View Full Version : SHOT Show - Lessons Learned...

23 January 2011, 20:46
After being home from SHOT for about 3 days now, I am still trying to absorb the mass amounts of information that I had attempted to take in. This being my first SHOT, there were definitely some things that I wish that I would have known before attending.

For those of us who attended, let’s attempt to put together a list of lessons learned this year and from the years past.

23 January 2011, 20:46
Footwear – I attempted to buy a pair of Blackhawk Tanto Light Hikers for the show because I had heard that they were extremely comfortable. Unfortunately, they did not arrive on time and I had to make due with what I had. Needless to say, my dogs were dead tired at the end of each day and each day got progressively worse. I would estimate that we walked about 15-20 miles in the 3 days that we were there. It didn’t help much that our hotel was about .5 miles away and we opted to walk instead of renting a car. We talked to a gentleman at the show who was wearing a pair of the Vibram Five Finger shoes. He laughed at us later when he saw us sitting down resting our feet. Lesson Learned: Take the most comfortable shoes to the show that you can. Comfort is way more important than style. You feet will thank you for it.

Pre-Planning – No matter how much pre-planning I thought that I did before the show, it definitely was not enough. The planning that I did do pretty much went out the window once we arrived. The maps that SHOT had available on their webpage were substandard as you couldn’t really read the numbers on the booths. About day 3 I finally found a map that was useful in the SHOT daily, but by that point I had a pretty good grasp of what the layout of the floors were and only needed to k now what the booths number was to find it.

Length of Stay – I only stayed for three days this year, from Tuesday to Thursday. I saw most of what I wanted to see, but I felt rather rushed during my stay at booths and would have like to have gone more in depth with some companies. I also missed the Media Range Day, which would have proved to have been a great learning experience and who can argue with getting to throw lead down range on someone else’s dime.

What to carry around on the show floor – No matter how frugal you are in taking brochures, manufacturer CD’s, and SWAG, your bag fills up quick. Add in a camera and a few lenses and the other equipment you decide to take with you, your bag becomes quite heavy. I took a rolling laptop case and my Sneaky Bags Active Shooter Bag (Link (http://www.weaponevolution.com/forum/showthread.php?2605-Sneaky-Bags-SB02-Active-Shooter-Bag-Review )) with me. They both filled up quick and became a pain to lug around. I noticed that a lot of people were pulling around a hard plastic expanding folding crate (available at Staples for $22.99 Link (http://www.staples.com/Staples-Expanding-Folding-Crate-on-Wheels/product_440122)). RSR Group was handing them out to manufacturers, so no luck for me. I will be buying one for next year.

Photo and Video Equipment – Be prepared for very poor lighting conditions. I shot a lot of my photos using 1600 ISO and an aperture between f2.8 – f5.6. I could have used a flash, but the lighting of the flash was causing very harsh shadows from up close. The video that I shot was with a small Kodak PlaySport camera that shoots in 1080p HD, though I only used the 720p (60fps) setting. The quality was pretty good, but I would have preferred to have used a video camera with better manual settings. Maybe next year I will have the funding to buy a new setup.

Media vs. Buyers – If you were a buyer at SHOT and were willing to shell out some bones, you received the exhibitors undivided attention. If you were media going to a large manufacturer, you didn’t really get the time of day. The smaller manufacturers and those who are up and coming were very receptive with us. While talking to a Surefire rep I was literally pushed out of the way by a suit (company executive) so someone “more important” (i.e. had $$$ to spend) could view the products. What I don’t think that the large manufacturers realize is how much of a profound effect internet media can have on their products, either in a good or a bad way.

Business Contacts – Business cards are passed around like candy at Halloween. I went through about 150 cards while I was there. They are requested as much as they are passed out. If you are going to SHOT, having some business cards to pass out is a great way to assist with further contacts.

Food – If you opt to eat while at the show, either bring something with you, or plan on spending some $$$ for the show food. A hotdog ran about $5.50, though you could find a full plate of food on the first floor for around $13. A bottle of water was $3, though the Press Room had free water, coffee, and soda’s (pop for those who don’t call it soda). Also trying to find some seating was a challenge. There seemed to be a lot of chairs and tables in areas where they didn’t have food and one or two tables where they did. Next year I will try to make an attempt to bring some food with me to the show floor so I am not wasting time waiting in line and paying inflated prices to the venders.

BEER! – If you like beer, there are some booths that graciously offered free beer at their “happy hour” times. Taser offered free beer, but went through two kegs in less than an hour.

Overall my SHOT experience was a good one. There are some things that I will do differently next time and hopefully they will help in making the trip a smoother one.

23 January 2011, 21:01
Just thought of another...

Getting "Sucked In" – One of the exhibitors top priorities is to get you to their booth and to keep you there. Even if you don't have an interest in their product and stop anyway, you are destined to be stuck there until they are either out of breath or until they can suck someone else in. If you need to move on, politely thank them for their time and move on or you could be there for a while. Some of the booths that we got "sucked into" were products that from the exterior looked interesting until the exhibitor began explaining the product and how it worked. It was amazing how many products were out there that were totally off the wall and not entirely thought through. Word of advice to manufacturers: If you are developing a product that you intend to sell to a certain demographic (i.e. Law Enforcement), run your idea by a few Law Enforcement Officers, preferably Firearms Instructors if related to firearms, before you market it. There was at least one booth that said that they would not be marketing their product in Washington State after we informed him that his product would not work from a Law Enforcement stand point. And the product was directly targeted to Law Enforcement.

24 January 2011, 03:48
Pretty good lessons overall and while I didn't attend this year they mostly match my previous experience. A few notes.

Take the best shoes YOU ALREADY OWN. Buying new ones a week in advance is a bad idea. Take shoes that you already know are comfortable. I wear running shoes, even with the "business casual" dress code I apply to myself for these things. Everyone understands, I promise.

Photo equipment. I am by no means a photographer, but frankly some of the best pics I've ever gotten at these things have come from a point-n-shoot. Unless you're really, really good at this kind of photography you're more likely to overthink the shot with a DSLR and multple lenses than you are to get it "right". at least in my case. I intended to do this year with nothing but my iPhone4. much less crap to tote.

Swag. I turn it almost all down. No catalogs, not brochures, none of that crap. Pins, stickers or free useful equipment? OK. I hate banging into the idiots with the rolling plastic bin with no SA who leave them all over. If I make it next year I may well make a game of hijacking any that are left unattended and moving them to the dumpster, that's how much I hate those damn things. It's the internet/information age. Nobody needs to be toting around that much crap. Nobody.

Media. Agree, to an extent. IME having "internet" on your badge vs. being from print media makes a huge difference. If you have a known title/publisher on your ID it goes a long way towards changing their perception of you. Someone from Guns & Ammo, for example, is going to get a lot more respect than some "blogger" (which is how many of them think of "us"). However, the exhibitors are there to do business, and no amount of self-important "I'm with the media!" should get in the way of that. I begin each conversation with "if you need to break off to go sell some shit, do it" and most of the vendors seem to appreciate that.

From a media standpoint, making contact before the show helps tremendously. At IACP I talked to the directors of LE sales at many of the booths. If I had simply walked up unannounced that very day I would have gotten some hourly flunky.

I haven't been to the Sands, but I hear the layout is for shit. Funny that everyone cried about lack of titty bars in Orlando and wanted to go back to Vegas, and they picked a place for three years with a layout that everyone has bitched about since. I was looking forward to trying the iPhone App for this year's show. What I've done in the past is gotten the vendor list and made myself a list of everyone I NEED to see. Yes, you miss the small guy in the corner that's about to take the world by storm, but you also find a lot of those guys just getting from point A to point B.

24 January 2011, 18:43
CAMERA: Cameras-simple point & shoot maybe a Canon G12, with HD video ability, keep you DSLR in the bag for a close up. mono-pod and try not to use a flash.

PRE-PLANNING: Try to do that, set up your appointments, if all else fail, Bogart your way in.

FOOTWEAR: A comfortable shoe, Teva, Keen and/or soft mesh running shoes.

WEAR: Vertx pants or Crye with built in knee pads with you need to take a knee for shooting a picture.

CONTACTS: keep this listed on your smart phone, I-pad or some e-device.

FOOD: Subway sandwich by Harris hotel. Use a Camelback water bottle. Stay away from drinking soda-pop.

GEAR: a decent backpack to carry your bounty/swag. When filled, ship UPS home.

MEDIA: Be nosey and ask questions. If they don't want to talk, ask for their business card and say can I quote you on that? Media is changing and the mass are using more smart phones, I-pads and laptops, they want the info now vs a magazine a month later. We may not be the NY Times or Guns & Ammo but we do get the word out.

SWAG: I give to my co-workers, kids and significant others.

BEER: Enough said. Mine were free where I went.