Gun enthusiasts combed vendor's tables at the Ninnescah Valley Gun Club gun show looking for rifles, shotguns, pistols and ammunition that have become hard to find lately.
The recent gun control discussions at the state and local levels, election interest and the shootings at Sandy Hook have spurred a frenzy of firearm and ammunition purchases. So much has been bought that it has created a shortage that attracted buyers to the gun show, said Ryan Laney, president of the Ninnescah Valley Gun Club that sponsored the event.
"Everyone is buying guns like crazy," Laney said. "We had some vendors that were sold out. We couldn't have picked a better time (for the gun show)."
The two-day show attracted some 35 to 40 vendors and 600-plus visitors who traveled long distances, some buyers came from Nebraska, to check out the guns and see if a specific gun or ammunition was available. Besides guns and ammunition, other vendors displayed coins, knives, books and even coffee.
The crowd was so big at times that the lines of parked vehicles stretched from the parking lot all the way to K-64.
One type of ammunition, 22LR, is so hard to find that the price has jumped $20 for a brick with 550 rounds from $35 to $75. The AR15 rifle that used to sell for $650 now goes for $2,000.
Laney, who owns Main Street Armory, a new gun business in Pratt, said the shortage of guns has gotten to the point that when he calls a salesman he can't pick out the guns he wants to order but he has to take what is available.
Ammunition manufacturers are filling ammunition orders as quickly as possible. The government and law enforcement keep putting in large orders so suppliers are filling those orders first then taking care of the public and civilian sales, Laney said.
This was the first gun show for the recently formed gun club. Started in September 2012 with 17 members, the club quickly grew to about 60 members now.
Considering that the club has no range of its own, the interest in the club and growth has been exciting, Laney said.
"We've had a huge response. That's pretty good for not having a place to shoot yet," Laney said.
The club is currently working on a lease agreement for a shooting area 11 miles south of Pratt. The gun show was a fundraiser for the club to help secure the shooting site.
"We're about a month away from getting things under construction," Laney said.
Currently the club meets at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at the Pratt Fire Station and more members are welcome. Membership fees are $40 and that covers an entire family, Laney said.
Besides shooting, the club wants to become affiliated with a national group and teach shooting safety.
The gun show was so popular that the club is planning another event, a fall gun show in the Pratt area. Vendors interested in the fall show should contact Laney at 620-409-0216.
The club hopes to increase the number of vendors and have more and better door prizes.
"The show was a learning experience for us. We're hoping to grow from this experience," Laney said.