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12 miles of guns: SHOT show kicks off in Las Vegas

  • 2012 SHOT Show 2.jpg

    The 2012 SHOT show at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nev. (NSSF)

  • 2012 SHOT Show 3.jpg

    The 2012 SHOT show at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nev. (NSSF)

  • 2012 SHOT Show.jpg

    The 2012 SHOT show at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nev. (NSSF)

The largest gun show in the world has opened its doors in Las Vegas, revealing 12.5 miles of firearms, ammunition and related gear from every major gun manufacturer on earth.

The annual SHOT show -- short for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade -- is owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry trade association. Each year the show generates millions of dollars in revenue that NSSF uses to fund programs that help “promote, protect and preserve” hunting and the shooting sports.

This year the show will run four days, from Jan. 15 through 18 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Yesterday, the show held a media day brandishing the latest and greatest at the Boulder City Rifle & Pistol Club.

Attendance to the show is restricted to shooting, hunting and outdoor trade professionals and commercial buyers and sellers of military, law enforcement and tactical products and services, however, meaning hunters, sports shooters and shooting clubs are not permitted entry.

Similarly, they do not permit any personal firearms or ammunition. Only exhibitors’ firearms on display that have had their firing pins are permitted.

A bucketload of celebrities, from the A&E’s Duck Dynasty family through to NASCAR driver Jason White, will also be making an appearance this year. The show will also host legendary Vietnam War sniper Chuck Mawhinney, Medal of Honor recipient Jon Cavaiani, pro shooter Doug Koenig, country music singer Mark Wills and SEAL Team 3 sniper Chris Kyle.

The 35 annual SHOT Show has more than 1,600 exhibitors; buyers, media and other industry professionals hail from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

Law enforcement continues to be the fastest growing section of SHOT Show. When it was launched ten years ago it covered 7,000 square feet; but this year law enforcement will be represented in more than 170,000 square feet.

SHOT is the largest event held at the Sands, with this year’s exhibit space exceeding 630,000 square feet.

“It’s where a passion for firearms, ammunition and outdoors equipment, plus the industry’s unified support for the Second Amendment, are on display,” says NSSF event about the mammoth show.

The first SHOT Show was held in 1979 in St. Louis, Mo., and has grown exponentially over the years with more than 60,000 professionals attending last year.

Last year, the show brought over $67 million to the local Las Vegas economy.

Opportunities to network abound -- from formally organized parties like the opening night “State of the Industry” posh reception and dinner at the Venetian Hotel & Casino to the more improvised after hours deal-making in various hot spots and drinking holes readily available in Sin City.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com  or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.