Sig Sauer, Heckler & Koch, IWI, FN USA and more. While silencers are not heavily represented at the show, the education of attendees continues through legends like John Hollister.

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Silencer wizard John Hollister pauses for a photo.

In true NRA fashion, the show also boasts an Eddie Eagle Kid’s Zone and two indoor airgun ranges. NRA Range General Manager Michael Johns estimates that between 10,000 and 14,000 people shoot at the ranges during the show. “There is roughly a 70/30 split between kids and adults,” said Johns. As of the third day of the show this year, the range had already gone through 50,000 pellets.

Glenn K. enjoys the airgun range at the Great American Outdoor Show.

Glenn K. enjoys the airgun range at the Great American Outdoor Show.

The Great American Outdoor Show provides a unique opportunity for individuals to see a variety of different things related to outdoor culture. Whether it is hunting, fishing, outdoor activities or firearms, the show has something for everyone. The 2018 show runs through February 11. To learn more visit: https://www.greatamericanoutdoorshow.org.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adam Kraut is a firearms law attorney practicing in southeastern PA and across the country federally. He is back on the ballot for the NRA Board of Directors in 2018 and has introduced a series of proposed by-law changes to restore accountability to the members. Adam hosts The Legal Brief, a show dedicated to crushing the various myths and misinformation around various areas of the gun world and The Gun Collective Podcast. He was also the general manager of a gun store in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Instagram: @theadamkraut
Twitter: @Kraut4NRA
Facebook: www.facebook.com/adamkrautnra
URL: www.adamkraut.com

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