Gun(site) Culture

One of the best parts of being the editor of Bearing Arms is that I have an opportunity to travel to events I’ve always wanted to, and see things that I’ve always wanted to see.


So far this year I’ve been able to go to SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) conference in Knoxville, and most recently, the NRA Annual Meetings and Events in Indianapolis.

In each and every one of these venues, the things were interesting, but the people I’ve met have proved to be the most exceptional part of these adventures. It is these human interactions that are without a doubt what makes these trips so rewarding. I wrote a little bit about this phenomena last week in a post titled The Real NRA Show.

There were two of us from Townhall in town for the NRA Annual Meetings and Events (for those of you who didn’t already know, Bearing Arms is part of the family of sites, and I also write the “Bearing Arms” column for Townhall Magazine). The other half of the team was news editor and friend Katie Pavlich.

I’d not seen Katie during the our first two days on the ground, as she was attending the speeches and policy talks, and I was out on the floor meeting people, talking to vendors, and generally basking in the joy of our shared gun culture. I checked in with her to ask what she was doing Saturday evening, and she invited me to come meet Owen “Buz” Mills, one of the Board of Directors of the NRA and the owner of Gunsite Academy.


gunsite logo

Yes, the Gunsite Academy, where Jeff Cooper taught “the Modern Technique of the Pistol” that he crafted in the 1950s until he retired in 2003.

I was honored to meet Buz, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that he’d been a reader of mine for a number of years. I also met his lovely wife Sonja, and Gunsite’s marketing director, Jane Anne Shimizu, who I proceeded to pal around with the rest of the evening.  We went to the Stand and Fight Rally, where she introduced me to other people in the industry and generally treated me like a old friend, even though we’d met just hours before.

Jane Anne and Sonja met me again Sunday morning, and very kindly took me around to various booths to introduce me to other nice people within the industry that they thought I needed to know. It helps that many gun companies do their new product roll-outs at Gunsite, and so she knows everybody.

Sonja even gave me good advice on how to pick a good concealed carry purse for my wife. Even more impressive was that both Sonja and Jane Anne are even still talking to me after I introduced them to our own Tom McHale.

bob, sonja, jane anne and tom
Sonja Mills and I (left) look on as Jane Anne and Tom McHale talk about his Insanely Practical Guides series of books. Tom is the taller one (Photo courtesy of Mike Detty on Facebook).

Their kindness doesn’t end there.

It looks like I’ll be heading out to Gunsite this summer to take the famed Gunsite 250 Pistol course that is the core of the “Gunsite experience.”

I’m looking forward to learning how to shoot using “the modern technique” where it was perfected. I’m looking forward to being trained by some of the best instructors in the business some of whom are legends in their own right. Most of all, I’m looking forward to spending time with new-old friends.

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