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Surviving a Firearm Trade Show [PICS]

Jeff Lehman

Overwhelmed by the size of a trade show? Here is how to deal with it.

Many industries have some sort of a trade show or shows throughout the year that are popular to attend. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the electronics industry, Detroit Auto Show for cars and South by Southwest (SXSW) in computers and programming are just a few that are well-known. In the firearms industry two of the most popular are the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show and the NRA Annual Meetings, which in recent years has become basically a mini SHOT Show.

Getting the opportunity to attend one of these trade shows is a great adventure. You get to see and put your hands on all the new firearms coming out, plus get to check out existing firearms and accessories that you have thought about buying. You get to take some time and talk with the reps of the various companies. You can get some products at a reduced show cost. Not to mention, you can bring home some really cool swag.

Jeff Lehman
Jeff Lehman

The NRA Annual Meeting was recently held in Nashville, Tennessee. It consisted of 75,000 attendees, 9 acres of guns and gear with 550 displays of firearms and accessories. That’s a lot of ground to cover in just three short days. So how do you survive and make it through that scale of firearm fantasy land? Here are some tips and tricks to use to avoid “Trade Show Burnout” that I have learned from the past few NRA Shows.

  • Get Plenty of Rest:

Make sure to get plenty of rest the day before the show opens. You are going to be on the go for a majority of the day and you don’t get to enjoy the show as much when you are tired.

  • Make a Plan:

There is only so much time in the day and with the hours of the exhibit halls being limited, that makes it even tougher to make it through the whole thing. Take into account any meetings or seminars you want to attend and now you are really cutting it close.

Sit down and make a plan of where you want to be when. Chunk up the exhibit hall floor and do a little each day. Figure out which manufacturers and booths you really want to hit and go to those and spend more time. Walk the whole floor, but minimize the amount of time spent at other booths that don’t interest you as much. This helps you to stay on track and you don’t feel forced to make it through the last few booths.

  • Stay Hydrated:

As with any amount of walking, staying hydrated helps you stay focused and makes it more enjoyable. I took two water bottles and kept them filled at water fountains.

  • Take a Backpack: 

Most booths are giving out really cool swag items. Make sure to take a backpack or a bag of some sort to carry all your goodies in for that day. You can sort through them all at your hotel later that night and clean out the bag for the next day.

  • Don’t Grab Everything:

At the same time, don’t grab everything you see. Literature gets heavy after a while. So do pins, stickers, key chains and patches. Take only the literature you are interested in. I only took product catalogs from the manufacturers I prefer like Glock, Smith and Wesson and Sig Sauer and avoided others that I didn’t have much interest in.

  • Park Close:

As long as you aren’t paying outrageous prices for parking, park close if you can. That way, you can make a swing past the car at lunch to drop off the morning’s spoils to lighten your load for the afternoon.

  • Have Fun: 

Enjoy yourself. This is a great time to have fun, spend time sharing your hobby with others, and get to know people who share the same beliefs and interests as you do.

When you get the chance to go to your first trade show, remember these tips. Not only will it make your time more enjoyable, but you won’t feel so overwhelmed by everything. Take plenty of pictures too. You never know who you will meet or get a picture of.

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Surviving a Firearm Trade Show [PICS]