Oct 10, 2023
Riding Shotgun With Charlie
NRA Museum, Director
In my formative years as a gun owner (then just a wanna be), I would watch The Outdoor Channel which had Shooting USA on it, shows on The History Channel, and other shows, too. Any time a historical gun came up, Phil Schreier would be there with his white gloves on handling, talking about various firearms, and giving the history. When I “crashed” the NRA BOD party back in April, I got to introduce myself and tell him what I do. He said anytime I was in Fairfax, VA, he would be up for being on the show. Well, I was planning a roadtrip with John Petrolino, The Pen Patriot, and we made a pit stop at the NRA Museum and I was able to film a show with Phil.
Growing up, Phil was in a “Kennedy Democrat” household where firearms were encouraged but they weren’t prohibited either. He learned to shoot at Boy Scout camp, like other passengers who have been on the show. He fell in love with shooting the Mossberg .22 rifle. His grandmother told him they were related to General Beauregard, who was a Confederate General in the Civil War. That also sparked an interest in history.
Majoring in Political Science and History in college, his first job was as a compliance inspector with the ATF.( Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms…who’s bringing the chips?) But he didn’t like the way they operated and left the position. Does this sound familiar? So Phil ended up going back to the Boy Scout camp as a counselor then worked up to run the camp. During the winter months, he worked at a cigar shop with a friend who he grew up with. Then he got a call from someone from Scout Camp who was also with the NRA and he offered Phil a job to work weekends at the NRA Museum. He was less than thrilled working weekends because he was also doing some reenacting on the weekends. But he took the gig working 6 hours each weekend day. Within 6 months, he was working full time. Then he was able to hire his buddy from the cigar shop to work with him. For the record, his buddy is Mark Keefe, the Editorial Director of all NRA publications.
Certainly the “virus that shall not be named” eliminated nearly all the positions at the museum, and Phil has several of the titles. During the last two and a half years, he was the only one working there. There’s much more to running a museum than just “playing” with the guns. Phil will go weeks working there without even touching one of the firearms.
Like many jobs that look glamorous, working as a museum director has aspects that have become less glamorous over the years. The lectures at various museums don't get old, but traveling does. I’ve heard several traveling comedians say they’d do comedy for free, but they get paid to travel.
What I really enjoyed learning about was how manufacturing helped change the way things were produced. We talk about the Eli Whitney and the cotton gin, but what Whitney really brought about was mass production and being able to make replaceable parts for machines. Then that spilled into Sam Colt making revolvers. We also talked about the impact of AI on history and writing. Phil said his personal book collection is over 5,000 books!
There’s really a lot to learn from people like Phil. He’s got a lot of wisdom. But he’s also still the youngest guy at some of the history conventions. If we don’t want out history to die or be erased, we need more people like Phil who has a love of the stories and shares them in ways we all enjoy.
“Very upset with the way they (ATF) operated as stewards of public trust.”
“It doesn’t matter if we’re (ATF) right or wrong, we’ll just bankrupt them.”
“I think the biggest misconception is you get to play with guns all day.”
“It’s stuff like that that changes the world because of firearms.”
“I look at it as having more friends and the effort of spreading the knowledge about firearms, their history, their heritage.”
NRA Museum Website
There’s 3 different NRA museums around the country.
Articles written by Phil Schreier
Galleries at the NRA Museum
Second Amendment Foundation
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
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