Monday, April 11, 2016

Big 3 East Spring 2016 Media Event

A few weeks ago I mentioned I would be going radio silent in preparation for this event. I meant to write about my escapades the following week, but being gone from Tuesday night to Saturday morning really screwed up my schedule and I've only now been able to dig myself out.

A detailed report of everything that went out would be impossible, as there was so much to see and do and I was staring at most of it in wide-eyed wonder that I didn't record as much of it as I should have. (Also, the camera I brought had a dead battery and I left its incredibly specific charger behind.)

But here's a summary of what it was like at Big 3 East:

It was like summer camp for gunnies
The first night I slept on-site in a bunkhouse, which literally had bunkbeds and 3-4 people to a room. The only reason I didn't stay there was because the facilities had issues with the power and so we were moved to a hotel where most of the other writers were boarded.

Even then, it still felt like camp. We got up bright at early, and at 8 am we were gathered in the main hall (think "quonset hut meets auditorium") where presentations were made and we asked questions and took notes. This went on until noon, and after lunch we were free to wander the grounds and go "hands on" with what we'd seen that morning.

It was like NRAAM without the crowds 
Someone -- possibly Oleg -- said that Big 3 East was like SHOT Show, only with less BS. Now I haven't been to SHOT Show, but I've been to the NRA Annual Meeting, and B3E was similar in that manufacturers were there showing off their newest and best. But unlike the NRAAM, it was possible to get get good photos and have intelligent conversations with the company reps because there were fewer people there.

One thing that I really like about this was that I got to know some of the manufacturers and reps as people, since we all had lunch and dinner together. This allowed us to bypass a lot of the marketing bull that is standard practice these days and get to know both the product and the people behind it. 

I also got to meet a lot of very neat professionals within the gun journalism community (and wonder what the heck I was doing there with them). I made some friends and networked with many more.* 
Because you gotta throw finger pistols at a reactive target zombie. 
 This is me with Jared Ogden -- Eagle Scout, Navy SEAL, Ultimate Survival Alaska competitor and all-around nice guy. I will admit to having a bit of a fangirl moment when I met him, but he treated me with grace and dignity.

His company, Triumph Systems, has some really neat things that will soon be available for purchase. Since they're hard to review with words I'll just show you this video:

Oh, I also got the introduce Oleg to a hot girl. That was a fun reversal, and he promptly took a photo of her.

It was a hell of a lot of fun
I mentioned hands-on, right?
Photo by Quoc Ha
Yes, that's me firing a full-auto SAW. One of the nicest things about Big 3 East is that companies attend and actively want the gun media to shoot their guns.

Shooting other people's guns with other people's ammo -- what could be better?
This is the 45-70 Whisper. As you can see, it's a 45-70 rifle (I cannot recall the manufacturer -- curses!) with a bull barrel and suppressor. Between those and subsonic ammunition, the *ping* of the bullet hitting the target was louder than the *cough* sound of the rifle firing. A fun gun to shoot!

There are some really neat guns and gun accessories coming out in the next few months. I hope to get my hands on some of them, and when I do I'm going to review them!

It ended with a bang
Well... it actually ended with several minutes of about a hundred or so people firing guns (some of which were fully automatic) at two junkyard cars that had bags of tannerite binary explosive, courtesy of USA Chemical Supply,  placed in strategic locations.

This is car #1, which didn't quite blow up but was shot to pieces and caught on fire. It was orignally the same color as #2, below, and I was surprised that it burnt down to primer instead of charring black.

 This is car #2, which despite our best efforts did NOT catch on fire. We did however shoot the hell out of it. What's interesting is that despite however-many-rounds that were directed at the engine, not a single one actually penetrated. Given the volume of fire, I thought for sure that at least one bullet would have punched a path through!  Apparently engine blocks are a lot denser than I thought.. which is why we use .50 BMG rounds to kill vehicles, not small arms.
Again, finger pistols are mandatory.
I am looking forward to the Fall Media Event in October. I promise to be much more prepared (because I'll know what to expect) and take more pictures.

But I'll still be wearing my t-shirts with guns and ponies on them.

*Richard Venola, if you happen to come across this by some chance, I haven't forgotten your request that I post a picture of you with a caption that you are a buffoon. I just can't find that picture right now.. mea culpa. 

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