My experience in March at the Outdoor Expo in North Phoenix on the Ben Avery outdoor shooting range was very exciting, educational, and interesting. Having never been to an “outdoor expo” before, I had no idea what to expect.
There were opportunities to learn target archery and teach kids how to fish in huge catch-and-release tanks. You could hike a field course and get tips from local experts on a whole host of outdoor topics, including Arizona’s raptors, urban fishing, turkey hunting, Arizona’s reptiles, wilderness survival, and setting up the perfect hunting bow. There were live wildlife exhibits, with hawks, reptiles and various small mammals.
For me, the best parts were the mounted cowboy shooting competition and the ability to shoot at the range. Many families brought their children and taught them how to shoot. Cabela’s Outdoor Experience had a neat display where you could get a photo taken with life-size cutouts depicting fishing, hunting, camping or backpacking, or experience an interactive bowhunting scenario with pop-up blinds and decoys.
Fortunately, there was only a nominal charge for ammunition at the Expo. In Arizona, no permit is required to carry a firearm, openly or concealed, so many of those attending walked around with their firearm on their hip. It reminded me of the NRA convention in Phoenix back in 2009, where vritually everyone attending was packing.
The afternoon started off with me driving North on I-17 and becoming frustrated with the heavy traffic that was exiting Carefree Highway; everyone was crowding the exit to get to the location. Initially I parked in the wrong parking spot as I was then driving in auto mode and found myself in the public range where I used to shoot on a regular basis. After talking to an older couple where the man was on a scooter, for a few minutes, they directed me towards the property parking lot, as they had just attended the event. I then proceeded to follow the signs to the Outdoor Expo parking lot, as I admired the desert floral in bloom.
It had been a few years since I had shot at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, and I was impressed with how the property appeared on that sunny afternoon. I was greeted by a female Arizona Ranger who was volunteering in the parking lot, and I accepted a ride from a female shuttle buggy driver who I enjoyed chatting with. She dropped me off near the gun booths and I was thrilled to see the lineup including Glock, Ruger, S&W and more.
I met a nice woman who shoots with the traveling Arizona Cowboy shooting team, along with her husband. She told me they dress up in old-fashioned Western clothing and reenact cowboy and cowgirl shooting all over Arizona at various events. I was most impressed with her telling me she is originally from Connecticut and that her husband is from New York, considering the strict gun control laws they have back there.
I went to the Glock booth first and inquired about a small model that a girl could conceal in the new attire that Armed in Heels has for sale. I shot the Glock 26 and was disappointed that it felt so very uncomfortable in my hand. My hand fits my Glock 19 perfectly, so I had hoped the 26 would also.
After speaking with the Glock team, I then moved over to the S&W booth, and was pleased to be introduced to the S&W M&P that they said is popular with women for personal protection. I picked it up and it fit nicely in my medium-sized hand.
Since I arrived later in the afternoon, the Expo was wrapping up, and I felt a tad rushed see as many exhibits as I could, while meeting women to interview about female shooting events. There were not only guns on display with the option to test shoot some of them, there were also some very nice looking boats.
I walked across the street to the Cowboy Shooting just as they were announcing the Cowgirl winners. I approached a cowgirl who had won and asked if I could interview her and take her photos. She invited me to meet her horse, and as we walked she informed me she had come with her competing family. Her husband and two sons, along with their horses competed in the Cowboy Shooting events. Her name is Bev Nicholson and she won 3rd place in her Level 4 competition.
She posed with her horse and I met her younger son who was on a bicycle getting muddy. They drove to Arizona with the four horses all the way from Idaho, where they have six more.
Time got away from me and the next thing I know I was walking along the road back to my car, since the shuttle service had stopped. As I walked, I realized that I was dehydrated and needed water. I was given two bottles of water by a Parks volunteer and told to drink them one after another since I was a little sunburned. But overall, what a great time I had, five hours in the Arizona sun, wearing Harley biker attire and experiencing Second Amendment-supporting gun owners.
Source:Phyllis Gross Arizona Female Firearm Competitors