On-street parking was at a premium as firearms enthusiasts from around the region and beyond flocked to the Bel Air Armory over the weekend for the 58th annual Bel Air Gun Show sponsored by Harford County's Izaak Walton League chapter.
A steady flow of folks, young and old, male and female, moved through the aisles at the armory Saturday, stopping at tables lined with a variety of firearms, accessories and other historical and collectible items.
Even the classic Red Ryder BB gun from the movie “A Christmas Story” was sitting among the many other long guns on display at one exhibit.
Exhibitor Bob Bieschke, of Bel Air, sat at his Nordic Knives vendor space carefully sharpening an old Boy Scout knife for a customer Saturday morning, occasionally looking up from his task to banter with a potential customer.
Bieschke shared his wealth of knowledge and wit while explaining to visitors the details of the knife in their hands. Some, like Dirk Scheppelmann, of Perryville, said they were just “looking for a good deal.”
David Diaman of Bel Air and his young son, Grant, looked at a .22 caliber rifle designed for kids as a first rifle.
“He shoots my AR-15 rifle but he likes shooting something with a little less recoil. We’ve got a 10/22 rifle but this one fits his a little nicer,” Diaman said, as he helped Grant hold the gun properly.
“I was in the military and used to shoot in competitions for handguns, so I’m also looking for something I can use to get myself back into competitions,” David Diaman explained.
Near the armory stage, Joel Manuel of Abingdon was fingerprinted by Joshua Ferguson from Absolute Investigative Fingerprinting and Security Services in Bel Air, just in case he spotted a potential purchase as he browsed the approximately 30 vendors Saturday.
Ferguson was providing fingerprinting and background checks for the handgun qualification license concealed carry permits for a $50 fee.
Collector Zack Miller from Bel Air was in his usual spot near the back of the hall. Miller, who specializes in World War II era artifacts, is a staple at the show and he says he always tries to bring something a little different to the event.
This year was no exception as he had a display of the P.08 Luger parabellum pistol, the sidearm of the German Military during World War II.
“I get a lot of interest in it,” Miller said. “The old to the young, they want to learn about the World War II era and the equipment that was used at the time.”
“That’s what I like to do here is for the education of people who are really interested in the World War II history,” Miller said before proceeding to give the details about weapon and how he acquired the few in his case to some of the folks that had gathered around.
“I’ve been here for a long, long time, I enjoy it and you get know a lot of the people, the dealers and the collectors,” he said. “I actually have some of them come back year to year anticipating what I’m going to have on display this time” he said sitting back in his chair.
Exhibitor Kelly Vaughan of White Hall won the show’s trophy for best special display with her Hillbetty Bliss booth featuring purses for women designed with concealed carry pockets for a handgun.
“There’s not a lot of options out there for women with concealed carry so these are designed with a convenient pocket that’s easy to reach when the purse in on your shoulder,” Vaughan explained.
“Some ladies might put mace or a Taser in there, or even their car keys or something they want to get to fast in a emergency, they can get it out quickly,” she said, as she displayed one of the bags for a customer.
Proceeds from the gun show, which wrapped up Sunday afternoon, help support the Izaak Walton League Harford County Chapter’s conservation and scholarship programs.