As I type these words, I have a pile of business cards, press credentials and various other items on my desk ready to be packed up for SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show. I’m heading out in a few days. Truth is, I’m pretty sure you will be reading this AFTER I get back from the show, so forgive me if I shift from past to present tense.
I’m thinking this is SHOT Show No. 15 or 16 for me. Most of them blend together in a big blur of old friends and new gear. I worked side-by-side with Ken Ramage for a decade before he retired. I sure hope I have some readers who recognize his name. He had been to every single SHOT Show. But enough about ol’ Ken; let’s talk about this gathering of friends we call SHOT Show.
In years past, I wore a coat and tie to SHOT Show. Lots of people still do. The SHOT Show is, first and foremost, a place of business — big business. I remember working for a previous publisher that was bought out by some investment bankers who had never even touched a firearm. They came to SHOT in the months after the acquisition and literally walked the floor with mouths agape. They could not comprehend what they were seeing. One of them commented to me, “I was expecting a bunch of rednecks selling guns.”
That’s why that particular group private-equity firm is no longer involved in this business. Some people just don’t get it. Some people never will.
I have never looked at SHOT Show as a week-long vacation in Vegas (or the other towns when the show moved around). I knew from the start it was all work. Don’t get me wrong: There is some after-hours playtime, but when the doors open at 8 a.m. each day, those people who are serious about their businesses are ready to roll — as they should be.
A couple years ago, I wore a pedometer and tallied some 7 miles per day for the four days I spent on the show floor. Most years, I don’t get outside at all, unless I need to take a taxi to a meeting somewhere. What I see of Las Vegas is the inside of the convention center, the inside of some restaurants and the hallways back to my hotel room.
Don’t get me wrong … I love going to SHOT Show. This is my industry and it is my job to be involved, informed and interacting with members of this industry. I see what’s new in the industry. I meet with old friends and I wonder about the companies that I saw in years past that no longer exhibit. It has been said that a company’s failure to show up at SHOT is every bit as important as its presence there. I’m pretty sure Ramage said that.
So, yes, I go to SHOT Show every year. I learn new things and see 70,000 of my closest friends. Every year I come home with a cold from breathing stale air and shaking 10,000 hands. And every year I think about how thankful I am to be involved in an industry I truly love with a job that truly matters to people.
I’m off to SHOT. I will provide a complete report, as Ramage would say, “in the fullness of time.” Cool things await around every corner and I get to look at them all.