René Winklbauer: Let Loose at IWA

Last Friday at about 0900 hours Leica Internet Team member René Winklbauer escaped from the Leica Headquarters in Solms. After an extensive search we found René hiding in the depths of the Leica Sporting Optics booth at IWA & Outdoor Classics in Nuremberg. This seemingly mild-mannered young man was set loose among an exhibition hall full of hunting and sporting weapons, classic outdoor equipment and safety equipment. Where would he go? What would he do? What sorts of creatures would he capture? Once René returned to his natural habitat, we were able to keep him calm long enough to share some of his images and impressions of the event.

Visiting an international weapon exhibition of that magnitude is a very exciting experience. Especially if you have never been in contact with any sort of firearms. In Germany you have the choice of social service or mandatory military service; I much preferred taking grannies to the doctor. But since I am new at Leica, I’ve got to get well acquainted with each field we are operating in. I had no idea what to expect, so I was very curious to find out how IWA would entertain me.

Not only was IWA exciting due to huge loads of weapons, all of which could be touched and tested (without live ammunition of course), but also because of the large variety of interesting people and characters to discover. Apart from the typical hunter, I saw sports men, landed gentry wearing exquisite tweed suits, weapon fanatics, people entirely covered in camouflage, medieval fanatics, retailers of walking canes and Scottish folks wearing kilts, just to name a few.

I could have spent hours just people watching at the fair and documenting them with my M9. Eventually, I also gratefully accepted every offer to try out the equipment. At many places laser shooting was offered, as well as the good old, but still very mighty, crossbows. In the end, I left the building overloaded with diverse and positive impressions. I was fascinated, but a bit confused in the same time. “Have I become a weapon fanatic?” I thought to myself. No, surely not; even though I had a great time. I haven’t been able to shake off the the strange feeling you inevitably get when there are so many gun barrels pointing directly at you. Perhaps I will lose the urge to duck and cover at IWA 2013.

-René Winklbauer

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