By Jade Moldae
For the first time in several years, SHOT Show 2020 was held in a period not marked by either fear-induced buying or widespread sluggish sales — replaced, instead, by a growing sense of optimism. While the industry continues to reshuffle in the wake of several distributors exiting the wholesale business in the last year, attendees were quick to point out the robust nature of the year’s premier trade event.
“SHOT Show reflected the industry as a whole is in a great place right now,” observed John McConkey, president of the Modern Sportsman in Burnsville, Minn.
“The SHOT Show had great energy and excitement this year, with business trends strengthening, along with a surge in new product announcements,” added Richard Sprague, president of Yuma, Ariz.-based Sprague’s Sports.
With more than 2,500 exhibitors covering nearly 16 acres, the 42nd SHOT Show presented hundreds of opportunities for attendees across its lineup of events — SHOT University, the Supplier Showcase, Industry Day At The Range, NEXT Pavilion, Pop-Up Preview and in the main exhibit halls.
“We’re pleased with the 2020 SHOT Show on all fronts,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF SVP and CMO, “and will continue to work to improve the show experience for not only our current attendees but also for all the new exhibitors that will be attending SHOT Show for the first time when it expands next year.”
Gun Owners Care Initiative launched
During the State of the Industry event, NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi provided attendees with an update on a number of its safety, education and outreach programs — including Real Solutions, Project ChildSafe, National Shooting Sports Month, +ONE, First Shots, #GUNVOTE and more — while also unveiling a new initiative: Gun Owners Care.
“Too often, people like you and me are being shamed and disrespected. Why? Because we choose to exercise our Second Amendment rights,” Bartozzi said. “The NSSF is leading the way with a new initiative called Gun Owners Care, to show the world our industry and millions of gun owners care about helping our neighbors and communities and are working to promote the safe and responsible use of firearms.”
The Gun Owners Care initiative aims to push back against organizations and businesses trying to shame gun owners, while giving gun owners a platform to tell their stories about their positive contributions. It will educate the public on the industry’s leading support of wildlife conservation, promote Project ChildSafe’s impact and encourage participation in target shooting and hunting. For more information, visit www.GunOwnersCare.org.
With more than 2,500 exhibitors covering
nearly 16 acres, the 42nd SHOT Show
presented hundreds of opportunities
for attendees across its lineup of events.
Being an election year, Bartozzi highlighted the ripple effect of inviting first-time shooters and hunters out to the range or field in 2020.
“The state of our industry may be challenged at this moment, but I see this as a call to action for each and every one of us to step forward and redouble our efforts to get our friends and family members out to the range for target shooting, out to the field for hunting memories that will last a lifetime and, perhaps most importantly, out to the polls to vote on election day,” he stated.
Past Leaders Honored NSSF unveiled the SHOT Show Hall of Fame — honoring six initial inductees for their roles in creating NSSF and developing SHOT Show.
The first class of inductees to the NSSF Hall of Fame were three early leaders of NSSF — Warren “Lefty” Page, Charlie Dickey and Arnold “Rocky” Rohlfing — and three early and influential members of the NSSF Board of Governors — Harmon Williams, Bill Talley and Ted Rowe.
“Honoring past leaders and their accomplishments, while at the same time keeping our focus on the future, is something we all should do. Our industry, our products, our shooting and hunting activities and our past leaders are part of America’s story and heritage. They deserve respect and praise,” said Robert Scott, chairman of the NSSF Board of Governors.
When the show opens next year, SHOT Show will enter a new era with the opening of the all-new Caesars Forum — which neighbors the Sands Expo. A custom-built skybridge for SHOT Show attendees will facilitate movement between both venues.
“We’re excited about Caesars Forum and what it means for the industry in terms of providing access to the market for those companies on the waitlist, as well as giving existing companies an opportunity to expand their brand presence,” Dolnack said.
As of late February, several exhibitors had already signed on to move from the Sands Expo to Caesars Forum.
“Industry leaders Ruger, LWRCI, Realtree, Davidson’s, Lipsey’s and Les Baer have stepped up to anchor our show floor at Caesars Forum,” Dolnack stated.
In light of the expansion, Dolnack anticipates a record number of exhibitors will be at the 2021 event.
“There could be as many as 3,000 exhibitors, depending on how much space each exhibitor takes as we assign booths in late April,” he shared. “It’s our hope and intent many of the companies on the waitlist will be able to exhibit on the main show floor in 2021.”
Dolnack shared how SHOT Show’s popular Supplier Showcase, NEXT and Pop-Up Preview offerings will be impacted.
“We anticipate NEXT and Pop-Up Preview exhibitors will take space on the main show floor, while the Supplier Showcase will remain as is,” he continued.
In addition to expanding the number of exhibits, the new venue will bring fresh education experiences for attendees — including hands-on product demonstrations.
“There will be shooting trailers in front of Caesars Forum, as well as ride- along experiences from our official truck/ATV partners,” Dolnack said. “Other fun activities will take advantage of the outdoor space at Caesars Forum and remind attendees of an NFL pregame experience outside the stadium, too.”
Save The Date
SHOT Show 2021 will be held Jan. 19–22, returning to the Sands Expo for the 12th consecutive year. The expansion to the neighboring Caesars Forum represents the start of a new era for the mega trade show.