If you are one of the few people reading this that do not know what the SHOT Show is, it can be described as inevitably the premier event to attend for anyone associated with the firearms and outdoor industries. SHOT, which is an acronym for Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade (Show), is the largest trade show for shooting sports, law enforcement, and hunting. SHOT Show is owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and is produced and managed by Reed Exhibitions.

The SHOT Show takes place every January and for the past few years has been consistently hosted at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas. This year’s show was from January 15th – 18th. The Venetian, which is connected to the Sands Expo Convention Center, also hosts a portion of the show as well. The total net area of the show covers an amazing 630,000 square feet and the NSSF claims that if you were to walk in front of every booth that you would have covered approximately 12.5 miles. The Law Enforcement sections of the show cover 170,000 square feet of the floor, up from 7,000 square feet 10 years ago. Comfortable shoes are a must if you plan on taking a tour of all of the booths.

This year marked the 35th SHOT Show, which had its official opening in 1979, located in St Louis, Missouri and had around 5,600 attendees. And for any naysayers that believe that the firearms industry is not strong, should look at the numbers of those who attended the show. The 2013 show had an overall attendance of 62,371, including approximately 2,000 members of the media. With over 1,600 exhibitors present at the show, there is definitely not a shortage of guns, gear, gadgets, and gizmos to check out, handle, and if you are lucky enough to attend Media Day, shoot.

This year’s Media Day at the Range, which was hosted at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club, located in Boulder City, Nevada, occurred on the Monday before the show. Media day was cold, like in the high 20’s and windy cold. The Media Day was also split into two separate sessions, morning and afternoon. The morning session was for the members of the media that were directly invited by exhibitors and the afternoon session was for the remaining members of the registered media. Due to the weather, a good number of exhibitors decided to close up shop and head back to the city to warm up. Though this was disappointing, it was still worth the 45 minute drive to check out the exhibitors that stuck around. Being at SHOT and handling a firearm is one thing, but being able to shoot a very wide variety of firearms with someone else’s ammo is almost worth its weight in gold.

Probably the largest benefit in attending SHOT is networking. Nowhere else can you find a single location where you can meet and talk to industry representatives from the owner of the company to the engineer who designed the product you want to learn more about. Finding out first hand the reason for a certain design or the functionality of a product can truly help out with understanding how that product is intended to be used.

Silencerco Saker 5.56 Suppressor

Looking to further your knowledge while at the show? Whether you are Law Enforcement looking some new tactics and techniques, a Retailer looking for current practices and business improvements, or if you are looking for the latest from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE), there may be a session suited for you.

Yep, there’s an app for that. Sponsored by ArmaLite, The SHOT Show has a mobile app, rightly named, SHOT Mobile. This app was found to be very useful prior to the show when pre-planning for the show and at the show while trying to navigate through the 630,000 square feet of floor space. Once you register to attend the show and create a log-in, you can log-in to the app and synchronize the app to your Show Planner, which is located on the SHOT Show webpage. If you don’t care about synching your device with the Show Planner, you can still use most of the functions without logging in.

As for the state of the industry at this years show, there was definitely a noticeable stir waiting for President Obama to make his announcement of what Executive Orders he would be taking. Though when the list was eventually established, it appeared to be more of a To-Do list instead of orders.

It appeared that a lot of exhibitors did not have anything new for 2013, though some did make some improvements over the past year to their existing inventory. Another perk of attending SHOT is that you are able to get your hands on products months, if not years, before the product is actually released. Some prototypes will never make it to market, but it is nice to see where the company is heading.

Crye Precision Airlite Plate Carriers and Chest Rig

Probably the most asked question at the show was; “How long until ABC Product is back in stock?” Companies seem to be working very hard to meet customer requests, however with the wide-spread panic, demand is much higher than supply. Personally, I would not want a manufacturer to cut corners just to get the supply out to the customers, while making their product at a lesser standard.

Mega Arms MATEN .308 Upper and Lower Receivers

I only have two gripes about the show. First, some exhibitor’s staff need to get some public relations training. The mass majority of exhibitors are welcoming and helpful, though there are some “Elitist” companies out there that unless you have on a three piece suit and deep pockets, you won’t get their time or attention. This was not a wide-spread occasion, though it happened at least three times this year. Secondly, is the poor and unsafe firearm handling by a few exhibitors. It is understandable that some of the attendees do not have the best firearms skill set, but when it comes to a manufacturer, I am rather turned off when one of the staff members demonstrate a firearm by pointing it directly at your chest. As a Law Enforcement Officer, this is not a comfortable place to be and I would imagine that it would not be for most.

Team Glock Members (left to right) Michelle Viscusi, KC Eusebio, and Tori Nonaka.

To top off the show, it is usually a great place to meet some celebrities, TV personalities, and all around good people. The few that I saw walking around the show were Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Steven Segal (and his entourage of handlers), Colby Donaldson (Host of Top Shot and Cast of Survivor), Ted Nugent, R. Lee Ermey (Gunny), and the members of Team Glock.

SOG Aegis Tanto Knive signed by R. Lee Ermey and SOG/Gunny Coin.

The SHOT Show is not open to the general public and you must have some link to the industry (i.e. Manufacturer, Distributor, Law Enforcement, Military, Media, etc) to attend. If you are interested in attending the next show, the dates are January 14-17, 2014. For more information, visit http://www.shotshow.org.