This week marks one of the biggest events in the outdoors industry. The 2017 SHOT Show is currently underway in Las Vegas.
Every year, manufacturers head to the Sands Convention Center to update the retail world with all the new products that are soon to be released to the public.
The SHOT Show is the premier function put together by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, or the NSSF. The foundation’s mission is “To Promote, Protect and Preserve hunting and the shooting sports.”
The organization was founded in 1961 and has more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, retailers, ranges and other organizations as a part of its membership.
The majority of those members will gather together all this week. There is even an expected 2,500 members of the media forecast to cover the events. It is big. In the hunting industry, it is the biggest.
It has been a few years since I last attended the SHOT Show, but I have not forgotten what it was like to be a part of the hoopla.
I have had the fortunate chance to attend both as media, a television show host, and as a representative working the show floor and answering questions for the attendees.
The show itself is not open to the public. To attend, you must be involved in the industry in some way. Like ICAST for the fishing industry, the SHOT Show is where dealers and retailers from across the world come together to see the latest and greatest. If the manufacturers are lucky, they may even write some big orders.
As with all facets of business, new product is the lifeblood that keeps an industry healthy and moving forward. Besides firearms, the SHOT Show covers every ancillary product as well. You can find optics, knives, storage containers, ammunition, clothing, scents, food plot products and a host of others.
The only facet not covered is archery. The big industry show for bow enthusiasts is the ATA Show.
There is also a large portion of the exhibit floor dedicated to law enforcement. As you wander these aisles, you will find vests, body armor, boots, and any number of other products related to keeping the public safe.
During one of my stints as a manufacturer’s rep, I was assigned to the booth of a major optics company.
I would be demonstrating and showing binoculars to a retailer that specializes in bird watching one moment. The next minutes I would be talking to the lead sniper on a SWAT team about a long-range scope. A few minutes later I would be discussing hunting optics with a major national retailer. It was a whirlwind.
Leading up to the event I drilled myself with numerous facts and selling points about types of products I would be showcasing. The pressure was intense. These customers know their stuff and you must be knowledgeable about every product in the lineup.
In between customers I had the chance to watch the aisles as thousands of people walked by. Every few minutes another celebrity would meander past. One of my favorite encounters was with R. Lee Ermey.
Most recently, he was known for hosting the show “Mail Call.” But you may also know him as the relentless drill sergeant from “Full Metal Jacket.” He was there promoting a line of handguns and signing autographs.
Once the show floor closed, the real wheeling and dealing took place. It was time for the manufacturers to take out their best customers, and as you can imagine, Las Vegas is one place to party.
I was privileged to dine at establishments I could never afford on my own, but when million-dollar orders on are the line, the expense of a fine meal is worth it.
If you ever have the chance to go with a dealer or someone from the media, I highly recommend it.
To see every conceivable product related to hunting under one roof is amazing. The 2017 SHOT Show winds down this Friday, but no worries, the organizers at the NSSF will already be planning next year’s event.
For information, you can find it by visiting www.shotshow.org.