The 146th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits was held in Atlanta, Georgia at the Georgia World Congress Center April 27-30, 2017 were attended by over 81,000 participants and 800+ exhibitors.

Basic entry to the event was free to current NRA members, however, unless an attendee happened to live in the Atlanta area within driving/MARTA commute, traveling to Georgia and paying for lodging there would be hundreds of dollars.

Despite free entry, each individual event/seminar at the NRA Annual Meeting required purchasing a ticket for $10-$100 each.

Attendees could also choose to purchase an “NRA Ring of Freedom Co-Chair” sponsorship at five levels from $1,000 to $25,000.
[Editor's note: Those must have been pretty fancy chairs.]

That’s over 81,000 people attending this NRA organized event. That’s a great turn out! Kudos to the NRA for organizing an event that attracts over 81,000 people willing to pay to travel to Atlanta.

Given so many NRA members are willing to travel and spend this much money to attend an NRA event, you’d think total attendance at local events that are held year-round all over the country would see much greater total attendance, yet those total numbers are about the same.

NRA Competition Division reports less than 100,000 NRA members have attended any NRA shooting events, which are held at local ranges around the country all year long. Getting a large group of people with differing schedules to all converge at the same, single place to attend the same event on the same weekend is much more difficult than getting individuals to attend one of any number of events held throughout the country all around the year that are (usually) local and convenient for them.

As far as attendance at a national marksmanship event, peak attendance for the National Matches (which includes the NRA Nationals) was in 1962 when the matches were supported and conducted by the Department of Defense and 7,762 competitors participated. It’s been declining ever since.

Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis” according to a magazine editorial written by Church.

After being granted a charter by the state of New York on November 17, 1871, the NRA was founded.

That’s why the organization was created. An interesting history that many seem to have forgotten.

Local news on this event:

The NRA’s annual convention starts in Atlanta today

Trump tells NRA in Atlanta: I will ‘come through for you’