I have successfully made it through my 14 or 15th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show. I feel like it was a productive week and I was able to wheel and deal, shake thousands of hands, meet tons of new people, and hug old friends. What’s amazing is that this show was the first one where I did not manage to catch the SHOT Crud, which is the schoolyard bully that gives wedgies and swirlies to COVID.
SHOT is the industry trade show for the firearms industry, bringing everyone from the firearms industry together in one place. This includes raw suppliers, manufacturers, gunsmiths, distributors, gun stores, media, instructors, law enforcement, and military, all under one extremely noisy and somewhat tipsy roof.
SHOT means different things depending on what you do in the industry. For someone like me, SHOT gives me my “dance card” for new products to test and write about in the coming year. For others, it could mean setting up orders and distribution, all the way to the mom and pop store getting killer deals that they can pass on to customers.
Yes, it’s a massive candy store for those of us who like guns—replete with swag, stickers, patches, posters, celebrity shooters and all the pew you can pew. Sadly for “civilians,” this is an industry trade show and meant for professionals (and UnPewFessionals, but that’s not what my badge says). The closest analog that the public can attend is the NRA Annual Meetings, which will be in Dallas this May.
How Big Is It?
So big that it’s impossible to clap eyes on every booth, let alone visit them all, in the four-day show. I sure gave it the ol’ college try for many years, and all I got was blisters and bone-deep fatigue. Well, duh: SHOT is the 8th largest trade show in the U.S., and the third largest Las Vegas handles yearly. Only the SEMA (Automotive aftermarket industry) and CES (Consumer technology association) Shows are bigger, but not by much! Get this: It’s even bigger than the AVN show, which is the Adult Entertainment Expo … SHOT beats out porn!
The 2024 Shot Show hosted more that 2,500 exhibitors, with more almost 14 miles of aisles. All of this is spread over more than 18 acres of showroom floor. You could literally park 547 F-16 fighter jets on the show floor.
SHOT alone contributed to over 88 million dollars to the local Las Vegas economy. A couple grand was just from this author who loves to wine and dine at the celebrity chef restaurants. And who also forgets that when it comes to the games … the house always wins.
Joking aside, SHOT began in 1979, and was first hosted in St. Louis, Missouri. Now in its 45th year, the show has been at this location since 2010. When it comes to locations, in my opinion there is no better place. Las Vegas is like a second vacation home, sure I am there to “work” but in the off time you get the opportunity to play. I love the direction of SHOT, because it always seems to be the place where you re-set from the prior year and start to set your new year up for success.
Don’t be too jealous if you’re not in the industry and can’t go to SHOT. The NRA convention will be right around the corner, and I promise you it’s more fun. There are fewer bikini-clad booth babes for sure, but you also don’t have to struggle past the crowds gawking at polymer injection molding vendors. You just get the fun stuff, the new guns and ammo, with the manufacturers there to cater to end users and answer your questions. See you in Dallas!
–James the “XDMAN” Nicholas Mr. UnPewFessional Himself!
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