SHOT Show 2017 – What It Is and What It Isn’t
By Stephen Thompson
The year 2017 marks my third year attending the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoors, Trade Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first year I attended as a law enforcement member (non-buyer). The next year I attended as a writer for a related website (still a non-buyer and non-media). This year, I was fortunate enough to attend as Media, with all the privileges and access of a media person. With all that being said, I have learned a few things about SHOT that I would like to share with you.
First, SHOT is not a gun show like you are familiar with. You cannot buy or sell firearms at SHOT. Yes, you can fondle, caress, and drool upon, many guns, current, antique, new, and innovative. But you cannot put your money down and walk out with a gun. This is a trade show. All of the manufacturers are there with all of their wears, but they are not for sale to the individual. They are targeting the gun shop owner, collector, and eventual purchaser; but not Joe off the Street looking for a good deal. Oh yes, I saw guns there I wanted, but I knew it was touch and not buy time. That would have to come later at a gun shop near my home.
Next, there are more things in life than firearms. This show also caters to the outdoorsman or outdoorswoman, the camper, the prepper, the survivalist, the weekend “take the family to the river” kind of folks. There are lines of clothing, camping gear, vehicles, knives, survivalist foods, flashlights, lanterns, tents, sleeping bags, and so much more outdoors items to see. And no, you cannot buy these things either at the show.
Third, the folks working at the show are working, not so much selling. They are demonstrating their products, meeting with buyers to arrange product in stores, sharing ideas on new products, working with media folks (me this time) to get their product out in print, on line, or in video. They are extremely busy. If you are there as Joe “I want a new pistol”, they more than likely will not have much time to spend with you.
Next, it is crowded. This year there were over 65,000 folks at the Sands Convention Center to view all the wears on display, attend the workshops, and wear out shoe leather. Yes, there is a lot of walking. According to my Garmin Vivofit 2, I logged in 20,000 steps each day. It is a very tiring venture. And to be honest, I only hit about 2/3 of the things on display this year. If crowds bother you, you better take a pass because at times, you just can’t get there from here. And you sure can’t get there fast.
But not to sound too discouraging, there is a lot of great stuff to see. It continues to amaze me with the amounts of new products being introduced at each SHOT Show. But also, it still seems that over half of the things to see are different takes on making a good AR-15 rifle or 1911 pistol. But also, Smith and Wesson had their MP 2.0 there, Walther had their CREED, Ruger had their new LCP2, Sig had their new Mil-spec pistol, and so many other new handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc. I kind of liken it to being a one eyed dog in a butcher shop; you don’t know which way to turn next.
And then there are what I call the smalls; the holsters, the do-dads, the slings, the leather, the Kydex, the hand warmers, the ground covers, the scopes, the safes and vaults, the knives, the jewelry, the coatings, the gunsmithing, the patch collectors, the badge makers, the gun insurance, the firearms training courses, and on and on and on……
So with all that, who should be going to SHOT in the future? Primarily, the gun and equipment dealers. This is foremost their trade show. But also media folks to get the word out about both old and new products; to test and evaluate, to spotlight businesses and products, and to continue to put firearms and the 2nd Amendment in the forefront of the minds of Americans. Also, law enforcement as there is a vast area of law enforcement only items and technology that is being displayed.
Who should not be going to SHOT? Sadly, a good portion of the folks who attend who are just looking for a new gun, wanting to buy something, wanting to sell something, and those who think that this is like the many gun shows held on your local fairgrounds or convention center. This is a trade show for people in the trade, not necessarily for the end consumer.
To be honest, the only thing I found to buy at the entire show was some t-shirts at the SHOT Show booth at the exits. I did walk out with some free things, but only because I would be writing reviews about them. More importantly, I made contacts with many folks in the industry, started relationships with them, and am ready to test, evaluate, and learn about their products so I can bring that information to you.
I want to thank so many folks who I met at SHOT 2017 for their support, information, and willingness to work with me. There are so many that I am sure I will forget some but here are a few of them: Kristi Hoffman and Jason Alley at Black Hills Ammunition, Matt Young (CMO) at Versacarry, the folks at Gun Storage Solutions regarding their safe rods, Ron and Ethan at Swab Its, Brenda Vesligaij at Kick Lite/Phoenix Technology LTD regarding their 1911 grip panels, Kaley Cox at Diamondback America regarding their compact 9mm and 380 pistols, Justin Murray at Crossbreed Holsters, the folks at Night Ize for going over their hundreds of new gadgets and items, the folks at www.orcacoolers.com, Gregg Garret at Comp Tac Holsters, Kim at Kakadu Traders of Australia, and most of all, Natt and Nanci at TUFF Products. I see a lot of projects and writing in my future.
So for this writer SHOT 2017 has been a huge success. Stay tuned to some new product spotlights, product reviews, testing and evaluations, and general interest articles that came for this experience.