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September 17, 2009

Expanding Our View at the Gun Blogger Rendezvous


It's easy to get tunnel vision by reading only familiar magazines, newsletters and blogs, watching only the best-known television shows and frequenting only the most-visited Web sites. We were reminded of that after attending the fourth Gun Blogger Rendezvous (GBR-IV), where we met bloggers of different voices and enthusiasms and where our experience has indeed expanded our view.

The bloggers we met in Reno–from an 11-year-old champion pistol shooter to a 78-year-old grandmother who took up handgun shooting a year ago, and a lot of bloggers in between those ages and interests–have dedicated followers in the worlds of competition shooting, Second Amendment activism, gunsmithing and personal protection. One of them was Phil, who does not blog about firearms but regularly comments on various gun blogs and who made the trip all the way from Oxford, England, to be at GBR-IV. Say Uncle, a veteran blogger with a big audience, was among the bloggers in attendance.

It was Mike Gallion, a Steel Challenge competitor and author of The Mr. Completely blog, who reached out to NSSF, and we're pleased he did. NSSF provided dinner one evening and shared presentation time at the conference with the National Rifle Association and Alan Gura, the attorney who won the District of Columbia v. Heller case. In its presentation, NSSF emphasized how it can be a resource to all bloggers by providing research and statistics, and how potential content can be found in NSSF’s Bullet Points weekly newsletter, legislative alerts on federal and state firearms issues, and on this blog. Additionally, we provided an overview of NSSF high-priority issues, such as the AR-15/Modern Sporting Rifle education campaign that is about to launch (stay tuned for more on that).

And we listened. In freewheeling discussion (bloggers like to give their opinions), we received good suggestions about how to increase the effectiveness of this blog, and we will be acting on some of those suggestions.

Days were spent at the Washoe County Shooting Facility, where there was no lack of equipment to shoot and where a lot of photos and video were captured that are now on blog sites. On Saturday evening we listened to compelling keynote speaker Captain Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, who suffered serious injuries in a roadside bomb blast in Iraq and who today champions Project Valour-IT, a project of Soldiers Angels. Project Valour-IT provides laptops and voice-recognition software to wounded vets so they can continue blogging and sending e-mail even though they may be temporarily or permanently unable to use a keyboard.

NSSF has made a donation to Project Valour-IT, which has provided 3,000 laptops to date to wounded soldiers. After watching Captain Chuck give a demonstration of the voice-recognition software and the benefits it provides to wounded veterans, we encourage readers to visit the Project Valour-IT Web site to add their support for this worthy program.

Industry that was represented either in person or by providing product or service support included  Brownell's, Crimson Trace, Para Ordnance, Hi-Point, Glock, Dillon Precision, Front Sight Training Academy, Hi-Cap Gun Works, Lucky Gunner, Cowboy Fast Draw Association, Western Nevada Pistol League, Steel Challenge Shooting Association (USPSA/SCSA) and Springfield Arms.

The gun blogger community is large, passionate, independent-minded, opinionated and influential. There are many who have felt its sting on occasion, including NSSF, but we also recognize its ability to drive messages that help educate and ultimately unite firearm owners. We’re learning.

We refer you to the Mr. Completely blog for a list of gun bloggers (not all who are listed there attended GBR-IV but many did) and to Derek at The Packing Rat for photographs.