A quick review of 2010 OWAA conference in Rochester

Spent Friday at the Outdoor Writers Association of America
annual conference in Rochester. The four-day event travels every
year, and it last visited Minnesota in 1996. (Madison hosted the
conference in 2005, but I missed that one thanks to the arrival of
my third son that exact same weekend. I had my priorities
straight.)

In my 13 years as an OWAA member, I’ve attended six conferences,
and they usually offer some saving grace that justifies me
attending. Yesterday I drove south through a torrential downpour
from the Twin Cities for the second full day of the gathering,
which coincided with “breakout day” at the Gamehaven Scout Camp –
about 10 minutes south of Rochester. Miserable weather en route
convinced me that organizers probably would cancel any outdoor
activities, but the show went on. Overturned tents and lake-sized
puddles greeted attendees early, but things cleared off as the
morning progressed.

I headed for the rifle shooting area immediately upon arrival,
and found myself surrounded by a grand total of nine other people.
Wisconsin Outdoor News Editor Dean Bortz and myself had
the run of the place, firing a nifty assortment of Smith &
Wesson and Browning rifles and handguns. (Thank you very much to
those two manufacturers for attending with some very competent,
safe, and knowledgeable staff present.) Dan Hansen, a regular
shooting writer from the Outdoor News Publications also was on hand
helping out.

Had a great time shooting the AR-15s, which the gun industry
would like me to begin referring to as “modern sporting rifles.”
Whatever you call them, they’re fun to shoot. I would dare even the
most ardent anti-gunner not to enjoy shooting the little AR-15 .22
from S&W. No kick and empowering rapid-firing a dozen rounds in
mere seconds at a target. The centerfire .223s had significantly
more kick, but I fully intend to buy one of each. Never thought I’d
be the kind of guy who purchased a military-style firearm, but
strictly speaking, they’re no different than any other semi-auto.
And dang they look cool.

This morning, Outdoor News sponsored a breakfast for
participants, and clearly a good share of the writers were up late
last night enjoying the hospitality suites. I counted roughly 100
people in the room, which means a solid share of the other
attendees were sleeping in. Those who listened to my brief talk
about Outdoor News and its history were very attentive and
complimentary. Though I scooted out for a morning of kid baseball
(and moving chores) back in the Cities, I’m glad I headed south for
24 hours in Rochester and the OWAA Conference. Next year’s event
will happen in June in Salt Lake City (Snowbird Resort) followed by
an eagerly anticipated conference in Sept. 2012 in Fairbanks,
Alaska. Haven’t been to Alaska in more than a decade, so OWAA 2012
might offer an obvious excuse to visit again.

Categories: Rob Drieslein

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