The world’s largest gun show kicked off on Tuesday giving enthusiasts a first glimpse at new firearms before they arrive on local retailers’ shelves.
Over the course of four days, Jan. 20 through Jan. 23, more than 65,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and more than 100 countries are convening in Las Vegas for the 37th annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show).
Not only is SHOT Show the fifth-largest trade show in Las Vegas, it is the largest trade show of its kind in the world.
SHOT is always on an epic scale. This year more than 1,600 exhibitors are showcasing the latest and greatest in firearms, ammunition, hunting, shooting accessories and more.
Owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the SHOT Show provides an opportunity for those in the business to get a first look at products and services used by target shooters, hunters, outdoorsmen and law enforcement professionals.
Walking through the 630,000 square feet of products, it’s clear that vendors have brought a wide range of new and existing goods – there are guns for all income levels, for all different purposes, and for all different environments, from rural areas through to big cities.
SHOT Show is THE event of the year for those in the business. Held at the Sands Expo Center, the exposition actually fills the entire place with two floors jam packed with options. The other floors of the Sands Expo Center are reserved by companies and used for private meetings, conferences, and work areas.
Firearms, ammunition, gun safes, safety locks and cases, optics, shooting range equipment, targets, game calls, decoys, tree stands, scents, lures, hunting accessories, and much, much more -- you name it and you’ll find a range of choices at SHOT Show.
Who can attend?
Not just any enthusiast can attend SHOT Show -- it is not open to the public. The NSSF restricts attendance to professionals in shooting, hunting, and outdoor trade. Commercial buyers and sellers of military, law enforcement, and tactical products and services also attend to get business done.
NSSF rigorously enforces this policy, requiring government-issued photo identification plus documentation demonstrating direct, professional affiliation to the trade in order to get admitted.
The show includes a section specifically for law enforcement and the Armed Forces offering a range of products in tactical equipment and training. In addition to shopping, SHOT plays an important role in networking for the community. Representatives from the armed forces, law enforcement, SWAT and other tactical professionals have a chance to build relationships and meet directly with product experts to discuss technical requirements.
Who is appearing?
SHOT Show isn’t just about sales. It also about networking – swapping tales, tips and lessons learned. Every year it brings together representatives from the hunting and shooting sports industry with accomplished military and law enforcement professionals and veterans.
A range of celebrities, from shooting champions and television stars through to heroes of recent wars and World War II make guest appearances. In past years, the Robertsons of “Duck Dynasty” fame have shown up, as well as legends like Al Mampre, one of the 19 living members of the World War II 101st Airborne company whose fight for our freedom and that of our allies was documented in “Band of Brothers.”
This year, Smith & Wesson has invited Team Miculek, a family that travels the world participating in shooting competitions. The fastest revolver shooter in the world, Jerry Miculek is also one of the best all-around shooters in the world. He holds hundreds of World and National titles, as well as 5 World Speed Shooting Records.
Kay Clark Miculek has been one of the top ranked females in Action Shooting sports for an amazing 24 years. Her shooting titles include 2 IPSC World Handgun Championships, 6 World Speed Shooting Championships and 25 USPSA National titles.
Their daughter, Lena Miculek Afentul, has won the 3-Nation Lady's Pro Shoot-Off 3 years in a row and ended the 2014 season with 24 first place finishes, as well as top female at the 2014 Trijicon World's Greatest Shooter competition.
Decorated veteran Colonel Danny McKnight will be making appearances this week at the I.O. Inc. booth. McKnight’s impressive military background includes combat duty in Panama 1989 and Somalia 1993 -- familiar to many as the basis for the “Black Hawk Down” book and movie. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit twice, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Ranger Tab, the Master Parachutist Badge with Combat Star, and the Pathfinder Badge. Since his retirement, McKnight has been inspiring others during motivational speaking engagements.
Over at Blue Force Gear, Larry Vickers will be meeting folks throughout the week. Vickers spent more than 20 years in U.S. Army Special Operations, retiring as a Master Sergeant. He spent 15 of those years in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta, commonly referred to as Delta Force. Vickers took part in the Delta Force rescue of CIA operative Kurt Muse from Modelo Prison in Panama City, Panama. Not public for nearly two decades, this rescue is described by some as the first successful hostage rescue operation in recent U.S. military history.
And there has also been some buzz about the “Zombie Girl.” Bullet Safe’s Zombie Girl began as a drawn character, but now apparently she's a real woman. Bullet Safe describes her as “Full of fire, ice, vinegar, and muscle, she knows how to stay safe even if society fails us all.” Folks will be heading over to check out the real life version of this zombie slayer and get a signed picture.
On Monday, the traditional Industry Day was held where the press got to handle, test, and learn about the new products at the historic Boulder Pistol & Rifle Club, which was founded in 1933. Not something that you see every day, hundreds of reporters blasting away at targets.
On Tuesday evening the traditional opening night annual State of the Industry dinner will be held. Last year, more than 2,100 people attended.
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 email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.
Allison Barrie consults at the highest levels of defense, has travelled to more than 70 countries, is a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees and now the author of the new book "Future Weapons: Access Granted" covering invisible tanks through to thought-controlled fighter jets. You can click here for more information on FOX Firepower columnist and host Allison Barrie and you can follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie.