Not only is it the world’s largest trade show for the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries, but also it offers intangible rewards – many found off the exhibit floor. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), owner and sponsor of the show, makes it easy for you to learn everything you need to know beforehand, and to sign up for seminars, dinners, events and even hotel reservations before your arrival.
In fact, it behooves you – as former entertainer for the State of the Industry Dinner, Larry the Cable Guy, said – to “get ‘er done!”
The 2014 SHOT Show will feature more than 1,600 exhibitors on 630,000 square feet of exhibition space, making it the fifth largest show annually in Las Vegas.
“It’s a great networking opportunity,” said Zach Snow, manager, shooting promotions, for NSSF.
Snow serves as NSSF’s range liaison. He assists the range community by developing programs to promote the shooting sports while protecting and preserving existing shooting ranges across the country. One such program is the NSSF Range Action Specialist Program. This program supports existing ranges in many ways and also aids people who are exploring the idea of building a range, by providing financial assistance that offsets the cost of a specialist’s services. Consultants from the team will be on site, in the NSSF booth area (# L221) on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday so that range owners may stop by and visit and schedule future onsite visits to their ranges and or appointments for further guidance over the phone.
“SHOT Show gives range owners the opportunity to see the hot new products being introduced for the year,” added Snow. “And we’re not just talking about the new accessories, ammunition and firearms that are unveiled on the floor. Range owners and operators can meet with company reps and get hands-on introductions to a variety of new products that target companies, trap manufacturers and other exhibitors have on site. For example, a popular new product on last year’s show floor was Action Target’s rimfire falling plate rack.”
Range owners endorse the show
Members of the NSSF Range Advisory Committee, themselves range owners, highly recommend attending the show annually.
“We don’t like to give anybody an excuse not to shoot,” said Bill Kempffer about Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School, in Sanford, N.C. Kempffer presently serves as chairman of the NSSF Range Advisory Committee and sits on the Board of Governors. He will be attending his 19th SHOT Show in January.
Deep River stays open all year, except for three days, and caters to “brand-new people.” With a retail area that sometimes adds up to 50 percent of gross sales, this NSSF-ranked Four Star range offers a shooting school, sporting clays course, wobble deck and shooting pavilion. Kempffer and his wife, Mary, whom he says has “great business sense,” work together and with a savvy team.
Having built the range from the ground up, and by “getting my nose bloodied” along the way, Kempffer immediately found payoffs from attending SHOT Show. As a new guy in the industry, he recalled how he felt an immediate connection when he went to his first SHOT Show.
“People in the industry were approachable, and I became a part of something bigger than me,” he recalled.
“I feed off the energy that I get at SHOT Show,” added Kempffer, who funds a trip for himself and his assistant annually.
He explained that they work the floor of the show, looking for new products.
“Often, these new products pay for the entire cost of the trip,” he said.
Take, for example, the year he found a new method of cleaning a bore. Called the BoreSnake, now a household word in the shooting world, this device funded his trip to the show and then some. He ordered the BoreSnake four times in the first five months, and it still sells well in the retail area of the range.
“Range owners, even without retail presences, can benefit from meeting the vendors from the industry at the show,” added Kempffer.
That way, should they need to contact a representative from the industry later, both parties can put names and faces together.
Kempffer also believes time is well spent in attending SHOT Show University seminars. Whether it’s learning to promote your range through social media or figuring out the latest ATF requirements, the NSSF caters to all types of ranges and their owners’ needs.
“It can help you turn an avocation into a vocation,” said Kempffer.
In fact, the experience isn’t just for range owners. Kempffer’s daughter, a business major at Auburn University, attended last year’s courses and now works for a major firearms manufacturer because she wanted to be part of the firearms industry.
Networking with range owners who are eager to share their success stories and tips is one of the biggest benefits to attendees.
“We have a good solid business and I’ve been able to give back to people. It’s cool to share,” added Kempffer.
Putting a name with a face
“I want people in this industry to be able to put a name with a face when I call, and the SHOT Show helps to develop that type of a relationship,” said Robin Ball, owner of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop in Spokane, Wash. Ball also serves on the NSSF Range Advisory Committee.
Ball said early in her career, she decided to add a substantial retail area to her range operation.
“If you don’t have product, people don’t look around, and both play an important part of a range operation,” she said.
The SHOT Show greatly aids purchasing decisions for ranges.
Ball has attended the show for 16 years, and focuses on the women’s self-defense buying needs. She brings her staff, men who are “gun junkies,” and they peruse the show for other products. Is it overwhelming at times?
“Just realize that you can’t see it all and focus on your product mix,” advised Ball.
Ball also wouldn’t miss the State of the Industry Dinner, held on Tuesday evening.
“It’s refreshing to know we have such professional, educated people at the top of this industry,” she remarked.
Ball also attends SHOT show seminars, and she has especially appreciated seminars on how to deal with the social media explosion in retail promotions.
Staying one step ahead, thanks to SHOT Show
Holden Kriss, a past president of the Range Advisory Committee, manages one of the largest public ranges in the country, with more than 84,000 registered users, at Indian River County Shooting Range in Sebastian, Fla.
“I always bring back new stuff and ideas from the SHOT Show, because I want to stay a step ahead,” said Kriss.
Kriss also works as the business development manager for WMD Guns, NiB-X & Nitromet Coatings for Firearms, so he spends time in a booth on the exhibit floor.
“I really wear two hats while I’m at SHOT Show,” explained Kriss.
Through seminars, he has learned about environmental aspects of running a range, and also he has presented on how he approaches inventory issues.
“I love to attend, because I can see everything for the range that I need to see – backstops, equipment, etc.,” said Kriss.
The NSSF’s presence
“We are there at the booth during the show for retail and range owners,” said Bettyjane Swann, director of member services for the NSSF. Members are encouraged to check the schedule at the SHOT Show website to see the times that representatives of the various programs – such as First Shots – will be in the booth. Members may stop by and request appointments, or drop off their business cards with messages for the appropriate NSSF representatives. Swann reminds members that the booth area contains a small conference room that might be available for members’ meetings.
“We also encourage our members to use the NSSF Member Lounge,” added Swann. “It’s one place every year where you really can meet with people.”
The lounge area also holds a small meeting room in a business center. It’s easy for members to set up business meetings during lunch in the lounge at a round table, on a walk-in basis. After lunch, the area stays open for guests to stop by, meet with business associates or just take a short break before returning to the busy floor below.
The NSSF is running a special that extends through the SHOT Show. Membership dues for 2014 have been reduced from $75 to $50 for ranges with sales under $1 million and from $150 to $100 for ranges with sales between $1 and $10 million.
SHOT Show website: Get up-to-date information about the 2014 SHOT Show online. Also, learn more about educational seminar programs, booth information, accommodations and other important features of this year’s show.
Facebook and Twitter: Follow the latest news through Facebook and Twitter from RSS Feeds that include blog posts and news releases pertaining to the SHOT Show.
SHOT Show app: If you have a smartphone, it’d be a smart move to download this savvy app before you go to the show. With info such as booth locations, seminars, special appearances and maps, maps, maps, you’ll be at the right place at the right time. Check it out at SHOTshow.org.
Shot Show Blast: All registered SHOT Show attendees will receive this informative electronic newsletter dedicated to maximizing your SHOT Show experience.
NSSF Bullet Points: The official online news service of the NSSF, Bullet Points often contains news of interest for SHOT Show exhibitors and attendees, along with other informative items.