Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rob and Kippi Leatham Notch First Joint National Championship

Prior to this weekend's Single Stack Classic National Championship, The Leatham family had managed a total of 21 USPSA National Championship titles (18 for Rob and 3 for Kippi), but yet they had never managed to win the same national championship match. Now They have finally done it. In the process, Rob upped his total of victories at the Classic to 13, or in other words, every Single Stack Classic they have ever held. Last year the classic was adopted as the national championship for USPSA's new provisional single stack division.

Kippi and Rob Leatham with USPSA President Mike Voigt

Rob does nails yet another reload on his way to yet another Single Stack Classic victory.

Twenty two Springfield Armory employees and three sponsored shooters represented Springfield as competitors at the match.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pike County, IL Says No to State Gun Grab

Team Springfield is on the road this weekend for the Springfield Armory Single Stack Classic, USPSA's Single Stack National Championship. Its held at a great facility in Pike County, IL called PASA Park. Pike County is a great place to be if you are a gun owner in Illinois, not only for PASA Park, but for outstanding whitetail hunting and, of course, the local government. With several gun control bills being debated in the state legislature that would negatively impact great Illinois businesses like PASA Park, Springfield Armory, ArmaLite, Rock River Arms, Lewis Machine and Tool and Les Baer Custom, the Pike County Board passed a resolution opposing the bills and declaring any such laws unconstitutional.


God Bless America ... And Join the NRA.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Springfield Products Make Covers

The GI 45 is on the new cover of Best of Shooting Times & Guns & Ammo, and the NEW XD 45ACP Compact is on the cover of Guns Magazine. The American Rifleman Handgun of the Year for 2007 is the NEW EMP, which is on the cover of American Rifleman.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Farewell to Butch Powell

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Butch Powell. Butch was a dear friend and member of Team Springfield's 2006 National Championship bullseye team. He always had a smile and time to talk to whoever had questions.

Butch's Obituary

Our condolences go out to Butch's family and loved ones. He will be dearly missed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 15, We Are Family

When I entered the exhibit hall today, I realized that yesterday’s crowds had died down substantially — and since I had seen virtually every inch of the exhibit hall, I decided to experience a bit more of St. Louis. I learned that the 2006 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals were playing at home in Busch Stadium against the Milwaukee Brewers, and walked down the street to catch my first-ever major league game. Interestingly, Milwaukee was the host of last year’s NRA Annual Meetings and, mirroring last years’ NRA meeting attendance numbers, St. Louis kicked Milwaukee’s buttocks ... 10 to 2.

It was Jackie Robinson Day throughout Major League Baseball and, in recognition of Robinson’s contribution to breaking down the racial barriers in the major leagues sixty years ago, every player in the major leagues wore number 42 today in Robinson’s honor. I marveled at the contradiction that I far we’ve come from such an event being newsworthy to how short we’ve fallen with comments like “nappy headed hos” being delivered just this week. Seems no matter how much we’ve been taught, some of us never learn. Tom DeLay may stand behind the NRA, but when he stands behind Don Imus’ remarks, which he did, he’s lost me. Time to part company.

The overriding sentiment that settled on me today was one of tradition. There are not many more beautiful stadiums than Busch Stadium. With springtime finally getting a foothold over the cold, wet weather of the last few days, today was amazing with blue sky and sunshine. The day invited the happiest and warmest of thoughts.

Today is my birthday, and since my wife is from Missouri, and since her family has always been members of the “Cardinal Nation,” my thoughts turned toward family. I thought of my late father-in-law who was a Missouri state champion trap shooter, and a man who had to decline an invitation to join the Olympic shooting team because shooters had to pay their own way in those days. I thought of his two brothers — one, the recently retired Executive Director of the National Sporing Clays Association and National Skeet Shooting Association and the other, a prominent handgun hunting outdoor writer and member of the Missouri state legislature. I thought of my own father who, along with signing me up for little league baseball, made me a member of the NRA and member of the Salt Lake Small Arms Club when I was 12 years old. God only knows the impact they have all had on my life.

I’ve worked with so many companies within the firearms industry in my career that it defies belief ... Browning, Winchester, Remington, Beretta, Sigarms, Hammerli, Blaser, Sauer, Leupold and, most importantly, Springfield Armory. All of the other brands I’ve worked for build the products that make America fun. Springfield Armory makes the products that make America great.

When I first learned that I had to be in St. Louis for the NRA show on my birthday, I was frustrated. I used the word “alone” to describe my feelings. Today, I feel exactly the opposite. Before departing Busch Stadium, I wanted to shout to the tens of thousands of people in the crowd, “I’m on my way to catch a flight back to Utah. Before I leave, I want to let you know that St. Louis ROCKS!!!!”

Does this shirt make me look fat?

With my thoughts of family, I reflected on Friday evening. I spent Friday evening sitting by the pool of the St. Louis Holiday Inn Select with a dozen employees from Springfield Armory. We ate Buffalo wings and pizza. We drank beer. I played everything from Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead to Billy Joel, Elton John and Ray Charles on a baby grand piano that sat nearby, until hotel guests called the front desk to complain about the noise. The primary feeling I came away with was one of family.

I had sat among assembly techs, office assistants, accountants, sales reps and, arguably, the greatest pistol shooter in the world, Rob Leatham, that night. The overriding feeling I came away with was “family.”

I know I’m getting paid by Springfield Armory to blog the events of the 2007 NRA show, but in all honesty, I have never worked for another company that is as down-to-earth and real as these guys. I don’t care who you are, you would enjoy being around these people. Support them by buying their amazing products. Support them by joining the NRA.

Until next year in Louisville, where I hope you’ll join me at the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibit, I’m signing off.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

April 14, Super Saturday

The calm before the storm ...

And ... the storm ...

Remember yesterday when I said there was a “sea of humanity” in attendance at the NRA show? Ha! I was standing on the metaphorical shores of Lake Erie believing I was looking at a sea. Today, I saw the figurative equivalent of the Pacific Ocean! Navigating the exhibit hall was exhausting with the throngs of people. But that’s a good thing.

The NRA is all about political clout and membership numbers are what make that clout. If you ever feel isolated or like you’re part of a minority as a gun owner, attend the NRA show. You’ll realize why the NRA is one of the most powerful lobbies for freedom in the world...and it’s because of you! NRA members. You joined, right?

Local St.Louis news outlets are reporting that this year’s meeting is the single largest convention in St. Louis history. Official numbers won’t be available until tomorrow, but estimates put attendance in the neighborhood of 60,000+. They’re also taking note of Republican Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney’s absence, even though he was in town yesterday.

Romney is said to be courting the NRA’s endorsement, but dodged his first NRA Annual Meeting since purchasing a Lifetime Membership last August and claiming last week that he is a lifelong hunter. The press is suggesting Romney was afraid to be ridiculed over his claim after it was shown he had never been issued a hunting license.

When the doors to the exhibit hall opened this morning, the crowds literally ran to meet R. Lee Ermey and additional security was required to control the multitude of people pressing in on Ted Nugent. They lined up to meet UFC legends, the Hughes brothers.

An additional, and unfortunate, result of the massive crowds was that it apparently altered the mobility of Wayne LaPierre and John Bolton and their respective security entourages and I was unable to interview them on the show floor as I indicated I would yesterday.

Probably not a huge deal. LaPierre is pretty famous for sticking to his talking points and I doubt I would have gotten him to stray from them. The main thing I wanted to ask Wayne was, in this extremely serious business of leading the charge for freedom and taking all the shots he takes, is he able to maintain a sense of humor and, if so, how. I want to know how a guy as serious as Wayne LaPierre blows off steam. I want to know what he has on his iPod, what movies he watches....stuff like that. Not hard-hitting journalistic questions, but definitely stuff that would help a guy like me relate to a guy like him.

I attended the the formal dinner tonight and heard John Bolton’s keynote address to the NRA. Other outlets will certainly cover his remarks better than me. I’ll simply summarize here.

The key message you need to know is that gun grabbers have failed miserably on local levels. You and I present too united a front and too vicious an opponent for them to ever beat. They altered their strategy and took it to the state level, where in states like Illinois and Missouri, they could get the backing of liberal cities like Chicago and St. Louis. Even that hasn’t worked out for them.

Next, they took their fight to the national level. Again, they haven’t been as successful as they wanted. What Bolton warned of, is the latest anti-gun strategy to take the issue to the international level and attempt to get guns via international treaties. In essence, every move up the ladder the gun grabbers have made has been an attempt to water down our democratic processes. Bottom line: pay attention to international diplomacy.

Anheuser Busch hosted NRA After Dark— a party at the Anheuser Busch brewery just down the road. Have you ever been to a party that runs out of beer? That was guaranteed not to happen at this little shin dig.

I have to plug Anheuser Busch here for much more that a couple of free Bud Lights. These guys are far from a company doing the typical corporate sponsorship thing when it comes to firearms. They’re not pandering to a specific market in an effort to sell a few more barley pops.

In 2003, when Missouri was trying to pass a meaningful concealed carry bill, the fight to override Gov. Bob Holden's veto of the bill was so intense that it came down to a single, deciding vote. That vote belonged to Sen. John Dolan, a
National Guard member on active duty in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He obtained leave to return home to vote on this matter and, the word is, August Bush provided the means to get him to Jefferson City post haste so the measure would pass. That’s commitment to your interest. If you have an thirst for oat soda, Anheuser Busch should be your brand of choice simply because they put their money where their mouth is when it comes to important issues like gun control.

On that note, Mr. Bush, I salute you,

Anyway...another great day of NRA annual meetings. I’ll check in later.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the 13th, my lucky day

Welcome to America's Center:

Kind of ....

The Show-Me State is living up to it’s name. Based on the sea of humanity lined up to get into the show today, I’d have to say every gun owner in Missouri is here to be shown the latest and greatest in the firearms world. Having walked the exhibit hall, I can tell you there’s no shortage of stuff for them to see. And having attended the Golden Bullseye Awards breakfast this morning, there are some truly great products you need to check out.

This blog is intended to allow you to attend the NRA show virtually. To make it as true to life as possible, let’s do this right...
As you may know, the meetings and exhibits are free for all NRA members. Simply show your NRA membership card in the registration area and you’re given show credentials. If you’re not an NRA member, you can join right then and there. a virtual attendee at the 2007 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibit, I hope you’re already a member of the NRA. If you’re not, click here and join right now before continuing. Otherwise, you’re a virtual poacher.

The day started at a breakfast staged by the NRA publications ... American Rifleman, American Hunter, etc. Each year, the editorial staff of the publications selects what they consider to be the bests products in respective categories and awards them their Golden Bullseye trophy. This award is among the most coveted in the industry because of its objective nature, and the well known fact that the staff at NRA publications are the biggest bunch of gun geeks you will ever meet. They know their stuff. And if they give your product the trophy its only because it gave them “gun wood” Their term – not mine.

The list of breakfast attendees at the awards breakfast read like a who’s who of the industry. The tone of the gathering was best demonstrated by Randy Brooks, the owner and driving force behind Barnes Bullets. When NRA Editorial Director, John Zent greeted Randy at the door, he asked, “Why are you smiling so big, Randy?” Randy’s response? “Because I have so many friends!”

The room was full of industry leaders. Fierce competitors. In Randy’s category alone, representatives from Winchester Ammunition, Nosler and Federal surrounded him. Despite being in competition in the premium bullet world, these guys are friends, first and foremost. I think that says a lot about this industry.

Barnes Bullets was awarded the Ammunition of the Year Golden Bullseye from American Hunter magazine for their Maximum Range X-Bullet (MRX). With a heavier-than-lead tungsten core in its base and a Delrin tip, this high ballistic coefficient bullet is deadly at long range. You can learn more about it here:

American Hunter awarded the Shotgun of the Year Golden Bullseye to the Remington 105 CTi. After the breakfast, I went straight to the exhibit hall to check this shotgun out. Simply put, this is my next shotgun. I’m a bike geek, so Remington had me at “titanium receiver with a carbon fiber shell.” I love seeing a traditional company like Remington in a traditional industry like firearms, embracing modern, lightweight, high-performance materials like titanium and carbon.

This shotgun takes my favorite features of all of my other shotguns and rolls them into one, sleek model. First of all it’s a semi-auto like my Winchester Super X2 and Browning Gold. Like my Gold, it features speed loading — thumb a round into the magazine and it is cycled directly into the chamber. It features bottom loading and bottom ejection like my old Browning BPS — spent shells are dropped directly at your feet and not across the duck blind into your buddy’s face. Unlike my BPS, it’s a semi-auto. Did I mention that? If Steve Jobs and the guys at Apple made a shotgun, it would most likely be identical in every way to the CTi. Of course, they’d call it the iShotgun. Bravo, Remington. Check it out here:

American Hunter’s Optic of the Year Golden Bullseye went to my friends at Leupold for their VX-L. This scope has a cool story that everyone in the industry should learn from. A few years ago, Leupold & Stevens hired Andy York to head up sales and marketing. They brought him from outside the industry. That’s the part that everyone should pay attention to, because he brought new perspectives and ideas with him. He questioned even the most fundamentally accepted norms and challenged them. The result was the VX-L.

Andy knew the importance of cheek weld and having the centerline of the optic as close to the centerline of the bore as possible. He saw shooters with 50mm objective scopes getting “chin weld” at best. When he started doodling his idea for the VX-L, traditionalists laughed. However, true to their commitment to innovation, the top brass at Leupold stood behind Andy’s forward thinking and poured somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million into the development of the VX-L. The result is a 50mm scope that mounts like a 36mm, yet delivers nearly 50% more total light. More info can be found here:

Other Golden Bullseye Awards on the hunting side included Thompson/Center’s Encore Pro in the rifle category and Bushnell’s ONIX200 gps. I haven’t had a chance to stop at the Bushnell booth, yet, but I intend to go play with this Gear of the Year gadget as soon as I get a chance. Maybe more on that tomorrow.

The American Rifleman side of the Golden Bullseyes recognized the Tikka T3 Tactical as Rifle of the Year. My old friend Cory Cannon is the product manager over at Tikka and Sako rifles for Beretta and I’m told he’ll be at the show a little later. If I can pin him down, I’ll give you the inside scoop on Tikka and Sako tomorrow.

Rifleman gave Shotgun of the Year to the Benelli Cordoba 20 gauge, Best Accessory to Caldwell Shooting Supplies’ Handgun Accurizing Mechanical Machine Rest (HAMMR), Best Ammunition to the .338 Federal and Best Optic to the Aimpoint CompML3.

Of course, most meaningful to you — as a surfer — was the Handgun of the Year award to the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm. In presenting the award, Editor in Chief, Mark Keefe said it best:

“Designed by none other than John Moses Browning, the M1911 pistol is America’s greatest — and most popular — handgun design. There have been literally thousands of variations of this great gun in its near century of service. What this year’s winner did was to push the M1911 design in a new direction, the ultimate in downsizing.

“The Springfield Extreme Micro Pistol was shown actual size on the April 2007 cover [of American Rifleman], and it’s not just another 1911 with its grip and slide hacked down. It is a frame-specific 9mm or .40 S&W that required an extensive redeisgn and 15 newly configured parts. The frame is 3/16 of an inch shorter than a .45 ACP, meaning you can get more of your hand around the gun, making this one of the most controllable and concealable pistols we’ve ever tested. Put it in your hand and shoot it, and, you’ll agree with field editor Wiley Clapp, who wrote, ‘As an all-new category — the short-action M1911 — this great little gun might just be the tip of the iceberg.’ The Springfield EMP is well deserving of the title American Rifleman Handgun of the year.”

Denny Reese accepted the award and acknowledged the incredible ingenuity and effort of Springfield Custom Shop manager, Dave Williams, in the design of the pistol. A shy Williams stood and gave a quick wave to a room full of applause. Nice work, Dave, and everyone else at Springfield.

Here's Me, Tom and Denny Reese (they ARE Springfield Armory) and with the coveted Golden Bullseye Award for Handgun of the Year:

More on the EMP here:

After roaming the exhibit hall for a couple of hours, I made my way over to the Opening Celebration. There, NRA President, Sandy Froman took the stage to officially kick the weekend off.

Sidenote: I gotta say, I’m a Sandy Froman fan. As one enters the exhibit hall area of the show, dozens of banners hang on each side of the hall. Each features an NRA “celebrity” proudly declaring, “I’m the NRA.” Everyone from Karl Malone to Tom Selleck, Travis Tritt, Steve Largent and Charlton Heston is pictured. Each holds some sort of firearm — flintlock muskets, lever action rifles and the ever-popular over and under broken open over the shoulder. Warm and fuzzy guns. I understand the NRA’s need to project a palatable image to everyone, but this is the same organization that coined the phrase, “The Second Amendment isn’t about duck hunting.” Froman is the only individual pictured on these banners holding a handgun. It happens to be a Springfield Armory 1911. Props to Ms. Froman.

Where was I? Oh, yeah...

Wayne LaPierre paid tribute to children of active military personnel, acknowledging the sacrifices of young people who have parents serving abroad. He continued his tribute by acknowledging all active military and law enforcement personnel. As he recognized each group he asked them to remain standing. Finally, he asked all those present who had served in military or law enforcement to stand. A tremendous number of people stood to resounding applause.

LaPierre then introduced NRA-ILA Executive Director, Chris Cox. Cox informed the crowd that they were about to witness Missouri history. A stream of state legislators took the stage followed by the Lieutenant Governor who read from Senate Bill 257:

"The state, any political subdivision, or any person shall not prohibit or restrict the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transportation, storage, display, or use of firearms or ammunition during an emergency."

This bill is an effort to prevent a recurrence of what happened in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, where, for the first time in American history, a government went door to door and seized privately firearms at gunpoint.

Governor Matt Blunt then came on stage to thunderous applause and signed the bill into law. It was pretty profound stuff.
Country music singer Ty England then came on stage to perform and, being that I wasn’t in what Hank Williams, Jr. calls “a country state of mind,” I took my leave. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. Talented, too. It just seemed a bit anti-climactic or something after such political boldness.

I grabbed a quick bite...and I must say that, so far, St. Louis food stinks. That is the ONLY reason I would say you shouldn’t be here. I guess St. Louis isn’t known for any special kind of food. I mean, in Memphis, you eat ribs. In New England, you eat lobster. In Omaha, you eat steak. In Philadelphia, you eat cheese steak sandwiches. In New Orleans, you eat anything. But from what I’ve seen of St. Louis, you eat nothing. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky, but if I don’t get a good dinner tonight, I’m going to be pissed.

Speaking of good food and pissed ... I can’t think of those words together without my friend Bob Robb coming to mind. I say that because, despite being one of the nicest guys around, Bob loves to come off as a grumpy old man and because some of the best food I’ve eaten in my life has been consumed at tables shared with Bob Robb. We both have a weakness for good sushi and we’ve literally broken records with the size of our bills at various sushi joints around the country.

I checked the show schedule and who, but my buddy Bob, was slated to conduct a seminar with Craig Boddington on African hunting. Bob is a world-renowned hunter and outdoor writer. He is a pro staffer for Gore-Tex, BowTech, Gold Tip and Under Armour. And despite being somewhere in his 50s, he’s like a little kid. The host for seminar had provided Bob with a laser pointer. It was the equivalent of giving a set of shiny, jingling keys to a monkey.

I sat through all of Craig Boddington’s remarks and Bob was just getting started when I had to excuse myself to take a cell phone call.

Bill Dermody was calling to tell me he had lined up a couple of interviews for me to conduct tomorrow. I was stunned when he told me who I’d be meeting with. He said, “What do you think is the toughest interview to get at the show?”

I responded, “LaPierre is probably the busiest guy in town this week, so I’ll go with that.”

Bill then said, “You’re interviewing Wayne LaPierre tomorrow at 12:30.”

He called back a few minutes later and said, “What would be an even tougher interview to get than Wayne LaPierre?”
I honestly had no clue.

“You’ll also be interviewing tomorrow night’s keynote speaker, Ambassador John R. Bolton.”

Holy *&#@!

So I need to dust off my journalism skills that have sat dormant since college, get some homework done, shave my five-day beard and iron my shirt for tomorrow. Until then, I’m signing off. In doing so, I hope that you’re getting a taste of what you’re missing. There’s clearly something for everyone at the NRA show: gearheads, political zealots, average hunters, whatever. Start making your plans to attend next year in Louisville.

Oh yeah … and Join the NRA!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Shane's World Round Two: Saint Louis

Heading east to the “Gateway to the West.” Weird. I’m sitting in the Salt Lake International Airport awaiting departure to St. Louis after a busy morning. I suppose that I should introduce myself to those of you who will be following me virtually around the NRA Annual Shin-Dig...

My name is Shane. That’s I’ll I’m willing to hand out freely in today’s cyberworld. Anyone with an internet connection and time to kill can probably find out every detail of my existence if they were so inclined. On principle, I just don’t hand it out freely.

I am the Creative Director for a specialty advertising agency that works with Springfield Armory...among other companies that will be exhibiting at the show. I’ve been in “the industry” for my entire career. Starting as a junior copywriter at the in-house creative group that handles Browning and Winchester firearms, I worked my way up over 8 years to become the Creative Director there. During that time, I hired Bill Dermody, who is now the "marketing guy" at Springfield.

I had gone to college with Bill and knew him as about the only other “gun guy” in a university of 25,000+ students. Certainly the only other one in the somewhat liberal communications program.

I left Browning/Winchester about six years ago with two partners to start a firm that would allow us to apply our passion and expertise to a broader range of “hook and bullet” clients. Bill stepped into the Creative Director position for a couple of years after I left, then took the Marketing Communications Director position with Springfield.

The fact that you’re here poking around the Springfield website is evidence that you’re a unique kind of gun nut. And before you take offense, the term “gun nut” is one of adoration.

Everyone I know at Springfield is into guns for the same reasons you and I are...mostly to have fun. And in an oxymoronic kind of way, they’re very serious about it. Springfield doesn’t always play by the rules. You won’t find a lot of fluff with these guys. Their marketing communication is as straight shooting as their firearms. That’s mostly due to Bill. They tell it like it is.

You might remember Bill’s acceptance speech when the SOCOM II won “Rifle of the Year” two years ago in Houston. He said, “At a time when so many are willing to die for their extremist beliefs, we’re proud to supply the products that help them on their way.” Pure poetry.

I’m looking forward to Bill’s remarks tomorrow morning when Springfield is awarded the NRA’s Golden Bullseye award for their EMP (Extreme Micro Pistol). Should be entertaining.

It's been great to work with both Springfield and Browning, because they share the same great bloodlines. In fact, since my departure, Browning has done some amazing things with the Cynergy and other designs and I think John Browning would be proud of the last several years of innovation marketed under his name. The buzz I hear from friends who are still at Browning is that 2008 will be one for the books. Stay tuned.

If there were ever a gun design that has remained unchanged, it’s the 1911. Like all John Browning designs, he did it right the first time. So making an old design sound new would seem to pose the same creative problem for me with Springfield Armory, but these guys bring fresh 1911 options and improvements to market every year.

The EMP, however, is not just another 1911. It is literally a whole new design. In creating an entirely new frame size, Springfield had to redesign virtually every part within the gun. In doing so, they didn’t simply design for size, they designed for greater functionality. Some might consider messing with a John Browning design heresy, but if anyone is worthy to approach such a task, it’s Springfield Armory.

Well, the Southwest Airlines cattle call is about to begin and I’m in the coveted “Boarding Group A” so I gotta dash. Show starts tomorrow and I’ll be sure to keep you posted. Consider my blog for Thursday, April 12 as Spring-filed.

Peace out.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Shane is called out of retirement

A late-March Friday morning in the Rocky Mountains. I should be skiing, but my wife got the go-ahead to hit the slopes this morning, and I’m at home watching my 4-year-old son while trying to mulit-task and clean out my car at the same time. For most people, this wouldn’t be a big deal...but you haven’t seen my car and you haven't met my 4-year-old. Neither is a small task.

During the process, my cell phone rings and I see a 309 area code ... Illinois ... that means Springfield Armory. I gotta take this call. Key client. It’s Bill Dermody, marketing communications manager from Springfield, calling to check up on my training for an upcoming Ironman triathlon that I was stupid enough to sign up for and talk him into doing with me. Turns out neither of us is really on track with our training ... but that’s not really why he’s calling. It seems one of the head honchos at Springfield wants me to attend the 2007 NRA Show in St. Louis this year and repeat my “Shane’s World” blog from two years ago in Houston. Apparently, a lot of you read it and have demanded more.

I remember spending my birthday more or less alone in Houston a couple of years ago. I shared the day with Tom DeLusional er, Tom DeLay during his rapid fall from grace. I had some pretty cool times, though. I hooked up with my old buddy, Ted Nugent. I met military-psycho-turned-Hollywood-actor, R. Lee Ermy. I sang along with Hank Williams, Jr. and rubbed elbows with a range of people from anti-gun protesters to Olympic gold medalists to Tom Selleck, all in an effort to give you, the reader and non-NRA Show attendee, some insight into the goings-on at the show.

But I just gotta ask: Couldn”t you just attend the show yourselves and let me celebrate my birthday at home with my family and friends?! Do I really need to spend my birthday alone in a St. Louis hotel just to provide you with real-world insight into the events of a gathering that you could attend anyway? C’mon! You’re a gun owner! Join your organization! Sing along with Bocephus! Get Magnum P.I.’s autograph! Exchange insults with anti-gun protesters! Do you have to screw up my birthday again?! Evidently ...

Alas, I have resigned myself to another birthday spent in another city by myself because I believe in the greater good. I believe in a free society. I believe that the main thing that ensures that free society is an armed citizenry. And I believe that the best arms for that citizenry to possess come from a company in Geneseo, Illinois ... Springfield Armory. Near my bed sits a Springfield sub-compact 1911. Mr. Dermody sent it to my office as a photo sample. I'm sure they'll take pictures of the bad-guy after the fact should the need to use it ever arise. Then it will be a photo sample. Obligation fulfilled.

I couldn’t remember what I wrote in my blog two years ago so I Googled the term “Shane’s World.” Trust me, dear reader, don’t Google that term. Just safely navigate to and catch all the daily updates from the NRA show in St. Louis. I’ll be there. Which means you don’t have to be.

If there’s anything you want updates on, let me know. I’ll check it out for you. Otherwise, just sit there in your boxers, drink your beer and click your mouse and get all the benefits of attending the show without ever leaving the comfort of your Barco-Lounger.