Straight From SHOT Show – One Man’s Take on the Largest Trade Show in Our Industry

Guest post by Kevin Paulson of HuntingLife.Com

Overwhelmed? Nah! These are my people: hunters, shooters and the outdoors. How could I be overwhelmed around this crowd? I could not have been more excited. The weeks leading up to SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show) were filled with calls to schedule meetings, numerous tweets and catching up with folks using the #shotshow hashtag through our social networks. I arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday, January 15 and I knew the week was going to be hectic with tons of walking and amazing experiences.

Day one – Media Day at the Range
I was pretty lucky to get on one of the first buses out to the range in Boulder City, NV and was able to sit with an editor from Tactical-Life – this is going smoothly already! Media Day at the Range was a record crowd and when I arrived the shots were already heading down range. I checked in with NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) and the range to get my eye & ear protection. Then, it was off to the booths. I met up with Rocky Mountain Elk FoundationPOMA (Professional Outdoor Media Association), Safari Club International Foundation, and Mule Deer Foundation. Then, I (finally) headed to the range.

Since the focus of HuntingLife.com is strictly hunting, I focused the majority of my effort on guns and optics.  I had needed to find a good tactical rifle that I could shoot for coyotes out on the plains of Nebraska and I think I found it. This beauty, which we will test in the coming months, was as straight shooting as could be.

The next stop for me was the Crosman booth to fire the Benjamin 357.

Benjamin 357

This Benjamin really lived up to the hype. This is an air gun that absolutely has the power to take down small game and predators and I could not be more impressed with the quality and the accuracy.

I then stopped at the Burris Booth for a quick rundown on the new Eliminator Laser Scope and the chance to shoot out to 600 yards. This new scope by Burris has all the answers in one complete package and once you put the cross hairs on your target, it calculates the distance, discovers inclination and then moves a small red dot down the column where you put right on your target and pull the trigger. I hit three three out of three with a 270 out to varying distances ranging from 450 yards to 620 yards. With the wind, I would not of taken those shots on game, but Holy Cow it was fun to be able to take those shots on the range. My next stop was the Barrett booth where I had the chance to shoot a rifle chambered in 338 Lapua Magnum that was set up for 1000 yard shots. Now this rifle was a bench gun weighing in at 18 lbs with an exceptional scope. I shot three for three on orange clay pigeon targets at 970 yards. This was absolutely the highlight of my day.

The next stop was the Browning Booth to check out the new A5 and it, too, was an impressive shotgun. I had the chance to shoot some clay targets and the gun handled flawlessly. I then stopped down to get a chance to shoot the Gatling Gun that Colt Reproduction Arms has created for us to shoot. Check one off the bucket list for me. I shot 20 rounds in about a second or two…All I can say is SWEET.

I wrapped up the night at the NSSF Twitter Meetup and then headed back to the hotel to crash out for the night.

Day Two – SHOT Show Floor Opens
First stop was the press room, which was basically filled with a who’s who of the outdoor writer world and then off to the floor. When people tell you that SHOT show is big, you really have nothing to compare it to. I had been to the largest shows in the country and to be honest, the SHOT show is just plain bigger then anything you could possibly imagine.

Our first stop was the new products center where each of the new products were on display to touch and feel. After that, we hit the main show floor where I spent the better part of the day getting lost on my way to meetings. We had worked with another twitter account (@4DReamerrentals) to formulate our own twitter meet up later that night. It was great to meet the folks who we communicate with almost on a daily basis but never had the chance to meet.

Day Three
We had a quick stop at the press room and then back out onto the floor for meeting after meeting to catch up what is new in 2012 as well as learning as much as we could about the industry. We also caught up with conservation organizations, shooting programs, our friends at the NRA Life of Duty Program and as many friends as we could throughout the aisles and hallways on the SHOT show floor. We had the chance to stop in on the press conference for The Extreme Huntress and catch up with our friend Olivia Nalos and meet the owner and producer from Tahoe Films, Tom Opre. Plus we met their newest Extreme Huntress, Tiffany Brewer. Tiffany is an exceptional huntress who will now head to Africa for the chance to shoot a Cape Buffalo and she is pretty darned excited. We also had the chance to stop by the Sitka Gear booth and take a look that their new waterfowl line up which could be a game changer in the waterfowl world.

Wednesday night for us was one of the highlights of the show as we got the chance to attend Sportsman Channel’s Sportsman Choice Awards and talk with the producers, hosts and some of the great folks who work for Sportsman Channel. The highlight of the night was getting to catch up with Jana Waller and Jim Kinsey of Skull Bound Outdoors who have one of the new shows on Sportsman Channel for Q1.

Days Four and Five
The next two days at SHOT were a blur of meetings and the chance to look at product after product. Some of the highlights for us were viewing the new collection from SOG Knives and Tools, the Weatherby rifles, the Zombie scope from Leupold, the great cleaning products from OTIS, a tour of the new Bad Boy Buggy Ambush, which could be one of the hottest items to hit the ATV Vehicle market (full electric and gas hybrid), and the Carry-Lite Hunting Decoy line of new decoys for deer and turkey. Those decoys impressed us and we will be waiting to see them in stores for turkey season.

Conclusion
The 2012 SHOT show for Team HuntingLife was exceptional, but most of all it was great  to talk with industry leaders, writers and bloggers. I came away with excitement and hope for our outdoor, hunting and shooting industry. Orders were up; excitement was in the air and we have a tremendous amount to be excited about as our industry grows. The good news is I am not overwhelmed anymore; I have been there, seen it, done it and I left feeling excited as a writer, producer and business owner to work in such a great industry filled with amazing people, great talent and all of them are pursuing their passions!!!

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