The SHOT Show is the annual trade event for all things shooting and hunting. This year it will again be in Las Vegas. The show starts on 18 January and ends on 21 January. That’s four days of rubbing elbows with dealers, writers, media folks, company representatives and shooters and hunters that think they are TV celebrities. It’s also a lot of walking; maybe as much as five to 10 miles a day.
What’s a gunwriters job at SHOT show? Mostly to find stuff to write about. You can do this several ways; wonder aimlessly around the SHOT floor and hope you stumble on something new or attend various press conferences. Another way is to attend range day which is the day before SHOT. This is where you get an opportunity to actually pull the trigger on new guns.
My approach might be a bit different than most. I’ve done the media day in the past but find it mostly a waste of time. For starters, you only get to fire a few shots from any particular gun and those are generally rushed, with a 100 other folks in line behind you. It’s not enough exposure to “write-up” any new gun and generally the shooting you are allowed to do is fairly elementary. I won’t be doing media day this year.
I’ve also tried the glossy-eyed floor roaming technique. This typically results in me getting lost and not uncovering anything but sore feet and a bad attitude. The press conferences can be OK, especially when the products being covered are really new. Food and drink is usually involved so that makes it nice too.
I used to do appointments but have given that up as well. Typically, you end up waiting on the person you are scheduled to see as they run over time with their last appointment. This makes your visit short unless you want to be late for your next appointment. (I despise being late for anything and will probably die a bit earlier than I plan just so I am on time for my final event.) It also makes it impossible to take advantage of episodes of opportunity that might crop up as you run into old friends or meet interesting people.
My approach is fairly simple. I take the first three days and visit with friends and manufacturers that I have a relationship with and know make good products. I do so at my leisure, mostly looking at rifles, handguns, ammunition, reloading stuff and optics. If I stumble upon something cool in the process, I have plenty of time to investigate it further and arrange a test of the product.
I’ll also talk with editors about ideas for articles in the upcoming year and maybe even plan hunts or events with friends. Generally, every evening is filled with a dinner with a group of friends that I don’t get to see enough through the year. We’ll talk about hunts, gear and guns but mostly solve all the problems of the world.
On the last day of SHOT, I’ll visit what I call the “cheap seats.” This is the out-of-the-way section of the show where all the small, mom & pop business have been shoved into. Folks that have come up with a new product and maybe even mortgaged everything they own to promote it. Largely, most of this stuff is useless but every now and again you’ll find a real gem hidden in a booth along a back wall. If I can I will help these folks get some press if their product or idea has merit.
Some go to SHOT show to work. I gave up work when I turned in my badge. I go to SHOT to have fun and see what new and exciting gear I can find to play with over the next 12 months. If at anytime I get to feeling like what I do is work, I’ll go find a real job that pays really good.
So, with that in mind, each day after my time on the SHOT show floor I will post here on the Empty Cases blog what I think my best find of the day has been. I might even include a runner up or two if they are cool enough to warrant mention.