Today we continue our quest to interview some of the most interesting and good-humored people in the shooting community. We’re pleased to have met Wendy Cunningham of the NRA National Firearms Museum at this years NRA Annual Meeting. Little did she know what she was getting into when she agreed to do an interview with us…
So Wendy, who did you have to bribe to get a job at the NRA National Firearms Museum? Or was it blackmail? You can tell us, we’ll keep it to ourselves.
Well, there is a certain individual who works in publications that would be really upset if I revealed his man-crush on David Hasselhoff (you know how the Germans just love David Hasselhoff) but I think we’ll leave that for another day. Honestly, I’ve been interested in getting my foot in the door at the NRA for a long time so a little perseverance and a whole lot of patience paid off.
Wendy, the first step to recovery is to admit the problem. This is a great place to confess to our readers that you spend most of your daylight hours playing with the Museum’s guns right?
I’m sure I am supposed to start this off by reminding your readers that guns are not a toy…but we do have a Red Rider BB Gun after all. I wish I could say that I get to go down on the range and run countless rounds through a fully automatic HK MP5, or sound off the all familiar“thump-thump-thump” of a Grease Gun. Oh, wait, I do! But in all honestly, even though I get to help set up displays like our current Hollywood Guns display, or beautiful new Galleries like our Petersen Gallery, the majority of my work is from behind a desk. I run the office, produce our graphics and do our advertising, as well as multitude of other things.
Yeah, right. We believe you. Sure. What’s your personal favorite item in the collection and why?
That’s a tough one. Depends on which Wendy you’re talking to. What? You didn’t know that I have multiple personalities? If you are talking to Wendy the movie buff I might reach for John Wayne’s Winchester 1892, the large looped carbine he used in True Grit, or the nonconventional Star Wars Light Saber (too bad the batteries are dead.) If you are talking to Wendy the historian, she loves Teddy Roosevelt’s…oh let’s be realistic, you are talking to my daddy’s little girl, the one you couldn’t keep off the railroad tracks and out of the trees, and she is going to tell you, hands down, the HK MP5 is what she wants her left index finger tickling. It is like knowing you have a 502 horsepower V10 when you push the pedal to the floor. Go big, or go home.
We’ve been to the NRA Museum, and its quite impressive! If you had to guess, what percentage of the entire collection to the current items on display represent? In other words, how much goody-goody-bang-bang do you all have stashed away in the back rooms and secret vaults?
If you saw Larry the Cable Guy visit the Museum on his new show, In America, you would have caught a glimpse of our firearms vault. There are probably just as many guns down there as we have on display, however, we keep the best of the best on display for the public to see. All but one…the Ghostbusters’ Proton gun. Here at the NFM, “We ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”
OK, if you’re going to throw down the gauntlet like that, we demand to shoot and evaluate the Ghostbusters Proton Gun. We’re NRA members you know, so I think we’re entitled. Oh, and send some cool 3-D ghost targets with it. We’ll get it back to you in a couple of months. Fair enough?
I’d love to help you on that one but the last member that requested to test fire the Proton Gun ended up as a puddle of green plasma. I’m sure you can understand the explanation I had to offer up was sticky at best. (No pun intended, of course) If you remember correctly, the original Proton Gun was called a Positron Collider. I can’t say exactly where I’ve obtained this information but some have referred to this device as an unlicensed nuclear accelerator. Dr. Venkman can neither confirm nor deny this claim, however, a certain extoplasmic entity, who wishes to remain nameless (and owes me money for dry-cleaning) stands by his statement that the Proton Gun’s maximum power setting is 500,000 MHz. Doesn’t sound like something I’d want to mess around with.
So tell us how the Museum goes about getting new firearms for the collection. From what I understand, you all hop on the corporate jet a couple times a week to solicit donations. True?
I think on our last lunch trip for Sushi we must have forgotten where we parked that corporate jet of ours. You can typically find the curators rolling across country in one of several SUVs, possibly with a Rubbermaid cart strapped to the top for wheeling around the heavy loads. Oh no, wait, that we left in pieces in the parking garage. Ladies and Gentleman, the Department of Transportation puts up height warnings for a reason! Luckily for us, many generous folks near and far offer donations and it is because of their generosity that we are one of the leading Firearms Museums in the world.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects of exhibits that the Museum is working on?
If I told you, then I’d have to…well, you know how the rest of that sentence goes. I can tell you to stay tuned. We have a lot of exciting projects in the works that will keep people coming back. You just never know what you might find, or who you might see, when you walk through the doors here at the National Firearms Museum.
Our thanks to Wendy and others at the NRA National Firearms Museum who helped us learn a little more about what really goes on at the NFM!
While many gun stores are going full-auto retail and implementing 20th century ideas like greeting customers, being polite, and hiring helpful sales staff, you’re going to run into the occasional old school shop run by Clem, Bodean, and Clem’s other brother Clem. Here are a few helpful tips to get you through the experience with a bare minimum of angst and/or gunfire.
1. Don’t acknowledge anyone when you walk in the door. If this makes you really uncomfortable, you can give the briefest hint of a nod in the general direction of Clem, Bodean, and Clem. Don’t work yourself into a hissy about being rude – they won’t acknowledge you either. Under no circumstance should you brightly say “Hello! How are you today? Boy, it sure is hot outside isn’t it!”
2. Stuff your right cheek full of Red Man. Not Copenhagen – that’s for sissies and you’ll be exposed as a rookie poseur right away. If you have not done The Red Man before, practice in advance as uncontrollable nausea can result. If it’s a nice store with real floors, bring the styrofoam coffee cup you used at breakfast for your porta-spitoon. If the shop has a coffee maker, you can top off with a little joe while you browse. Careful, that’s week old coffee there.
3. Don’t remove your John Deere hat when entering the store. You are wearing one aren’t you?
4. If you want to look at a particular gun in the case, but are unfamiliar with the make and model, use the mouth full of Red Man to your advantage. Throw a little extra self-imposed unintelligibility into your request to see the gun. It’s OK, Clem will assume you know what you’re talking about as you have a wad of Red Man ‘sploding your cheek and a John Deere hat. After some practice, your request should sound something like this: “Cun ahhh hole thus mrggumpghphtt rahfull?” (Or ‘puhstull‘ as required)
5. When handing a rifle, aim it at the ceiling and look knowingly over the sights or through the scope as appropriate. Although you may be tempted, don’t try to gain street cred by saying something like “I kilt a buck with one like this last month.” You may be holding something like a Ruger 10/22 or Winchester 9410 and exposed as a rookie poseur. Just nod your head a lot, make grumbly noises, and hand it back when you’re done.
6. Keep your finger off the trigger. Yeah, we know, it’s meant for pullin’, but resist if you can. It’s especially bad form with rifles.
7. Whenever you look at a price tag, shake your head a bit and say “They sure are proud of this one, aren’t they?”
8. Make sure you don’t inadvertently aim at Clem or Bodean. It’s bad form and one or both will almost certainly return the favor.
9. If you do end up buying a gun, and still don’t know what type of ammo you need to go with it, just add some more Red Man and say something like “Gimme 3 boxes too.” Keeping it generic will make Clem assume you know what you’re talking about.
10. Last but certainly not least, don’t dress like a Mall Ninja for the occasion. It’s not as cool as you think.
As an extra bonus tip, if you want some extra-special service, see if you can accompany the President on his next visit to a gun store.
Help us show the folks at the National Shooting Sports Foundation how much the shooting community cares about the SHOT Show. The folks at GunUp.com will be presenting to the SHOT Show organizers tomorrow at 11:45 Eastern and doing a live tweet. Post something with the hashtag #SHOT to let them know that you want gun bloggers (like us) to get better access to SHOT events and news, so we can provide better coverage for you! If you’re feeling uninspired, you can just tweet this between 11:45 and 12:15: ‘I support my gun blogger and want new media events during #SHOT 2012′
Here is some of our coverage from last years SHOT Show.
1. The part of a firearm designed to provide energy to the firing pin in order to strike the primer of a cartridge. Some hammers, such as those on older revolvers, have the firing pin attached to the hammer and directly impact the primer. Others, generally on more modern designs, impact a transfer bar or mechanism to provide energy to the firing pin. The hammer of a gun does not have to be exposed or visible. For example, the Smith and Wesson 642 revolver and M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle both have internal hammers.
2. Easily confused with similar terms. For example, Hammer Time is not an appropriate usage in the context of guns. Unless you got slick moves and a pair of parachute pants capable of providing wind power for San Francisco or maybe smuggling dozens of illegal immigrants across the border. Otherwise, you can’t touch this.
Important Safety Tip: While it’s OK to cock your hammer, don’t ever hammer your… Umm. Never mind.