Features — 01 May 2013

Impressions from the SHOT Show

Every year tens of thousand of members of the shooting industry converge on the National Shooting Sports Foundation-owned SHOT Show. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is, of course, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry.  It is also the publisher of The Range Report.

This year the SHOT Show, actually short for the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, was again held in the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, from Jan. 15-18. At least, that is when the show floor of more than 1,600 exhibits was open to range owners, firearms retailers, some 2,000 media members and other industry members.

For me, some of the most valuable impressions and information I took from the 2013 SHOT Show actually came before the show floor even opened.

Media Day at the Range
No shorts, or short sleeves this day: Las Vegas in January
brought out the layers at the range.

The SHOT Show Media Day at the Range allows credentialed media to preview new products hands-on and get inside information on the new “stuff.”

On Monday, Jan. 13, the center of attention for more than 1,200 members of the media was not the convention center, but, instead, the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club, an expansive outdoor shooting facility in Boulder City, Nev., about a half-hour drive from the Vegas strip.

NSSF has been the title sponsor the last two years. This year, Tisma Juett, NSSF’s manager of the First Shots program, and I, as director of editorial services for NSSF, were on hand to greet the writers and distribute a complimentary backpack to help them store the handouts they would receive that day from many of the more than 140 participating manufacturers and organizations.

“We were able to access key industry leaders and actually shoot their new products,” commented Mark Keefe, who is the editor-in-chief of the NRA’s popular American Rifleman magazine. “We were able to accomplish more in one morning than we did the entire day last year,” he added.

If Las Vegas in January sounds like a sunbelt retreat, I am here to tell you that I was never so cold as I was sitting in NSSF’s booth from 7:15 a.m. until nearly 4 p.m. Trying to tie strings through the grommets of NSSF banners and around ice-cold metal pipes that served as supports for the canopy over our tables was a test of endurance. I’ve hunted whitetail deer in -23-degree temperatures and been more comfortable. Of course, I was better dressed for that challenge.

Upon returning to my hotel room, I never welcomed a hot shower more. I hated to step out of it, but dinner with the NSSF Range Advisory Committee was next on the agenda, and I didn’t want to be late.

Hundreds of media at any given time made use of the SHOT Show press room.
SHOT Show Press Room

As editor of The Range Report, I value this gathering of experienced range professionals, all experts in their own right, more than anything else I do at the SHOT Show. The attendee’s comments not only help steer The Range Report’s editorial course, but they provide concrete ideas for upcoming features and topics for our Q&A page. The dinner also gives me a chance to thank them, face to face, for the support they’ve given The Range Report.

My impressions of the SHOT Show once the exhibition floor doors opened the next day? Limited at best, for most of each day, from 7:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., was spent helping to service the needs of the hundreds of media at any one time that were in the press room. Among the handouts available to them were guidelines for writing for The Range Report. Perhaps some new contributors, with trail-blazing article ideas, will come forth as a result.

For a much better report than I could give of the SHOT Show floor, The Range Report asked regular contributor Carolee Anita Boyles to walk the miles of aisles to look for new products of special interest to range operators. Her “Seen at the SHOT Show” feature in the Winter ’13 edition was her report.

Such a report is, presumably, a great help to the range community that couldn’t attend the SHOT Show. But one person’s finds, limited to a single article, cannot possibly match the discoveries—and the contacts—that come with a visit to the SHOT Show.

Give serious consideration to attending next year’s show at the Sands, from Jan. 14-17, 2014.

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