10 Compelling Reasons To Attend The SHOT Show

I’m really not sure why it is this year…but for some reason(s) I’m pumped even more than usual to travel to Las Vegas next week for the 33rd Annual SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show).   Maybe it’s the fact that here in Minnesota, like several other parts of the country, we have been deluged with snow and cold to the point I’m left yearning for a climate somewhat more inviting.

Maybe its the fact that with current events in our nation such as they are I’m feeling the need to commiserate with fellow gun associates while the mainstream media continues to have its field day twisting and turning their reporting to make us law-abiding gun owners look bad.   I dunno.

Then again, maybe my batteries just need to be re-charged by observing some fresh, new, outdoor product ideas that will soon be hitting the store shelves.   Something that can enhance the way I enjoy the outdoors…and not distract from it.   You know, the next “better mouse trap,” so to speak.

All of this contemplating got me thinking about the many reasons why the SHOT Show is important for me to attend.   Keep in mind, the reasons I’m about to list are personal and may not apply to everyone.   Still, the SHOT Show is an event like no other I can compare it to.

Oh, sure, if you’re into the world of archery then last weekend’s ATA Trade Show (Archery Trade Association Show) might be your little slice of heaven.   And mind you, I’m not taking anything away from ATA.   I’m old enough to remember when the SHOT Show basically WAS the archery show, too, before several manufacturers broke away to start their own separate trade event.


So, in no particular order of importance, ponder these reasons why I consider the SHOT Show an important annual part of my professional life:

  • Legitimacy — quite honestly if you are serious about what you do in the outdoors, whether it be to manufacture a product, market a service, re-sell goods at the retail level, or even report in the media about what’s new…there’s a certain expectation for you to be at the show.
  • Networking — bring plenty of business cards and get them distributed.   In return, expect to pick up even more cards than you hand out.  The key to success at the show is to be proactive in making business connections.   Don’t be shy…strike up meaningful conversations and make things happen for your advantage.   One of my colleagues made his best connection one year standing outside the building having a smoke break with some other individuals.   The random connection thru chit chat turned out to be worth thousands of dollars in eventual sales.
  • Listen — as silly as this may sound, I’ve learned an incredible amount of information just eavesdropping on other conversations.  One of the best places to do this is the bus ride from the convention center back to the hotel.  Often I hear about exhibitors promoting this or that.  I hear about challenges faced in the industry.   Heck, one time I heard a product developer give a short dissertation on what makes one type of LED light different than other such lights.   At SHOT, you just never know what you might learn to further improve your industry knowledge.
  • Discover — I suppose this is sort of a no-brainer, but innovation is what makes this industry tick.   The proposition of seeing new outdoor products is what drives most people to attend over and over again.
  • Pulse — much like we all monitor our own personal health and well-being, there is no better place than SHOT to observe industry trends and to gauge the overall vitality of the outdoors and the shooting industry many of us cherish.  I guarantee when a person spends 3 or 4 days walking the show floor you eventually walk away with a greater understanding and appreciation for the state (health) of the industry.
  • Deals — Let’s face it, exhibitors have just spent thousands of dollars to showcase their best products to a buying audience.   Incentives are galore whether it be free shipping, free product, special offers, no interest financing, and on and on.   And while the SHOT organizers frown on direct selling from the booths…it still happens and great deals are commonly made.   This is especially true during the last day when exhibitors are soon faced with the notion of tearing down their display and they don’t want to take product back home with them.


  • Location — Okay, I’ll openly admit that WHERE the SHOT Show is held is a big drawing point for me.   Typically now it bounces between either Las Vegas or occasionally in Orlando.   The SHOT not only becomes a legitimate travel expense, but during the off-hours if the venue is exciting for some night life…well, let’s just say this turns out to be a big bonus.
  • Knowledge — got a technical question about handloading some unique ammunition caliber…the expert is there.   Need dependable advice for a boot sole that tends to work best on a particular terrain?  The answers to your most perplexing questions are not only handled by experts in their field…but often times it could be the person who developed the very product you need.
  • Marketing — you’ll likely learn more about product sales and marketing by spending a day walking the show floor than you would by spending an entire semester in some college marketing class.   Honestly, by keeping your eyes and ears open the show can be a tremendous learning experience—both good and bad.  I find it fascinating to see what sales techniques actually engage show attendees compared to what other ideas…well, let’s just say didn’t seem to work quite as originally planned.
  • Celebrity — even though the presence of outdoor celebrities seemingly everywhere doesn’t captivate my attention like it did 20 years ago, it’s still neat to see.   Indeed, the SHOT Show has many ways to generate excitement and seeing high profile people with whom you typically only get to connect with on TV or magazines or videos…well, it’s just cool to see.   Let’s leave it at that.

Truly, I wish anybody who holds a passion for the outdoors can get to experience the SHOT Show at least once in their lifetime.   Words and pictures alone just don’t adequately portray what a spectacle it is to behold.   Unfortunately, the SHOT Show is not for everyone as it’s an industry event reserved for the trade only.   That means unless you own a business selling firearms, wholesale product at the show, help market those products, or work as the media…you will likely be denied entry.

That said, beginning on Monday and all next week I hope to be reporting from SHOT here on this blog, also on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/SportsmansBlog) as well as on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/jim7226).   If you can’t make it to the show this year, I hope you will tag along as I plan to do my best to report on what I see.

©2011 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

2010 Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener

A few people have recently asked me just what exactly is the Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener (GDHO).   Good question.   What started out as an attempt by Governor Tim Pawlenty back in 2003 to celebrate the state’s deer hunting heritage has morphed into many different things as it is now celebrated today.  In fact, you could say the event continues to grow each year and is a definite work in progress.  And that’s the good news.

Still, the event has much to accomplish in terms of getting the word out so citizens throughout the state—both hunters and non-hunters alike—can truly appreciate the heritage, as well as the vital economic impact deer hunting plays in Minnesota.

Case in point: The companion sportsman celebration headed by our state’s executive-in-chief is the Minnesota Fishing Opener.   Want to learn more about that event, check out the website HERE.   It’s not quite so easy to learn about the GDHO, but it should be.   The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and the Minnesota Tourism need to have a similar website dedicated to showcasing this wonderful event.

I should disclose that when it pertains to the GDHO I have a slightly different perspective than most.  Back in 2006 I had the distinct pleasure of being Governor Tim Pawlenty’s hunting guide as he celebrated the 4th annual event deer hunting on my farm.   You can read more about that experience HERE.

So, what should you know about how Minnesota annually celebrates its deer hunting heritage as an official event?   How about I show you in pictures along with some commentary.


Governor Tim Pawlenty is not only the keynote celebrity present at this event, but he also commands a great deal of media attention.


Here Gov. Pawlenty was getting set-up for his weekly radio program broadcast on WCCO-AM Radio out of the Twin Cities.


Drawing from the Governor's celebrity status the event is given media attention by outlets throughout the upper Midwest.


Essentially, having the Governor of Minnesota at the event ensures the message about the important role hunting plays to the state gets heard in all corners of the state.


While portions of the event are for credentialed personnel, with each passing year it seems a growing percentage of the events are open to the public for their participation.


This year I was really impressed to see the outreach of the event to area school children. Three different schools in the Little Falls, MN area participated with almost 250 children learning various facets of outdoors education.


For instance, here was a local trapper who talked about furs and the importance the fur industry is to our state.


His presentation showed the school kids how developing an appreciation for the outdoors can extend beyond deer hunting. The children learned some quick fur lessons and got plenty of hands-on discovery to encourage a deeper interest in our state's wildlife populations.


In many ways, trapping and hunting go hand-in-hand with the each other as part of a wildlife manager's tools to help control wild populations.


Other areas of education for the school children involved brief learning opportunities about outdoor safety.


To accomplish this, conservation officers from throughout the state gave short talks about the importance of playing safe in the outdoors.


Did you know more hunting accidents involve falls from trees rather than someone accidentally pulling the trigger? It's true...and for many of the children they got a first-hand opportunity to see how climbing a tree is safely accomplished.


The children also get to see the conservation officer as a teacher, and not just someone who writes citations for violating game laws.


Yes, the Minnesota Governor's Deer Hunting Opener is much more than a fancy banquet with a litany of speakers promoting the virtues of deer hunting. The event is also about sharing and further developing our hunting passions with the next generation of hunters.


Whether it is introducing children to archery or some other fun element of the outdoors, the GDHO has constantly been evolving over the years to enlighten and entertain people of all ages.


The GDHO is also a great reminder how not everyone plays by the rules. Here the Wall of Shame trailer has on display some of the more notorious wildlife violations showing the resources that were stolen from all of us by folks who choose not to play fair.


On display is the confiscated property taken away from criminals, not honest law abiding hunters. In Minnesota if you break the rules you likely will get caught.


Here is a prime example of how a thief got caught during the fall of 2009. This world class 8-point buck made international news during the past year.


The Minnesota DNR worked long and hard to make this pinch and the trophy rack now serves as an example of how wildlife can be an attractive target to thieves looking to exploit trophy-sized game animals.


Here's another picture of that same rack being held by my friend, Todd. Without seeing it in person it's just hard to get a full appreciation for the rack's massive size.


The GDHO also celebrates famous deer taken legally by Minnesota's hunters. In this picture is the 32-point Minnesota record-class buck taken in Camp Ripley during the fall of 2009.


Of course, what's an event without a banquet serving good food and entertainment.


This year actors from the popular Deer Camp The Musical performed a comedic show to help poke fun at our deer hunting culture.


Other speakers included Minnesota football great--well, he might be a legend in a few minds--Bob Lurtsema. Not exactly sure why Lurtsema was part of the event other than to add more celebrity to the happenings. Just like Gov. Pawlenty, celebrities like Lurtsema, as well as other dignitaries were paired with hosts who served as guides for the next morning's deer hunt.


We were all hoping T-Paw would use this opportunity to announce a run in 2012 for the Whitehouse, but our hopes were dashed as he stuck to the business at hand--deer hunting.


Gov. Pawlenty never misses an opportunity to spend time with kids. Here he signs a cap for a youth while briefly discussing her passion for the outdoors.


Here's T-Paw with my hunting buddy, Todd Rost. I put this in here for no particular reason other than Todd now owes me lunch the next time we go out. HaHa!!

In closing, this was Governor Tim Pawlenty’s 8th and final GDHO as a new governor gets sworn in next January.  The presumptive Governor-elect, Mark Dayton, has gone on record stating he plans to continue this great GDHO tradition during his term.

As Governor Pawlenty stated at his final banquet—(in Minnesota) We live here, we hunt here, this is our legacy.  Pass on the torch to the next generation by passing on the love of hunting.

Indeed, the underlying purpose for the GDHO celebration is to underscore the important role deer hunting plays to the culture of those who live to enjoy Minnesota’s outdoors.

©2010 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Experience “Sportsman Day” at the Minnesota State Fair

Share your best fishing tall tale at the Minnesota State Fair with Mark Romanack, host of the hit fishing show, Fishing 411 with Mark Romanack, during Sportsman Day hosted by Comcast and Sportsman Channel on August 28 from 11 am to 7 pm. Fair attendees will also have the opportunity to “Spin to Win” on Sportsman Channel’s spinning prize wheel for t-shirts, hats, mugs, coolers and a signed copy of Romanack’s book, Precision Trolling.

Sportsman Channel and Comcast’s booth is located at the corner of Randall Ave and Cooper Street on the State Fair grounds. “Spin to Win” starts at 1 pm and ends at 3 pm. or until all prizes are given away.

Romanack has 30 plus years of fishing experience he showcases in each episode of Fishing 411, which airs exclusively on Sportsman Channel.

Watch Sportsman Channel on Comcast channel 738 in Minneapolis and channel 278 in St. Paul.

About Sportsman Channel: Launched in 2003, Sportsman Channel is the only television and digital media company fully devoted to the more than 82 million sportsmen in the United States, delivering entertaining and educational programming focused exclusively on hunting, shooting and fishing activities. Sportsman Channel is now available in HD, check with your local cable or satellite provider. Acquired by InterMedia Outdoors Holdings in 2006, Sportsman Channel reaches 27 million U.S. television households and is a part of the nation’s largest multimedia company targeted exclusively to serving the information and entertainment needs of outdoors enthusiasts. Visit www.thesportsmanchannel.com, follow on Twitter, @SPORTSMANchnl (www.twitter.com/SPORTSMANchnl), become a Fan on Facebook, www.facebook.com/sportsmanchannel and download Sportsman App at www.itunes.com/appstore

© 2010 Jim Braaten.   All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.