From the Heartland

This is my soap box, on these pages I publish my opinions on firearms and any other subject I feel like writing about.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Gunshow Alert: January 29 & 30

Sponsor: The Rock Creek Renegades Muzzleloading Rifle Gun Club and Trade Fair
Location: Agricultural Hall State Fair Park Lincoln, Nebraska

Now a Word about the Sponsors
No I am not a member of the Rock Creek Renegades Muzzleloading Rifle Gun Club. As much as I like shooting black powder I probably should be, but I just can't afford the time or money to belong to every club whose theme is of interest to me. If you are interested in the club there will be plenty of people there willing to sign you up and I have heard nothing but good things about the Rock Creek Organization.

A Family Affair
Having said that, in my opinion, they put on the best Gunshow in the Lincoln area. This yearly event is truely a family affair in more ways than one. Besides noting that the Rock Creek members seem to have innumerable family in attendance, it is the one show all of the male (ed.. and any female that wants to go too) members of Clan Gunscribe attend as a family unit.

Pre Show Preparation
The morning usually starts with a gathering at a local restaurant for caffine and cholesteral. Between slugs of coffee and forkfulls of eggs, taters and some form of fried pork, we get down to the business of comparing notes. Going over our prespective wants and needs lists we endeavor to provide a heads up for what we're each looking for.

In the case of ammo it is every clansman for himself, but if a couple of us have the same ... ohhh say ... set of dies or bullet mold on our respective list then it's sorta ... well ok you get this and I'll get that .. cause we know we can always borrow what ever it is when we need it. And hey if'n they want it back it'll give them a perfect excuse to drop by and help you do what ever it was you borrowed it for in the first place and never got to.

On Maneuvers
After arriving at the gunshow, paying the requisite entry fee and getting the hand stamp we each have our own method of canvasing the floor. Speaking strictly for myself I'll let you in on my way of properly working a gunshow.

I start at the nearest table and wind my way through the entire setup, in the manner of a good recon, just to see what all is there and to see if there are any carefully laid ambushes. (More on ambushes below)

Once this intitial run through is complete I have a good idea of whats where and what kind of prices I'm dealing with.

HINT: It is useful, for hagglin' purposes to know if what your looking for is present in more than one location.

At this point two or more of us are generally in the vicinity of the snack bar thus availing our selves a place to sit, await the rest of the squad ... er uhh ... family and compare notes.

The second pass through is methodical and sometimes intense. This time through I'll pause here and there testing the waters a bit with tenative offers and minimal hagglin'. A few of the more minor purchases are secured on this trip through, along with a better understanding of what it will take to render the dollar amount on the remaining price tags meaningless.

At this point I/we are generally back at the entrance. A quick trip out to the truck to stash the already gotten gains and I/we are back at table one.

Let the Hagglin' Begin
At this point I have narrowed the assault my buying down to a select few tables that hold the higher priced items on my list. If more than one table has something I want I generally start at the table with the best sample.

Tip for Hagglin'
Most vendors are good about dickering, hey that's what a show is all about. If they got it marked for $200 and you know it is worth that don't insult them by offering $100, that just ticks them off. (ed .. it does me) If I wanted that item and I knew it was worth the $200 I also know good and well they don't have that in it. But yuh got to let them make a profit, that's why they are there. I'll generally start at ..say $160-165 and end up paying somewhere between $170 & $182.50, although I have had the rare and elusive occassion where my first offer was accepted.

Failing to convince the proprietor that it would be in my own best interest if he would accept my offer I will move on to the next available item.

Now would be a perfect time to point out one of Gunscribes laws of gunshow patronage;

If I can't get it for a price I deem resaonable I will pass on it no matter how badly I want or need it. The key is to be reasonable though.

Aside: I went almost three years looking for another .22 rifle at a price I wanted to pay for one. Ultimately I bought an older Ruger 10/22 with a brand new barrel for $120.00. (ed ... to that point, and it didn't have to be a Ruger, $135 was my top price and yes it is a shooter too)

Seriously I have had vendors hunt me down after passing on something and have them offer it to me for a paultry few bucks more than my last offer. I got a Star BM that way last fall.

How to Win the Battle.
The main thing is that I respect them and why they are there. I am not trying to rip them off, if they are savy they won't let me anyway and only be insulted at the attempt. (ed .. in other words don't try to pay $85 for a gun you know is worth every bit of $300) I will pay a fair price for what I want, but I won't pay "sticker price". I enjoy hagglin', I know what I'm looking for and I know what it is worth. If I don't I will do a little pre-show research, but I will know the worth of what I am looking for and what i expect to pay BEFORE I assualt the objective pay my entry fee.

Look out for the Occassional Ambush
Occassionally there will be something at a show that is not on my list that is just too good to pass up. If that is the case I have usually found the best thing to do is pass it up. As every rule has its exception so does this one, but if ... AND ONLY IF ... I am knowledgeable about the article in question. If I am not I will pass on it.

Aside: The main reasons we go to the gunshow on Saturday morning;
A) Most of the best stuff won't be sold yet,
B) If there is an ambush I can can go home research the best defense and go back on Sunday for round two,
C) Sometimes you can also get a vendor to see things your way a little more clearly on Sunday afternoon, especially if it has been a slow show for them and the item in question has been in their inventory awhile and your the only one that has really expressed an interest in it or they just don't feel like lugging all that stuff out to the truck for the trip home.

The most important thing is to make a budget and stick to it. Know what your looking for, know what it is worth and be willing to pass on it.

Gunscribe Gunshow Tip
I seldom buy a gun at every show. I generally do not have more than $25 or $30 in my pocket when I walk in the door even though my budget may be as much as $500. The reason for this is that there is generally not an ATM machine close and I then have to consider whether the purchase is really worth the trip to the nearest machine and back. That is sort of the last test of how badly I want or need that particular Item. And if it is more than the daily card limit I can leave a deposit and pick it up Sunday (ed .. read excuse to go back to show) or if it is before a certain time I can still get to my bank before it closes on Saturday.

After the Hagglin is over
Now we are again back in the vicinity of the snack bar and the success or failure of the mission generally calls for something like an overpriced soft drink and a serving of nachos. Done right a guy can work up quite an appetite hagglin'. (ed ... maybe there's an idea for a diet book)

After the pleasantries of merriment or dissappointment I head for the exit in a rather zig zag fashion, crusing for one last deal that will eat up the last few dollars, and I mean few dollars, of my hopefully as yet unspent budget.

Note: That is when I will generally be ambushed. (see above)

Then it's home to face the music I mean confront the wife ..ahhh I mean to show her all of the good deals I got.

Seriously I have a wonderful wife whom I met almost 29 years ago (Feb. 4th). She has an interest in the shooting sports as well and knows what I have budgeted before I go to a show and is as delighted as I am when I get "it all" and still come home with money left over.

It is at that point where she tells me inquires where we will de dining out that evening. Of course I take her out. It gives us a chance to be alone so that I can regale bore her with all of the marvalous hagglin' I did.

Just so you know she ain't no slouch either, the last gun show we went to she walked out the door with a brand new in the box 3.5" Walther P22 AND fobus holster for $135 plus tax.

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