So what could I possibly bring to the table regarding SHOT and why would I even write it up? Of course, while I’m there I fondle as much cool firepower as I can and drool over all of the things I do not have in my safe, like everyone else but now, more than ever, I stay focused on my real purpose for being there. Networking. SHOT has become, to me and my company, the single best vehicle for networking with decision makers who hold the keys to keeping the fight for gun rights on the nations airwaves…and this year did NOT disappoint!
My assessment in this column isn’t about the new Kel-Tek that had lines around the booth but more so the overall health of the show itself. I would like to say I’m writing a “post-pandemic” review but it seems that still may be a bit too optimistic, sadly. COVID fingerprints continued to dominate the landscape, unfortunately. Last year, SHOT, like everything else, was put on ice due to the virus and I wasn’t convinced as late as ten days prior to its start date, that this year’s event would kick off as planned.
Thank God it did!
Here’s my take and why it matters to all of us. As you would probably expect, attendance at this year’s SHOT was down, way down. Noticeably down. It was felt as soon as I headed to baggage claim on Monday evening after arrival in Vegas when a usual cluster**** at baggage claim was flat out non-existent. In fact, my baggage carousel was the only one turning, and if you’ve ever been to Vegas any day of the week, that never happens, particularly when there are major conventions in town. I knew right away with two large conventions on tap that this was not a good sign for attendance at either show.
I stayed at the LINQ this year and the hotel itself upon arrival was noticeably slow. I could get around easily, the casino floors were open, there were seats at the bars and restaurants and closing times were much earlier than usual…as in there were actually closing times and that NEVER happens in Vegas.
On Tuesday after arriving on the show floor a couple of hours early to get the lay of the land and set up the AAR studio, the empty booth spaces did not go unnoticed. In fact where I was located was a 7,000 square foot booth space vacated by Beretta who donated their space to the NSSF Media Center. Across from me was another 14,000 square feet of space that would have housed Benelli and to my left another 5,000 square feet of space vacated by Burris. There was incredible breathing room, and well, it was fantastic!