Editor’s Call: Victory for Sportsmen

NRA will replace Eastern Sport and Outdoor Show with new event

Jim Spencer, T&PC executive editor

Jim Spencer, T&PC executive editor

Remember this past winter when the promoters of the huge, popular and long-running Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show announced they wouldn’t allow the show’s vendors to display or sell modern sporting rifles at the show because of the then-recent Newtown, Conn., school massacre? The result was a massive boycott of the show by scores of vendors, and a subsequent last-minute cancellation of the entire show by Reed Exhibitions. The incident was the subject of my editorial in the most recent issue, you might recall.

Good news. The show is back on for 2014, still in Harrisburg … except it’s no longer the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show. Further, the show’s old promoter, a gun-control-minded British corporation called Reed Exhibitions, is out. Want to guess who’s running things now?


The National Rifle Association!

Ironically, the NRA was one of the first vendors to pull out of the Eastern Show, following close on the heels of Lancaster Archery Supply, who led the boycott avalanche. After the show’s cancellation, Pennsylvania fired Reed Exhibitions, and 17 promoters subsequently applied for the job of putting together a replacement show.

“Going through the proposals, there clearly was one vendor that stood out from the rest,” said Jeff Haste, chairman of the Dauphin County commissioners, where the show will be held. “That was the NRA.”

Haste said the NRA’s desire to expand the show’s scope and content was the thing that made its proposal stand out from the rest.

The new show, called the Great American Outdoor Show, will run Feb. 1 through 9, the same time slot as the Eastern Sport Show. In addition to the broader name (American, not Eastern), it’s also going to have an expanded format.

“This is going to become a national show with implications way beyond the borders of this state and this county, and it’s going to attract people from all over the country — not just next year but for years to come,” said David Keene, NRA president.

The show, in addition to the huge floor show with hundreds of vendors, will include country music concerts, national speakers and conferences on current outdoor topics of interest and concern. I’m guessing, but a likely list of topics, in addition to hunting and fishing seminars put on by experts, would be seminars and briefings on such things as gun control; anti-hunting and anti-trapping issues; the ever-increasing governmental interference with legitimate hunting, fishing and trapping; the ominous increase of roadless areas on public land; and similar topics.

That schedule, of course, is still to be worked out. The important thing is what I talked about in this space last issue — that it was the concerted effort of the dealers and vendors who boycotted last February’s show that caused the change.

Clearly, the NRA is planning to raise the bar on what was already a pretty good show. This is partly because that’s the way the NRA has always done things — pedal to the metal, damn the torpedoes — but I’m thinking it’s also partly because the NRA wants to put Reed Exhibitions’ past efforts in the shade. Second Amendment tramplers are frowned upon by that organization.

Whatever their motivations, every hunter, angler and trapper in the country is on the winning end. It’s a clear victory for sportsmen all over the country: A politically correct corporation has been taken out of the loop, and a strongly pro-gun, pro-hunting, pro-trapping organization is at the helm.

I’m usually still trapping hard in early February, but next year I think I’ll take a few days off and head for Harrisburg. This one’s worth supporting.

Jim Spencer, of Calico Rock, Ark., is executive editor of T&PC. To contact Jim, send e-mails to modernmountainman@gmail.com. Visit his website at www.treblehookunlimited.com.

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