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Behind the scenes at the 2018 NRA Annual Meetings in Dallas

Kristen with Chris Cox, NRA Executive Director, in the Packin' Neat booth at the 2018 NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas

Packin' Neat recently exhibited at the 2018 NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas. Over 87,000 people attended the 3 days, held May 4th through the 6th. People from all walks of life attended including trainers, enthusiasts, newbies, hunters, concealed carriers and those just interested in the NRA. A total of 650,000 sq. ft. of industry events, exhibits, training and more. If you attended, you know that this event is huge. Here are a few 'behind the scenes' take-a-ways:

1. The NRA is more than guns. Well, it really is about guns but, it's also about the people that support the second amendment. Despite what you might have heard in the media, this group is peaceful, thoughtful and down to earth. Overall you won't find a more pleasant gathering of individuals. These people represent hardworking, honest, law abiding, real Americans. Many were carrying firearms. That means thousands of firearms, all in one location and not surprisingly, all without incident.

2. Here's what's popular. Women and women's products are still hot. Year over year there are more vendors with women specific products displaying. While exhibiting only 4 years ago at this show, I noted the ratio was much lower. As a designer and manufacturer of products for women, we ask what they'll be carrying to provide the best alternatives. After talking with thousands of women, here's this year's short list of guns we heard women were carrying over and over:

- S & W, M&P Shield

- Sig Sauer P238 or P938

- Springfield XD/XDS

- Kimber Micro

- Ruger LCP/LCR

- Glock 43

3. Never Been? If you haven't attended or haven't attended recently, I can only describe this as an amazing event. There is no shortage of things to see and do. Where you might think this many people would be too much, it's actually very well organized, attended and enjoyable. The NRA provides free transportation to and from the local hotels right to the convention center.

As a vendor who participates each year, I am still wide-eyed at the sheer size and scope of this event. I'm still wowed each time I enter the venue. Each day before the exhibition doors open, you'll hear the National Anthem sung with fellow Americans taking their hats off, putting their hands over their hearts and pausing.

If you're thinking about attending next year's event, it's in Indianapolis, Indiana April 26th - 28th, 2019. I urge you to make your arrangements now as rooms fill up fast. If you're thinking of joining in on any of the speakers, sessions, or concerts, don't hesitate, they will sell out early. Stop by Packin' Neat's booth to say hi and see the latest in women's American made products.

We'll see you in Indy!

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