Features November 2013 — 06 November 2013

SHOT Show Industry Days at the Range®

How does the host shooting facility participate and benefit?

If there is a Disneyland for outdoor writers, it is the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show® owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the event where firearms manufacturers and related businesses unveil their newest products and innovations. Imagine walking aisle after aisle and viewing display after display of the latest and greatest the firearms world has to offer and then sharing what you learned as a range operator or firearms retailer with your customers or, as a member of the media, with your readers, listeners or viewers.

An aerial view of Media Day at the Range

A difficult task, but somebody has to do it.

For media members, gathering the information needed for a quality story about a particular product can sometimes be a challenge because manufacturers are at the show to obtain orders for their products. Time spent with a writer is time away from the deal-making table, but manufacturers also recognize the importance of the outdoor media to the successful launch of a new product. Luckily, innovative thinking is not limited to the manufacturing side of the firearms industry.

A significant step toward making things easier for both writers and exhibitors was taken in 2005 with the creation of SHOT Show® Media Day at the RangeTM, of which NSSF is now the title sponsor. This event provides an opportunity for members of the outdoor media to not only view new product offerings and conduct the necessary interviews, but also to actually test fire them at the range.  Products on display range from firearms and ammunition to knives, archery tackle, ATVs and trucks.

The brain child of Cathy Williams of CMG Marketing & Events and her colleague Cory Cannon of Triple Curl PR & Advertising, Media Day at the Range takes place on Monday of SHOT Show week. Since its inception, the event has grown from approximately 40 companies and 200 media members that first year to more than 120 companies and 1,200 members of the media in 2013.

Shooting range is key to success
Key to Media Day’s success is its host shooting range, the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club (BRPC) in Boulder City, Nev., just 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. Though the property is owned by the city, the range is managed, maintained and developed by the club and its members. Everyone who serves in the club does so as a volunteer. Though you won’t find cement walkways and fancy landscaping at the BRPC, you will find a layout and design that facilitates demonstration of products by multiple exhibitors and shooting disciplines at one time.

“Here, every major exhibitor has its own bay,” said Harry Helfrich, president of the BRPC. “If they want to go down and change targets, they go change targets. It’s not a stop and go thing. Media Day management gives us a map showing where each one of the tents is going to be and where everything else is going to go. We make sure there is space for them to use.”

Helfrich makes all the arrangements for such amenities as portable toilets, washing stations and garbage-collection service. Originally club members took care of all the trash pickup following the event, but show organizers now provide help with that part of the cleanup process. In addition, the club provides fuel for carts used during the event as well as other assistance as needed.

SHOT Show Media Day at the Range creates a hub of activity for more than a thousand media members.

“We try to provide everything we can locally for them,” Helfrich said.

Ever conscious of the club’s image and safety concerns, Helfrich and the club’s vice president attend SHOT Show Media Day at the Range to ensure the club’s interests are protected and to provide any assistance that might be needed. Club members who are certified range masters are given the opportunity to help out at the various shooting exhibits. Those who do are compensated for their time by event management.

Since the BRPC is a nonprofit organization, club leaders have to be careful how much money the club earns, and that comes into play with their arrangement with Media Day organizers. When it comes to the financial arrangement, “I would say we’re way below what would normally be charged for something like this,” Helfrich said.

How the range benefits
So how does the club benefit from hosting SHOT Show Media Day at the Range?

Perhaps the most important benefit comes in the form of development and expansion.

“We try to find ways that we can improve the range to help the event but that we can also use when they get done and let them pay for that,” Helfrich said.

Then he pointed to the widened and paved access road.

“That is for busses because they had a real problem coming down here on dirt roads, and the roads were so narrow they couldn’t turn around,” he continued. “We widened the roads, but we let the event management pay for that because it benefits them, but, of course, it also benefits us.”

Looking back, Williams said changes that have taken place at the range over the years are significant.

The Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club provides an expansive venue.

“Especially if you saw the area we used back in 2005 and compared it to how it has grown today,” she said. “The club has actually expanded the range because of our event. They have added probably 20 short-distance shooting lanes and probably the same amount of long-distance lanes out to 500 yards.”

Anyone who has attended the SHOT Show Media Day at the Range event at BRPC during past years will easily notice the physical improvements that have been made to the facility, but what isn’t as easily seen is the exposure the range has earned as a result of Media Day.

“Our whole goal with this range has been to provide as many safe shooting disciplines as we can possibly provide,” said Bill Grant, BRPC’s treasurer. “As we get bigger and more people hear about us, you can’t imagine how many people come out here and just want to help.”

Williams agrees, and said Media Day has put the BRPC on the map, but that exposure is not without reciprocation. With the adjustments made to the range through the years, and the possibilities those changes make available, SHOT Show Media Day at the Range has continued to grow in popularity and size. When the event was created the setup process could be completed in a single day, but nowadays it takes three to four days to set up the necessary tents and all the paraphernalia.

Buyer Day at the Range to be added
That success has led to yet another challenge: Buyers and other retailers want an opportunity similar to that enjoyed by the outdoor media. In response to their interest, NSSF approached Williams and Cannon about the possibility of adding a half-day event for buyers, a SHOT Show® Buyer Day at the RangeTM that would take place on Tuesday morning (Jan. 14, 2014) of SHOT Show week.

“My immediate concern was, ‘That’s the first day of SHOT Show,’” said Williams. “And NSSF’s Chris Dolnack said, ‘Listen, retailers have been asking repeatedly for a day like this?’”

On January 14, select buyers will have the chance to try out new products

They no longer need to ask. Starting with SHOT Show 2014, there will now be a SHOT Show Buyer Day at the Range in addition to Media Day. Together they will be known as SHOT Show®  Industry Days at the RangeTM. Where the exhibitors’ public relations and marketing staff are available to writers on Media Day, their sales representatives and those who work with dealers will be available on Buyer Day. This way, Williams said, exhibitors can write orders as buyers step off the line. They won’t have to wait until they get on the floor of the SHOT Show.

Looking forward to the 2014 SHOT Show, Williams is eager to see how many people actually attend Industry Days. As of this writing she anticipates a total attendance of between 2,500 and 3,000 people. Those estimates include media, buyers and exhibitors. If things turn out as Williams hopes, the event could be a winning combination for all concerned, including the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club. Perhaps the club has room for a few more shooting bays.

The key to a successful event is cooperation between the organizer and the host range, Helfrich said. “I think that makes all the difference.”

SHOT Show® Buyer Day at the RangeTM

SHOT Show Buyer Day at the Range will take place from 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Jan. 14, opening morning of the 2014 SHOT Show. It will be held at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club facility in Boulder City, just 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip.

“We’re going to encourage the exhibitors, instead of having their marketing and public relations people there on Tuesday, to have their sales reps, the people who work with dealers,” said event owner Cathy Williams of CMG Marketing & Events. “This way they can write orders after the buyers come off the line.”

On the first SHOT Show Buyer Day at the Range, 700 invited distributors, dealers and retailers will have the opportunity to test and learn about new products. As of this writing, Buyer Day is already sold out. “If the exhibitors do it the right way, and do it the way we are planning, they should be able to walk away with orders or have the buyers go back and sit down right at their booths and write orders,” Williams said.

When combined with Media Day, the two events will be known as SHOT Show® Industry Days at the RangeTM. For more information visit www.shotshowrangeday.com/.

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