Industry’s 40th Mega Trade Show Earns Top Billing From Attendees
By Jade Moldae
St. Louis Hosted The First SHOT Show In 1979
Then, the show spanned three days and comprised 5,600 attendees, 290 exhibitors and 51,153 net square feet of exhibit space. Fast forward to the 40th SHOT Show, held Jan. 23–26 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, this year’s event hosted over 60,000 attendees, featured 1,660 exhibitors (a number exceeding 2,100 when the two-day Suppliers Showcase is included) and occupied more than 645,000 net square feet. These figures have made the SHOT Show the 19th largest tradeshow in the U.S., seventh largest in Las Vegas and the largest event held at the Sands.
“From our humble beginnings in St. Louis in 1979, to now being one of the leading trade shows in the world, we’ve come a long way in 40 years,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF SVP and CMO.
SHOT Show celebrated this milestone with strong attendance, upbeat buyers and sellers and a packed program of events during “SHOT Week.” This year’s show welcomed 150 new exhibitors on the main exhibition floor, 100 first-time vendors in the NEXT 2.0 Pavilion and marked the 20th time it was held in Las Vegas. Additionally, the expanded New Product Center encompassed 550 new products from 367 companies.
The overall mood of the show was positive from both exhibitors and retailers. While 2017 was a tough year for many, the industry knows there is an opportunity ahead to enhance engagement with customers and provide programs to keep them coming back for repeat visits. Many new products and software introductions centered on a theme of bringing back the “fun” elements of the shooting sports to stir up customer interest.
“We had good, reputable media coverage, both print writers and video, and had more time to discuss products with buyers and media,” said JJ Reich, Vista Outdoor communications manager. “It was a great show all together, with lots of traffic.”
“Everything went smoothly, from setup and arrival of all of our gear, to the actual running of the booth. 2018 was great for us,” shared Christine Bovat, Smith & Wesson manager of brand licensing.
“It was a hugely successful year for us … we’ve done more business at the 2018 show than ever before,” informed Patty Cueller, Aguila Ammunition marketing coordinator.
“All of our expectations were met, and as always we had a great show, doing lots of business. We’re looking forward to next year, for sure,” said Nathan Robinson, Winchester Ammunition marketing manager.
A new addition to the SHOT Show in 2017, the Supplier Showcase increased from 260 to more than 460
exhibitors and spanned two days in 2018. Feedback from attendees and exhibitors was positive, with strong
foot traffic reported.
State Of The Industry
In a shift from previous years, the State of the Industry Reception featured a streamlined format — with a cocktail reception and industry update from NSSF Chairman Robert Scott and President/CEO Steve Sanetti. Held the opening night of the show, the revamped State of the Industry Reception’s condensed program emphasized networking and provided attendees with a briefing on NSSF’s latest initiatives.
During the State of the Industry address, Scott delivered his assessment on what was an “unusual” 2017 business year.
“I think we can all agree that 2017 was a very unusual year, with the Presidential election delivering results that most of us here celebrated — but also brought us some unexpected consequences. Consequences that created short-term pain, but hopefully offset with longer-term security,” Scott said.
Scott expressed optimism about the industry’s potential for the 2018 business year.
“2018 promises to bring some further clarity and consistency to the marketplace after what was a fairly tumultuous 2017,” he informed.
According to Sanetti, the state of the industry is “adjusting.”
“Like all Americans, we are adjusting to a variety of ‘new normals’ with innovation and flexibility,” he said.
Sanetti recapped some of NSSF’s successful initiatives that took place in 2017, including the inaugural National Shooting Sports Month and CMO Summit, Project ChildSafe launches from Oklahoma City to Memphis, “Don’t Lie For The Other Guy” press events in Boston and Chicago, participation in national suicide prevention conferences and more. Furthermore, Sanetti recounted the industry’s continued endeavor to “Fix NICS.”
“During the last five years, our industry has worked tirelessly to ‘Fix NICS,’ at both the state and federal levels. This will, to quote Mark Twain, ‘confound our enemies and astound our friends,’” he stated. According to Sanetti, the industry has made an impact by getting 16 states to input 4.5 million disqualifying records into the system.
The shadow of last October’s tragedy in Las Vegas “necessarily loomed” over this year’s show, according to Sanetti, but the NSSF’s “resolve” to educate the public, legislators and media remains strong.
“It is for us to reassure an uneasy public that we grieve as much as they do, and that we in fact have actually made the most constructive efforts to help prevent the misuse of our products,” Sanetti said. “We’re proud that we, your industry’s trade association, have effective programs in place that are actually helping prevent the misuse of firearms, whether through accident, illegal purchase or suicide.”
The evening included a presentation of the NSSF Ken Sedlecky Lifetime Achievement Award to long-time outdoor communicator Tom Gresham.
A dealer writes up product information during a visit to the New Product Center. This year, 550 products
were displayed from 367 companies — providing a one-stop shop for attendees. Next month, dealers will
identify their “best in show” products.
Events Of SHOT Week
In what has become known as “SHOT Week,” this year’s SHOT Show featured a packed slate of events to benefit veterans, educate retailers and provide connections for media professionals and industry suppliers.
Beginning Sunday, Jan. 21, the HAVA/NSSF Golf Classic played at the Bear’s Best Golf Club in Las Vegas for the fourth year running. This event is held in support of Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA), which works to aid the healing process of military veterans through hunting and other shooting sports activities. More than $200,000 has been raised in support of this effort since the golf outing began in 2015. There were 117 shooting industry participants (up from 103 in 2017) and 25 companies sponsored teams. Plans for next year’s event are already underway.
“We’re looking to fill the field at the 2019 Golf Classic,” said Tom Taylor, HAVA chairman. “It’s become a great annual event and our partner NSSF works very hard to help HAVA deliver a first-class golf experience and our sponsor companies support the goal with sponsorships and raffle prizes.” Visit www.honoredveterans.org.
The 13th Annual SHOT Show Industry Day at the Range was held Monday, Jan. 22, at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club in Boulder City, Nev. Over 1,000 media members attended the day’s morning session, while 700 buyers, dealers, distributors and retailers took part in the afternoon installment. SHOT Show Industry Day featured nearly 200 exhibitors from nearly every segment of the industry.
“Industry Day at the Range 2018 gathered a record-breaking 1,800 attendees made up of the top media and buyers in the industry,” said Cathy Williams, co-owner of Industry Day at the Range. “Exhibiting companies began receiving media coverage the moment the day started and will continue to receive exposure throughout the year. We welcome all 2018 sponsors and exhibitors, as well as prospective new participants, to be part of the 2019 event.” Visit
Other pre-show events included SHOT Show University (an education forum for retailers), the Executive Management Seminar (providing business information to executives and managers) and the first day of the Supplier Showcase.
Save The Date
According to NSSF officials, plans are already underway for next year’s 41st SHOT Show — which will return to the Sands Expo Jan. 22–25, 2019. Last month NSSF announced a two-year extension to its current agreement with the Sands Expo, which will keep the SHOT Show in Las Vegas through 2027.
Spotlight: Supplier Showcase
In 2017, SHOT Show debuted the Supplier Showcase — a one-day event that featured 260-plus exhibiting companies involved in third-party extrusions, fabrication processes, fabrics, machinery, metal, plastics, software, logistical support and tools. By many accounts, this addition to SHOT Week was a resounding success. “We saw a huge interest from suppliers participating in this event. Exhibit space sold out almost immediately,” Dolnack relayed last year.
The inaugural Supplier Showcase’s success was so great, in fact, it was expanded to a two-day format this year — the Monday and Tuesday during SHOT Week. This year’s Supplier Showcase featured more than 460 exhibitors that reached a crowd of 4,000-plus designers, engineers, purchasing agents and others involved in the manufacturing sector.
“It’s focused around the supplier, it doesn’t have the distractions of retail, so you know the people coming here are legitimately looking for manufacturing solutions — which is one of the really good parts about it, so we can leave here with a bunch of leads of people that need our services,” said Dirk Burrowes, president of VYTEK Laser Systems, in an interview with SHOT Show TV.
“We attend SHOT Show every year, but with no exhibitor booth on site, so something like this where we can actually dedicate an entire day in setting up a booth and supply information for customers is a great benefit,” said Richelle Jacobs, HTI Plastics sales manager.
“It’s been a really good experience. We’re finally talking to a lot of people we talk over the phone with, shake their hand and have that conversation. It’s people we usually cold call — and it’s hard — well [at the Supplier Showcase] this has been really well accepted and the traffic has been amazing,” Richard Garrett, 300 Below Inc. industrial research consultant, told SHOT Show TV.
Who’s Exhibited At All 40 SHOT Shows?
Part of the SHOT Show’s 40th anniversary celebration included honoring the 57 companies that have exhibited at every show. Here’s the list of those select exhibitors:
Al Mar Knives
Camillus Knives/Acme United Corp.
Cimarron Firearms Co.
Danner Inc., Lacrosse Footwear
Dixie Gun Works Inc.
EMF Company Inc.
EZE-LAP Diamond Products Inc.
Forster Products Inc.
Freedom Arms Inc.
Heckler & Koch
Hodgdon Powder Co.
Hornady Mfg. Co.
Kershaw, Zero Tolerance Knives
Leupold & Stevens Inc.
Lyman Products Corp.
MAG Instrument Inc.
MEC Shooting Sports
MTM Molded Products Co.
National Rifle Association
Numrich Gun Parts Corp.
O.F. Mossberg & Sons
Redding Reloading Equipment
Remington Arms Co.
Smith & Wesson Corp.
Smith’s Consumer Products
Sturm, Ruger & Co.
The Safariland Group
Triple K Manufacturing Co.
Vista Outdoor Inc.
Williams Gun Sight Co.