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Once again, I left this year’s NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits recharged by the entire experience. There were so many incredible moments that contribute to that feeling, and I think every one of the nearly 79,000 attendees could tell you their own unique stories. Here are a few of mine:

There was a moment on Friday evening, after the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum had concluded and I had left work to try and find some dinner, when I found myself on the edge of the crowd that had assembled for the free NRA Country Jam concert featuring Colt Ford and Hank Williams Jr. It was a beautiful spring evening and the streets of downtown were full of happy, smiling NRA members. It wasn’t just the safest spot in town, it was the friendliest place as well. I got goose bumps as I took in the scene—a sea of people from all around the country who had gathered for a weekend of freedom, fellowship and a helluva good time.  

As always, my favorite part of the annual meetings continues to be meeting my fellow NRA members, whether they’re old friends or complete strangers.   I can’t tell you how many pictures I took, hands I shook, hugs I received and wonderful conversations I had with the “Company.” If you took the time to stop by the NRA News set, or walked up in the exhibit hall or on the street to let me know that you’re an avid viewer/listener of NRA News “Cam & Company,” thank you! It means so much—not just to me, but to everyone who works on the program—to know that we’re making a difference and having an impact.  

We’re on the road with you in the overnight hours on SiriusXM, your dinner companion on the Sportsman Channel, and your cubicle mate at work on NRANews.com. And because folks took a few minutes out of their time at the annual meetings to tell me, I now know we’re also listened to in squad cars and ambulances, on college campuses and overseas military bases, and even in a high school or two (don’t tell anyone).  

I also walked away from the annual meetings with a stack of business cards several inches high, representing just a fraction of the fascinating and passionate professionals who were also hard at work throughout the weekend. You know, the exhibit hall at the NRA Annual Meetings is far more than acres of guns and gear. Every year it’s also a living testament to the reality of the American Dream, where hard work and a big idea can take you from tinkering in your garage to running your own company. A lot of those exhibitors will tell you about attending their first annual meeting long before they were working in the industry. And while they might not have as much time to see the rest of the show now, I’m pretty sure they’d all tell you it’s worth it.  

Finally, the city of Nashville was amazing. You couldn’t ask for friendlier people and better weather, and the downtown area is chock-full of interesting stuff that I didn’t have time to see (next time, Johnny Cash Museum!). I also had no idea that Broadway is the Nashville equivalent of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. But once again, NRA members know how to do all kinds of things responsibly—including how to party. The Nashville police reported absolutely no problems from the NRA Annual Meetings or its members. And while that’s par for the course, it deserves mention here because the “mainstream” media won’t acknowledge it.  

I hope everyone had as good a time as I did at this year’s NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits. It’s not too early to start planning for next year’s event in Louisville, Ky.!

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