The SHOT Show “Buzz” Is Back


From an attendee perspective, it was always going to be difficult to top the experience from SHOT Show 2022. Less-crowded aisles and ample meeting spaces were great for additional meetings on the fly or being more methodical in searching out new contacts. That said, however, last year’s show was missing something — which became immediately apparent on the opening morning of SHOT Show 2023. The SHOT Show “buzz” was missing.

The boisterous energy and palpable excitement from having tens of thousands of industry professionals together in the same place simply can’t be replicated on Zoom calls or in social distanced settings. SHOT Show 2023 delivered a concentrated dose of enthusiasm — especially important, amidst the backdrop of the ATF’s disappointing ruling on stabilizing braces, fresh attacks on Second Amendment rights (in Oregon and Illinois) and the fear of 2023 being a “down” year for the industry.

In numerous conversations with exhibitors, by and large, they expressed delight at traffic to their booths, optimism for the new year and general relief for a “back to normal” mega trade event. Depending on the category or SKU, supply chain crunches are still taking place and demand has softened (but not across the board — some manufacturers I talked to are forecasting year-over-year increases in ’23). If nothing else, a large-scale event like SHOT Show 2023 served as a timely reminder we’re all in this together.

Putting 2023 Into Context

On Wednesday morning during SHOT week, Jan. 18, I attended the SHOT Show Research Breakfast, which put the current market in context. NSSF, Southwick Associates, NASGW SCOPE and each provided data and a preview of research to come that will benefit the industry. 

Salam Fatohi, NSSF manager of research, previewed upcoming projects that stand to benefit industry businesses. Among them, a firearms magazine ownership estimate from consumers will be key as NSSF seeks to emphasize the “commonly owned” aspect of standard capacity magazines. Other research projects on the horizon include a first-time gun owner perception study, 2023 retailer survey and 2023 range survey.

Rob Southwick of Southwick Associates predicts firearm sales in 2023 will mirror those in 2017 and discounting will be on the rise, as well. (Which dealers are anticipating, too.) In addition, Southwick noted branding will be key for manufacturers this year as during the surge years, consumers bought whatever was available. Inventory levels have improved, giving customers more options. So, Southwick advised brands need to understand how their perceived by customers and deliver on their expectations to stand out.

NASGW Senior Data Analyst Tom Hopper shared 5 trends to watch for in 2023 — one of them caught my attention, and others sitting next to me. Hopper, through data obtained via NASGW SCOPE CLX and DLX, predicts centerfire ammunition shipments will shrink in 2023 but will still be double 2019 levels. This was an underlying point made during the research breakfast: Yes, things are forecasted to be “down” year over year from 2022, but by pre-COVID metrics, the industry is still in a strong position.’s Tim Lafferty used the passage of Oregon’s Measure 114 as a case study to show how swiftly consumer interest in firearms can jump following anti-gun legislation. Analytics observed on showed interest from women increased significantly after Measure 114 was passed. The data was clear: If your state or locale is prepared to advance anti-gun/anti-industry legislation, get ready for a rush on firearm sales.

Final Takeaways

If SHOT Show 2023 is anything to go by, there’s still a lot of enthusiasm for innovation and uncovering future top-performing brands.

With the potential for a down market in 2023, it will be crucial for retailers and manufacturers alike to “own” their niche this year. 

If your store excels at offering the best training in your area, don’t be afraid to lean into it and promote it on local advertising channels. If you can offer the best long-range setup to a prospective customer, don’t be shy to share customer testimonials. If you have the best frontline team in your area, shine the light on how they’ve been able to welcome and empower first-time and repeat customers.

If SHOT Show 2023 is anything to go by, there’s still a lot of enthusiasm for innovation and uncovering future top-performing brands.

Benelli Launches Premier Dealer Program

The Benelli Premier Dealer Program is a new initiative by Benelli USA that delivers a positive, consumer-focused in-store experience with leading independent retailers across the country.

This program pairs the most respected shooting sports retailers in the U.S. with an experiential retail floor presentation highlighting the Benelli, Franchi and Stoeger brands. Its centerpiece consists of 90 Benelli brand long guns displayed in a dynamic merchandising format that is high-tech, efficient and visually stands out to educate and inspire consumers.

In addition to the enhanced merchandising experience, the program offers participating dealers enhanced benefits, including product fulfillment, featured exposure on, consumer events and more. The Benelli Premier Dealer Program also combines in-store merchandising with digital and social media in an omni-channel approach to build brand and product awareness through Benelli’s top customers.

“Benelli USA could not be more excited to officially launch our Premier Dealer program as an elevated partnership that strengthens the bond with our top customers nationally,” said Lee Colquitt, Benelli USA VP of sales. “By investing in each other, we will work to grow revenue by combining our best-in-class firearms with best-in-class independent retailers and by incorporating high-level sales and marketing strategies for years to come.”

NIOA Acquires Barrett Firearms

Australian defense contractor NIOA has expanded its global reach with the 100% acquisition of Barrett Firearms.

“NIOA’s association with Barrett dates back to 2008. We have been inspired by the story of Barrett and admire what Ronnie, Chris and the family have built over more than four decades,” said NIOA Group CEO Robert Nioa. “Together we share the same mission — combining our expertise and family business values will ensure Barrett carries on building the finest products in the world.’’

Nioa confirmed the company would continue to operate under the Barrett brand as a separate division within the NIOA Group alongside NIOA Australia, NIOA New Zealand, the Australian Missile Corporation and the group’s investment in joint venture company Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions.

All management and staff at the Murfreesboro manufacturing facility in Tennessee have been retained and production will continue as normal. Over time it is expected that manufacturing activities in Murfreesboro will be further expanded. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founder Ronnie Barrett and Chris Barrett will provide ongoing support as executive advisers to the company.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Barrett story. Rob and the NIOA team have great respect for the legacy Barrett has created as the leader in long-range precision rifles,” said Ronnie Barrett. “It’s reassuring to know Barrett will be in good hands with a family-owned company that is focused on manufacturing and delivering world-class firearms and munitions to a global network.”  

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