By Jeff W. Zimba
As a rule, I am a pretty busy guy. Not always productive, just busy. I am not one to sit idle very long, and I usually have a difficult time taking off for any extended period of time. As a matter of fact, for the first decade my wife and I were together we had only taken one joint vacation…and that was our honeymoon.
For the last few years I have listened to friends tell me how I should never miss the SOF convention. I have always been interested, I just never thought I had the free time nor the extra money. To make things even tougher, my good friend Barry has told me for years that we should get it together and make the pilgrimage. “Let’s just do it” he would say. Oh yeah, easy to say.
Well, as it turned out, in 1996 we found a reasonable air-fare and we “Just did it.” We threw caution to the wind, made all of our necessary arrangements, and on the Wednesday before the convention was about to start we were on a dinner flight headed for Vegas. At 11:00pm Eastern time we landed in “Glitter Gulch.”
For anyone who has never been to Vegas, there are only a few occasions that could ever improve on the awesome quality of entertainment offered there. The Solider of Fortune Convention is one of them.
Upon arriving at the Sands Convention Center, we were immediately greeted by an enormous banner announcing the convention. When we entered the show, it was only a matter of seconds before we started to recognize a few of the industry faces of whose names are so synonymous with the firearms industry. A few of the folks who were displaying their wares were Phil Dater and Jim Ryan of Gemini Technologies, Bob Landies of Ohio Ordnance Works, Inc., Kent Lomont of Lomont Precision Bullets, and Valerie Johnson of Valkyrie Arms.
After a short time it was also very obvious that there was no lack of those in the writing field at this event. We were fortunate enough to bump into Dolf Goldsmith, author of The Devils Paintbrush and The Grand Old Lady. we also spoke with John Ross, author of Unintended Consequences, who was in attendance signing copies of his book.
After we had an opportunity to look around and fill in a few more pages in the proverbial wish book, we headed for the Firepower Demonstration. It was at the Desert Sportsmen’s range which is very easy to find. For a matter of fact, if you are vacationing in Vegas it is almost impossible to miss. The Desert Sportsmen’s range is on the way to the Red Rock Canyon, which is a very popular tourist spot. We actually stumbled upon it a day earlier while doing the tourist thing. No need to worry if you had no transportation of your own. The guys at SOF provided a shuttle from the convention center.
When we arrived at the range the show was almost ready to begin. The pyrotechnics crew finished wrapping things up, and Charlie Hobson, famous for his fire breathing hardware, prepared for one of his trademark flame thrower demonstrations. When Charlie was given the go ahead, he began his lecture about the infernal devices, fielded a few questions from the crowd, and proceeded to do his best at turning some of that Nevada Desert sand into glass. As usual it was an enormous hit. After Charlie wrapped things up we were treated to an improved M14 Sniper Rifle demonstration by Paul Reed, of Navy Arms..
After another short intermission the goahead was provided for the exhibitors to set up their guns. The line was bustling with gunners and A-gunners for a short period, and the organizer appeared with the microphone to welcome everyone to the demonstration. He gave a brief speech regarding his fondness for those undercover BATF agents who were in the audience. He then spoke about his deep rooted respect for the mainstream media who have treated him so fairly in the past, (NOT!). After a few cheers from the anxious crowd, it was time to start the thunder,
Introductions began of the shooters at the right side of the firing line and worked its way to the left side. We were introduced to Dr. Edgar A. Suter of the Doctors for Integrity in Research & Public Policy, and his son and A-gunner, Jarred. We were also introduced to Dan Shea, and to Dan’s A-gunner Stan Andrewski as the man who keeps his guns running. Soon after that, we were introduced to Dolf Goldsmith with a few of his typical smart remarks. This went on down the line, and the friendly banter and camaraderie only added to an otherwise perfect afternoon.
As we were introduced to each participant we were briefed on their individual choice of firearm for the day. They were then asked to give the crowd a small burst of fire so we could get the opportunity to hear each gun alone. He asked for a 3 to 5 shot burst. Just enough for a tease. This went perfectly until we were introduced to Kathy Lomont. Kathy is the significant other of Kent “Constant” Lomont who is well known for his sustained fire of belt after belt while melting barrel after barrel. As soon we asked Kathy to give us a small burst of fire, we were treated to a 250 round burst. The crowd came to their feet, and the applause was a sign of their desire for more noise.
After all the formal introductions were complete the shooters were given their command to make ready for fire and await further instruction. The words “Fire at will” were barely out when the line erupted like a volcano. To add to the noise of the many guns were the thunderous explosions of the charges set earlier by the pyrotechnics crew. These guys did an excellent job. They provided the best impact targets that I have ever witnessed at any shoot. All the available ammunition was expended in the shortest amount of time possible. When the dust settled, the crowd came to their feet once again, and the show was over. It was an excellent display and it would have been easier to spot a rain cloud than to find an unhappy face.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N1 (October 1997)