Sage Advice To Achieve Increased Life Satisfaction

Several years ago a close friend gave me some sage advice.   At the time I really didn’t want to hear it.   In fact, my depth of understanding what it meant probably didn’t resonate with me at the time…yet, I never forgot those words.   Now, the older I get…I find myself sharing these same words with others in my life.

What my friend wisely explained to me was — “Jim, don’t compare your insides with other people’s outsides.”

You know, when you’re in your 20s and still rather fresh out of college this sort of wisdom just doesn’t gain any traction to make complete sense.   Nevertheless, I respected the person who uttered that statement so much I never forgot them…and you know what?   The older I got the greater clarity the meaning behind those words would take on in my head.Advice

Let’s put this into the proper sportsman’s context.   Do you ever find yourself looking out across the street and admiring your neighbor’s new boat parked there in the driveway?   Seriously, have you wondered either silently or perhaps even aloud…”Wow, how does he afford it?   Does his career pay that well?”

As you turn and walk back into your garage it’s human nature to examine your life and wonder what are you doing wrong if life hasn’t treated you with the same kind of perks.   Oh, yeah, it’s easy to let those sort of material goods owned by another individual to begin playing mind games in your head.

Perhaps another example is in order.   Today it’s so easy to turn on TV and watch one of the cable channels offering non-stop outdoor programming showing success after outdoor success.   Within 30 minutes this show host might be showing how he/she got their turkey grand slam seemingly effortlessly, while during the next half-hour another show host vividly details how he killed a Pope and Young class elk.   Eventually you click the TV remote to off and you sit there wondering…”what am I doing wrong?”

The point is we all need to remind ourselves not to get caught up by comparing how we feel about our life with the lives of others.   Sure, that can be easier said than done…I know that.   But the truth of the matter is you don’t know how far in debt that boat purchase pushed that neighbor.   Their life might be downright miserable because money issues are now creating all sorts of family squabbles and life sacrifices.   On the outside it might look like they’re living a charmed life…but I can almost assure you that seeing a nice, new, shiny boat sitting in someone’s front yard is not necessarily a tell-tale sign of life success or family bliss.

Same goes for the high-profile hunter who kills more trophies during one season than most hunters will take during their lifetime spent in the woods.   Is it justified to be a bit envious?   You bet!!   Is it fair to judge your weekend results with a person who spends their entire fall bouncing from one hunting lodge to another?   Well, hell no!!   The truth is it’s important to observe another person’s apparent success, but keep a proper perspective in mind when examining your own life.

Getting back to those sage words my friend once told me.   Don’t get down on yourself because you can’t keep pace with your neighbors.   And for heaven’s sakes a person who can’t seem to fill that empty space on their wall with a trophy mount has to realize that what they’re watching on TV is an extraordinary experience with lots of editing and assistance by seasoned hunting guides, etc.

Let’s be fair to ourselves.   The outdoors is not a competition to see who can have the nicest equipment or to bring home the most impressive jaw-dropping trophies.   Sometimes it takes a bit of maturity to finally come to this realization.   I can assure you…the sportsman who impresses me the most are the ones who cherish what they have in life and keep it real.   After all, it’s the point of getting beyond making comparisons with your life that allows a person to finally achieve the deepest level of personal satisfaction possible.

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

So, What’s This SHOT Show All About?

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.


The SHOT Show floor is always a busy place.

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.


The enormity of SHOT is too difficult to comprehend without pictures.

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.


Showing "Media Day At The Range" held the day before SHOT officially opens.

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.


Sharing The Reader LOVE

It’s no secret how sometimes in this world where we hunt, fish and trap there are folks who vehemently oppose what we do.   This I understand and I attempt to be tolerant of the fact they see things differently than I do.   And on occasion those of us who communicate the sporting experience get hate mail.   Mostly, it’s just some innocuous drivel where the sender is trying to vent by getting some issue off their chest.

Yesterday, I received such a comment, and while I don’t often share them, I think occasionally we can learn something from their communication effort.   In this case it was a comment made to a blog I posted back in 2009 where I made mention how ammunition prices could be rising due to the precious metals market at the time.   Enjoy the read:

“Sir, with all due respect, i hate you. I hate you and everything you stand for. The NRA is nothing but a band of war criminals. I wish my Earth Mother Godess would smite the world of all weapons and bullets that kill her children. I pray your bullets become as expensive as diamond so you cannot use your weapons to shatter poor mother earths crust ever again.”  ~Love Peacehope

This sender claimed to use an address from a major animal rights organization, but I was not able to verify the source.   Yet, that really doesn’t matter.   And quite honestly, when I receive content like this the person spewing forth such hatred really doesn’t matter.   More importantly, the name they used Love Peacehope is totally a misnomer given the vile words they attempted to communicate.You-suck

So, why even give this person any recognition whatsoever in this blog?   Well, I considered hitting the “delete” button more than once.   Quite frankly, it is apparent the two of us would never see eye-to-eye on such matters.   But the more I thought about things I do see some value in such commentary opposing what we talk about on this blog.   Will or could it ever change the way I think…HELL NO!   Perhaps quite the opposite as it strengthens my resolve to continue my sportsman ways.

Yet, even when people so harshly oppose the very core of what you believe in and do as a person it makes me do some introspection to further cement my personal beliefs.   In my heart of hearts I know which one of us is misguided on this matter.   When I carry out my sporting traditions ethically and with great care I absolutely find no dishonor in my actions.   Furthermore, I can establish with the utmost certainty how the money I’ve spent on license fees, Pittman-Robertson taxes, and charitable donations to conservation organizations have done great things for wildlife that even Ms. Love Peacehope can now enjoy.

In closing, here is what I say to folks who might take issue with this blog and leave comments similar to the one above.   I always listen to you.   I have great tolerance for you even when you say despicable things that might sometimes threaten me or even my family.   I will never hide in fear behind silly names because I am not a coward.

And quite honestly why should I be fearful.   I took my own advice back in 2009 purchasing plenty of ammunition to supply my firearms for some time to come.   Oh, and by the way…the next time you care to leave a comment on this blog sign your REAL NAME and constructively add to the discussion or you can expect a quick “delete.”

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.