Festival offers gun enthusiasts chance to try products

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By SEAN SHAPIRO

Gun enthusiasts from all over Central Texas, and likely the state, will make their way to Liberty Hill on Saturday and Sunday for the Texas International Firearms Festival.

The event is a consumer-driven event, which will put company representatives face-to-face with potential customers. Those in attendance will be able to test the guns, and ammo is included in the cost of admission.

“It’s pretty much like an outdoor gun show,” said Best of the West Shooting Sports owner Millard Grantham. “Like a gun show, several manufacturers are coming out and setting up. But people get ammo included and can test the firearms before purchasing them.”

That’s one of the main draws of the event. While a customer can feel the fit and weight of a gun, the right fit isn’t there until they have fired the weapon.

“There’s many things about a gun that you won’t know until you shoot it,” said Kirsten Joy Weiss, a trick-shot specialist who will be in attendance. “This is an exciting event for shooters. You get to fire some things you may have never considered looking at before.”

Best of the West Shooting Sports has hosted large events before, but it’s never hosted an event like this.

“We have large championships every year and other events that keep us very busy,” Grantham said. “But this is the first event like this. We’re hoping this can become an annual thing.”

More than 30 shooting bays will be open during the two-day event. Representatives from several companies including Slidefire, Action Target, Tracking Point and Swanson Russell, will be in attendance to instruct and answer any questions about the guns on display.

It won’t be the prototypical display either. Several of the companies plan to bring their more innovative products, which many gun enthusiasts may not know existed. Representatives from all four companies said this is a rare opportunity for the consumer market.

“As far as I can remember, I don’t think we’ve ever had an event like this open to the public,” said Brandon Renner with Slidefire. “Normally things like this aren’t put on large scale, I’m very excited to see the turnout.”

And a large turnout is definitely expected. Grantham said he didn’t have an exact number, but expects more than 3,000 people will attend the festival. Grantham said it will be a family-friendly event, and everyone is welcome. He also said food trucks would be on hand and a small retail village with merchandise will be set up for the event. A one-day ticket is $59, while a weekend pass is $95. Both include ammo in the cost of admission.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has endorsed the event and may be in attendance, but that wasn’t confirmed before press time Wednesday. Grantham said he is hoping for the recent rain to clear up before the weekend.

“I’m very excited about this,” Grantham said. “I think it’ll be great for us and great for Liberty Hill. We’d really like to see people come out here see this range and everything we have to offer. I believe we have the best range in the state of Texas.”

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