The dust is hardly settled from the 2023 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, with me being home a full week already, and it’s time to get back to work! Content creators have been pumping out material during the show and will be leaning on talking about the newest of the new for weeks to come.
This year was my first SHOT Show and I did not exactly know what to expect. I went in knowing it was going to be BIG. With that expectation I told myself “You’ll see what you see, shoot what you shoot, and talk to who you talk to.” Because of that build-up, I was not exactly overwhelmed, nor underwhelmed. In an interview on Monday with Amanda Suffecool of Eye on the Target Radio, we determined my status Tuesday morning was just whelmed.
I got into Sin City early Sunday evening. The flight from Newark to Las Vegas was uneventful and I experienced minimal neck fat sweat from being wedged into the generous seats that Spirit air provides. Being of the double wide variety, the flight could have been disastrous, but I was sure to pick an aisle seat to not spill too much into my seatmates. The flight did have some delays but we landed about on time regardless. By 17:30 Sunday evening, I had retrieved my luggage, checked into SHOT Show and got my badge at the office in the airport, and was headed to my hotel in a rideshare car. My home for the week was the Excalibur hotel, for no other reason than it was paired with my plane tickets as one of the cheaper options though an internet travel booking site.
I checked into my room with minimal fanfare, got the important information from the desk, such as smoking cigars is allowed anywhere smoking is allowed, and headed up to my room to settle in. I had pinged a few other media contacts and friends that were in Vegas, but I did not connect with anyone else. It was best for me to grab a bite and hit the hay semi-early. And that’s exactly what I did, well, including a post supper bourbon on the rocks and cigar at the lobby bar in Excalibur. A couple of drunk Canadian women chatted me up as I puffed on my cigar and instructed me on how to get free drinks. Their advice came a bit too late for me to cash in on.
Some of the events mentioned in this rundown will have independent articles written about them, and some of them won’t. While I chalked up my status to being whelmed, I could add that SHOT met that threshold, leaving me with both story ideas, things to review, and contacts galore to follow up with.
Monday morning was an early morning with it being industry day at the range. Prior to heading off to the bus pickup to drag everyone out to the desert, I met up with the staff of Eye on the Target Radio and Charlie Cook from Riding Shotgun With Charlie. We found a place to get a decent breakfast, which was more than needed considering the day we had ahead of us. While I’m not exactly in a calorie deficit and could probably survive upwards of 40 days with zero food, a solid protein rich skillet made its way into my gullet.
The morning was cold and windy. Rain splashed its way into the weather pattern as well. We grabbed one of the buses that was available and headed off to the Boulder Pistol and Rifle Club, about an hour’s way into the desert. The cold desert air was not welcoming and created the challenge of allowing us to keep our wits about us as discomfort crept in.
We did a fair amount while at the industry day. Hearing and eye protection were provided by 3M. Some of the highlights included shooting JTS tactical AR/AK platform semi-automatic shotguns, a JTS traditional over and under shotgun, the newly released Savage 560 semi-automatic field shotgun, the new to SHOT 2023 Browning Citori Composite over and under, the new Aero bolt action SOLUS Competition model, and a bunch of other cool firearm configurations such as binary trigger AR’s and handguns. I got my fill of shooting doing the Fudd thing with shotguns.
One note that might be worth bringing up, media members were excluded from getting a “free lunch”. While I don’t know if media members were traditionally included in those who would get such a perk, it was not the policy at that range day to feed us. Personally, I skipped eating as my breakfast kept me full, and my very unique to SHOT Show physique of being middle aged, bearded, white, and overweight (aka stale male and pale) kinda whispered I could go without a meal or two. The Black Rifle Coffee Company who was supplying free coffee ran out of hot coffee by mid day, but they did still give out some of their canned cold offerings. Industry day was a success even though we did get a little tempest tossed.
Monday evening was a DC Project party. The event was held over at the Venetian, which was convenient for those staying on property or nearby. Being at the Excalibur, after the bus dropped us off after industry day, I got in a rideshare and I went back to my room, washed up, got changed, coiffed my hair, tried to make sure I had no stains on my shirt, and then headed out to meet the teal clad superheroes for an evening of music, old friends, and new friends. I’d say the evening was successful and I plan on writing more about it in a separate piece highlighting some of the who’s who and what’s what of the evening.
Tuesday the 17th was the first official day of SHOT Show. I sprinted off to the Venetian as early as possible, of course getting there later than I wanted, I headed up to the media lounge for a coffee and a muffin. It took me until Thursday to completely get the hang of the media room. Going in is like a family reunion nearly every time, and leaving to head off to the floor is like trying to say goodbye at an Italian gathering, “Hon, we’re going now? Okay, I’ll pour myself a cup of coffee.” It can take half an hour to work your way out if you don’t do so in a determined manner, and I suppose there could be bigger problems in life than an excess of wonderful people in one’s network. Gun people are truly the best people.
Besides hitting the floor and getting a lay of the land, I did one radio interview that morning, and in the afternoon there were some speaking engagements to sit in on involving the ATF and FBI. Being an NSSF registered media member did come with its perks, and is worth mentioning because it allowed for use of the NSSF member lounges in different areas of the show. Aside from free coffee, there were catered meals available for a reasonable price.
The ATF presentation featured Director Steve Dettelbach. I found his presence to be a bit brazen as he suggested there were things that we, the industry, and the ATF, don’t always see “eye to eye on”. His commentary was probably very overstated seeing how close to no one in the room would shed a tear if we learned that the organization were to be abolished. There were some weasel words involved in the Director’s speech, and I may cover the content of the presentation in the future. There was some pistol brace talk, but the Director failed to address how the agency is rogue and tries to make up their own laws. The FBI was available for a presentation on the NICS system and I’m going to be honest here, it made me start to nod off (there might be a picture of that circulating), so I left about halfway through to make better use of my time.
Wednesday was another busy day of walking the floor and catching up with other media types. In the morning, I went to the USCCA hosted Media Breakfast. What a nice affair that turned out to be. We had a chance to chat up the staff of the USCCA magazine as well as get a private peek at the New Product Center. Getting up a bit earlier to make it to this event was well worth it in my humble opinion. Well done USCCA!
The big presentation for me to go to Wednesday was getting in on the Governors forum. The NSSF hosted the Governors from Nebraska, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Montana. Some of the talking points were reminiscent of chamber of commerce commercials trying to get people to visit or move to the highlighted state. That’s not to say that the Governors did not talk about preservation of the Second Amendment, because they did, but the conversation did steer towards a jocular bout between the executives of who’s got the best state. If anything, we can turn to what these states are doing for guidance on how liberty is respected.
Wednesday evening I ended up having dinner with and then going to the guns.com party with the staff of Dan Wos’s the Loaded Mic podcast, the Producer of Gun Owners Radio Rich Yumul, and content creator Charlie Cook from Riding Shotgun With Charlie. The guns.com party was at the Paris resort in the night club just under the Eiffel Tower. We mixed and mingled with a few contacts that we knew and made introductions where appropriate. The party was a nice time with an open bar and passed hors-d’œuvres.
Thursday was a crunch day for me. It was my last day at the show as I was checking out early on Friday morning, and heading back to the Garden State at 05:30 am. I managed to get to the Venetian early enough to have a breakfast meeting and make it to the show a little after it started. I ended up having several meetings with different companies and organizations, all which seem to have been fruitful. Right before hitting the floor for some final walk throughs, I did an interview with Craig DeLuz from the Firearm Policy Coailition’s Morning Coffee With Craig show (embedded below or HERE) as well as an interview with Mike Piwowarski of Arms Room Radio (yet to be released).
My final push was on the accessories floor. I wanted to get to see as much of the new gear that’s out there before bidding the show adieu. I did get through a large portion of the floor, but given the time constraints, it was impossible to get it all in.
I have to say my first SHOT Show I’d consider a success. Was it a lot to bite off and chew? Absolutely. Did I learn a thing or two about future shows? You bet. Some of my lessons learned include:
- Have a plan, but not one that’s too strict.
- Don’t get disappointed over what you don’t see, but rather be happy about what you do.
- Draw a line between social encounters and business encounters. Set limits on what takes priority.
- Don’t stress the afterhours scene. If there’s a party to go to, check it out. But don’t get entrapped by FOMO, keeping in mind there is work to be done the next day.
- Utilize the lounges for breaks, free coffee, and meetings. Join the NSSF if you qualify.
- Remember there’s a “working media” side of the media lounge and to use it if you’re in “do not disturb mode”.
- I’d personally stay closer to the Venetian in the future. Where you save on rooms you lose in time and transportation costs.
- Don’t stress, and remember to have fun. Yes, this is “work”, but it’s supposed to be enjoyable.
- Take care of your immune system. The fabled and famed SHOT Show crud found me when I got home. Luckily it’s just been a stuffed nose, but nonetheless it got me!
Over the next couple of weeks I hope to roll out some more articles based on my experiences at the 2023 SHOT Show. I also have some arrangements for some gear to review. So keep your eyes peeled for more on the 2023 SHOT.
In a parting side bar, I know Cam has made it to many SHOT Shows in the past, and while there he kept on with both his editorial, podcasting, and writing duties. I’m gonna say the man’s a machine, because I have no clue how on Earth he could juggle the show and normal duties. Hat tip to you dear sir. I can only hope I one day reach that level of maturity. [Editor’s Note: Very little sleep and almost no social life. And yes, proximity to the venue is a big help given how %$*&ing long it takes to get everywhere – Cam]