|Sporting Art is also present in the NRA museum|
The history of sporting arms and a huge display of firearms can now be found in Springfield, Missouri at the National Rifle Association National Sporting Arms Museum. The museum opened in August of 2013 in the flagship store for Bass Pro Shops, the hometown of Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris who offered to house the museum in the heartland. With the goal of bringing this history of firearms to a wider audience, nearly 500-thousand toured the museum by its first anniversary.
Making my first ever visit to Missouri in June allowed me the chance to visit with media fiends at the flagship store for Bass Pro Shops. The store is an astonishing 500,000-square feet in size, and still growing with plans to add other museums for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. This store is centrally located in the Midwest and boasts four million visitors annually, making it an ideal location for the NRA museum.
Bass Pro’s Morris visited the NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia more that ten years ago and wanted to bring the artistry and history of these sporting arms back to his home in Missouri. From that point the idea of sharing resources began to grow and soon some private gun collectors saw this new 7500-square feet museum as the only place that was the correct fit for their guns to appear.
Admission to the museum is free, and a self-guided tour is available or docents are always on hand to walk you through the timeline of American sporting arms. My guide was a retired gent named Stoney Roberts who shared that the museum was founded in the name of hunting conservation and freedom. More than a few quotes were highlighted at the entrance including Thomas Jefferson’s “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” and N.C.’s Horace Kephart wrote “In the school of the woods there is no graduation day,” which had particular meaning for me.
Near the end of the museum is a special section dedicated to President Theodore Roosevelt. A document on display there from Roosevelt is dated Feb. 17, 1907 and reads “I am so heartily interested in the success of the National Rifle Association of America that I take pleasure in sending you herewith my check for $25 for life membership therein.”
Established in 1871 the NRA is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group, and this partnership with Bass Pro Shops expands their role as the leading firearm educator for the general public.
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