SHOT Show is an annual pilgrimage of fun, friends, work, pain, exhaustion, more work, more fun, and certainly a lot more pain.
It’s infinite, seemingly boundless and more crowded than a buy-one, get-one-free bordello, but you still manage to frequently run into people you know among the 68,000 attendees.
I love it.
I got to thinking, which is always dangerous, about why it’s my favorite event of the year and came up with this list…
1. The people. There’s always a low-end, like the guy walking around with a t-shirt that said “Vagitarian.” Fortunately, the true class acts use most of the oxygen in the Sands Convention Center. Like this year’s Energizer Bunny, Pro Shooter Todd Jarrett. He was everywhere, all the time. Must be cloned… And this years Best Disposition Award goes to Team Smith & Wesson’s Julie Golob. I know she had an exhausting schedule, but you couldn’t catch her without a glowing smile. Theodoric of Nooge spottings are always a popular pastime and the rocker didn’t disappoint this year – he was all over, gun groupies in tow. Architect of the LaPierreCare Affordable Gun Act, NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made time for some floor walking. But the very part is catching up with industry friends – especially the ones you haven’t met yet.
2. Truth in reporting. It’s a refreshing break from the mainstream media. I looked and looked, but to no avail – Piers Morgan and Chris Matthews were nowhere to be found. Also, you’re too busy to turn on a TV, so you get a much-needed break from the state network propaganda political machine. Oh, and the press room? I did some quick math and estimated that the average reporter there owns more firearms than pairs of socks. My kind of company for sure.
3. Gun Control Debate. The only gun control debate was whether you can fit one or two fingers on the new Beretta Pico without the magazine extension. [No. -ed.]
4. New inventions! While new products from established companies are well publicized, SHOT Show is where you find the startups with a new idea. For example, this year, I ran across LabRadar. They offer a portable radar kit to track bullet velocity. Brilliant. Or perhaps Adaptive Technology – makers of the Sidewinder Venom drum magazine kit for Mossberg pump shotguns. Can you say home defense innovation?
5. I spy. If you looked really, really carefully, you just might spot tiny stickers of flying, ummm, body parts, placed strategically by Top Shot’s Chris Cerino.
6. Dinner. Yes, there are lot’s of great dining opportunities in Vegas, but I’m talking about the NSSF State of the Industry Dinner. I started doing this a couple of years ago and now it’s a “must do” on our schedule. It’s a great opportunity to dine and schmooze with a couple thousand of your best friends. And the entertainment rocks. This year, it was the magic duo of Penn & Teller who pleased the crowd with a dose of humor and their always impressive magic bullets trick. They must know their audience!
7. Perspective. The announcement of a drum magazine for pump shotguns (Adaptive Tactical) was perceived as a good idea, not the end of all life on planet earth, as might be reported by MSNBC.
8. Wagyu beef. Wolfgang Puck had the foresight to open a Cut restaurant in the hallway between my hotel room and the show floor. Can you say steak butter? I don’t mean butter-flavored steak, I mean a steak with the consistency and flavor of warm butter. Thanks for lightening my wallet, Wolfgang. #SteakGasm
9. Contagion. It’s the most fun way there is to get the cold or flu. Picking up the same guns as 67,999 other people is a surefire way to do your own live rendition of the movie Outbreak.
10. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) crew. These folks kill it. Every year. Having done far too many trade shows from the vendor side, I know exactly what it takes to organize and pull off an event of this magnitude. Yet you’d be hard pressed to find an NSSF staffer not wearing a big grin and looking to help you find your way. Not only is SHOT Show the place for vendors and gun retailers to meet and do business for the coming year, it generates “profits” for the NSSF that are turned around into productive programs like Project ChildSafe. Gotta love it. Thank you NSSF!