The Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) rang up its second highest attendance ever at the Sands Expo Center Jan. 20-23, giving the industry a very good indicator that a strong sales year lies ahead.
Long a bellwether for the industry’s prospects, the SHOT Show brings together buyers and sellers from the United States and more than 100 countries. Total attendance for the 2015 SHOT Show was nearly 64,000, second only to last year’s record-setting event, where nearly 67,000 came through the turnstiles. Lower attendance reflected strengthened pre-screening of attendees to enhance the overall experience of both exhibitors and buyers.
“We know from long experience that attendance at the SHOT Show is a reflection of the state of our industry,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “This second highest attendance is in keeping with what we saw in the past year — that our industry is in good health and that manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers have a positive outlook for this year.”
NSSF®, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, owns and sponsors the SHOT Show.
From the opening bell, the show floor hummed with traffic. Cindy Daniel, Executive Vice President of Daniel Defense, a major sponsor of the SHOT Show, said, “It’s been a very busy show. We’re optimistic that with the good vibe we’re seeing on the floor sales will pick up again and we’ll have a solid year.”
Said Kort Nielson with Silencer Co., “We’ve been pretty busy, and there hasn’t been much down time. Increasing our booth size and design and its new position in this hall has been good for traffic, but we’re also focusing on education.” Silencer Co. put on two seminars this week for retailers on how to educate customers about suppressors, a fast growing sales area.
The $8 billion industry has seen rapid growth in the last several years, powered by newcomers to the shooting sports. More than 20 percent of firearms owners are in this category, in that they have purchased their first firearm within the last five years.
Women continue to be an undeniable market force. During the show at a packed press conference, NSSF released a new report on “Women Gun Owners: Purchasing, Perceptions and Participation.” Women, whose participation in target shooting and hunting as well as interest in owning a firearm for personal and home protection continues to grow rapidly, now purchase about 25 percent of industry products. “This report will help NSSF members better understand the products and features women want and to continue to serve women of all skill levels,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF Director of Industry Research and Analysis.
More than 1,600 exhibiting companies filled the convention center and rooms in the adjoining Venetian Hotel. Total show exhibition space was more than 640,000 net square feet, or 13 acres of product display, with more than 150 new companies exhibiting.
Manufacturers of firearms, ammunition, optics, cutlery, apparel, accessories and law enforcement equipment introduced new products and services that retailers will offer consumers during the course of the year.
On the first evening of the show, more than 2,400 people attended NSSF’s State of the Industry Dinner, where Steve Sanetti, NSSF President and CEO, delivered a well-received speech on the industry’s determination to counter its detractors with facts on firearm safety and deter efforts to burden law-abiding gun owners with unnecessary legislation. “Much of the public and the media are woefully misinformed about who we are and all that we do about genuine gun safety,” said Sanetti, who pointed out to such notable NSSF programs as Project ChildSafe, Fix NICS and Don’t Like for the Other Guy programs.
“Some pundits state that the shooting sports are ‘in retreat,’” said Sanetti. “Well, look at the facts. Last year’s SHOT Show, one of the fastest growing trade shows in the nation, had its highest attendance and satisfaction levels ever; the number of federally licensed firearms dealers is growing; firearm sales experienced the second highest year ever and ammunition sales continue at near record levels; firearms permit and safety classes report long waiting lists; and the number of apprentice hunting licenses increased to well over 1 million. If this is a ‘retreat,’ as those who see no appeal in what we do have alleged, I truly wonder what an advance would look like.”
At the dinner, Richard Lipsey, owner of Lipsey’s, one of the nation’s largest sporting goods distributors, received the prestigious NSSF Ken Sedlecky Award for longterm commitment to the success of the industry and supporting NSSF’s mission to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Mark Keefe, editor-in-chief of American Rifleman magazine, was awarded the POMA-NSSF Grits Gresham Shooting Sports Communicator Award.
Media was out in force again at the show, totaling 2,500, including international press. Some of the country’s most well-known radio personalities, including Mike Gallagher, Lars Larson and Dana Loesch, broadcasted live from the show’s popular “Radio Row.”
Prior to the show, NSSF hosted a fundraising golf tournament to benefit Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA), an industry developed and supported effort to help the healing and reintegration of disabled combat veterans back into normal American life though participation in outdoor events.
The SHOT Show is not just about selling and buying products. The show provides educational opportunities for firearms retailers at SHOT Show University, which was sold out, and at other seminars, and for law enforcement professionals at the Law Enforcement Education Program.
The SHOT Show is managed by Las Vegas-based ConvExx. Major sponsors of the 2015 SHOT Show in addition to Daniel Defense were Outdoor Channel, GunBroker.com, Brownell’s, Gamo Outdoor USA, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Mossy Oak, Trijicon, Smith & Wesson and Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, among others. Ram Truck Brand was the official truck of the SHOT Show. Nissan was sponsor of the show’s press room.
The SHOT Show, the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas, pumps nearly $90 million in non-gaming revenue into the Las Vegas economy. Next year’s SHOT Show is scheduled for Jan. 19-22 at the Sands Expo.