SHOT Show Attendance?


January 4, 2003, 04:06 PM
I just pulled up the website for the SHOT show hoping to get information about attending this year's show.

Unfortunately, the website says only industry members - i.e. FFL holders - can attend. :uhoh:

Despite this, anyone have any information on whether non-FFL's can somehow attend? Does a C&R license count?

Any info. appreciated.

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January 4, 2003, 04:20 PM
The C & R is a class 03 FFL.
But i don't know if that would get you in to the gun show.

Robert inOregon
January 4, 2003, 05:28 PM
Let me be a snotty a****** for just a second (I'm really this way most of the time, but who cares). If you are not a player, you're a nuisance and taking time from people that are trying to sell to those that are trying to buy. There are other venues like the NRA convention that allow individuals to checkout the latest products without getting in the way.

January 4, 2003, 06:30 PM
I take it from your response, Robert inOregon, that you are an FFL holder/dealer, or otherwise a "player" in the gun industry.

I understand that the SHOT show is intended as a venue for allowing manufactors to interest distributors/dealers in the manufacturers' latest products. That's fine. I can appreciate that. And maybe I'll make plans to attend the NRA show instead -thanks for pointing me in that direction.

But I am troubled by your response on two levels.

First, I am a consumer. I am one of the end-users who ultimately purchases products from manufacturers/distributors/dealers such as yourself and keeps the firearms industry operational. No consumers means no manufactuers/distributors and, particularly, no dealers. So, for a "player" like yourself to imply that consumers, like myself, are a "nuisance" who only "get in the way" is irksome and disappointing. Even if allowing regular consumers to attend the SHOT show would be unworkable - which I am not convinced of - the attitude you have taken is unnecessary. There are enough people giving or trying to give gun owners the short-end-on-the-stick without the added insult of industry "players" themselves looking down their noses at their customers.

You sound like just another dealer who thinks he is better than his customers. That's too bad. It's an attitude I just don't understand. So you have an FFL. So what. I could have one just as thousands of other consumers could, if they chose to apply. Possessing an FFL doesn't make you special.

Second, your response troubles me because of it's mean- spiritedness. Now don't get me wrong. I am thick skinned enough to ignore such a post. However, being a longtime TFLer, where members strove to be civil, friendly and helpful, seeing your post on the Highroad is disappointing. I had hoped the same TFL spirit would transfer to this new forum. Your post demonstrates that the issue is still in doubt.:rolleyes:

January 4, 2003, 06:43 PM
You beat me to it Higgins.

DITTO! :mad:


Lone Star
January 4, 2003, 06:49 PM
Most dealers in guns or anything else remind me of... well, we can't say things like that on the forum.

Lone Star

rock jock
January 4, 2003, 07:00 PM
Although Robert comes off as a bit arrogant, I agree with his point. The Shot Show is designed to bring manufacturers of the latest and greatest together with those who make high volume purchases and can make recommendations to their customers.

And no, I don't have a FFL nor do I work for a gun shop.

January 4, 2003, 11:10 PM
Perhaps SHOT could have a day for public viewing. I'd go.

January 4, 2003, 11:28 PM
well, SHOT is only 3 days long, and it takes that long to see the show. Far flung companies tend to have high level meetings, SAAMI blesses new cartrides and standards.

You can go, you just have to kiss your local dealers bum to get him to let you use his FFL#.

January 5, 2003, 12:27 AM
Let me be a snotty ********* for just a second (I'm really this way most of the time, but who cares). Your point is well taken although it was not well made.

However, I'm worried about you. Doesn't that condition indicate some unusual physiological anomalies, perhaps of interest to medical researchers...?

January 5, 2003, 12:37 AM
Perhaps SHOT could have a day for public viewing. I'd go
Same here.. But,I wish they had one in Portland,OR...:D

Dan Johnson
January 5, 2003, 12:39 AM
I believe Higgins took Robert's post a little too much to heart. I might have chosen a different word but "nuisance" is accurate. Doesn't have anything to do with an elitist attitude or downtrodden gun owners. The SHOT Show, probably should be called the SHOT Convention, is put on for people in the business. The crowds are often heavy enough without a of bunch of people with no legitimate business there clogging up the walkways. I'm sure many of you in other businesses have conventions where gun dealers are not welcome. So lighten up and wait a couple months more for the NRA Show. It's is in Orlando also this year.

Dan Johnson

January 5, 2003, 12:44 AM
As an individual I do wish that there was some way that the SHOT Show could be open to anyone. But for a dealer this is the industry show, and most of the guys plan to write orders for 30-50% of their years business in those 3 days.

The average 10'x10' space costs the displaying company $5000/day when you include all the costs of doing the show. For booths larger than that just multiply by however many spaces that would be.

Now figure the show has to be profitable. And not just for those 3 days, but over the course of the year. Say you have a small company. You do $3 million/year. You have a 10' booth, and 3 people working it (a fairly common arrangement). Every one of those sales people needs to write $300,000 in business during the show. That's $100,000/day or $10,000/hour. (These are not just made up numbers. They are targets that are real. Peoples jobs depend on them.)

You're Joe Public, and you want to talk about something you might buy this year. And it costs you $500, and that's a lot of money. Those guys can give you how many seconds of their time?

You have to realize that while to many people it looks like Disneyland, to most of the industry that supports your hobby it is extremely serious work. And if we can't do our work the companies go under. And you won't have to worry about spending your money on that thing you might have wanted, because it isn't being made anymore.

Maybe that's a little extreme, but not by much.

Now look at it from another angle...

You're a dealer. You closed your business for 5-6 days to attend this (including travel time). You do $300,000/yr in gun related stuff. This show costs you approximately $5000 to attend. (That's travel, lodging, food, overhead, wages, etc.) You're here to see what you can sell your customers that will give you an edge on your competition. To make up your costs you need to find products that will net you $30,000 in profit at this show. That's $10,000/day or $1000/hr. (Again, very realistic numbers). Which is very doable.

But that means you have to visit an average of one vendor an hour who is going to have product you need/want. And there are 5000 vendors. You can't see them all. And the ones that do look promising have to be able to talk to you right now. Because if you're working the show there's very little chance you're going to go back to anyone. You don't have time to.

But the guys you want to see are busy talking to our friend Joe Public. The chances are you either really need to talk to this vendor and you wait, in which case you're loosing money unless you can write one heck of a deal, or you just forget about dealing with these guys and both you and the vendor loose.

One dealer in five visits the SHOT Show. Most of them have been making plans for how to make it profitable for months. Very few think of it as a vacation. They're spending money to keep their customers happy. It's work.

Please, if you don't have business there, don't attend the SHOT. Go to the NRA Annual Meeting. It's in the same town, many of the same vendors will be there, and it is designed for the public to attend. It's even in the same location, so that shouldn't be an excuse.

You know why the NRA show is smaller than the SHOT? Because the NSSF (which puts on the SHOT) gets 20% attendance. The NRA is lucky to draw 1% attendance (and that includes members AND the local public). Gun companies spend about the same amount to display at the NRA show (remember they have to pay those employees to be there), and get very little return on the dollar for that investment. Most companies count themselves lucky to recoup the cost of the diplay area.

Do you know what that says about our sport? It says that less that 30,000 people/year are willing to attend the largest free display of guns in the world. I (for one) find that pathetic.

Can you imagine the show they could have if the NRA did draw 20% of its members? Can you guess how many more gun industry companies would actually display at the NRA show if that many people (and the attendant press) did show?

Dan Johnson
January 5, 2003, 12:55 AM
Well put, Traveler. As a member of the gun press, I have a legitimate reason to attend the SHOT Show but I realize I am not the main person these exhibitors need to see. The larger companies have reps there to deal with the press but when smaller exhibitors are busy with dealers I just exchange business cards and get the heck out of the way.

Dan Johnson

January 5, 2003, 01:31 AM
As a firearms dealer you can spend 2-3 hours selling one rifle to Joe Public.
In the same 2-3 hours with a large company/government etc, you can sell 50 rifles. More than 50 and you probably need a few hours more, but the work it takes to sell one is just about as much as selling in bulk.

If you go to a trade show/convention that has public days, on the business days, the exhibitions are there to be examined. You can pick up a gun and take it apart.
If you go to the same show on a public day, you'll find alot fewer products displayed (easier to keep watch for the people working the stand) and guns are zip-locked to the table/placed under glass.
What do you think will benefit the public most?
Your dealer tells you:
"I saw this neat rifle at this-and-that show, and it handeled great. Hold off buying that shotgun till I'll get the new rifle in in a few weeks."
I saw this neat looking rifle, but I couldn't realy get a look at it, as there was about 40 others standing in line in front of it.
Don't know when I'll be able to get one as the demand for it is huge, and the manufacturer didn't have time to talk to me right then."

Much of the relations in the business world is personal!
If you don't meet and talk to people face to face, you will just be a number in the line.
If you know the people on the other hand, you will usually get the products faster, and at a better price, both benefiting Joe Public.

K. :)

January 5, 2003, 01:49 AM
Very well and nicely said, Traveler! :neener:

January 5, 2003, 05:12 AM
If I lived in Oregon, I know where I would NOT buy firearms!

I suddenly have visions of 200lbs overweight, thick black glasses and bald. :rolleyes:

January 5, 2003, 10:29 AM
I understand the business aspects of the SHOT show, as so well voiced by Traveler and Kobun. Well thought out and well said. Precisely what Robert inOregon's response wasn't - which is my point. So the SHOT show is for business, and as a consumer I would be in the way. Okay. The realities of the business world are what they are. It's the attitude that rubs the wrong way.

As for taking the the post a bit too much to heart, like I said, I am thick skinned enough to ignore it on an individual level. But on a broader level, such an elitist attitude - and that's what it is - is all too common among gun dealers. Such an "us vs. them" attitude can only be detrimental to everyone in the industry from makers to ultimate consumers and everyone in between.

I don't care what industry you are in, if you disrespect your customers then it will eventually bite you in the ass. :banghead:

Jim Watson
January 5, 2003, 10:54 AM
I am going to the S.H.O.T. Show and hope I don't run into Robert to spoil my visit. My FLD signed me up as an "associate" so I could get in. He was glad to, no chance he would get to go and the literature I collect and the impressions I gather will be the first news he gets of 2003 products and programs. Reading in one of his trade journals, I saw that they expect 5000 dealers and 10,000 to 15,000 spouses, friends, and good customers. This was not presented as a problem to them.

George Hill
January 5, 2003, 12:30 PM
I'm a "nuisance", huh? Not a "Player", huh?

Well BLESS you.

Let's see... I have sold about 2 or 300 guns indirectly based upon my sole recommendations. And I am not the only one from TFL that has that record. From looking at me personally you wouldn't be able to tell that. You would only see a Non-Player Nuisance.

Well, screw that noise. I am a PLAYER. Here is why. Because I am a gawddammned BUYER that is why. I am YOUR FARKING CUSTOMER! AND MY FRIENDS ARE CUSTOMERS.

Your attitude disgusts me, royally.

:fire: :cuss: :fire:

Robert inOregon
January 5, 2003, 04:20 PM
Gosh, what a bunch of thin skinned little children we have here. Wear you feelings on your wrist do we? I promise not to flick your weenies again. I promise!

At least there are a few mature individuals that got the synopsis of the situation at Shot. Thank you!

January 5, 2003, 04:29 PM
I promise not to flick your weenies again.
I'm stayin out of this one..............nobodys gonna flick my weenie unless I ask them :what:

January 5, 2003, 08:44 PM
There are hundreds of conventions where the customer can go and find out everything they need - and be treated like the valuable resource they are.

The SHOT show is not about the customer. It's about the dealer / distributor. Is that a bad thing? Why is it wrong for a dealer to want to do *business*?

Don't take this the wrong way, George. I can appreciate that you may want to find out about the latest Trijicon scope, or SureFire light, or Remington rifle, or [shudder] Smith & Wesson offering. So do I. The difference is that while you may sell firearms based on your recommendations, it's not your business and livelihood to do so. Your family isn't depending on it. The time taken up by guys who want to look and feel, but have no place being there, is time that I need to do business, or get information so I can better educate my customers, or make purchases, or more.

It's not personal - it's business. I'm more than happy to educate my customers as best as I can. I like giving them opinions on products I've handled, & companies I've worked with. The SHOT show is where we get the most information, & do the most business for the year. Orders for $20-50K of product are not uncommon. Like it was mentioned above some people do their ordering for the entire year there.

For every George Hill let into the show, I'd guarantee there'd be 3000 lookie-lou's who'd be so busy fondling merchandise, asking questions, breaking & grabbing & stealing things (in other words, everything already happening with the dealers ;) ) that no *business* would get done. And the customer would actually *lose* then, because their dealer wouldn't be able to get his tasks accomplished. Heck, it's hard enough to get dealer price lists now - I can't imagine having to show a business license and certificate of resale at ever booth I went to. I'd lug 5 reams of paper with me.

At SHOT 2002, I picked up 6 new brands I hadn't even considered before. One of those brands turned into staple of our business. I returned with over 100 catalogs and price lists, 30+ CD-ROM's, etc. How many of those would I have been able to get had customers been allowed in?

It was hard enough to get time needed with companies I had business with - I can't imagine the horror show if the general public was let in. My customers certainly would suffer.

It's a trade show for the professionals in the trade. If you aren't one, don't begrudge the guys who do need to be there. It's nothing personal - it's our business.

January 5, 2003, 09:01 PM

Okay, so consumers should not get in the way at the commercial-oriented SHOT show.

Where are these “hundreds of conventions where the customer can go and find out everything they need - and be treated like the valuable resource they are”?

If you mean the local gun shows, there are seldom any manufacturers represented there—other than Mom & Pop ammunition resellers or (shudder) reloaders.

If you mean the local gun shops, they obligate themselves only to sell the best they have in stock (or to order only what gives them the greatest margin) rather than what would best fill my needs (or even best pique my interests).

With absolutely no malice, where can the consumer go and see what various manufacturers are producing and introducing?

Oh, and please don’t say, “The internet.” ;)
- - - -
edit for PS.

And where can I take my children, er, I mean grandchildren :rolleyes: to show them more than a couple glass counters of product or a range where I must two-step through the cow poop to get to the 200 yard targets. :D :D

January 5, 2003, 09:09 PM
Let's see - there's the NRA convention, NSSF, the SOF convention (whatever it's replaced with too). There's plenty of IDPA, SASS, GSSF, championships. There's the Steel Challenge, the Bianchi cup, the Outdoor Survival convention. Bucks, Ducks, Bass unlimited. There's the Blade Show, Blade West, & more. There's all sorts of camping shows, survival shows, etc.

The opportunity is there... you just have to look for it.

We get one dedicated show per year. Many of us have to close up shop, spend a ton of cash, and commit money on products that may or may not sell. Again, it's nothing personal, it's just business.


January 5, 2003, 09:16 PM
The average 10'x10' space costs the displaying company $5000/day when you include all the costs of doing the show. For booths larger than that just multiply by however many spaces that would be.

Ok..The shot show not being open to the public I understand to a certain extent. seems like the promoters are making a killing on renting out space at the shot show.

$5000 a day..for 3 Days!!

Good Shooting

January 5, 2003, 09:30 PM
Thanks, Kevin. Embarrassingly enough, I really didn’t know about most of them.

(Makes me wonder where in the heck *I’ve* been!) :D

Gila Jorge
January 5, 2003, 09:54 PM
I used to have an FFL and did a lot of custom work with shotguns for skeet and trap shooters. I would go to the SHOT show and would be treated like crap and was given a ration of it when entering. I did a lot of big numbers but not volume. Engraving and fitting and custom choking work primarily. That did NOT satisfy many. Its a nice show for anyone in the indsutry but alas many "Oregon" type attitudes were prevalent.

January 6, 2003, 01:01 AM
The truth story has gotta be told........ My friend and I were registered as "Sales Reps" for a small, popular rifle manufacturer (who shall remain nameless) Since we each "owned" one of his expensive rifles and we did "tell" everyone to buy one and we let "anyone" who wanted, to fire a round or two of .50 at the range, sales reps we is! With the special Shot Show badges in hand off we went for our big day. You can't possibly see the whole show in a day, but we did it. (Even though dave had about 15 shots of tequilla the night before while gambling all his money away.) As far as wasting the companies time I don't agree. First thing they do is look at your badge and see who you are and what you do, and trust me, having "SALES REP" on your badge doesn't get you the time of day! If a company didn't look busy we'd hang and ask questions but we didn't bother or harass any of you serious business people doing serious business stuff. We did look at and fondle the display guns like kimbers and rugers and colts. We did see some old friends. We did make some new friends. We had a great time.

January 6, 2003, 07:18 AM
Thank you Spark for a polite, insightful explanation - far from what we were treated to by one of the earlier posters.

I show at several Oil/Gas tradeshows during the year (I'm a marketing manager for an oi/gas valve manufacturer). These shows are intended to allow distribution and end-users to see the latest technology and strike deals when possible. I can only imagine what the shows would be like if the general public was allowed in every day.

BUT, several of these shows DO allow the general public (school children and all...) in on the last day. WHY? Because they understand that it's important to try to cultivate an understanding of our business in the general public - especially in these days when oil, and related companies, are portrayed in the media as the evil, rich, polluting bad guys (sound familiar?). I will grant you that it is somewhat of a pain to deal with that last day, and none of us really expect to do a heck of a lot of business then. But I respect the intent and try to accommodate as many "unlearned" questions as I can.

Now, I promise you that we pay AT LEAST as much money per square foot as the SHOT show charges. And contrary to what the general perception might be, not EVERYONE who's connected with the oil/gas business is rolling in dough. The company I represent at these shows is a small, family owned business. We live or die amongst the mega-corporate manufacturers based upon very slim margins and a level of service that they've long since forgotten. But, we bite the bullet, pay our way and do our part at these shows because we understand that the "non-player" who's "stupid" question we answer today just might be our customer tomorrow.

Perhaps SHOT could do a similar thing - even reducing the lease rate on the last "open-to-the-public" day. Of course, that would require that the organizers understand that it's important to foster goodwill with the general public. But, of course we all know that the gun business has no image problem, right? :rolleyes:


January 6, 2003, 09:17 AM
It should probably be renamed to the SHOT Convention. After my last job as a buyer for a music instrument retailer, I know the values of a closed-to-the-public convention, but as a die hard musician I also love to go to merchandise shows as well. It is hard to get time with manufacturers/distributors (but a lot easier when you are a buyer!) at a convention without trying to wade through the general public, and I think it would be bad in a way because dealers/manuf. would probably end up ignoring much of the "visitors" so they could talk with the people who will be making purchases that day or soon there after.

It would be nice if there was a last day that was open to the public, but then that would probably mean it would end up being a 4 day affair instead of 3, and as we all know that would mean more money for the people with displays. And I also know that local gun shows don't hold a candle to a true industry show, so maybe something else is needed besides the already established alternatives?

I know to some it sounds elitist, especially the way some have posted, but there is a need for a closed door show like this. Don't forget that retailers rely on you to stay in business, and I know that they aren't lost on this either.

January 6, 2003, 09:49 AM
I always wanted to go to the SHOT show, but the costs are great and I don't like to take time off work. As a consumer, the variety of stuff to see would definitely make money leave my wallet.

However, after reading some lucid comments from professionals in the business, I can understand your position and will refrain from attending SHOT in the future. I'm a consumer, not a reseller, and you're right. I would get in the way.

Maybe this NRA convention would be nice, but take a vacation? Spend all that Money? I just don't know.

January 6, 2003, 10:26 AM
Not my deal, but if I was one of the SHOT Show honchos, I'd run the numbers on getting the facility committed for another 2 days, talk the vendors into staffing their booths for another 2 days at no extra charge, and open the facility up to the public for a follow-on HIT Show. The admission would be $25-$50 at the door each day. The vendors could do whatever they wanted as far as handing out literature, etc., and the attendees could see what the SHOT Show was all about.

It would help the vendors because they could get feedback from all us hairpins about what we want on a new turbo plinker, and all that stuff. Instead of assigning their top level staff that handled the SHOT Show, they could give the upcoming Curly, Larry, and Moe the opportunity to mess with their base market.

Make it over a weekend so the host city would be amenable to getting all the tourist bucks, because if you think the gun nuts are going to go without taking their families, then you're the gun nut of the family not the spouse, etc., and THEY are going to say "Okay, but if you think you're going without us, you're really nuts."

Then I'd run the numbers on keeping the facility for another day for what would be called the MISSED Show. Admission would be free, but any attendee would have to agree to work to clean the place up, uhh I mean help the vendors disassemble their booths, pack their stuff, and boogie. Just think! Attendees would get to move and handle the boxes and crates the stuff goes into! They'd be rewarded with an attractive embossed pin that says


And the pins themselves would become valuable collector's items as well as a treasured momento of the rewarding time spent interfacing DIRECTLY with those who make the toys we all want.


Brian D.
January 6, 2003, 12:05 PM
I've been a few times, there are at least a few vendors who will almost try to pull you in to their booth, as they are looking and feeling like the Maytag repairman. The gun biz ain't exactly BOOMING every year ya know! Sure, there are "looky lou" types who undoubtedly get in the way, but some companies' reps. treat virtually everybody not personally known to them rudely; that sort of thing is an eye-opener. From what I've observed, about 20-25% of the outfits there need to send their staff over to Mike Dillon's booth for a "seminar" in how to do business with their fellow human beings. I do occasionally wonder if all the money that is spent at these things--in addition to the obvious there's a bunch of "incidentals" like the open bar parties some companies throw, as well as trips to expensive restaurants and gentlemen's clubs for their "big" customers. And other "entertainment" venues I won't bother discussing here! Sometimes wonder how much cheaper a gun might be if there were no SHOT Show, the makers just stuck to buying ad space. But that wouldn't really be in the freewheeling spirit of American business would it? Besides the manufacturers need to get outta town and party just like anybody else, it's no coincidence the show is almost always held in a warm weather venue with lots to do at night!

January 6, 2003, 12:26 PM
Trade shows (or conventions) are big business. The costs incured and the summs they generate are big enough to warp national politics. A good example of this is the last New Orleans SHOT, which literally compelled the Governer of LA of interfer in legislation and a federal lawsuit so that the managing company would not abandon it's intention of holding the show.

The Columbine shootings in Denver, which caused (among other things) the cancellation of the NRA Annual Meetings, cost the firearms industry tens of millions of dollars in unrecoverable fees. The loss of revenue from the convention also hurt Denver and Colorado.

A large part of my career has been trade show management and logistics for small business's. I have worked with hundreds of shows. Last years count was 18 in 7 countries.

The costs to a company (attendee) not only include such things as floor space rental, but also equiptment rentals, shipping and drayage fees, and fees for electrical use, carpeting, trash pick up, booth cleaning, hired help, employee wages and cost associated with their attendance, business entertainment, and gratuities paid to make sure everything happens in a timely manner.

The conventions are dominated by the local unions, and extortion runs high. I won't get into horror stories; anyone who has worked a show has experienced them.

There is a very strict timeline for any show facility. Most major facilities are booked years in advance. You want to know where the SHOT Show is going to be held for the next three years, and the dates. I can guarentee that the show management already knows this.

Why? Because the show is limited to the facilities it can use. It has outgrown all but 3 of the convention centers in the USA. (Folks complaining that it never comes to their state need to take close look at where they think it could be held.) On top of which, due to the amount of shipping involved it must be near a major air and ground hub.

It takes 3 days to set up the SHOT. It takes 2 days to tear it down. It takes one day to clear the facility, and then the next show starts setting up. To extend the show, even one day, would almost double the exhibiting cost. The longer the show, the more expensive it is. Also the higher the attendance the more costs rise. And when the show is limited by size to certain facilities costs can also be expected to be high. Expenses for the SHOT are about average. They are certainly less than those incured at TREXPO (electronics industry) or SEMICON (semiconductor industry). Overseas shows are substantially higher in fees.

Hidden costs (which a manufacturer needs to factor into the cost of the product) for these shows include the cost of the actual booth, the graphics displayed, storage of all the materials when not in use, maintenance of the materials, and costs incured by the company in planning the event. 200 man hours of planning is about average for a small manufacturer per show.

Additionally a large portion of those personnel staffing the booths are sales representatives. In many cases these are not employees of the company, but are in fact self employed. They are there to take advantage of the enviroment which brings them, company executives, and their clients into close proximity, and to write the orders on which they live. They attend the shows by paying their own way, hoping to do enough business to justify the expenses.

I find it amusing to note that attending the NRA show, which is held in the same location as this years SHOT show, which is free to the public to attend, and which will feature all of the same major manufacturers and many of the smaller ones in the industry, is considered to be a vacation, and not worthy of attendance by many of those who would attend the SHOT without a second thought.


The industry every year works with it's major public organization (the NRA) to provide each and every one of you this oppurtunity. It is a horrendous cost to all of those who display, but gladly expended to provide you the opportunity to meet the companies representatives and see their products. This is your extended SHOT show, and every company that is physically able to attend does so, incuring the costs to provide the public wth what you keep saying you want. (And tragically attendance is so poor that it may be that this too will be lost to you).

If you have ever entertained the idea of going to the SHOT but not to the NRA, and you are not immediately involved in the firearms industry, you're lying to yourself. You are a wanna be, and a status seeker, hoping to be able to someday show off that you were a player. And worse than that, you did neither accepted or appreciated what the industry offered you. To top it off you couldn't even be bothered to help the major organization dedicated to helping to preserve your rights to own a firearm.

January 6, 2003, 12:46 PM
I went to the SHOT Show last year as a "Guest of the Show". Not part of the industry, just a lowlife customer.

Some of the attitudes exhibited remind me of the old loser's lament: "This job would be great if it weren't for the customers". With an attitude like that, they won't have to worry about being bothered by customers for long.

If you go as a "civilian", you have to remember that trade shows are expensive for companies to attend and what the primary goal of the company exhibiting would be. I'm VP of Marketing for a high tech company and trade shows are a huge expense. I justify their existence as a line in my budget by measurable results. In the SHOT Show's case, that is for manufacturers to talk to dealers and distributors first, customers second. Measurable results: number of new dealers who will carry product, number of new disits who will warehouse, etc. As long as we customers keep this in mind and allow companies to achieve their primary goal, there is no reason whatsoever why we shouldn't attend. We are, after all, the ones who pay their mortgages.

With only a couple exceptions last year (Tasco, because they were Tasco, and that's why the operative word is "were"; and Wilson Combat), everyone was THRILLED to talk to a real live customer. For example, Rob Letham seemingly wouldn't let me leave because he wanted my opinion on just about everything (which is why I bought that lemon TRP, but that's another story). Hmmm, I did ask if they were planning on the XD in 45ACP...

Remember, most of the factory people, Latham being a notable exception, don't get to talk to customers in the wild on a regular basis. This is a common problem among many product manufacturing companies: people who actually design and make the products only get filtered info. Also remember that many of the factory people are shooters: if you're a shooter, would you rather get your info from another shooter, or a sales person who considers your avocation nothing more than a commodity?

I'm signed up to go this year as well, but other travel has forced a change in plans. Regular life permitting, the SHOT Show will be very high on my annual list. Anyone know where 2004 will be held?

January 6, 2003, 02:32 PM
I loved last years show. It was great fun.

I can see what some poster's are saying. This ain't no gun show, SHOT is for serious business.

Don Gwinn
January 6, 2003, 03:45 PM
BLADE East is a lot of fun. If you ever enjoyed so much as a pocketknife, take the first chance you get to attend. I only got to go once, and I find it hard to get there now, but I intend to make it part of the Master Plan after Phase III ("Pick up the family and move to Tennessee")

Brian D.
January 6, 2003, 04:10 PM
Right up until the last paragraph, where I think you got out the "broad brush" and went to paintin' a bit too vigorously. I have been to both events, and it was my experience that the exhibitors at SHOT took input from attendees much more seriously. And a better cross-section of indusry folk were present than at the NRA Show. At SHOT, you may well get a chance to speak to a CEO, a designer, or an engineer rather than only customer service reps (salesmen/women). Not knocking the Cust Serv. types, it's just if you want to know technical stuff it may be better to chat with a BUILDER of the product. As far as chatting with the CEO's and such, a mentor of mine used to say:" If you don't like the music, talk to the organ grinder, not the monkey!" Again, for the most part the booths aren't usually totally swamped for three days solid, business isn't THAT good is it? And since the CEOs and such are there in the booth, and don't normally "demean" themselves to the tasks of writing up orders and such, what the heck are they standing in the booth for if NOT to talk to the attendees? Window dressing? Making sure the employees don't take too many potty breaks? Counting their money?Or maybe using the Show as an excuse to go to Vegas or Florida or some similar warm place? However naive this may be, I believe the honchos are ultimately there to talk to customers--and like it or not, that includes distributors, store owners, other manufacturers they do business with, and even us lowly end-users.

Matt G
January 6, 2003, 05:02 PM
Interesting stuff. I must confess that I had always withheld my judgement on this issue, because I felt that I didn't know enough about it. Still, I've always felt a bit put off by the seeming exclusivity of the whole SHOT show thing.

While I disagree with the way some here have put their posts, I have to admit that I can now see why the show is closed to non-industry people. Spark, I thank you for your well-stated viewpoint; it did in fact open my eyes on this issue.

Matt G
January 6, 2003, 05:19 PM
I'll re-advance the question: Does a C&R dealer's license get you into SHOT?


January 6, 2003, 05:23 PM

1) Make friends with an FFL.

2) Make friends with someone in a "related business".

3) Business cards from "industry-related businesses" will work, as a last resort. Draw your own conclusions from that. ;)

PS: It ain't all that exciting, it's not like you can buy anything there. (Although my former boss did buy Barrett's nickeled display M-82 at the last SHOT in Atlanta. And, buddy, did they see him coming! :eek: )

January 6, 2003, 08:05 PM
I went to SHOT last year and I am going this year. I do not have an FFL. I am a manufacturer's rep and I manufacture out of China. I walked in, showed them my business card, paid my $50.00 and got in. I am not in the industry but I wanted to get into the industry. I picked up some customers and am now making Accessories for the industry.

This year I pre-registered on the internet and it only cost me $15.00 admission.

If you want to go, don't let the website fool you. Any legitimate businessman/woman can get in. You do have to have a business (or work for a business and have a business card). The business also has to at least seem somewhat connected. I manufacture and I am looking for new clients there. If I had a restaurant, I doubt I could get in.

But if you work for a computer company, accounting firm, trucking company, etc, go for it. If you are unsure, call the 800 number off the website, speak to a human and tell them you want to register. It's easy. And it's a great show.

I think RobertofOregon was being sarcastic and not intending to come off sounding like members of the public had no business being there. There seemed to me to be a lot of people just looking and talking, handling stuff and asking questions. If the Big Guys are around, they get seen in private rooms.

Go and have fun!


January 7, 2003, 03:53 AM
True, non-industry people can get into the show. Nobody under 16 allowed period. I take my son with me, now 24, and sometimes a girlfriend. Their badges are clearly marked 'GUEST' so the people working the booth do not waste time with them if it is busy.

I use the show to generate business for myself and try to sell ideas to others. I take my mechanical engineer with me and sometimes my gunsmith depending on what I am trying to accomplish. The big thing to remember that will give you away as a bozo is to see some new gun, pass it to your buddies and say that you have to get one of these. That is not what you or the manufacturer is there for. If you wish to provide market research info to the company, they do appreciate it, but do it in a businesslike and professional manner. If you don't know how then go to college and take some courses.

If you go to the show, you should have something to offer, take something of value with you, . How do you think that I am able to see the Kahr 45, micro CZ40, and find out about the stuff still on the drawing board? I have ideas that I can offer, I have been around enough that some of those guys actually listen to what I have to say. Take copies of your FFL's FFL so that if you see something you want you can order it as a sample for the shop. You can't buy anything there, it isn't a gun show, but you are more than welcome to place orders. All I do on the last day of the show is go around and place orders.

To give you an idea what the show costs in addition to booth space, they want $30 a night to vacuum the booth. If you want a fishbowl for people to drop in their business cards that will be $100 rental for the run of the show. Even the chairs in your booth cost money.

January 8, 2003, 08:23 PM
It was not my intention (if anyone thought so) to say that I don't think the public should be allowed into the SHOT (and other shows/conventions).
I think it would be a good idea to have one or two public days. But that is up to others than me.
As a shooter, I love to go to big gun shows. But I have been to shows that has both public and business days, and there is a BIG differense in the way you are treated.
K. :)

January 8, 2003, 08:51 PM
To give you an idea what the show costs in addition to booth space, they want $30 a night to vacuum the booth. If you want a fishbowl for people to drop in their business cards that will be $100 rental for the run of the show. Even the chairs in your booth cost money.

I presented at an industry (non-gun) tradeshow in Chicago late last year. The quote from the floor manager was "don't lift a f*****g finger without asking us. if you have a lightbulb that needs changing, we'll do that".

I was told that the tradeshows are tightly controlled by the unions.

January 9, 2003, 01:32 AM
Sven, unions do play a big part, but NSSF follows guidelines when they pick where a show is to be held. You will not see a SHOT Show held in an anti-gun state like Ca., NJ, NY, Il. You will not see one held where the weather can get really bad in Jan or Feb. You will also not see it held were the unions are so strong that you cannot plug in a lamp at your own booth as happens in NYC. The show has grown from 50,000 sq ft at the first show in the late 70's to this years 500,000 sq ft.

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