Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back to reality after GBR VI...

Usually when I vacation, I try to display some sort of clothing or accessory that demonstrates my interest in the shooting sports – perhaps a souvenir shirt from the fabulous Knob Creek Machinegun Shoot, or a picture of John Moses Browning pasted onto the outer leaf of a manila folder.  I call them recognition totems, so that if a fellow “gunnie” sees it, perhaps a conversation will ensue.  Conversely, I’m always looking out for the same thing. 

My Kalashnakitty shirt made it quite easy for Mr. Completely, Kee Wee, Kevin Baker (and one or two others I’m forgetting for the moment) to recognize me as a fellow GBR attendee.  We quickly formed up and had a lively dinner.

I hadn’t gone to any previous GBRs.  Always wanted to.  Why NOT go to a gathering of  quality writers collected together in a comfy hotel tucked into the Northwest corner of Nevada, one of the very best states to be in if you’re a shooter?

We had use of a hospitality room as a place to congregate, schmooze, discuss, argue and simply meet up before heading out for a field trip.

Our first was out to Cabela’s.  There aren’t any places like it where I’m from.  It’s basically a giant rustic cabin the size of a Wal-Mart but filled with an amazing selection of outdoor gear.  We were given an informative guided tour of the place, and were able to inspect and even hold some of the specimens in their famous Gun Library. 

The ranges we went to were unlike any I’ve visited.  They aren’t just a collection of targets set against sand berms, they’re basically tall hills that are part of the dramatic Nevada landscape.  The distances are between 10 and about 900 + yards.

Kevin Baker said it best and I’m paraphrasing here, “As I drove up here from Tucson I saw all of this empty land and I thought it would make a great gun range.”
I’ve had the same thought myself, while transiting through Nevada’s quiet terrain on previous vacations.

Reno itself is a great setting for GBR.  Reno should never be mistaken for Las Vegas, and vice versa.  Las Vegas is a gambling town that happens to have people that live and work there.  Reno is a place where people live and work, that just happens to have gambling.

Both cities are surrounded by plenty of rugged hills, mountains and scrub desert, but Reno feels friendlier and slower.  It lacks that “anything can happen” vibe threading the air in Vegas, but I think that’s a good thing for a tight-knit group like the GBR attendees.  Traffic can certainly be bad around Reno, but it’s a crawl around Vegas, so our excursions to Cabela’s and local ranges would have been hampered.

 I had a slightly surreal moment at the GBR: I met Paul M Barrett.  He’s a business journalist for Bloomberg Businessweek.  Paul wrote a story in January about Glocks that I felt at the time was very anti-Glock, anti-gun, and anti gun owner.  I dashed off a response the moment I read it.  As I recall I wrote it right from my Blackberry from the now-defunct Borders store where I read the piece. 
Businessweek published the letter, which I found gratifying.
But I never expected to encounter the fellow in person, and we had a good dinnertime conversation.  As I understand it, he spoke about gun issues with the other attendees and had quite the vigorous debate going.

I think Paul left the event with a better sense of who we are – heck he got a taste of gun-law frustration when he himself tried to obtain a permit to own a pistol – a process fraught with paperwork, fees and bureaucracy in NYC and New York State.
His overarching stance wasn’t especially pro or anti-gun but contained a heartfelt plea for both sides to be able to sit down and discuss the issues in an intelligent and civil way.

It should be pointed out to any “non-gunnies” reading this post that well over 40 states don’t require anything even like this to merely have a handgun to keep at home and take to the range.

The gap (or similarity) between a blogger’s online persona and how they are in real life was one of the things I was curious about well ahead of my arrival at GBR. 
They are the smart, articulate, passionate and polite people that I expected them to be.
Everyone I met was interesting to spend time with, and generous with their guns, ammunition and money (fundraising for Valor-IT).

I’m looking forward already to next year’s gathering.


  1. Welcome to the "Blogosphere" !!!

    KeeWee and I enjoyed meeting you at the Rendezvous, and are certainly looking forward to next year.

    Mr. C.

  2. Happy to meet you Aaron,and will be back to read more. I checked out you video on Youtube, it is great.
    Welcome to the world of blogging.