Two Youth Education Summit students taking in the 2013 SHOT Show
Las Vegas, Nevada - One of the great things about SHOT Show is never knowing who you're going to see next. During yesterday's walkabout, for example, I was pleasantly surprised when I happened upon two students from NRA's 2012 Youth Education Summit. None other then Miss Molly Smith and Kaytlyn Leonard.
"The rest of the gang is so jealous that we're at SHOT," Smith told us with a grin. "It's all over Facebook."
How did these two young ladies managed to finagle entry into this exclusive event? Quite legitimately of course.
"I'm here marketing for Southern Thunder Exploding Targets," said Leonard. "It's a company my parents created about four years ago."
Southern who? During the Youth Education Summit, Leonard mentioned something about her family running an ammo related enterprise, but the exploding target aspect somehow escaped the earlier explanation.
"It's a binary explosive that you mix in the targets. Put them out on the range, shoot the target and it blows up. Like the long range competitions they had on Top Shot. It's pretty fun."
If you're not familiar with their product, take a look at the Southern Target Exploding Targets video gallery.
"When we realized that both of us were attending, we made sure to meet up as soon as possible."
It's a story we often hear from those who attend the Annual Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.) in Washington, DC. After spending a week learning about the history of our nation with a group of complete strangers, a bond is formed that lasts forever.
"It's amazing how you can spend a week with these people and for the rest of your life you're the best of friends," reflected Leonard.
Smith, on the other hand, made her way through the SHOT Show doors as a member of the press.
"I'm reporting for the Molly Minute, Women's Outdoor News and a few other publications."
Taking full advantage of her press credentials, Smith was also one of the luck few allowed to make the trip to Boulder City for Monday's Media Day at the Range. That's where she ventured (for the second or third time … she can't be sure which) into the shotgun realm.
"I didn't just shoot a shotgun, I shot four different shotguns. I don't usually do that because I'm basically a revolver shooter. But doing that encouraged me to try out the rifles and thing about heading into 3-gun. I just have to remember to put the shotguns in the correct pocket of flesh in my shoulder. Let me just say … ouch."
The two continued sharing post-Y.E.S. and pre-SHOT stories — laughing at each other's mishaps before anxiously adding another misbegotten tale to the pile. Anyone witnessing their banter would assume the two were childhood friends. Finishing each other's sentences, laughing hysterically, adding to the fun.
The truly impressive aspect of their friendship is that it was created after only a week. Just a single week with the NRA. It's not a unique story, but it is an impressive one. One we can't hear enough.
"It's hard when we're all across the country, but we try to stay close," explained Leonard. "There have been a couple of reunions, but Molly and I have been lucky about getting together on a number of occasions."
Soon enough I let them go. Back into the rows and booths and people in search of the next find. Pointing at this laughing, laughing at that, making the most of their SHOT Show experience.