Sensory overload times infinity. That's one way to describe the National Shooting Sports Foundation's (NSSF) annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show). I was first immersed in the SHOT show culture 12 years ago. First impressions last a lifetime and I'll never forget mine. The sheer magnitude of the show left me in awe. As a member of the outdoor media, I along with tens of thousands of others migrate to SHOT each year. Here are some of the highlights.
The most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports and hunting industries, this year's show was another huge success boasting a near record attendance of 58,444 people. Despite economic stresses, news on the SHOT Show beat confirmed that the industry is chugging along nicely and several sectors are in fact thriving. The world's premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, archery, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, camping and related products and services, this show just keeps getting bigger and better. With 1,633 exhibitors, 125 of those were international. Attracting buyers from every state and more than 75 countries this year's show took place January 19-22, 2010 at the Las Vegas Sands Expo - and what an exhibition it was. The only complaint is that the show is getting so big that the venue is bursting at the seams to accommodate everyone.
All of the major players had a strong showing at SHOT.
A Few Product Highlights
Each year I'm amazed at how manufacturers can come up with new and improved products. This round was no different. From gun safes to knives, neoprene slings, electronic shooting muffs, flashlights, decoys, heated boots, even more high-tech apparel, new ammo loads, reincarnations of old-style firearms, black guns, not to mention a seemingly infinite list of personal defense and law enforcement guns and related inventory, the 2010 show had it all. Several mainstream and outdoors television personalities like Steven Seagal, Dennis Miller, Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, Michael Waddell, and more were on hand at the show.
Topping my list of personal favorite products launched this year is Thompson Center's single shot youth rifle. They're calling it the Hot Shot. What makes this rimfire rifle so attractive is that it's a significantly scaled down version, designed to fit young shooters. It has a shorter stock, a 20-inch barrel, a peep sight and a hammer block safety but it can also be accessorized with a scope. This one's a certain winner.
Thompson Center does it again with their new for 2010 Hot Shot .22 caliber youth rifle.
On a different note, I was blown away with Winchester Ammunition's new Supreme Elite PDX1 shotshell. Its cutting-edge engineering puts three plated projectiles and 12 pellets of plated BB shot in a 410 or 12 gauge hull. Touted as the ultimate personal defense load for both shotguns and 410 compatible handguns, this load also has obvious applications for varmint hunting and pest control. Innovative to say the least, this load has opened up a world of new options in the ammunition industry.
Aside from guns and ammo, while at the show, I experimented with new ballistics software and learned that several decoy companies have moved toward fully flocked products for deer hunting and turkey hunting alike.
One of the most advanced products however, came from Bushnell, one of the world's leaders in optics technology as they launched their new Fusion 1600 ARC laser rangefinder-binocular. Fully multi-coated, with rifle and bow modes and 10- to 1600-yard ranging capabilities, this little beauty lets the user adjust for angles and bullet compensation.
Outdoors Writer, Lon Lauber checking out Bushnell?s new Fusion 1600 ARC rangefinder binocular.
Cutting edge technology can be found throughout the SHOT Show. From high-tech boots to new arrow technology, obvious advancements in youth and women's hunting apparel, along with a long list of new and improved products were on display at the show.
Several new products for 2010 were on display.
New for 2010, Nikon showcased their new Spot On Ballistic Match Technology.
Ameristep launched their new portable turkey blind at SHOT.
Lucky Bums is a new company manufacturing kids outdoor apparel and gear.
Heather Wilson speaking with the folks at the Howard Leight booth. Howard Leight
offers one of the most economical electronic shooting muffs (the Impact Sport) on the market.
European company Helly Hansen makes high quality outdoor clothing but until recently
they have been reluctant to utilize camo patterns. This new rainsuit is cutting edge for Helly.
One of Bushnell?s new products for 2010 is the Trophy XLT Riflescope.
Attendee & Exhibitor Impressions
There is an unparalleled synergy at SHOT. It's where industry players go to do business, and everyone knows it. Retailers like Glenn Duncan, owner of Duncan's Outdoor Shop in Bay City, Mich., said he values the SHOT Show for the opportunity it affords to learn about exciting new products. In his words, "it's good to see the industry offering so many new products -- guns, ammunition, targets and more." He appreciates that the exhibitors are willing to take the time to give him the attention he needed.
Exhibiting manufacturers like Dwight Van Brunt of Kimber were equally pleased. "This is an amazing show," said Van Brunt. "We came in with some trepidation, wondering if it was going to be busy the whole time. We were slammed 45 minutes into the show. You couldn't see the color of my carpet, and it stayed that way for the first two days. This show is great."
Greg Sesselmann of Scent-Lok said, "This is where we get to communicate with each other. People are generating business, coming up with new ideas. There's that synergy of working together on these things that you just can't do over the phone."
State of the Industry & Key Messages
During the NSSF's opening-night State of the Industry Dinner, NSSF President Steve Sanetti stressed that "with sales and revenues in much of our industry at a decade-long high despite the worst recession in a generation, we have thrived." In many respects, the industry is about as strong as it has ever been.
Among the most notable messages during the show was a distinct promotion of AR-style modern sporting rifles. The NSSF took the opportunity at a press conference to correction confusions about this style of firearm and its progression into recreational hunting and shooting sports. Much controversy has surrounded this growing trend in recent years but the NSSF was clear in pointing out that modern sporting rifles are semi-automatic, firing one round with each pull of the trigger and that they are fast becoming popular with today's target shooter and hunter. Further messaging clarified they should not be confused with similar looking automatic military rifles.
With indications that the economy may be starting to strengthen, the industry has a bright future. Next year's SHOT Show is scheduled for January 18-21, 2011, once again at the Sands Expo & Conference Center in Las Vegas. I can't wait!
Kevin Wilson is a freelance outdoors writer and professional big game & waterfowl
guide/outfitter from Alberta, Canada. Confessing an obsession for big whitetails
and bighorn sheep, he has hunted most North American big game species with either
bow, muzzleloader, rifle or shotgun. Specializing in archery, freshwater fishing,
waterfowl and big game hunting, his articles can be found in several well known
outdoor publications across the U.S. and Canada. For more information on his
outfitting services, visit www.venturenorthoutfitting.com .
Member of OWAA & OWC.