It’s about that time, folks. Time to get serious about getting to the National Rifle Association Annual Meetings & Exhibits…the “NRA Show.” After last year’s event in Louisville, Kentucky, I wrote Part 1 to encourage everybody to do some advance planning for this year’s show, and time for advance planning is getting short.
But there is still time to get ready and get there if you want. This year, the NRAAM will be held April 27-30 in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Georgia World Congress Center. I’ll be there representing the Black Man With A Gun team, and I hope you can make it, too.
While it is probably too late to get a hotel downtown near the convention center, that doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Atlanta’s MARTA mass-transit system runs right by the Georgia World Congress Center, so as long as you can find a hotel along a MARTA route, you can still get there (and beat the notorious Atlanta traffic). Also, for those of you concerned about concealed carry issues, MARTA is good to go. From the MARTA Police website:
“Carrying firearms on MARTA is only legal if you are legally licensed to carry one. If you are licensed, you must have the license with you at all times while carrying your firearm. Anyone found carrying a firearm without a license will receive a citation and have the firearm confiscated. Also, if you’re traveling to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, be aware that you’ll have to cooperate with the airport’s specific rules and regulations for concealed firearms.”
You will need to be sure that your license is recognized by the state of Georgia. The handgunlaw.us website is a great resource for this, as well as to make sure that you are familiar with Georgia concealed carry laws and restrictions that may differ from your home state. According to the NRAAM website, legally carried firearms are permitted in the GWCC, though there are other restrictions to be aware of:
“During the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, lawfully carried firearms will be permitted in the Georgia World Congress Center and the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center in accordance with Georgia law. However, firearms are not allowed in the remainder of the CNN Center, including the food court and shops. When carrying your firearm, remember to follow all federal, state and local laws.”
So, now that we’ve addressed how to get there, let’s talk about how to do the NRA Show. If you’ve never been to one, there are some tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of your visit.
The first big time-saver is pre-registration! While the NRA and its volunteers do a great job moving everybody through the registration lines, you can still skip it altogether by simply going online HERE and pre-registering. You’ll get your passes in the mail in plenty of time for the show, and once the doors open, you can head right on in. There are also several special events, speakers, and concerts which require a separate ticket, and they can sell out. If you want to attend any of those, I’d highly recommend avoiding that possible disappointment by ordering those in advance online HERE.
But the main thing you can do to maximize your NRAAM experience is to have a plan! With over 800 exhibitors spread over nearly 9 acres, and a full slate of special events, concerts, guest speakers, seminars, it can get a little overwhelming. Fortunately, the NRA makes that easy to with their NRAAM mobile app, which you can download from the iTunes Store for the iPhone or iPad, and from the Google Play store for Android devices. This is a very handy little app which can help with your advance planning, and in helping navigate the show floor. Using the app you can bookmark which exhibitors and events you want to visit, and it will build you a show itinerary and highlight their locations on a venue map to help you find them. Also contained in the app are notifications of which vendors have special deals going on during the show, social media feeds, and other event info.
Now for a few “insider” tips…
You’ll want some kind of bag or backpack. There is plenty of good shopping and free swag, and it’s easy to get a pretty big haul…and you’ll want something to haul it in. Don’t have a bag? Don’t worry. You can count on several of the vendors to have free bags, and you can grab one first thing and be good to go.
And as far as shopping, make sure and visit the NRA Store. They’ll be set up with plenty of show souvenirs, and if they don’t have what you’re looking for on hand, or if you just don’t want to carry it around, they usually will offer free shipping to your home and help you place an order.
Another great deal from the NRA normally available at the show is discounted membership upgrades. Always thought about becoming a Life Member? The NRAAM is the place to do it! Life Membership, and all of the extended levels such as Endowment, Patron, and Benefactor are available at considerable savings, and if you do it at the show, they’ll ring the bell and let everybody know!
Of course, make sure and wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so the right footwear will at least delay how soon those dogs start barkin’ at you. Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated.
And last but not least, I’d encourage you to not get too wrapped up in the hardware. Don’t get me wrong. There is a ton of cool stuff to see, and the NRA Show is a great place to see all the new products and gear. Check out as much of it as you can. But the NRA is people, and my personal opinion is that the people make the show what it is. Say hello to your fellow NRA member and you’ll enjoy your time at the show that much more. The NRAAM is “the people’s show,” and I’ll be looking for you there!
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