June 22nd, 2024

Lethbridge gun show back on target

By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on February 1, 2022.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Leonard Stumpf of The Gun Nut from Morse, Sask. checks out a gun at the Lethbridge Gun Show Saturday afternoon at Lethbridge Exhibition Park.

After a year away, the Lethbridge Gun and Hobby Show was back and right on target.
The two-day show hosted by the Southern Alberta Rifleman’s Association that has been setting up at Exhibition Park since the early-1990s was back at Lethbridge Exhibition Park Saturday and Sunday after being cancelled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been really good,” said Allan Jones, president of the SARA. “We were anticipating less people because of COVID. Our attendance is down a bit, but we’re still going to end up running probably 1,500 or more people through here when the weekend’s done. We usually do up to about 2,500 to 3,000. I think everybody has been housebound for so long they just want to get out and do something.”
Pandemic or not, the shooting sports scene in southern Alberta is alive and well, said Jones. 
“Skeet and trap shooting have really skyrocketed in the last five years. It’s a fun sport and something for the whole family. Hand gun shooting has gotten better and the big range Taber has put up has really brought a lot of rifle shooters. Then there are collectors, like the old Winchesters and other types of guns. There’s a vast array of activities in the firearms community, for sure.”
What’s better, a new crop of shooters are coming up and asking for pointers along the way.
“I have a table here and I have young people coming up and asking ‘How come that gun has two triggers on it?'” said Jones. “Most young guys start out with a .22. Then as they get a little older maybe they like something better. It just evolves. Then there are guys who start hunting and that’s bigger calibre of rifles they’ve got. It runs everywhere.”
This year’s Lethbridge Gun and Hobby Show featured 180 tables with vendors from B.C., all over Alberta and into Saskatchewan.
“You’ll find anything you want, shotguns, rifles, black powder guns and collector guns,” said Jones. “Whatever suits your fancy.”
Among the vendors was Leonard Stumpf of The Gun Nut from Morse, Sask., who has been a fixture at the Lethbridge Gun and Hobby Show since they started setting up camp at the Exhibition Centre.
“It’s a good crowd. I’ve known these guys since they started. They’re a good bunch of guys to work with,” said Stumpf.
Like everyone else, the pandemic put a damper on the number shows Stumpf has attended.
Before the pandemic, he said he did about 25 shows a year, from western Alberta all the way to Brandon.
“This is my seventh show this year. We did some last fall and during the summer. Everybody was masked and vaccination, it went 100 per cent, well controlled,” said Stumpf, who is off to Claresholm and Calgary after the weekend event.
Attendance may have been down this year due to the pandemic, but Jones noted the heightened excitement level of having the event back after last year’s cancellation.
“Everything went so smoothly. The exhibition board has been very cooperative with us and helped us a lot.”
This year’s Lethbridge Gun and Hobby Show was also a reunion of sorts for the vendors.
“It’s been a long time,” said Jones. “You lose touch because people are from all over. We have a lot of our vendors back. Len has been a vendor at our show, I can’t even count how many years he’s been here. It’s like a family reunion.”
The Lethbridge Gun and Hobby Show also dispels a few unflattering stereotypes about gun enthusiasts.
“The people here are normal, law-abiding people,” said Jones. “We all have to go through the course to get our certificate to buy guns. It makes me mad that it’s always been downplayed as being bad, and it’s not. My whole family shoots. We shoot on a farm and my sons and I shoot trap and skeet. It’s just fun. We are not bad guys.”

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