To the casual visitor last weekend at the 144th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Nashville, Tenn. – “NashVegas” as some people like to call the capitol of country music – it was readily apparent that the Music City Center was a busy, happening kind of a place.
After all, more than 73,000-plus visitors found their way to the convention hall to see the latest and greatest in terms of firearms, ammunition, accessories and other wares and services from more than 500 vendors that were present during the event's April 10-12 run.
And it would seem like that most of those visitors found their way to the Outdoor Channel and Glock booths, among other places, where American actor and retired U.S. Marine Corps drill sergeant R. Lee Ermey was to be found.
Truth was, an NRA member didn't have to search long to find out exactly where Ermey, better known to millions "The Gunny," was as he signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans.
All one had to do was find the absolute longest line in the Music City Center and Ermey would be there at the line's end, with several hundred of his closest friends to boot.
Ermey, known best for his portrayal of the Sgt. Gunny character in the film Full Metal Jacket, has been a busy man of late as he reps for companies like Glock, SOG Specialty Knives & Tools, Victory Motorcycles and the Young Marines Youth Organization among others.
And as he films and promotes the new Outdoor Channel original series, GunnyTime with R. Lee Ermey.
Shortly before “The Gunny” arrived to sign autographs, a very long line of formed around the Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel booth. (Rudy Bachraty photo)
The show premieres this week on April 15th – Tax Day, in case you've forgotten – and is already drawing enthusiastic support from those who have seen early episodes, in great part because of the energetic presence and award winning talent of Ermey.
"The tax man is coming on April 15th, but guess what, so am I!" growls Ermey, also known as grizzled voice of Sarge in the Disney Toy Story film franchise. "Be there ... or I will be the one to make you pay!"
The guess here is that Ermey, well known for his trademark drill sergeant line of "Drop and give me 25," doesn't offer any payment plans or late filing opportunities with that order either.
Partly because the decorated Vietnam veteran is being paid to have so much fun, shooting everything from muzzle-loading rifles built more than 100 years ago to modern semi-automatic weapons to even rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
Not to mention everything else in between, dropping thousands of empty brass casings to the ground as things blow up in huge explosions ranging from tomatoes and watermelons to liquid- and paint-filled containers to even cars and military tanks.
With the careful warning – for everyone but Sgt. Gunny, of course – to not try this at home.
"This is one of those jobs where you can't wait to get out of bed in the morning," says Ermey in an Outdoor Channel clip. "You (get to) go to work and blow some stuff up."
For anyone who likes to shoot, the show will be a lot of fun to watch.
And undoubtedly a dream to film as Ermey samples everything from handguns to combat rifles to the latest hi-tech weaponry available to consumers, law enforcement members and U.S. military combat forces.
"We'll spread it out a little bit," said Ermey. "We'll have rifles once in a while. We'll have explosions. I like to describe it as me going around, playing with everybody else's toys. And it's a lot of fun playing with the military's toys."
Especially on Tax Day, right?
"The American people love looking at a show like that, seeing their American dollars at work," said Ermey. "And as far as I'm concerned, I don't know of another show that deals with our military and law enforcement.
"And plus we have fun! I think that's pretty important, that we have fun. Don't you?"
Word of advice here; you had better wholeheartedly agree with Gunny or you're liable to hear the drill sergeant bark an order for you to drop and give him 25 pushups.
"It's Gunny Time" barks Ermey. "Get some!"
And on the double at that, because one of the year's most anticipated shows debuting on Outdoor Channel is locked, loaded and more than ready to begin.