by Erin C. Healy - Sunday, January 27, 2019
Download the app. Seriously, you need the app for the NRA Great American Outdoor Show (GAOS) held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, Saturday, Feb. 2 through Sunday, Feb. 10. There is nothing worse than wanting to attend a seminar or event and spending the interim time either constantly checking your watch so you don’t miss it or getting so wrapped up in the wonder of it all that you forget your itinerary altogether. The app synchs with your calendar. Plus it maps the location of the speaker, so you can set your meeting alarm for however long it’ll take you to get to that area. If your time at the show is limited, you’ll want to make lists of the exhibitors you want to visit, map them, then plan your route so your time is maximized.
That’s what the GAOS is all about. Big is great, and it is big—nine days, 650,000 square feet of exhibit space, 1,100-plus exhibitors in nine different halls, including 400 hunting and fishing outfitters from around the world, 200 seminars—but this show is all about the quality of your experience. Organizers plan on about 200,000 attendees annually and this year should be no different, but their focus is on continually making what goes on inside convenient, fun for the whole family and applicable to your outdoor lifestyle.
Sure, you’ll find firearm manufacturers; archery, hunting and fishing products; boats, RVs and trucks; duck, turkey and predator calls; camping and kayaking gear galore. It is the World’s Largest Outdoor Sports Show after all. But there’s also the NRA Country Concert with Lee Brice, Easton Corbin and Tyler Farr, and The Duck Commander, Phil Robertson, will make an appearance at the Friends of NRA Banquet. However, it’s the activities that encourage the whole family to embrace the outdoor lifestyle together that keep people coming back year after year. There will be DockDogs competitions, a 3D Bowhunter Challenge, a Kids Casting Contest, chainsaw carving, a rock climbing wall, a trout pond—literally something for everyone who wants to spend more time outdoors.
Contributions to the Community
The show also raises money for The NRA Foundation, which awards grants to central Pennsylvania law enforcement and outdoor organizations that contribute to public safety and promote the outdoor lifestyle through educational activities that encourage youth participation in the shooting sports. So far The NRA Foundation has donated more than $245,000 to such entities with another $50,000 being donated to another six this year.
This show’s economic impact on Harrisburg City, Dauphin County and the Central Pennsylvania Region has totaled $75 million for each of the last five years, including hotel usage, parking, food and the purchase of outdoor gear. Pennsylvania is also the ideal location for the show with nearly 900,000 NRA members living within 300 miles of the complex and a high concentration of hunting licenses issued within the region. Yet the show is welcoming to all outdoor enthusiasts.
Hunters’ Show Prep
After you download the app, you might want to peruse the list of exhibitors online so that you can visit their websites with one click. In the days before the show, save your favorites and a few that are new to you to check out in your app and map. Be sure to include booth No. 289 at the main entrance to the Shooting Sports Hall. That’s where the NRA Hunter Education folks are located.
Check out the list of speakers and the seminar schedule for the days you’ll be in attendance. Fortunately, there’s a lot of duplication built into the week-long show, so if you happen to miss someone’s talk, there’s a good chance you might catch it at a later date or time. I am eager to hear Abner Druckenmiller’s talk on “Becoming the Ultimate Predator Hunter” so I saved that in my app as well. Druckenmiller is on the staff at FOXPRO, which makes high-performance game calls.
Then be sure to visit the GAOS website to read about the events going on all week. One thing I really want to see is the PA Taxidermy Association Competition for the sheer artistry of the craft, and of course, I plan to stop by the DockDogs pool. I mapped both in my app. On the website you click on various sections of the floor plan to see a detailed exhibitor map. Enlarge relevant subsections or move around the map using finger gestures.
Both the GAOS website and the app have everything you need to navigate the show. Information on show hours, parking, tickets, nearby hotels and other attractions are included, along with frequently asked questions. And if you’re posting or tweeting, don’t forget to tag @NRA_GAOS and hashtag #GAOS and #LiveTheAdventure. See you there.
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