2016 SHOT Show Preview

Over 1,600 Exhibitors Under One Roof
Provides Business-Building Forum

As 2015 quickly comes to a close and the New Business Year approaches, NSSF representatives say the 2016 SHOT Show — which runs for four days from January 19–22 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas — will once again be a show that’s “Too Good To Miss.”

“The SHOT Show gets better every year because we’re focused on continuously improving the experience,” said Steve Sanetti, president and CEO of NSSF. “As a result, for 30 years running, the SHOT Show has proven it’s the single best way for retailers and range operators to network and learn. They can attend educational seminars to keep them on top of all the trends affecting their businesses. And there’s the driving dynamic of having more than 1,600 exhibitors under one roof showcasing the newest and best-selling products in firearms, ammunition and the vast array of shooting and hunting accessories.”

The floor plan of the 2016 show will be slightly different from the 2015 show, allowing a few more core companies to get some exposure.
“We’ve moved some things around for 2016,” said Chris Dolnack, Senior Vice President and CMO of NSSF. “We’re going to move the non-profit booths from Level 3 outside the Press Room down to G Hall where they’ll get more traffic. We’d like to move as many as 50 exhibitors off the wait list to the area right outside the Press Room. Instead of those exhibitors having 10×10 spaces, they’d have 5×10 spaces so they can get some exposure, particularly with the Press Room being right there. Then those exhibitors would be the first new exhibitors onto the main show floor next year.”

Although this plan was still tentative in mid-October, Dolnack said if it works, it will give those exhibitors a chance for exposure to SHOT Show attendees while they’re waiting to get in as regular exhibitors.


With its miles of aisles, the 38th Annual SHOT Show will provide dealers with
numerous opportunities to handle new products, meet with exhibitors and network
with other industry professionals. The SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50
states and more than 100 countries.

International Sales Effort

For the first time at the 2015 SHOT Show, attending exhibitors were able to participate in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) International Buyer Program.

“We were accepted again for this program for 2016, and we’ve been increasing our marketing internationally,” Dolnack said. “We attend the IWA OutdoorClassics Show, where we have a booth promoting SHOT Show and Las Vegas. We don’t do this so much to gain exhibitors — because we already have a wait list — we do it to attract the interest of international buyers. Last year, we had delegations from 22 different countries, which were brought in by the DOC. We expect to have even more participation in January. We’re continually trying to grow our international attendance, and we’re going to try to get some Euros coming in and some U.S. products going out.”

This program provides the SHOT Show with support from the DOC to manage and facilitate the pairing of international buyers with exhibiting U.S. companies. The DOC works with U.S. exhibitors to educate them on existing government export programs. In addition, this program offers DOC assistance on a variety of issues to assist show exhibitors, including providing export counsel, assistance with intellectual property infringement (IPR), education on Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP) program, IPR protection measures during the show and the means to protect intellectual property in overseas markets.

Exhibitors can sign up and register for the service, and their company profile will be shared with pre-screened international buyers. Companies will also receive an invitation to a networking reception on Tuesday at the International Trade Center, allowing them to attend and mingle with potential buyers.

“During the Showtime program, exhibitors can meet with commercial specialists from embassies and consulates who lead the delegations,” Dolnack said. “Exhibitors can receive country-specific market information and talk about the potential of exporting their products to various countries.”

Dolnack also said there will be overseas market briefings Wednesday through Friday.

“There will be a room adjacent to the International Business Center on Level 2, where exhibitors will be able to sign up if they’re interested in a particular country,” he added. More information about this program is available at www.shotshow.org/exhibitors/ibp-exhibitor-services.


Mapping Your Show Route

The NSSF staff members have continued to ramp up their efforts to help attendees navigate the show.

“We’ve continued to make improvements to the SHOT Show Planner, but there’s only so much we can do in terms of the biggest complaint we get, which is the numbers on the floor plan are too small,” Dolnack said. “However, it’s also available via GoExpo, which is the tablet version.”

Dolnack said the app is provided by Core-apps, one of the leading native app builders in the event business.

“We’ll still have all the bells and whistles from last year,” he added. “In fact, our adoption rate on our app last year was higher than it was for the Consumer Electronics Show, if you can believe that. It just goes to show you our customers really are interested in technology. There’s a technical aspect to being a firearms enthusiast, and back where there were floppy disks, guys were using computers to calculate ballistics and trajectory. I think there’s a natural curiosity about technology in our industry.”

One thing new for 2016 is on the Exhibitor Dashboard and in the Marketing Toolkit.

“Exhibitors have to access the Dashboard using their booth number and password. We’ve added some new features, like how to promote your participation in advance,” Dolnack noted. “Traci Browne, author of The Social Trade Show, is writing some guest blogs and we’ve also provided some social media templates if a company wants to use TweetDeck or Hootsuite to line up some tweets in advance. We give them examples like ‘Come by and see us in booth 123 at the 2016 SHOT Show,’ and tweets to use during the show, just to remind people you’re there and to generate traffic for your booth.”


State Of the Industry Reception

Attendees fortunate enough to hold a ticket to the 2016 SHOT Show’s State of the Industry Dinner on Tuesday, January 19 will be treated to a performance by comedian Jeff Foxworthy. The dinner will be held in the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, Level 5, in the Palazzo Ballroom. Seats are limited and ticket pre-purchase is required. Tickets are $125 each for members and $145 each for non-members. Tables for 10 are $1,150 for members and $1,350 for non-members. Seat assignments are by date and time of payment. More information is available at www.shotshow.org/events/state-of-the-industry-dinner.

An avid outdoorsman, Jeff Foxworthy is one of the most respected and successful comedians in the country. He has excelled as a comic, author and TV personality for 25 years. He’s also the largest selling comedy-recording artist in history, a multiple Grammy Award nominee and best-selling author of more than 26 books.

Tickets went on sale to voting and supporting members in August, and the remaining tickets became available in late September to everyone else. Dolnack said they generally sell out by mid-December.

To purchase tickets, log into your Exhibitor or Attendee Dashboard on the SHOT Show website at www.shotshow.org or contact Customer Services at (855) 355-4768.


Shot Show Education Opportunities

Attendees always have plenty of educational possibilities at the SHOT Show, and 2016 will be no exception. First is SHOT Show University, which will be held on Monday, January 18, in the Venetian. The cost for the SHOT Show U is $250 for NSSF members and $500 for non-members. If you’re a Premium NSSF member, however, you can receive one complimentary SHOT Show University pass. To find out more about Premium Retailer Membership, visit www.nssf.org/retailers.

The 2016 SHOT Show University will be even bigger than it was in 2015.

“We’ve expanded SHOT Show U to 350 people,” Dolnack said. “One of the benefits of these sessions is not only what retailers learn from the speakers, but the topics spark conversations amongst retailers. They often can learn something from a fellow retailer even if it’s not covered but proven to work.”

One track will be on ATF regulations and compliance. Additional tracks focus on information for new retailers, range development, marketing and other issues veteran retailers face. The veteran retailer track is for the retailer who has been in business a long time, and will feature courses like publicizing your firearms business, heathcare reform issues and legal aspects of e-commerce.

The Retailer Seminar Program is also larger for 2016. Retailer Seminars held during the SHOT Show provide dealers with opportunities to learn more about how to grow their businesses and stay current with industry trends and issues. Dolnack said the 2016 show will offer 18 retailer seminars.

“We have some pretty dynamic topics lined up,” he said. “The seminars are $25 each and we have room for 150 retailers in each one. Last year we had 12, and all of them sold out at 150 people. Retailers can reserve their seats ahead of time and purchase tickets when they register.”

Besides SHOT Show University and the Retailer Seminars, there will also be classes for working L.E. officers. The Law Enforcement Education Program will be presented by NSSF, Police Magazine and the National Tactical Officers Association — where national experts present class sessions everyday.

“The program is free for L.E. officers, but they should register ahead of time,” Dolnack noted. “One reason we hold this program is because it’s often difficult for law enforcement to get approval to go to Las Vegas for a trade show. If there’s a training component attached to it — especially one that has received recognition — it’s easier for an officer to get authorization to go to the SHOT Show. In this way, we’re helping to ensure we have adequate attendance for our law enforcement and tactical exhibitors.”

For more information about SHOT Show University, Retailer Seminars and the Law Enforcement Education Program, visit www.shotshow.org/education-programs.


Partnering with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the SHOT Show provides
business-to-business matchmaking with U.S. exhibitors and international buyers.
At the 2015 show, more than 420 international buyers from 28 countries participated
in the International Buyer Program to maximize import/export potential with
U.S.-based manufacturers. Attendees can stay connected with show events through
the SHOT Show website and app.


Comedian Jeff Foxworthy will be returning to the 2016 SHOT Show’s State
of the Industry Dinner as the headline entertainment.

Take Advantage Of Media Coverage

Exhibitors have several ways to interact with the working press in the press room. They can put press kits there, or access the press conference room, where they can meet with selected media or schedule a press conference. If an exhibitor isn’t utilizing the press room properly, he or she is missing an opportunity, according to Dolnack.

“Exhibitors are able to reserve a bin in the press room, where they can put materials for the press to pick up. They can access the press room if they want to meet with the media. We have a press conference room and they can sign up to hold a press conference to make an announcement. We’ll have more information in the exhibitor Marketing Toolkit on how to work with the media and get publicity for their participation,” he said.

A note to exhibitors: Don’t just put out a few press kits and expect them to still be there the next day. Have someone from your company monitor the number of press kits remaining daily. If you only put out 25, they’ll be gone in a matter of minutes.

Be sure to utilize technology. Members of the press are much more likely to pick up information on flash drives or CDs than they are to pick up big folders of heavy paper, no matter how pretty the catalogs are. Exhibitors can sign up for press bins online. The link to do so is on the show website in the Exhibitor Resource Center at www.shotshow.org/erc.


Final Details

Although there are plenty of other shows during the year, none of them takes the place of the SHOT Show — which kicks off the New Business Year and showcases everything available within the trade. It’s also a networking show, an educational show and a media show to spread the word across the industry.

“That’s why the SHOT Show is a must-attend event every year,” Sanetti said. “It’s energizing for our entire industry. And because the attendees are retailers who are on the front lines with consumers, there’s no better way to start 2016 than by attending the show and returning to your store or range with all the new information and renewed energy.”

To stay up-to-date on last-minute Show announcements, visit www.shotshow.org.
By Carolee Anita Boyles
Photos: NSSF

2016 SHOT Show Hours

Tuesday, January 19
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 20
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 21
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Friday, January 22
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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