If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to visit the National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va., you know what a truly fantastic experience it is. And if you live in “flyover country”—or just about anywhere other than the East Coast—it’s also likely you know it’s a long way from home.
Now, those who live somewhere besides the Eastern seaboard need not worry: NRA’s new National Sporting Arms Museum just opened its doors at the flagship Bass Pro Shops superstore in Springfield, Mo. Featuring nearly 1,000 historic and significant firearms, the opening brings a truly world-class firearm museum experience to the Midwest United States.
Guns on display at the National Sporting Arms Museum range from hunting rifles, military sidearms and guns of the Old West, to firearms owned by presidents and heads of state. For instance, visitors can see Napoleon Bonaparte’s double-barrel shotgun; an air rifle of the type that accompanied the Lewis and Clark expedition; Teddy Roosevelt’s White House nightstand pistol and several of Annie Oakley’s guns. Five dioramas displayed throughout the 7,500-square-feet of gallery space form a timeline portraying the development and evolution of American hunting arms, from pre-colonial times to the present.
“This museum was born of the generosity and vision of [Bass Pro founder] Johnny Morris working with [NRA Executive Vice President] Wayne LaPierre, and with the help of [NRA Board member] Richard Childress, beginning years ago,” NRA Museum Director Jim Supica told visitors at a special preview the night before the opening. “I am extremely proud to be associated with this museum and with the team who put it together.”
Morris, a longtime leader in conservation, believes the National Sporting Arms Museum will reach many people—especially youngsters—with the true story of hunters as the backbone of American wildlife conservation.
“Being able to share a sporting arms collection that tells the story about the history of hunting and conservation is really special,” Morris said. “I hope visitors enjoy stepping back in time and seeing the types of firearms used by Lewis and Clark, Theodore Roosevelt and others.”
More than 3,500 people visited the museum on opening day, while an estimated 13,000 individuals visited in the first three days, a precursor to what many believe will be a long-term—even record-setting—trend.
“There’s nothing to compare to this in any firearm-related museum,” Supica said. “I’d be awfully surprised if it doesn’t set a record the first year for public attendance at a firearm museum. It is a remarkable institution. Just a wonderful, wonderful facility.”
The NRA National Sporting Arms Museum, located at 1935 S. Campbell in Springfield, Mo., is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and admission is free.
For more information about the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum, click here.