SHOT Show, the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry's largest trade show, smashed all-time records in its 30th year, posting new highs in attendance, exhibition space, exhibiting companies and media turnout.
"What better way to celebrate the SHOT Show's 30th anniversary than with a turnout that not only broke, but shattered, all previous records for attendance and exhibit space," said Doug Painter, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, owner and sponsor of the SHOT Show. "The buying activity reported is a strong indicator of a good year to come and reflects the strength of the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry."
The show, held Feb. 2-5 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, comprised 715,000 square feet of exhibit space, a gain of nearly 60,000 over last year, with 1,950 exhibiting companies, up from last year's 1,870.
With a total registered attendance of 58,769, the show eclipsed last year's attendance record of 42,216. The show attracted 30,686 buyers, 1,725 members of the press, 25,854 exhibiting personnel and 504 guests.
Before the closing bell had rung, exhibitors had already booked 700,000 square feet of exhibit space for next year's show in Orlando, Fla.
Business was better than ever at this year's show, according to exhibiting companies and retailers.
"I've been coming to the SHOT Show since 1982 and this is the busiest one I've ever worked. We didn't even lose booth traffic during the Super Bowl," said Randell Pence, Sturm, Ruger & Co.'s executive director of sales and marketing.
Ruger is one of 80 companies that have exhibited at every SHOT Show since the first in 1979 in St. Louis. Aimpoint, another 30-year exhibitor, echoed Pence's remarks.
"Traffic was non-stop at both our law enforcement and hunting booths. In fact, it was so busy that it was tough for anyone working the booths to even take a break," said Steven Giordano, Aimpoint director of commercial sales.
Retailers were also impressed.
"This is my first show, and it's bigger than I expected," said Chris Dunn, owner of Chevlon Canyon Guns Co. in Queen Creek, Ariz. "I've spent all four days here, and I have found some products that I think will really be a big seller for me."
For first-time exhibitors, the show was eye-opening.
"The key customers and the key decision makers in the industry are under one roof and that's great for anybody," said Matt Kriesel, chairman of Impact Jel, a first-time exhibitor. "A phenomenal show. I don't see how it can get better with the connections we received."
Retailers, exhibitors and media from outside the United States continue to flock to the show each year. Attendees came from 75 countries.
"I have been to all of the large European shows, but they can't compare to the SHOT Show. This is the best. Everything is here. I have found five or six companies for which I will be their exclusive dealer in Spain," said Rico Cabezas Roca, a dealer specializing in law enforcement from Madrid.
Press attendance at this year's show increased nearly 30 percent. Each year, the show is the largest gathering of outdoor media in the world.
"When it comes to media, there is nothing like SHOT where nearly 2,000 members of the press are in one place," said Tom Taylor, Smith & Wesson vice president of marketing. "This year was great. Press attendance was up, and, since our company has expanded, we were able to meet with many other publications that we hadn't in the past."