Breaking New Ground

Shooting USA visits the National Wild Turkey Federation convention


Clad in Shooting USA jersey, Mike walks the packed show floor at the NWTF convention.

You might say Shooting USA broke routine with a visit to the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) convention held in Nashville. What we discovered easily confirmed our suspicions about the obvious crossover between shooting sportsmen and turkey hunters.

We liked what we saw, to paraphrase our overall impressions of the NWTF crowd.

Turkey hunters are passionate about conservation and preserving wild game habitat for future generations. Just like shooters are advocates of gun ownership and rights to bear arms. Avid turkey hunters belong to an organization that represents their best interests, not unlike the fraternity of shooters who are NRA members.

The bottom line is turkey hunters and shooters both share a common bond through patriotism and passion for their causes, regardless of whether or not the connection is made on the firing line or in the turkey woods.


Mike is impressed with the realistic look of the Avian-X LCD (Lifelike Collapsible Decoy) Jake Turkey Decoy, the latest offering from Zink Calls.  Turkey hunting can be just as technical as shooting sports, he found.

We didn’t assign a camera crew to report on the newest guns and gear used by turkey hunters. We didn’t even send Jim, Jay, or John to network with the thousands of NWTF members and a large cadre of industry reps from the shooting sports industry. We did find our resident hunter/shooter Mike Irvine, eager to network with the camo-clad crowd attending the show.

“I had no idea this convention and show attracts such a large crowd,” he said. “I also had no idea that by 10 in the morning, on opening day, the aisles of the show would be absolutely jam-packed.”

The NWTF reported convention attendance in 2011 at 44,000. By all accounts that number was easily met or exceeded in 2012. The NWTF also likes Nashville, having extended its convention contract through 2018 with host Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

Not unlike the NRA convention, the turkey edition included a full schedule over its five-day run. We were impressed with seminars targeting specific groups. Those included an educational outreach for youths and events targeting women hunters. Also impressive were the awards handed out to volunteers with Wheelin’ Sportsmen, the NWTF’s nationwide outreach for hunters and shooters with disabilities, many of those active or retired members of our military.

Guest speaker at the NWTF annual awards banquet was none other than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a gun rights advocate. Impressive.


Mike finds a familiar face in Mossberg Director of Media Relations Linda Powell at the NWTF convention. Spread across the table are components to the FLEX System reported on by Mike for Shooting USA’s SHOT Show special.

In walking the show floor, Mike discovered familiar faces from the shooting sports industry among the 600 exhibitors. Shooting USA sponsor Mossberg was highly visible with a booth and sponsorship of seminars and awards banquets for NWTF members.

An avid waterfowler, Mike witnessed a couple of unlikely similarities among his new friends from the turkey woods.

“We are all in love with making noise,” he said, referencing the high volume of noise coming from turkey calls being demonstrated by custom call makers.

“What impressed me the most is turkey hunters and shooters are definitely passionate about coming together as a group,” he added. “Everybody has the same thing in mind about sharing, promoting, and preserving these great sports.”


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