First off, let me say that for everything OFFICIAL you’ll need to discover about the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show I must direct you HERE.
Now, for the “unofficial” take on this extravaganza. Let me tell you…the gathering is truly like no other on the planet. Oh, I’ve heard foolish people talk about going to this sportsman’s show or that convention…but I guarantee that every event of its kind pales in comparison to SHOT. In fact, as far as commercial trade shows go…the SHOT Show has grown to become the 13th largest North American trade show, according to Trade Show Week magazine back in 2009. That means hunting, tactical and the firearms industry is very big business.
Another interesting fact is during SHOT’s 34 year existence, Las Vegas has hosted nearly half of all shows with other notable venue cities being: Dallas, New Orleans, Orlando, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco and St. Louis. That being said, seven of the past ten venues have been in Vegas and both the 2013 and 2014 shows are scheduled for Vegas, as well.
Okay, enough statistics and background. What I don’t think many people fully grasp is how SHOT is a trade show and the public is restricted from attending. I so often hear people say something like, “one of these years I have to go to the SHOT Show.” Good luck with that! Several years ago you might have been able to pull that off…but not anymore. The National Shooting Sports Foundation who owns SHOT has gone to great lengths to ensure only bona fide trade attendees gain access. This became especially noticeable last year as security in the registration process ramped up making it necessary to prove credentials to gain show access.
Think about it. The exhibitors want a qualified audience of buyers, industry reps and media to maximize their time and benefit from the show. They don’t need hallways filled with gawkers there only for their own personal interest. I hand it to SHOT, doing a better job regulating who can attend ultimately ends of benefiting all qualified attendees. So, not to burst any bubbles here…but if you want to someday attend SHOT you will then need to somehow become part of the trade industry in which the show caters to.
My first SHOT Show was back in 1989 when it was held in Dallas, Texas. To this day I remember my reaction walking into the exhibit hall for the first time. My eyes grew big…my heart pounded a bit faster…my palms got sweaty…and the emotion I had to fend off was feeling totally overwhelmed. The best way to equate walking into SHOT is like a kid walking into a large candy store. In so many ways if your passion is hunting and the shooting sports THIS IS YOUR HEAVEN!!
During the course of the four days the show runs you’ll see more equipment than a person could ever comprehend is made for the industry. Consider this. You’ve probably seen how Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops’ master catalogs are several inches thick. Well, now consider that really only the cream of the crop of outdoor products usually appears for sale by these retailers. In other words, SHOT is everything the shooting and hunting industry represents. From the small 10’ booth selling a specialty gizmo you may never see marketed by the big retailers to the large expansive booths by brands well known by everyone in the hunting community…SHOT has them all.
And that being said…if you’re serious about making a living within the hunting or shooting industry I truly do not know how you can skip attending SHOT. If you’re a dealer it’s imperative to check out the new products and to pre-order goods at special low SHOT Show pricing. If you’re an industry rep…the networking and contacts you will make are basically all in one place waiting for the connection. If you’re media…whoa! Networking with peers, discovering new story angles, reporting on the latest products, and yes…even marketing yourself to editorial buyers who expect to see you there if you’re a legitimate player in the outdoors industry.
Ah, yes…the good ol’ SHOT Show. If ever there was a heaven on earth for those of us with a passion for hunting and shooting it would have to be at this show. Every year I think four days is plenty of time to navigate the show…then I realize how in reality there is just too much to do and see that no amount of time is truly adequate. If you’re a person working behind the booth as an exhibitor…then day four perhaps seems like an eternity away. Yet, for those of us walking the isles trying to see as much as we can and meet the contacts we’ve scheduled to connect with…well, there’s just never enough time to visit all 1,600+ exhibitors in attendance.
Indeed, the SHOT Show is a spectacle that deserves to be experienced in-person by everyone. And while that’s not possible for the reasons I’ve already explained…most readers of this blog must rely on us poor media hacks to report on what we are discovering at the show.
During upcoming blog posts leading up to the January 17th opening of SHOT, I’ll be blogging on various topics to provide more background on how this show requires special preparation. In the meantime, if you have any questions about SHOT please don’t hesitate to ask.
©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.