This expression is American from the early 19th century and is a combination of barn and the figurative sense of storm as in excitement or commotion. It originally referred to itinerant theatrical troupes who typically performed in upstate New York barns to rural audiences. The shows were usually low class, vulgar performances and the players moving from one barn to next were known as barnstormers. By the end of the 19th century, the meaning had shifted to electioneering campaigns that moved from town to town. During the 1920s, the expression was used to describe the performance of pilots who travelled the country giving aerobatic displays. Today, the expression has lost its itinerant connotation and now describes any enthusiastic, uplifting display or performance. For example, football and rugby players are often described as making barnstorming runs.