Random Thoughts Following The 2014 SHOT Show

The 2014 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade(SHOT) Show wrapped up last Friday and by all accounts the industry appears very upbeat and poised for another good sales year.   In fact, if statistics prove anything, the 2014 show was a record breaker with over 5,000 more attendees than last year—totalling over 67,000 people representing over 100 different countries.

The hallways filing into and out of the SHOT Show were often quite busy with people.

All numbers aside, for me the show didn’t offer up anything revolutionary when it comes to new outdoors or shooting products.   Oh, sure, just about every product manufacturer has something new as part of their marketing hype.   They have to.   This is where the new sales season begins.   But more so than other years where folks would clamor to a handful of booths to touch and feel some fantastic new product offerings, it seemed the marketing hysteria was pretty evenly spread throughout the show in 2014.

And that’s a good thing.   Everyone was receiving attention.   Well, almost everyone.   I still shake my head at seeing one exhibitor who came to the show sporting a new line of wrist rockets.   Yup, that’s right…nothing more than a souped up slingshot capable of taking out a neighbor’s window from 200 yards away.   As I walked by the booth I couldn’t help but shake my head wondering how many beers were consumed prior to the decision of “let’s take this concept to the SHOT Show.”

Can’t seem to find .22LR in the stores, but at SHOT there was plenty on hand to excite the buyers.

Oh, there was the other booth that sold, among other things, a camouflaged pen.   Yes, who walking out of the show wouldn’t want a ballpoint pen decked out in some digital camo pattern?   Better add a camo notebook to that order.   As I picked the pen up to observe its manufacture quality I asked the fella behind the booth…”A camo pen?”   He looked at me with no response, but apparently untrusting that I might take the pen.   I set it back down and walked away.   Again, shaking my head wondering deeper about the marketing potential of this item and product line.

Yet, SHOT 2014 was certainly not all about the oddball.   You’re bound to get that when you have 1,600+ vendors showcasing their products.   Instead, this year’s SHOT felt more like a celebration of what we all enjoy.   In particular, it is encouraging to see how new shooters and women are being welcomed into the mix with new product offerings.   And why not, this growing segment of outdoors enthusiasts represents one of the fastest growing demographics within our shooting and hunting ranks.   My guess is they are also some of the highest spenders as they are the ones needing new equipment.

Almost everywhere a person looks you can find guns at SHOT, but over the years this industry buyer show has evolved into something much more than just guns.

I’ve said it before if you want the hard hitting SHOT product coverage this is not the blog to follow.   I suggest you follow my friends over at AmmoLand.com for that sort of hoopla.   In fact, while you’re at it sign-up for their Daily Digest to keep you up on all the news of the industry almost as quickly as it happens.   They do awesome work and my buddy, Fredy Riehl, who edits it is a great guy to boot!

In conclusion, I came home from SHOT having only made one product purchase.   The product that intrigued me?   None other than a game camera made by Cuddeback.   It wasn’t so much how the camera has outstanding new capabilities or any unique feature.   I bought it because I got to put the order on my buddy’s credit card.   That’s right…it’s always more fun to spend someone else’s money when buying new products for yourself.

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

Enjoying The SHOT Show After Hours Is Also Important

I belly up to the bar just to give my aching feet a much needed break.  The SHOT Show will do that to ya, you know!   Okay, maybe the rest of me needed some relaxation in the form of an adult beverage, but the point is I started a conversation with the bartender.   It went something like this…

“I bet you’re happy the gun folks are in town for business, huh?”  I casually broke the communication ice with the barkeep.Manbar

“Oh, you bet!” was his quick reply.   “Heck of a lot better than last week here when the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was in town.”

Puzzled, I asked, “How could that be?   The CES is the largest trade show probably three times the size of SHOT?”

“No doubt,” was his quick reply,  “…but those high-tech geeks come into town, go to their show, maybe catch a bite to eat in a restaurant afterwards, yet they are more likely to hole up in their hotel room playing with their electronic toys ordering in room service.   They don’t sit in a bar to unwind.”

Shaking a cocktail in his hand, he continued on, “You probably think the gun folks like to drink and have a good time (after hours), hell, you should see the cement guys when they come in for their trade show in a few weeks.   Now, those guys know how to have a great time!”

As I brought my beverage to my lips, I pondered the possibility of how different trade shows attract different personality characteristics.   I had no clue the nice folks in the hospitality industry profile all of us patrons quite that way.   As for party animals, it appears SHOT Attendees are merely “middle of the road” when it comes to knowing how to have a good time when the floor hours end.

And that’s okay!   The daytime hours might be very business-oriented, but the after hours can combine a bit of fun along with business, in many circumstances.   It used to be finding a party to attend after the show each night was somewhat of a challenge without certain “connections.”   Well, no more.   Finding places to go or people to mingle with is as easy as joining social media.

In recent days I have seen more than a dozen different invites to private parties extended to folks who dare to venture on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and other similar social mediums.   Still at a loss for how to have some fun when the SHOT Show is not currently experiencing business hours?

Come to the Tweet-up below:

I’ll be there and I’d love to meet you in person.   Besides, if that isn’t enough…my understanding is the Sportsman Channel will be giving away some SWAG and you might even find a free beverage or two.   No promises on the last statement, but past experiences has proven that it pays to get out of your hotel room and rub elbows with your SHOT Show peers during the nighttime hours.

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

Preparation Before SHOT Show Determines Benefits Achieved After Event

I know what you’re probably thinking.   He’s going to tell me to make a schedule and lock in to appointments at the SHOT Show prior to touchdown at the Las Vegas Airport.   Nope!

Okay, then he’s going to tell me to make a game plan and highlight on a map all the booths where I want to pick up materials and talk to exhibit personnel.   Wrong again!

The SHOT Show has long been accepting of many types of attire, but to gain the most respect it pays dividends to look your best.

Let’s see, I bet he’s going to suggest I scour some of his blogging buddies’ websites who occasionally get leaked advanced information on new guns, products or services so the hype is in full force by the time the show floor doors open on Tuesday.   Nah, not really!

Then it must be he plans to explain how a checklist created in advance is a necessary aid to ensure everything a show attendee wants to accomplish actually gets completed.   Great idea!   But no!

One last guess.   I bet he plans to tell us how carrying a small notebook to jot notes with a tape dispenser to attach business cards right to that page of the notebook is a smart plan to stay organized and not forget any of the important details.   Well…as a matter of fact, NO!


Truth is, all of these suggestions are great ideas and worthy of careful consideration to stay organized and efficient.   Yet, the preparation I’m talking about today is more about developing a professional state of mind.   Everyone who goes to SHOT represents something.   If you’re the buyer for a store, obviously you represent that store.   If you’re a manufacturer’s rep who carries a bunch of different lines, well then you likely are wearing several different hats during the show.   Even media who does freelance work represents something important—themselves.

It’s important to go into the SHOT Show thinking and acting like the true professional you seek to be.   Long before you pack your bags and head to the airport you need to start thinking about your image.   Honestly, the non-verbals such as what you choose to wear while walking around the show can play a big role in how others perceive you, professionally speaking.

Now, I’m not here to say everyone needs to dress up and wear a sport coat or a dress.   Many people do that and some are required by their employers to do so, and that’s great.   I, in fact, do not dress up quite like that.   Instead, what I am talking about is if you wear jeans make sure they are new and not a pair that appears like they’ve been through hell.   Likewise, a dingy old T-shirt (or a T-shirt of any kind, for that matter) is best kept at home.   How you appear speaks volumes about how seriously others will likely take you at the show.   First impressions are important both in love and in business.

Another aspect toward developing a professional state of mind is being organized.   Believe it or not, others will judge you as a professional based on the few minutes you spend at their booths.   For instance, if you forgot your business cards or don’t have a pen when one is needed, this reflects negatively on you.   The preparation phase for being organized at SHOT begins right now!

And finally, the professional state of mind requires a positive mental attitude throughout the show.   Let’s not kid ourselves…the SHOT Show can be a grueling adventure.   By Thursday and Friday it takes an extra effort to crack a smile or stay upbeat when your body is getting beaten down.   Don’t allow fatigue to dull that professional edge.   There’s still plenty of work to be done even as the show begins to wind down during the final days.

In closing, it’s easy to focus on the glitzy, high-anticipation energetic days spent at the SHOT Show as being the most important days of your tradeshow experience.   As well it should be.   Still, if you want the best possible positive results in the weeks and months to come after the event, the time to prepare and to act takes place from the moment you finish reading the post.   Good luck!

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