...are mere shadows of their former mainstream glory.
The people-watching is still fairly fun, and you definitely get to see a much-less-polished side of our culture.
Sadly, the smaller local affairs have devolved into more flea market than industry show.
The firearms dealers are typically the folks I prefer to avoid, with a few exceptions. You know the types, the guys and gals hawking Taurus, Diamondback, and Charter Arms as the next generation arms for today's discerning shooter. They know their typical clientele rarely shoots, and isn't aware the majority of brands one finds at the show are low-cost / high-margin guns of dubious reputation.
Then you get the "training" companies who are content to badmouth the competition but have little real knowledge of laws or experience on anything other than a square range. Odd how their flyers seem to get discarded after stopping by our booth...
(Disclaimer: I work for a very highly-regarded training company which prides itself on knowing our stuff inside and out and for living what we teach.)
What drives me truly nuts are all of the arts and crafts vendors who show up like hillbilly moths to the flame of worn out wallets carried by septuagenarians who need suspenders to keep up their sweatpants.
All is not lost, however. We still continue to meet intelligent, engaged, and curious new shooters (mostly members of Gun Culture 2.0) who bring great questions, open minds, and willingness to learn and to be taught. Thank John Browning for them...
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