Despite Uncertainty In The Market, Industry Posts Strong Showing
By Jade Molde
SHOT Show 2019 boasted more than 2,400 exhibitors — giving dealers the opportunity to connect with a record number of companies.
SHOT Show 2019 marked its 10th consecutive staging at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas with a record-breaking 2,400-plus exhibitors. Held Jan. 22–25, the industry’s largest event welcomed more than 58,000 industry professionals from 111 countries who were privy to 12.5 miles of aisles and 692,000 net square feet of exhibit space.
“While we haven’t yet received the final results of our post-show survey, customer feedback on-site rated the 2019 SHOT Show a success,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF SVP and CMO. “One comment that stood out was exhibitors thought the quality of attendees — that is, legitimate buyers — seemed to be higher than even last year.”
The debut of the one-day Pop-Up Preview and continued growth of the two-day Supplier Showcase (first held at SHOT Show 2017 as a one-day event with 260 exhibitors) were two of the show’s biggest success stories, Dolnack shared.
“With the one-day Pop-up Preview, held on Level 5 Wednesday, buyers seemed to appreciate getting a sneak peek at several hundred companies brand new to the SHOT Show — and in many cases — new to the industry,” he said. “The Supplier Showcase held Monday and Tuesday on Level 5 drew more than 500 OEM and suppliers as exhibitors this year. By creatively utilizing this space we have managed to introduce nearly 700 new exhibitors to our buyer attendees and these companies represent new products and categories that offer retailers and range operators fresh profit opportunities.”
Reaction From Exhibitors
Even with a drop in total attendance from previous years, SHOT Show exhibitors noted an increase in business conducted at the show — reporting record numbers in some cases.
“The Otis Technology and Shooter’s Choice booth experienced a great turnout at SHOT Show 2019. While traffic was noticeably down throughout the show — and we did notice it in our booth at times — the attendees who stopped by were genuinely interested in our products and poised to purchase,” said Heather Pleskach, Otis Technology director of marketing. “We had fantastic meetings with all our accounts and our new products were very well received — we’re looking forward to a prosperous year.”
“This year we had our most successful SHOT Show to date and saw an increase in orders across all products,” said Camille Torres, RISE Armament director of marketing. “The data shows the industry as a whole is down, but categories and companies are still growing. For example, the demand for aftermarket triggers continues to increase as customers understand the benefits and want to upgrade their rifles’ performance.”
New product announcements released prior to the show created a buzz at the Colt and Walther booths, respectively.
“SHOT Show 2019 was very busy and uplifting for the Colt Team. It was great to give our dealers a look at the new King Cobra, which is the first .357 double-action revolver we’ve produced in almost 20 years,” said Paul Spitale, Colt’s Mfg. Co. SVP of commercial sales. “Our stocking dealers are a deep part of our brand, so we enjoy this opportunity to get out in front of them each year to hear their feedback.”
“This year’s show was one of our best in terms of digital reach and attendance at our booth,” said Cody Osborn, Walther marketing manager. “It was one of the first years we had people come to our booth knowing exactly what our new product was — the Q5 Match Steel Frame. The attitude of the crowd was great and there seemed to be a lot of confidence in 2019 being a great year for the firearms industry.”
One of the top headlines generated at SHOT Show 2018 was Weatherby Inc.’s Wyoming relocation announcement. CEO Adam Weatherby provided an update on the company’s progress on its new headquarters — which established Wyoming residency in Sheridan March 1.
“Coming off the heels of SHOT Show, it’s looking like 2019 will be a promising year for Weatherby,” he shared. “With our factory move from California to Wyoming complete, we’re positioned to take advantage of our increased capacity, motivated workforce, lower operating expenses and more business-friendly environment to push toward continuous improvement and new product development. This relocation has been no small undertaking, but we’ll truly be better for it. In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying the endless big-game hunting opportunities Wyoming has to offer as we ‘field test’ our products in our new backyard.”
State of the Industry
At the State of the Industry presentation, held the opening night of SHOT Show, NSSF CEO Steve Sanetti highlighted the foundation’s successful safety programs, such as Project ChildSafe and Operation Secure Store, and announced an unprecedented effort to get the industry’s message out as the “true” gun safety experts in 2019 and the years ahead.
“We are resolved to not let our many good works go unnoticed or be wrongly credited to others, and we will not be defined by others,” Sanetti said. “We will fight the shaming — the name calling being thrown our way — with the truth we are a critical part of the solution and we have effective programs in place to combat the misuse of our products.”
During his report, Sanetti addressed those outside the industry to set biases aside and join in a united effort on gun safety.
“If America is genuinely serious, about ‘doing something’ that actually works to make it safer, persons of goodwill need to see through their bias against America’s firearms industry and join us in our real solutions,” he said.
Sanetti, who will retire at the end of this year, was presented the NSSF Ken Sedlecky Lifetime Achievement Award by NSSF Board of Governors Chairman Bob Scott and NSSF President Joe Bartozzi.
SHOT Show Week Events
The days prior to the show saw the return of several high-profile events of SHOT Show Week.
Held Sunday, Jan. 20, the 5th Annual NSSF/HAVA Golf Classic featured an increased field of 152 players — up from 116 last year. Since its inception, this event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA), an organization formed by companies in the shooting and outdoor industry with the purpose of raising awareness and further assisting disabled veterans with their healing process through guided hunts, shooting events and other outdoor sports activities.
Monday, Jan. 21, featured several prominent events, including the 14th Annual SHOT Show Industry Day at the Range, SHOT University, the Executive Management Seminar and the first day of the Supplier Showcase.
Cathy Williams, co-owner of Industry Day at the Range, shared the one-day event welcomed a record 1,815 media members and buyers.
“With over 200 exhibiting manufacturers test-firing, demoing and displaying the hottest new products on the market, it’s no surprise Industry Day continues to be the premier shooting and exhibition event in the industry,” she said.
Industry Day will return Jan. 20, 2020. Registration for returning exhibitors is already open, and opens April 1 for new exhibitors. Visit www.shotshowrangeday.com.
Expansion Plans For 2020, 2021
The culmination of the show’s events led to a positive assessment from new NSSF President Joe Bartozzi.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of the 2019 SHOT Show, particularly how our new offerings like the Pop-Up Preview were received,” he said. “We want all our attendees and sponsors to know our dedication to listening to their feedback, innovating at SHOT Show and working hard to improve the show experience for everyone will continue.”
Next year, the SHOT Show will undergo the first of two significant expansions in Las Vegas. In addition to a continued presence at the Sands Convention Center, SHOT Show 2020 will also encompass the MGM Grand Conference Center — which will host the Supplier Showcase in its entirety. In 2021, the show will branch out to the $375 million, 550,000-square-foot Caesars Forum, currently under development next door to the Sands.
These two venues will increase SHOT Show’s overall net exhibit space by 50 percent, which in turn will provide opportunities for new exhibitors, Dolnack informed.
“One of frustrations is the fact we have well over 1,000 companies on the waitlist to exhibit at SHOT Show, and we add about 400 more companies each year,” he said. “It’s important to help those companies gain access to the market so they can grow and prosper along with our buyers. By expanding to the MGM Conference Center next year we’ll be able to accommodate those waitlist companies as well as providing NEXT and Pop-Up Preview exhibitors the opportunity to have a full-size presence at our industry’s largest trade show.”
Dolnack estimates these changes will enable SHOT Show to welcome 800 new exhibiting companies in 2020, providing attendees access to over 3,000 prospective partners.
“There isn’t anywhere else on earth where buyers can meet that many suppliers,” he stated. “And we believe this growth benefits everyone in the industry.”
Daniel Defense introduced the Delta 5, its first foray into the bolt-action rifle platform, days before SHOT Show. Shooting stalls at its booth provided attendees a chance to “sight in” this new platform.
The one-day Pop-Up Preview enabled dealers to interface with an entirely new group of exhibitors at the SHOT Show.
Save The Date
SHOT Show 2020 will return to Las Vegas, slated to run Jan. 21–24 at the Sands Expo and MGM Grand Conference Center. NSSF officials announce preparations for next year’s event are already well underway.
1. “Smart Track” Adjustable Table – Gun Range Builder
2. DELTA 5 – Daniel Defense
3. CROSS MAG 10/10 – Cross Industries
4. 4-In-1 Tool For GLOCK – Real Avid
5. CZ Scorpion Drum 50-Round 9mm Magazine – X Products LLC
6. “Thunder” Hammer – TANDEMKROSS
7. Jesse James “B.F.K.” Fixed Blade Knife – Blue Ridge Knives
1. “Smart Track” Adjustable Table – Gun Range Builder