Hard to believe it’s been 23 years ago since I wandered into my first SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show). In fact, during that time I have only missed attending two years—once in Atlanta and once while it was held in Orlando two years ago. No matter how many times I attend this annual extravaganza it never ceases to amaze me for the sheer size of the venue and the enormity of the products offered within the shooting and outdoors industry.
In recent years the show has claimed that if you walk every isle and see each and every booth a person would likely hike approximately 15 miles just to see everything the show has to offer. In fact, I believe I once also heard the statistic that if you were to visit every booth during the normal show hours you would spend a whopping 22 seconds or so at each display just to see the entire floor plan. That’s not much time considering a person takes bathroom breaks, lunch breaks and inevitably you’ll spend time just talking with people you meet along the way catching up on old times.
This got me thinking…if over the years I have attended 20 past shows and let’s just assume, for convenience sake, I’ve conservatively walked 10 miles per show (I know it’s been much more). Heck, that’s over 200 miles I’ve hiked craning my neck from side to side looking at hunting and outdoor related products displayed in the booths during the past two decades. That’s like walking from New York City to Washington, D.C. at a very slow pace as you peruse all the eye-catching product offerings.
Let’s put this into perspective. If you drove from New York City heading to Washington, D.C. it would take you about 4 1/2 hours of driving time, depending on traffic. Now, I figure on average each year I spend about 20 hours walking the show (actual show hours during the 4–day run is over 30 hours of exhibit time). That means 20 years spent walking 20 hours, on average, per year equates out to personally having spent 400+ hours walking the SHOT Show floor over the years.
Easy math tells me if my distance traveled over the years has been 200 miles (give or take) and it’s taken me 400+ hours to get there…heck, I’m tearing up the carpeted floors with a steady 0.5 mph pace. Indeed, more than one exhibitor has probably felt my breeze as I whisked past their booth at this frenzied speed.
Truth is I’ve learned to be a savvy SHOT Show hiker. And yes, over the years I’ve discovered one must be very careful with their eyes. Make contact with the wrong person and you might get sucked into a booth listening to a sales pitch you have absolutely no interest in being part of…and worse yet, breaking away can be nearly impossible.
Showing interest in a particular product with a mere glance or eyes locking on that booth person standing practically in the isle, ready to trip you, is akin to a coyote stepping into a #3 coil spring trap. Getting away isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
Thus, I’ve learned so as not to have my SHOT Show perusing progress impeded, you work your eyes almost as carefully as your feet. You may be at one booth but you glance forward for a sneak preview of what’s coming next. If you know you absolutely have no interest in those booths…you put the afterburners on and proceed at warp speed until something again catches your eye.
You think I’m kidding about this? I can assure you I most certainly am not. The SHOT Show is like no other hunting or fishing-related show on the planet. In fact, the SHOT Show boasts a ranking of being the 13th largest trade show in the country (for 2010) with some industry insiders speculating how the 2011 show might actually break it into the top 10. Walk into the show without a game plan and it soon becomes a dizzying experience.
Okay, let’s get back to some numbers. In 2010 the show had over 1,600 exhibitors promoting various products, services, you name it. Alright, here’s where I finally make up a number because I don’t know if it has ever has been surveyed. I have to guess that each booth is displaying on average 40 to 50 different products. Some might show considerably less…others I can assure you have many more SKU’s being offered. Now, take the average 45 products showcased at a particular booth with 1,600 exhibitors and this comes out to a cool 72,000 products on display. Again, my guess is this number is being quite conservative…but let’s go with it.
Sticking with the numbers I mentioned earlier, if I am at the show for 20 hours this year that breaks down to 1,200 minutes total productive floor time. If I have 72,000+ products to see and I divide that by the 1,200 minutes of time in which to do it…that equates down to 60 products I must observe/minute. Or more simply put, if my intentions are to see everything at the show I have approximately 1 second to view each product on display during my 2011 SHOT Show adventure.
So, with all this being said, please forgive me if I happen to overlook something new this year being offered at the 2011 SHOT Show. I try my best, but the large scale of the event challenges even the best of show attendees.
The best advice I can give someone new who attends the SHOT Show? Here’s what I was told by my colleague way back in year number one.
Each day after the show, go back to your hotel room and have the makings for a cocktail waiting for you. This is time you need to relax the mind and allow the day’s experience to begin to soak in. Sort of a debriefing period where the endorphins cursing throughout your bloodstream can finally settle down in your system.
Next, when your dogs (read feet) begin to bark from all the miles you’ve put on your soles…take this little advice. Stick your feet in the toilet and let the cool water swirl some life back into them. After several flushes, you’ll be re-invigorated to spend a night out on the Las Vegas Strip socializing and networking with other SHOT Show attendees who visit annually for this unique outdoor trade show experience.
Ahhh yes, in less than two weeks let the show begin once again so I can further build on my personal SHOT Show stats.
©2011 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.
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