If you have more than a passing interest in shooting, hunting or the outdoor trade, you have likely heard of SHOT Show. “SHOT” stands for “Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade.” It’s a little gathering of about 80,000 old friends held early each year in Las Vegas and really serves as the kickoff of the sales year for the businesses involved.
Who Attends SHOT Show?
The SHOT Show is owned and operated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for the firearms industry, and it is the place to see what the new year will bring. The show is filled with new gear of all types and is often the launchpad for new products. But before you get all excited and buy a plane ticket to Vegas, you need to remember one thing: SHOT Show is a trade show, not a consumer show. These are industry folks working with other industry folks to plan out the next year’s worth of sales. The thousands of booths (some amazingly elaborate) are staffed by manufacturers and sales reps, while the aisles are teeming with everyone from gun shop owners to police officers buying gear for their departments to designers with great ideas looking for manufacturers. And then, of course, there is the media. But this is different media than you see elsewhere.
At the SHOT Show, you will find that nearly all the media members are pro-gun. Whereas the Media Room at the NRA Annual Meeting is populated by dour-looking “journalists” trying to paint gun owners in a bad light, the Media Room at SHOT Show is like old home week. Gun and outdoor writers from all over the world converge on SHOT Show, and it is like a bit of a reunion. There are people I see at SHOT Show whom I only see once a year. We might correspond throughout the year, but in the months leading up to SHOT, lots of emails are exchanged directing folks to “meet in the Press Room.” We laugh. We talk about each other’s kids. We discuss new products and which companies did not make it to the show. Really. You might not notice all the companies who attend the show, but almost everyone notices a company when it stops coming.
SHOT Show Through the Years
For the past 40 years, SHOT Show has really changed the face of the firearms industry. I’ve been going since about 1998, far enough back in time when the show traveled. I remember New Orleans and Atlanta and Orlando … but now there is a long-term contract for Vegas. I can also remember a time when there was no Law Enforcement section. Now it takes up between 30 and 40 percent of the show. Make no mistake about it: This is big business. I have worked with many corporate executives who were honestly shocked at the size and tone of SHOT Show. I worked one place that seemed to have a new batch of C-level folks every few months. They all wanted to go to SHOT Show. And all of them came back saying the same thing: “I didn’t realize how professional it would be. I thought because it was guns it would be all rednecks.”
Hardly. SHOT Show is where deals are made. Big deals. Sometimes even government contracts, and certainly purchase orders that roll into seven figures. I mean, when you see a company that spends at least six figures having a replica log cabin with a showroom on the first floor and meeting rooms on the second floor assembled and removed for a five-day show, you know some money is changing hands. This is where the big players come to flex.
The USCCA at SHOT Show
It only makes sense that the USCCA be there to meet and greet those who are influencing the industry and, if we can, to influence the industry ourselves. Seven years ago, a few members of the Concealed Carry Magazine staff set out to get noticed at SHOT Show. This year, something north of 40 people will be manning a booth, hosting meetings and working with industry folks on new and expanding initiatives. We still find out what new gear is coming out, but now there are plenty of people who want to work with the USCCA and our industry-leading group of marketing and publishing professionals. It’s pretty cool that in a few short years, the USCCA has risen to a position of prominence in the industry.
So, for the next couple of weeks, a sizeable chunk of the USCCA staff will be involved in last-minute planning and preparation for the biggest trade show in our industry. We will see lots of cool stuff, meet lots of old and new friends, and help guide what is arguably one of the biggest and most important industries in the country.
We wanted to go to SHOT Show to make an impact. We are doing just that. We’ll give you updates from the show and afterward to let you know what we see and do. Be sure to follow along live on our Facebook and Instagram (@uscca) channels.
About Kevin Michalowski
Executive Editor of Concealed Carry Magazine Kevin Michalowski is a USCCA and NRA Certified Trainer and is a graduate of the Force Science Institute Certification Course. He has participated in training as both an instructor and a student in multiple disciplines. Kevin is also a fully certified law enforcement officer working part time for a small agency in rural Wisconsin.
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