The Hublet and I felt it was time for me to experience my first gun show, and with the recent kerfuffle and fear of the will they/won’t they potential ban on assault weapons, we had a wealth of shows to choose from as there seem to be a mother load of them popping up all over the place to pander to individuals having knee-jerk reactions and panic-buying everything they can get their hands on.
As it turned out, Jacksonville is playing host to a number of shows this year, so yesterday The Hublet and I went to the Cliffhanger gun show at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center in Downtown Jax.
It was an unexpectedly enjoyable day out. The first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t just rows and rows of rifles, shotguns, assault weapons and handguns; there were a large volume of collectors and hobbyists who had tables set up, displaying a wide range of war-related paraphernalia, from medals and badges to photos and postcards, with enough antique jewellery and animal horn accessories to keep anyone busy browsing for a couple of hours. At the back of the exhibition hall were a few lovingly restored army vehicles from the 1930’s and 1960’s on display, and there were table after table loaded down with weapons of all times, from sabres and bayonets to the more modern stun guns and assault rifles.
There was a really nice feeling of community, with lots of, “Hey Frank, haven’t seen you in a while,” and, “Well sir, I don’t know the answer to that, let me grab my friend from the stall over yonder.” People seemed interested in helping visitors, imparting knowledge, chatting and investing time.
As a British visitor I felt warmly welcomed by some of the collectors, with almost all of them wanting to chat and show off the British pieces from their collections, and I experienced a huge amount of, “You see this gun here? This was used by some of your folks in World War I. Pick it up, no no, go ahead, pick it up, now feel its weight…you feel it? Imagine jumping out of a plane holding that thing. That’s what some of your boys did.”
The place was filled with a huge variety of people either browsing or doing some serious shopping, and in between all the weapon displays were a lot of stalls selling accessories for hunters and shooters, as well as a lot of survival gear, an insane amount of jerky products and self defence weapons like pepper spray and stun guns.
I had an absolutely wonderful time and walked my little socks off going up and down the rows, and we found that each time we repeated our circuit of the exhibition hall we discovered something new, from a previously unseen case of medals to a collection of war-themed books and new stall owners more than happy to chat to us.
So with my first gun show out of the way I’m slowly but surely I’m easing myself into the American way of life. However I’m not quite ready to snuggle up to a rifle at night.