Heading to the NRA Annual Meetings with the Kids?

Photo courtesy of VisitIndy.com

Racing will take a back seat for parents if they’re heading to the NRA Annual Meetings in Indianapolis, IN, this weekend. There’s a lot more than just high-speed, low-drag sights to see if you’re going to be among the tens of thousands visiting the area. Families in particular may want to include a stop at the world’s largest children’s museum.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis covers 472,900 square feet, has five floors and includes 11 galleries. The NRA Annual Meetings has it beat at 650,000 square feet and there’s no shortage of family friendly fun there, including Eddie Eagle, Pyramid Air Air Gun Range, a Youth Day that kicks off with a scavenger hunt, and more.

If you’re heading to the NRA Annual Meetings, the non-profit museum, however, has some things the youngsters won’t get to see on the show floor. For example, it’s home to more than 120,000 artifacts, the largest collection of any children’s museum in the world. There’s a 130-seat SpaceQuest Planetarium, a “Dinosphere: Now You’re in Their World” experience, a National Geographic Treasures of the Earth that immerses youths in three archeological digs and even has a working lab, ScienceWorks, Biotechnology learning center, a Power of Children wing, Eli Lilly Center for Art Exploration and too much to mention here.

Once the eager minds are sufficiently excited about cracking the books and the world around them, there’s also a chance to ride on an antique merry go round/carousel up on the fifth floor, a polar bear that’s been greeting visitors to the museum since 1964, mastodon skeleton unearthed in Greenfield, IN, and—just in case you’ve visited before—level two features traveling exhibits that rotate.

Before you head to the NRA show, stop by level three, where children can sit in and pose in an authentic IndyCar. It’s guaranteed to put the whole family back in that high-speed, low-drag mode.

Visit Indy has a long list of the sights and sounds worth experiencing if you’re attending the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits.

Gun Purchases Continue to Drop

A pair of independent sources estimate gun sales declined more than 12 percent in March—compared to 2018’s figures—nearly identical to the double-digit drop of February. Both findings are based on the volume of requests handled by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) that, because they include carry permits and other administrative use of the system, provide only a relative barometer of new firearm purchases.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) estimates the year-over-year drop for the month was 12.4 percent [PDF]. Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF) calculations indicate it was slightly worse at 12.6 [PDF].

January is the only month with a reported increase during the first quarter of 2019. NSSF estimates new gun purchases for the year are down 8.5 percent. “Sales for the first quarter of 2019, at about 3.6 million, last were this low in the corresponding quarter of the year 2014,” said SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer. “Relative to the first quarter of 2018, first quarter 2019 sales declined by about 200,000 units.”

SAAF figures drill deeper into the data, estimating handgun sales for the month were 802,500—a year-over-year decline of 7 percent. Long-gun purchases dropped by 19.5 percent (481,355 sold) and in the organization’s “other likely firearm sales” tabulation the decrease was 18.2 percent.

Even total volume processed through the NICS system declined by 5.4 percent compared to March 2018, according to NSSF. SAAF’s press release explains the percentages aren’t identical because, “The FBI’s raw numbers (for March some 2,604,927) cannot be taken at face value, as very large number of background checks are unrelated to end-user sales. For example, in March the state of Kentucky conducted just over 350,000 so-called permit checks alone whereas end-user checks at firearm retailers likely amounted to about 28,500 checks.”

As gun purchases continue to drop, we can expect to see more of the special deals like we witnessed this spring.

FN 15 Combat Tactical FDE P-LOK

It’s not the fanciest AR-15 on the block, but if you’re looking for a solid and reliable performer, take a close look at FN America’s FN 15 Combat Tactical FDE P-LOK. The gun isn’t hard on the eyes, either. That tri-gold-brown tone grows on you, especially after a few range sessions.

Visit my detailed review at of the gun at Shooting Illustrated if you want a full breakdown on its performance. I’m confident I’d uncover a pet load that prints MOA groups, at least, with more time behind the trigger.

That’s not the primary mission of the FN 15 Combat Tactical though, a fact confirmed by the 16-inch barrel. FN America’s label of Combat Trigger is deceiving, too. It’s not the gritty-and-creepy mess the name inadvertently implies. Crisp and responsive in all the right ways is an apt description.

Below is a compilation of the photos/time lapses/slider videos I took during my short loaner time. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the best ones weren’t used with the gun’s review. Leave a comment and let me know if you agree.

I’ll admit the videos I post on my modest YouTube channel, Fear and Loading, aren’t standard fare or overly exciting. They are designed to give an up-close-and-fast look at details. Armed with that info hopefully viewers can make a more informed purchasing decision. Plus, there’s the fact I’m an old-school reporter who started at a time when “photogenic” wasn’t in the job description. I’m much more comfortable doing reviews like the one for at Shooting Illustrated—where I can avoid getting in front of the camera.

I used a similar approach with my Ruger 10/22 Target Lite review. I’ll leave the screen time to others, and let my writing, photography and three decades of experience do the talking, thank you.


Crafting the words and images that capture the spirit of the outdoor sports and the beauty that surrounds them.