Planning for the NRA Great American Outdoor Show, Feb. 1-9

Let’s be honest. Hunting shows can be overwhelming and exhausting. Whether you are there to exhibit or as a guest, the sheer number of people, displays, seminars, demonstrations and entertainment events can be mind-numbing. It doesn’t have to be that way. Even if you’re going to the NRA Great American Outdoor Show (GAOS)—the “world’s largest outdoor sports show”—running Feb. 1-9 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa.—you can take charge of your business or personal goals and make the show time count for you. How? The No. 1 way is by taking advantage of the NRA GAOS’ mobile app. If you’re delivering a seminar, giving a demonstration or manning a booth, encourage your followers to download the app either through Apple’s App Store for iPhone users or Google Play for android fans. And if you’re visiting the show, the app can save you time, making your visit to the show more enjoyable and productive. 

Sure, there’s plenty of fun to be had at the GAOS, or any hunting show for that matter, by simply browsing the aisles, but here there will be nine halls, over 1,100 exhibitors, a dog dock-diving pool, a shooting range for kids, 3D bowhunting challenge, the NRA’s Wall of Guns, a fishing tank for demonstrations and a concert stage. The map alone will be invaluable in getting you to what you want to see and on time. You can search for exhibitors and then plot them on your map. You can peruse the seminar listings, schedule your favorite sportsman’s talk on your calendar and then send yourself reminders so you don’t get sidetracked with where you need to be when.

The NRA Great American Outdoor Show app can help you literally navigate the show floor, get you to your falconry seminar on time, offer you a way to take notes on things you see and much, much more. Download it for free at the App Store or through Google Play.

If an app on your phone in the palm of your hand is just not your thing, then, by all means, check out the comprehensive GAOS website. It can help you plan your trip and covers everything from transportation to Harrisburg, hotels, campgrounds and parking. Shuttle information, lost and found, first aid and numerous other topics, including whether you can use a backpack and concealed carry are topics covered in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of the website. If you purchase an NRA membership, you get your ticket for free. All tickets for the show can be purchased online, including for the 2020 NRA Country Concert, featuring Chris Janson with special guests Jon Langston and Jacob Bryant.

The first thing to do is to determine if there are any seminars or demonstrations you want to attend. The list is lengthy, offering over 200 something for everyone: the hunter, the fisherman, the outdoorsman, the chef and others. For instance, last year, Abner Druckenmiller gave a talk on predator hunting and calling. He'll be at the GAOS again this year, along with many, many others. Once you have your list of priorities, you can determine which days you’ll want to visit the show and what other events are being held on those days. Then scour the exhibitor list and note the booth number of those you must see and those you’d like to see. Study the map or plot them through the app, making note of nearby eateries and restrooms. The app even has a way to take and save notes to yourself.

Don’t overbook and allow yourself extra time to get to seminar rooms. I guarantee something extra will divert your attention, no matter how much you try stay on track. And that is the magic of attending the NRA GAOS, discovering new things that you wouldn’t have come across otherwise. Enjoy!

The NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum website covers news relevant to hunters on the local, national and international fronts. We track how hunters' dollars are spent and we celebrate our long and rich hunting tradition, exposing those who seek to destroy it. Follow on Twitte@HuntersLead.

About the Author
Erin C. Healy is the associate editor of the NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum. She edited a lifestyle magazine on Cape Cod for 14 years and provided marketing services for her local guntry club prior to working for BLADE magazine and a regional recreational fishing magazine. She served in the U.S. Army, is an NRA Life Member, a National Wild Turkey Federation member and sends her Jack Russell Terriers to ground as often as possible.