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.

Calling All Minnesota & Wisconsin Fishing/Hunting Bloggers

If there’s one thing many bloggers fail at it’s networking.   Now, I’m not talking about networking via social media, like Twitter and Facebook.   No, I’m talking about good old fashioned face-to-face meeting like they used to do it back in the old days.   In my opinion nothing solidifies a friendship quite like a firm handshake and a few stories passed back and forth.

During the past several years a small group of us bloggers have met during the SHOT Show in Vegas for a social hour.   Those times are always fun and it allows folks to get caught up on happenings.   Moreover, it builds a bond with other like-minded bloggers that helps to energize a person’s future creative output.

It has long been my hope to gather a regional group of bloggers together for a fun rendezvous here in the upper Midwest.  I’ve learned that is not always an easy task to accomplish due to the fact we all live busy lives, but important nonetheless.   So, if you blog about the outdoors and are within reasonable driving distance of the Twin Cities, I urge you to make plans now.

Announcing plans for a fall Day at the Range.   We’ll be doing some shooting, we’ll be doing some other outdoor activities, we’ll be eating fresh smoked BBQ, and most of all we’ll be getting to better know one another.

Here are the plans:


(Click on the link above for additional details)

If you have any questions please contact either Michelle Scheuermann, Chris Larsen or me.   If this goes over well maybe next summer we will plan a similar gathering at some lake to focus on a little fishing.   Hope to hear from you soon.

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

Random Thoughts On The 2012 SHOT Show

It’s been a week now since returning home from the 34th annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show and I’ve been ruminating on the experience ever since leaving.   No doubt about it…the energy experienced at SHOT this year was very palpable and positive.

To begin, we are three years into the Sands Convention Center experience and I would have to say it’s getting better each year.   While I still yearn for the days back when the show was hosted largely in one main room with aisles long and predictable, I have to say SHOT has done nearly everything possible to make navigating this show floor an easier experience.   Still not perfect, but now with a little past experience and tools such as the smartphone SHOT Show app, navigation has dramatically improved to check out all 1,600 exhibits.

Now, if you’re looking for me to talk about what’s new in this blog post…I’m sorry to disappoint.   Instead, I want to point you to a few other sites that do a wonderful job fleshing out many of the new products on display.   The first site is put together by a friend and fellow blogging colleague, Richard Johnson, over at Guns Holsters and Gear.   His pro staff does such a good job of reporting on many the new product details you deserve to check it out.

Another good source of SHOT Show information is available in video format from the Professional Outdoor Media Association’s new Media Center.   Currently they have about 100 short two minute or less videos showcasing news both from the recent Archery Trade Association show as well as SHOT.   Click on the graphic to check it out.

One final source for good 2012 SHOT Show information is Field and Stream magazine’s online coverage that can be found HERE.

Some might ask why I don’t provide a rundown of new products on this blog.   It’s a good question.   During previous SHOT Shows I have certainly dedicated blog space within these pages to talking about the products—the new, the interesting and the strange.   Truth is I don’t go to SHOT these days with the primary objective of seeing (and reporting) on what is new in the industry.

There was a time earlier in my career when writing about such aspects of the show was important.   As I’ve matured, I suppose it could be said it takes more innovation to impress me.   After all, how many ways can you tweak a flashlight and still be excited about it after watching product development for two decades.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, new products still excite me.   But over the years I’ve learned the SHOT Show for me is much more about making connections and networking than it is observing everything new on display.   Quite honestly, I don’t know how anyone within this industry can fail to find great benefit by attending the trade show.   It is the keynote event within the outdoors and shooting industry.

Today, I’d like to wrap up this post by showing some iPhone pictures snapped at this year’s SHOT.   Here’s hoping they’ll give you a better sense of what it must be like to walk the busy show floor and to take in the unique experience:

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One of the cool products I did see at SHOT. Plastic tree stump ground blind marketed by NatureBlinds.com

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Many of us walk by this exhibit drooling and dreaming of winning the lottery.

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Many exhibits feature celebrity autograph sessions. Here, Lynn Swann, HOF NFL football player greets show attendees for Colt.

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Even the SHOT Press Room was a busy place this year with 2,400+ media in attendance covering the show.

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

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