Shot Show 2011

I’ve been going to the Shot Show for several years. It’s always a great way to start the year. You can’t help but to have uber-levels of post-Show enthusiasm and optimism.  Several vendors who exhibited expressed to me that they were enthused by the higher traffic and frequent visits from qualified leads this year.

Overall, I had a great time. But here are some my takeaways:

  • I hate Sands Convention Center. I hated it last year and I know the organizers made a lot of effort to make improvements, but frankly, it still doesn’t cut it. Shot Show is too big for the layout. You’ve got exhibits sprawled across hidden rooms and multiple levels. After day 3, I’m discovering areas that I haven’t even covered yet. Food stands are terrible. Exiting out through the Venetian is a cattle call. Taxi lines are awful. Bottom line…from an attendee’s standpoint, it’s not good.


  • When will NSSF acquiesce the Military folks and create its own category? Military vendors are the bastard stepchild right now. By default, most are shoehorned into the Law Enforcement category. And while many vendors crossover between law enforcement and military, plenty do not. As a result, the Law Enforcement category is busting at its seams with companies. Yet, NSSF still maintains a category for Outfitter’s Post & taxidermy with a whopping 13 exhibitors? I know the organizers have resisted military folks hijacking their show, but there’s a better solution than what is done now.


  •  Thank you Caleb Crye (of Crye Precision and Multicam camouflage fame). Let me explain. As most of you know, all of our nylon tactical gear is Made in USA from mil spec materials. For several years now, I look at display after display of Chinese knock-offs of digital universal camo pattern (UCP) and cringe. Most of it looks like fabric run under an inkjet printer with a glossy finish. Now that Multicam is being rolled out to the forces, UCP is on the way out. This year, I started to see small displays of Multicam product in these importers’ booths. Each time I asked about how it was manufactured, they complain about how expensive mil spec material is and how they have to procure and ship to their overseas factories. I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. So thank you Caleb, for sticking to your guns and holding the license for your product. It’s a small victory for those of us still sewing in the USA.


  • The nylon tactical gear field is healthy with a lot of promising up and comers.


  • Bearse USA has had a lot of participation in the body armor industry making vests, plate carriers, etc. A lot changes continue to happen in this biz and it is always interesting to watch the ups and downs of the players in the prime contracting arena.


  •  Glad I don’t sell gun safes. Those must be a bitch to ship, set up, and send back home.


  • Weather was much better this year. Thank you Mother Nature. Didn’t think 3 days of straight rain could ever happen again.


  •  Finally, I wish Shot did not overlap with Outdoor Retailer. My feet need a break. Plus, many of the folks who attend Shot also go to OR. As a vendor, the time could be spent more effectively if there was some spread between shows. Just sayin…At least there is Summer OR.
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