I received the invite to join a group of notable writers, along with Beretta, to the Sako plant in Finland. This adventure will be a memorable experience. I have to share it with you each step of the way.
To begin with, the process of getting to Finland is a relatively easy undertaking, but the Sako group had greater visions for the experience. After we learn about the company and tour the facility, we would be pressing on to hunt in Russia.
Obtaining a Russian visa provided a challenge. I had a short time to get the required document and submit it for travel. Not to mention, I had to send my passport away, and without that, I wouldn't even make it to Finland. To say I sweated it out to the last minute is an understatement.
Our invitation arrived written in the greater Russian language. Through a course of emails, I found that the Russian Embassy's ILS service could provide me with interpretation and information in completing my application. Once I completed the process, submitted the required photos and fees, along with shipping my passport away, the anxiety began.
I anxiously awaited the arrival of the Russian visa, and my passport.
The invitation's instructions directed, "You will stay hours in the towers and temperatures may drop to zero at night time." We received this instruction along with a suggested gear list, which included standard hunting items:
- Good flashlight
- Warm clothes, including a wooly hat, Gore-Tex silent terrain-colored suit, Gore-Tex hiking boots, wool socks, warm intermediate clothes and gloves)
I reviewed the weather forcast, and it seems temperatures should be close to those in my local Colorado climate. Since I'd be on the other side of the world, this was tough to assume. As you know, travel includes weight restrictions, so after some dilemma, I chose layering options so as to have gear, no matter what weather I encountered.
I deemed my base layers to be most important, since we'd be sitting still, in stands for lengthy spells. I included WSI's Emerge HEATR shirt, pants and socks. The fabric construction in these items generates heat via a fiber that expands and heats up when it comes into contact with the skin. Also, it's moisture wicking and odor resistant. (Stay tuned. These proved to be a good choice.)
As far as the time to be spent in Finland, with SAKO, standard casual wear sufficed. We'd be taking a tour of the rifle and ammunition facilities and also experiencing some range time.
Packed, passport in hand, and ready to view the SAKO establishment, I enjoyed an event free, 21-hour, journey to Finland. I connected up with new and old friends from Beretta USA as well as the editors of Guns & Ammo, Recoil and Outdoor Life magazines. This group would soon enjoy a journey through the Sako facilities, to the shooting range and then on to Russia.
First, we'd meet our hosts, the Fabulous Fins, as I'd like to call those who run the Sako facility. They provided a dinner of authentic Lapian food, including reindeer, salmon and other tasty treats. We exchanged stories, laughs and cheer and headed back to our hotel rooms for a brief rest before the next morning's tour of the plant.