If you haven’t been to SHOT Show or plan to go this year, here are five reasons to attend the largest outdoors show in the world.
SHOT Show, happening January 19-22, 2016 in Las Vegas, is one of the best trading shows out there for outdoor enthusiasts to attend. This year’s annual event is slated to be even bigger than previous SHOT Shows.
Not familiar with SHOT Show? It is the “Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show and Conference” that showcases the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories industries. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) sponsors the event each year.
The first SHOT Show event took place in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1979. Today, it is regularly held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over 70,000 outdoor professionals, gun manufacturers, and enthusiasts will descend upon Sin City to check out new firearms, equipment, and gear, all while interacting with the best and brightest professionals through appearances, talks, and award shows.
Going to it is a rite of passage, and by no means an easy feat, as it is only open to trade professionals and members of the press.
In January, I had the pleasure of attending my first SHOT Show event as a credentialed blogger. Although the trade show can be overwhelming at times—navigating 630,000 square feet of space is an arduous task—it was one of the most memorable experiences for me as a younger blogger and outdoor enthusiast. SHOT Show is starkly different than most political conferences I go to; I appreciated the change of scenery and unusual normalcy found in conference goers.
While I won’t be attending SHOT Show 2016, I have laid out five reasons for others to get excited about attending this one-of-a-kind trade show:
1. Interact with 70,000+ likeminded individuals
One of the perks of attending SHOT Show, especially your first one, is the opportunity to meet and network with thousands of other outdoor enthusiasts. If you live in a not-so gun-friendly state or have a job unrelated to the industry, meeting people who share your interest in firearms, hunting, and even fishing will truly make the SHOT Show experience worthwhile. I met so many different people—from dealers to buyers to even fellow residents of Virginia. Don’t be afraid to meet new people!
2. Get a firsthand look at new firearms and other cool equipment
Prior to planning my trip to SHOT Show 2015, several friends who were more familiar with the trade show informed me how lucky I was to scout out new firearms. This was quite true. Familiar brands Remington, Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Ruger Mossberg, and Benelli stuck out to me—but that doesn’t cover the lot of firearms that were displayed.
I got to hold some handguns and AR-15s—all unloaded since it’s the event policy, and got to disassemble and assemble some handguns, which I admittedly hadn’t done before. Seeing these fascinating tools and learning more about safety firsthand not only is educational for us, but proves that our detractors are wrong about our ways.
3. Meet outdoor celebrities
One of the highlights of attending SHOT Show is seeing and meeting outdoor professionals in real life. I met a few interesting people and snapped photos with them, but the more popular public figures were harder to approach and snap photos with.
For example, I got to meet the likes of TopShot winner Chris Cheng and catch up with Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich. I also saw/passed by huntress Eva Shockey, country rapper Colt Ford, Miss Kansas 2013 and Outdoor Channel host Theresa Vail, and countless other familiar faces. There’s no better way to enjoy SHOT Show than interacting with the big wigs in the business!
4. Check out the sights and sounds of Las Vegas
There’s a lot to do and see in Las Vegas while attending SHOT Show. (I’m not much of a gambler or a crazy partier, but I love the countless amenities the city has to offer—so will you!) If you’re in need of some fresh air or crave some adventure, check out the hotels nearby. Every hotel has a different theme, a plethora of restaurants, and a unique set of attractions.
One of the most impressive attractions on the Strip is Bellagio Hotel and Casino’s Fountains. The best time to view them is at night.
If you like viewing cityscapes, head to the top of Stratosphere Hotel’s observation deck or ride the High Roller at The Linq—the world’s tallest observation wheel.
5. Make new, life-long friends
Perhaps the highlight of my SHOT Show 2015 experience was coming away with new friends and acquaintances. Regardless of whether or not you’re a social butterfly, you’ll make a new friend or two. SHOT Show is a great networking opportunity to meet likeminded folks who share your love of firearms and firearms safety. I still keep in touch with many people I met from SHOT Show and know these friendships will endure for years to come.
If you are planning to attend SHOT Show 2016, be sure to have fun and be safe. As for the rest of us, we’ll do our best to not be too envious of this year’s SHOT Show attendees.