How one writer created a blaster that would pass the muster at Tatooine's Mos Eisley Cantina

A working version of Han Solo's blaster from Star Wars Bob Boyd built what every eight-year-old boy wanted back in 1977 — Han Solo's blaster

Building a Live-Ammo-Firing Han Solo Blaster
Harrison Ford carried a paperweight in the Star Wars films. Here's how a sci-fi fan created a working blaster if his own.

The 2013 holiday season was quite joyous for sci-fi film fans when one of the most-iconic prop guns—the blaster Harrison Ford wielded as the galactic smuggler turned hero, Han Solo, in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”—went to auction a mere four days before Christmas. Fetching $200,000, the nonfiring replica undoubtedly made a heck of a stocking stuffer for one lucky earthling, who wished to remain anonymous. While I can understand wanting to own something used by a particular movie star or in a particular film, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around paying six-figures for a paperweight, particularly when it doesn’t even emit colorful bolts of matter-disintegrating light—or have the ability to fire live ammunition, like the one I built for a fraction of the price.

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Join the NRA's largest shooting competition and have fun indoors this winter

NRA National Indoor Rifle & Pistol Championships

Fairfax, Virginia - All signed up for the 2014 National Matches? If only it weren't the dead of winter... What if you could find some competitive shooting action now? The answer: the NRA Indoor Rifle & Pistol Championships.

Compiled from sectional tournaments held all over the United States, the Indoor Championships involve thousands of shooters and are the NRA's biggest competition of the year. And between smallbore, air rifle, BB gun light rifle, pistol and air pistol, competitors have a lot of options.

Because the championships are shot postal match-style with all the sectionals, there is a large window for shooters to compete. The Open championship runs from 1/1 - 3/18 and the Junior championship from 1/1 - 4/15.

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Sign up for your spot in this summer's Remington and NRA National Rifle and Pistol Championships

Michelle Gallagher with her winning scorecard for the 2013 NRA Leech Cup Shootoff at Camp Perry

Fairfax, Virginia - Online registration is officially open for our 2014 National Matches, held for the 107th consecutive year at Camp Perry, Ohio. If you fancy yourself a deadeye, you won't want to miss out on the Remington and NRA National Rifle & Pistol Championships.

Each summer, the nation's finest civilian and military marksmen and women square off for weeks of rifle and handgun competition while vying for the NRA's historic and prestigious trophies. From pistol, to smallbore rifle, high power rifle, and long range high power rifle, the national matches have something for just about everybody.

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NRA Competitive Shooting Division carries America's shooting sports traditions into the 21st century

Doug Koenig at the 2013 MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup Colt Speed Event

Fairfax, Virginia - My list's #3 is the successful year in NRA Competitive Shooting. While all may seen quiet in the cold winter months, the Competitive Shooting staff is working hard to make sure it continues offering a wide range of shooting activities to everyone interested in our great American tradition - from novices to world champions.

How many activities? The NRA sanctions more than 11,000 shooting tournaments and sponsors more than 50 national championships each year.

While not as visible as Camp Perry or the Bianchi Cup, NRA Competitive Shooting's largest event actually began yesterday. The National Indoor Rifle & Pistol Championships is the biggest competition of the year, bringing in thousands of shooters who participate comfortably from their backyards in sectional tournaments across the country.

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Education and Training Division reaches milestone with pistol guidebook sales

NRA Instructor looks on at Women on Target event.My #4 moment of the year is another milestone accomplishment for the NRA's Education and Training Division. Back in October, the division sold its one millionth copy of the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting. Better known as the Basic Pistol handbook, the guide is a comprehensive resource on responsible pistol use and is the foundation of NRA’s popular Basic Pistol and FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation courses.

Replacing the aging pistol handbook in July 2009, the Basic Pistol handbook was written with intent to be more than a by-the-numbers instruction manual. The NRA wanted the Basic Pistol handbook to become an at-home reference guide that gun owners would be proud to put on their bookshelves. The guide covers a breadth of topics including basic firearm safety, storage options, range rules, target scoring and basic fundamentals such as shooting positions, grip and aiming.

Since coming off the press, the NRA has been shipping nearly 650 copies of the book per day. NRA's Program Materials Center sells the Basic Pistol handbook both individually and as part of a the packet in NRA Instructor-led courses. Thanks to the continued growing national interest in firearms, we don't expect that number to slow down any time soon and look forward to celebrating the sale of the 2,000,000th Basic Pistol handbook in a few years.

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Shoot in the NRA's largest competitive match from your home range this winter

NRA National Open Indoor Rifle Championships

Fairfax, Virginia - Are you looking to do some competitive shooting this winter? The 2014 NRA National Indoor Rifle & Pistol Championships start January 1. Where are they held? Well, unlike NRA's Bianchi Cup or National Matches at Camp Perry, the Indoor Championships are shot through multiple sectional tournaments across the country during the winter.

Your results are sent to the NRA where they're compared to everyone else's and winners are determined. It's a fun way to compete with many other shooters and it's easy to get involved.

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Education and Training Division reaches milestone with pistol guidebook

NRA Basic Pistol handbook

Fairfax, Virginia - Earlier this month NRA's Education and Training Division sold its one millionth copy of the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting. Known as the Basic Pistol handbook, the guide is a comprehensive resource on responsible pistol use and is the foundation of NRA’s popular Basic Pistol and FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation courses.

First published in July 2009, the Basic Pistol handbook was written with the intent of becoming an at-home reference guide for gun owners. Topics included in the guide are basic firearm safety, storage options, range rules, target scoring and basic fundamentals such as shooting positions, grip and aiming. The guide can be purchased both individually and as part of a NRA Instructor-led course from the NRA’s Program Materials Center.

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Have what it takes to stand amongst the best of the best?

One of many National Records displayed in the office of NRA's own HQ Moody

Fairfax, Virginia - Did you know the NRA keeps track of nearly 7,000 national shooting records? Is that more than you thought there were? With so many, you probably have a better chance of tying or breaking one than you thought. Maybe this will be your year!

Are you wondering how there are so many records? They add up rather quickly once you stop to consider it.

The NRA keeps track of a lot of disciplines including Air Pistol, Action Pistol, High Power Rifle, Silhouette Pistol, Smallbore Rifle, Fullbore and to name a few. And from each of those disciplines it branches out further.

Within each discipline there are records for metallic sight, any sight, rapid fire, slow fire, prone, standing and all the variations of ways to shoot. Don't forget about shooting indoor, outdoor, distance and number of shots fired. Think the number is big enough? Don't forget about all of this being stored for both individuals and teams. The final whammy comes with all of the possible classifications (e.g. Open, Civilian, Service, Woman, Junior, Senior, Police, etc.).

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NRA helps clubs around the United States host 3-Gun competitions, the world's fastest growing shooting sport

Fairfax, Virginia - In case you haven't noticed, 3-Gun competitions have experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years. In fact, it's the fastest-growing action shooting sports in the world. The NRA, wanting to bring the fun, exhilarating, physical challenge to new and intermediate shooters, is introducing NRA Sports 3-Gun Shooting Events. Safe, mildly competitive, and fun for the whole family, these recreational experiences have something for everyone.

And creating your very own NRA Sports 3-Gun Experience is easy! We're working with clubs across the country to bring the non-traditional action packed, sport to your local range. Events can incorporate either a .22 (3GE.22) or airsoft (3GAS) version into your club's schedule and bring shooters to your range in droves for the thrilling new experience.

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