Okay, first off let’s get something perfectly clear. I’ve learned that new products promoted as such at the SHOT Show are not necessarily “unveiled” at the show…at least not in all instances. Take, for instance, the new T/C Icon Rifle being promoted as new for 2007. By all appearances at the show one would think this gun was first being introduced at SHOT, but not so fast. The cover story on the latest Guns and Ammo Magazine already had the full story. In fact, the magazine had a feature on most of the new guns at SHOT.
So, with that said…if one of my picks happens to be a new product that you have already seen in the press (or possibly in the stores, my apology). These days the line of what’s new and when it is promoted as being introduced is not always so clear. Okay, on to the picks:
1. Garmin Astro (GPS-enabled dog tracking system for hunters). Basically it works like this…you have a hand-held GPS unit and your dog(s) wears a transmitter collar. This nifty little device allows you to log your position on a map as well as the course your dogs took through the cover. Two main advantages I see with this device. First, by checking the “bread crumb trail” on the mapping screen you can easily tell if there was perhaps some cover that did not get proper attention on the initial sweep through. This might allow a hunter to re-group and go back for a second pass hitting these “overlooked” spots. The other big benefit is the security of never having a lost dog again. At a somewhat hefty price tag, this new gadget lets you keep better control of your most important four-legged hunting partners. Check it out…go to the Garmin website and enter the contest as they are giving away a FREE unit.
2. Bushnell Onix400 NavSystem (Hand-held GPS). Okay, I know what you are probably thinking…another GPS! Yea, but this one is so different it deserves mention. Not only does this unit offer full color mapping, but it also integrates by georeferencing satellite photography. Now as you walk along you can actually watch the “bread crumb trail” move across a photo rather than just a bland old featureless map screen. This unit has so many options it will boggle your mind. And just when you think it does enough, you then learn that this hand-held unit also has XM Satellite Radio, including live weather information plus weather mapping. Get bored with the weather…then check out the sports scoreboard. Just one word of caution on this device. In talking to the reps from Bushnell, I really got the sense that this product development is so fast moving they don’t have all the bugs worked out quite yet. At the very least, I don’t think they have thought through just how many of these features would actually be useful to the sportsman. My suggestion…hold off on buying this technology a bit longer. I think there will be many big changes coming in the next year or two once they have their products refined just a bit more. In the meantime, isn’t it interesting to see just how much we can do in the palm of our hand? Imagine what it might be like even a decade from now. By the way…don’t expect to read about this unit on Bushnell’s website quite yet. As of this writing it is still not being promoted directly to the public.
3. Magellan Crossover GPS (Car-Boat-Trail). One last GPS unit to review…and this one I actually have on order because I was so impressed with it. This unit has all the features of the auto navigation (for use in the truck) as well as the portability to unplug and take out on the trail (as a standard hand-held GPS) with the option of buying a memory chip that includes lake maps for use on the water. Essentially the “crossover” aspect of this device means one unit does it all with no longer the need for three separate devices. “Crossover” seemed to be a catchy new buzzword at SHOT ‘07 and I think many product developers are recognizing the consumer sales benefits of making one single device serve multiple purposes.
4. Hunter’s Golden Retriever (Retrieves dropped gear from a treestand). Yes, I know…this is sort of a gadgetry item, but this sort of ingenuity is what I miss seeing more of at the SHOT Show. A simple device designed to take care of a simple problem. I guess if you are one prone to have the “dropsies” when you are out sitting in the tree stand, now you have something else to carry in your pack. Heck, if the deer hunting action is terribly slow…you might even want to drop your hat on purpose just to play with this nifty device. A hunting essential…absolutely not. A novelty item of some value, sure…you bet!
5. Bluestar USA (Blood finding agent). Mix two tablets in water and place in a squirt bottle. Viola! You have yourself a blood trail finding chemical agent that is purported to be formulated after those used by forensic investigators at crime scenes. Check it out.
6. Women’s Camo. Let’s face it…women are one of the fastest growing segments of the outdoors market and the product developers are recognizing it. Check out these new hunting clothing suppliers made exclusively for the feminine sportsman: SHE Safari, Girlie Gear Camo (no website), High Maintenance Camo, Foxy Huntress, Weber’s Camo Leather (for after the hunt—if you catch my drift. Look in the “wilderness dreams” section of the product listing). I expect the womens outdoor clothing market to continue to grow each year (maybe even at a faster pace then the men’s clothing).
7. Timney Triggers. Has a new replacement trigger for AR-15 owners that offers the feel of a quality bolt action rifle. It’s said to take only a few minutes to replace the existing trigger with this new version.
8. Ded Nutz One Piece Scope Mount. Put an end to misaligned rings and scope mounts. This one piece solid aluminum construction is said to offer one of the most secure and stable scope mounting systems on the market. A bit pricey, but check it out.
9. CVA Muzzleloaders unveils the first electronic ignition muzzleloader fired by a common 9 volt battery. Oh, I can already hear the upheaval from the traditional smokepole shooters on this one.
10. Diaphresh (turkey mouth call storage and cleaning container). A nifty little designed container promoted to keep your mouth blown game calls clean and fresh between use.
Alright, please understand there were lots of other noteworthy products that perhaps ought to have been included in my list. I just picked out several that caught my eye as I was walking the show. You know, sometimes going to SHOT isn’t always just about product, but also learning how certain companies have aligned themselves with other companies. For instance, T/C being purchased by Smith and Wesson. These buy-outs or company alliances are often in the works long before the SHOT Show, but the news finally gains notable attention during the show.
If anyone who attended SHOT ‘07 recognizes some important products that I overlooked that you feel are worthy of mentioning (and I’m sure there are hundreds of potential such items)…please leave a comment (below). Likewise, if you wonder about some new outdoors item…leave a comment about that, as well. Maybe someone will have the answer.
In conclusion, of all the new items I witnessed there is only one I plan on purchasing (the Magellan Crossover GPS) as a result of seeing it at the show. You know, and that’s the great thing about SHOT,…everyone who attends has their own unique interest and product niche, so perhaps no two people will be excited about the very same products. Yes, for those who know me I tend to be a “gadget boy” and I like electronics…hence, the heavy emphasis on GPS in my product rundown. Others might focus more strictly on shotguns or perhaps camo clothing. I guess no matter what your current interest is in the outdoors…the annual SHOT Show is definitely big enough to scratch that perennial itch for new gear many of us sportsmen seem to have.
© 2007 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Allowed Without Prior Permission.