IWA- The Cheap Seats
By Dan Shea

The IWA show coming up in March of 2006 should be a good one. Many readers are asking what relevance that has for them. I know, because I frequently get questions from readers about the articles on museums or shows outside of the United States, and they don't think they will ever get there to see them. Actually, that is a major reason why we report on these shows and museums - to bring you the newest or rarest pieces we can find, and in the off chance you get to travel, places you can go see the firearms you may have only heard or read about.

This prompted a discussion about international travel among our staff, and I thought that it might be helpful to the readers to get a view of just what it takes to travel internationally. Let's take the specific example of the IWA show coming up in March, 2006.

1) How do you get there and how much does it cost?
2) What does it cost once you are there and how do you get around?
3) How do you get into the show, and what does that cost?

Once you have your passport, you can travel internationally. Always safeguard your passport, it is a bear to replace and if you lose it overseas, the US Embassy must get involved. You can't travel home without the passport or official permission. It is a good idea to keep copies of your passport in a separate place while traveling so if the passport is lost, you can show them your information. Do the same with credit cards, etc.

In order to get to Nurnberg, Germany, you have to decide whether you are trying to fly directly to Nurnberg, whether you are just attending the show, or want to visit other areas. It is always a good idea to travel at least one day ahead of time, in order to adjust to the jet lag. You will be flying overnight and arriving in the morning, usually much the worse for wear. A quick look at websites such as Orbitz.com show coach fares, booking in advance from Atlanta to Nurnberg, in the $600 USD range. Usually, these tickets can be found in the $350 to $400 range by watching airfare sales closely. You can save a few dollars by flying into a major German airport such as Frankfurt, but you now have to either rent a car, or take a train to Nurnberg, and that is a two hour plus proposition, while you are very tired. If you haven't driven outside of the US, I recommend that you learn to do so at a time other than when you have just landed from overnight in coach class. The cost of a car or train will probably offset any savings in your ticket. Driving in Germany is not difficult for Americans. Just remember to stay out of the fast (left) lane on the Autobahn. The Germans drive 180km/hr plus (about 120 mph) in that lane and it is amazing how fast the front grill of the Mercedes in your rear view mirror can get right into your trunk. They drive courteously in Germany as long as you don't block the fast lane.

So, let's say you have paid $500 USD to get to Nurnberg, and take a taxi from the airport to your hotel - probably costing you about €15 (Euro) plus a small tip. Typically, hotels in that area range from €50 to €220 per night. Since the Euro today (July 2005) is equal to approximately $1.20 USD; that means your low end is about $60 USD.

The IWA show is at the Messezentrum facility, which is much like any convention center. It is composed of a number of buildings and typically five are used in the IWA show. There are many hotels within walking distance of the Messezentrum. Simply do a search of the hotel locations on the Internet, and they will tell you the distances from the various local interest points including the Messezentrum. Alternatively, staying down in the city allows for being in walking distance to the center of Nurnberg, which is an old walled city. There are trains that travel almost everywhere around the city as well, and they stop at the Messezentrum. It is quite beautiful, and there are many cafes, restaurants and shops. There is an active night life, and the German restaurants are not to be missed.

Getting into the IWA show requires that you be in the sporting arms business in some provable manner. If you are, the tickets are $30 USD for the weekend, at our last check. The requirement for registration is listed as such:

"Entrance tickets for IWA & Outdoor Classics are issued only to visitors from relevant supply trade firms, commercial users and specialist authorities. Proof of the right to admission must be provided first. Employees from specialist authorities require confirmation from their department."

This means that an FFL, or a letterhead from an FFL stating that you are their representative, is sufficient to get you in the door. It is strongly suggested that you go through their registration process on the website so you are pre-registered and your badge is either shipped to you, or waiting at the front entrance.

If you want to display product or have a booth to take your shot at international sales, you should contact the Concord Expo Group and talk with them about it. They really make it very simple for American businesses to come over, and most international shipping problems are already solved. There is a large US Pavilion section, with many well known brands represented.

Your trip to the IWA show, in Nurnberg, Germany pans out as follows:

1- Airfare from the East Coast US and back... $500
2- Hotel six nights @ $75 USD each .......... $450
3- Entry to the show for four days............... $30
4- Breakfast at hotel free, $5 lunches,
$15 dinners for six days....................... $120
5- Assorted cab fares and train tickets .......... $ 75
For a total of:.......................... $1155 USD

For less than the cost of any known transferable machine gun and for about the same cost as a trip to Disneyland, you can have a very interesting holiday in Germany, gathering with many interesting international firearms manufacturers and dealers, and see what the rest of the world is doing in the shooting sports. It simply takes making that first step.

Organizer from the German side:
NürnbergMesse GmbH
D-90471 Nürnberg
Tel +49 (0)9 11.86 06-49 19
Fax +49 (0)9 11.86 06-49 18

Organizer from the US side:
Concord Expo Group
P.O. Box 252
Harvard, Massachusetts 01451
Phone: (978) 456-9373
Fax: (978) 456-9371
E-mail: conexpogrp@earthlink.net
Internet: concordexpogroup.com
Contact: Ms. Kathy Donnelly, Managing Director

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V9N2 (November 2005)
and was posted online on November 1, 2011


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