10 Attendee Tips To Ensure SHOT Show Success.

Today kicks off a series of blog post I have planned about the upcoming Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) to be held next week in Las Vegas.   I know that perhaps a large majority of this blog’s readers do not attend this annual trade show, however, my hope is that it gives both show attendees and non-attendees alike some greater insight into what happens at SHOT.   In the outdoors world this show really is a BIG deal!

The fast pace at the SHOT Show will wear you down quickly unless you come prepared for success.

I just counted it out and since attending my very first SHOT Show held in Dallas back in 1989 I think I have only missed two shows since that time.   That makes the 2014 show my 24th  SHOT, I do believe.   In any case, I have witnessed a bunch of changes and have had lots of experiences over the years.   I’d like to use some of this past show knowledge to help both first-timers and savvy old veterans, alike.

Consider these pointers to achieve SHOT Show success next week:

  1. Arrive well-rested.   I can’t emphasize this enough.   No matter what physical condition you are in the SHOT Show will find a way to kick you in the butt.   I guarantee you will discover muscles that have not been sore for years.   This condition is only amplified if you arrive worn down.   Besides, your body stands a better chance of fighting off illness when well-rested.   Who wants to get sick at SHOT anyway?
  2. Bring your most comfortable shoes.   I’ve written in the past how many miles of walking the SHOT Show represents on non-forgiving cement floors.   Oh, sure, there is carpet in booths and most isles, but don’t kid yourself…several hours in and you will find your “dogs” barking for relief.   Again, this situation is only made worse when your shoes are chosen for fashion and not primarily for comfort.   If necessary, wearing tennis shoes with dress clothes is both permissible and somewhat expected.
  3. Drink plenty of water.   Do this before the trip, during your stay in Vegas, and also when you return home.   Why?   While you might think food is the energy source for your body, in fact a healthy body can only perform with adequate water intake.   Don’t forget…Vegas is a desert and the air will dry you out because of that fact.
  4. Travel with a plan.   Write some goals down on paper you want to accomplish.   Keep it simple and don’t try to accomplish too much.   Refer to this written plan often.   Maybe you have a goal of finding 20 new product suppliers for your store.   Perhaps you have a list of rep names you have been wanting to finally meet in person.   No matter what outcome you desire from SHOT, it works best to quantify it and write it down so the plan can be reviewed and you stay focused.
  5. Be sociable.   I’m not necessarily talking about tweeting on Twitter.com or any of the other Social Media outlets…although it would benefit you to do so.   Instead, I’m talking about being sociable the old fashioned way with your mouth.   Talk to folks while in line at the concession stand.   Engage booth exhibitors by asking questions or having them demonstrate product.   Most people at SHOT are friendly and willing to converse, but it takes a bold person to start the exchange.   Be that person who is bold enough to introduce yourself to a stranger.
  6. Get a show floor map and use it (or download the new Smart Phone app).   I often tell new attendees how the most important 5 minutes they can spend is reviewing a map and learning the SHOT Show exhibitor layout.   The National Shooting Sports Foundation(NSSF), who owns and administers SHOT, has put a great deal of effort into show management.   Two decades ago booths lacked any logical order, but no more.   Today, if you want to maximize your time spent in, let’s say the tactical area, that is entirely possible.   Getting familiar with a map will make you more efficient with your precious show time.
  7. Prioritize your literature and show samples.   Generally I take a wheeled carry on bag when traveling to SHOT.   When I get to the hotel I empty the bag and this becomes my literature carrier all during the show.   Then each day I fill the bag with catalogs, price lists, trinkets, samples, etc. and haul it all back to my hotel room each night.   Once I get there and I’m relaxing, I then created two piles.   One pile is the show materials I have an IMMEDIATE need for once I get home.   That stays in the hotel room with me until I pack for my departure.   The vast majority gets sorted and taken back to the show with me the next morning.   Why, you ask?   Simple.   It gets placed in a handy, dandy shipping box (services near the escalator) and when I am done filling it on my final day…this box gets shipped by UPS/FedEx directly to my home/office door.
  8. Open your mind to new possibilities.   Several years back I overheard a bunch of product buyers lamenting all this “Zombie Crap” on display, to use their words.   Well, that “Zombie Crap” helps increase sales potential, but only for the folks who were forward thinking enough to realize this would become a new shooting craze among many.   You go to SHOT to see new things.   Indeed, some ideas or products will leave you shaking your head.   Others, well, it might just be the next better mouse trap, so to speak.   Don’t overlook potential (or profits) because you are stuck in your old ways of doing things.
  9. Take time to have some fun.   This may seem silly, but I truly believe it is vital to having a positive show experience.   Don’t spend all night in your room getting room service or even down on the gambling floor.   Make plans!   Make fun plans!   Include others and get out and spend some time unwinding.   Make dinner reservations or hit one of the upscale buffets famous in Las Vegas.   Remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas so if you go and end up having some fun…nobody will tell on you!
  10. Once you get back home, follow up with your new contacts.   I consider this one of the most important aspects of SHOT Show attendance.   You have a stack of business cards gathered(new contacts).   Drop them a quick e-mail and express how glad you were to have met them and your future business plans with them.   Not only does this act show you as an elite professional (less than 5% will do this), but it will garner you additional respect from that contact that you valued their time spent chatting with you at the show.   Folks, this is a must activity accomplished within five days upon getting home from SHOT.

I could go on, but I do consider these to be some of the big points you’ll want to consider.   Does anyone else have suggestions about SHOT you would like to include?   Comment below.

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

How Do You Move A Large Gun Safe Across Country?

This weekend a good friend of mine posed a question to me that had never crossed my mind before.   His dilemma…he’s planning to move his family from one end of the country to the next and he owns this heavy gun safe he would like to transport with them.   His question to me was how he best accomplish the task.

Now, usually I have a good answer for most things, but I have little to no experience when it comes to moving.   Honestly, for most of my life I have stayed on a farm that has been in my family for over 155 years…so why would I worry about such matters?   Yet, moving heavy items, such as a gun safe, can be quite a predicament at a time when life matters in general are already quite stressful.

Now, obviously the easiest answer would be to hire a professional moving company.   Unfortunately, for many families this is a luxury service that is not even a realistic consideration.

Another option is having it trucked as freight.   Of course, when you consider how you would need to crate it (to protect it) for the journey and ship via freight lines a person could easily have $3–500 or more just in transport cost.   Sure, this is a viable option, but a person would have to offset this option by answering the question…is it worth it?

Then, of course, another possibility is just to sell the heavy safe locally before moving and purchase a new one at the new destination.   In this scenario you hope the loss you take plus the extra cost you will need to pay at the final destination makes this possibility even viable.   Remember, too, in some locales just paying sales tax alone on a new purchase is going to take a huge bite out of the pocketbook.

Of course, there is always that option of trucking the safe in your own trailer or truck.   Packing it carefully and taking into account, especially if you have a quality safe that is built solid, how an item like this needs to be strategically placed in a trailer for road safety.   Moreover, a large gun safe whether riding on a trailer (enclosed or open) or in a truck can be a challenge to secure in case of sudden braking incidents.   That’s why often times hauling a safe should be left to professionals equipped to do the job right.

Let’s make this point perfectly clear…under no circumstances do you want to transport guns inside your safe.   For many reasons you are just asking for trouble.   Consider not only the shifting movement and bouncing involved, but be aware of all the different climates that may be encountered during the transport.   Guns are protected in safes when they are stationary, but not when they are moving unless the safe is specifically designed for that purpose.

So, on this matter I default to the blog readers who are willing to share.   If you moved a gun safe over some great distance how did you accomplish the task without breaking the bank?   Any helpful pointers you would like to share?   Any experiences you would rather forget that we could learn from?   I encourage your assistance and participation on this important life topic dealt with by many gun owners at some point in life.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Consider These 5 Tasks To Beat The January Doldrums

I completely realize that depending upon where you reside in the country hunting and fishing can be a year-long activity.   But let’s face it…here in the upper Midwest when the cold winds of January begin to blow strong the options for outdoorsy things to do can get somewhat more limited.

Oh, sure, I understand predator hunting is just cranking up.   And yes…I am fully aware that the ice fishing season is just getting going for many anglers.   Likewise, chasing bunnies with beagles or some midwinter trapping also holds possibilities for this time of the year.

Still, there are those winter days when the body yearns for a nice indoor project huddled near the fire.   Here’s a few ideas of things I like to do during some of my idle time in the mid-winter season:

  • Clean and Maintain Guns — I usually spend the better portion of a day going through and tearing down, if necessary, all of my guns for a proper cleaning.   I check things over for worn or missing parts, I use the proper lubricant on all mechanisms, and in general I ensure it will go back into my safe in a rust-fighting condition.   This is also a good time of the year to get those guns needing professional repair in for service.   On the other hand, if guns aren’t your thing this same principle for maintenance holds true for archery gear or for any outdoor investment requiring routine attention.   One final thought…this is also a good time to take a photo inventory of all your equipment for insurance purposes.   I take a picture and include the serial number right on the picture.
  • Start Planning For Next Season — Believe it or not, in the outdoors world there are deadlines to apply for hunts nearly all the time.   Make sure the hunting or fishing activity you want to embark on next season doesn’t have a fast-approaching application deadline.   January is the perfect time to browse those department of fish and game websites to become better acquainted with the rules and the process.
  • Build Some Birdhouses — I’ve found that one of the best ways to foster enthusiasm for conservation with kids is to spend time building bird houses together.   Not only does it help develop certain craftsman skills, but the project can also be quite rewarding when the youth actually sees nature using something they built with their own hands.


    Last year while at a local sports show my daughter tried to convince dad to buy a new boat…she will need to try harder this year as it didn’t happen in 2012.

  • Attend A Sports Show — I know during the upcoming several weeks until spring there is at least a dozen sportsman and outdoor shows I can attend within an hour’s drive of my home.   I’m guessing there’s plenty of opportunities for shows in your area, too.   Check your newspaper’s listings for such upcoming events.
  • Try A New Recipe — C’mon, you have all that wild game in the freezer.   Be bold and make a commitment to try something new.   Whether it be a new chili recipe, a novel new way to prepare a venison roast, or heck…maybe you’ll try to delicately smoke some pheasant breasts.   Now is the time to once and for all attempt that wild game or fish recipe you’ve always wanted to try…but were too busy to mess with at other times during the year.

How about you?   What types of indoor sportsman related activities do you like to engage in during the winter.   I’d like to hear just how many other good ones I missed.   Leave a comment below.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.