November 02, 2020
By Lynn Burkhead
Las Vegas is a city where few people sleep and the party never seems to end, even for those who love to wear camouflage and hunt and fish.
Because once a year in late January, thousands of shooting, hunting, and outdoors enthusiasts gather in the Nevada desert to see what’s new in the outdoors industry when it comes to camping gear, deer hunting treestands, hunting clothes, hunting boots, dog equipment, hunting knives, rifles and shotguns, and of course, bullets and shotshells for everything from an East Texas squirrel to a Dakota sharptail or even an Alaskan moose.
For those who attend, it’s like Daytona, the Super Bowl, the Masters, and the World Series all wrapped up into one as hunting celebrities like Realtree’s Bill Jordan and Mossy Oak’s Toxey Haas all gather along with media members like Petersen’s Hunting editor David Draper and others in the Outdoor Sportsman Group family to shake hands and find out what goodies we’ll be carrying into the field next season.
But whether you’re simply trying to see what’s new in the coming year, are covering stories as a media member trying to get the word out to an interested world, or even a hunting and shooting world rock star seen on the weekly TV programs of Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, or MOTV, the SHOT Show is a can’t miss event.
Except for this year, of course, or more specifically, early next year. That’s because of news that broke on Oct. 30, 2020 that the doors of the 2021 SHOT Show will be closed due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For all of the sadness and despair that the cancelling of the 42nd such SHOT Show gathering may bring, there was simply no way that the show could go on this year according to National Shooting Sports Foundation President & CEO Joe Bartozzi in a news release.
"Due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the world, NSSF, the firearm industry trade association, today makes the difficult announcement that the 2021 SHOT Show has been canceled," said Bartozzi.
"NSSF has remained in constant communication with Nevada officials throughout the year in our planning for the 2021 show," Bartozzi continued. "While there has been a concerted effort to expand the allowable levels for large gatherings by the county and state, with positivity rates peaking during our key planning period we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 show.
"Sadly, these spikes are currently transpiring worldwide. Given the sheer complexities, diminishing timeline and immense logistical planning required to conduct a trade show as large as SHOT, NSSF simply could not move forward at this point with so many unknowns and variables.
"We truly appreciate the guidance of Nevada and Las Vegas officials in allowing us to communicate this news to our exhibitors and attendees well in advance of the show. We would also like to thank the Sands (Expo Center) directly for their help and efforts to navigate this unprecedented situation."
As noted above, the sobering announcement wasn't a surprise given the shuttering of so many other large gatherings and outdoor shows in recent months. Since the coronavirus outbreak began its spread across the U.S. in March, events such as from the National Rifle Association's Annual Meeting, the Pope and Young Club Convention, the Ducks Unlimited Expo, the ICAST fishing trade show, the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, and the Archery Trade Association Show have all been canceled because of travel restrictions, health mandates and business difficulties brought on by the pandemic.
Still, the loss of the Jan. 19-22, 2021 SHOT Show at Las Vegas' Sands Expo Center and Caesars Forum is the biggest blow of all to the outdoors industry, if for no other reason for the sheer size of the annual event.
As one of the largest trade shows in America, the SHOT Show — or more technically, the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show — is the largest event held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center each year. In fact, so large that the NSSF was going to open up more floor space at Caesars Forum in 2021 — a move made necessary by how many exhibitors, buyers, and media members attend.
How big is the annual show? Earlier this year, it was noted that in addition to more than 60,000 attendees and 2,400+ media members from around the globe, the total exhibiting space for the 2019 show was expected to be more than 692,000 net square feet — a measurement that is equivalent to nearly 16 acres of space.
The 2019 SHOT Show also had more than 12.5 miles of aisles earlier this year, just a little less than the distance of a half marathon. In one frequently mentioned statistic from previous shows, show organizers have said that in order to see all the booths at the SHOT Show each year, an attendee can spend only a few minutes in each booth during the show’s four-day long run.
That's big, even for Las Vegas. But even with the show serving as the launch pad for new hunting, shooting, and outdoors products every year, the ongoing health crisis around the world eventually scuttled the show's 22nd run in Las Vegas, which annually brings in more than $80 million dollars in non-gaming revenue to the famous sparkling city in the southern Nevada desert.
With NSSF and its various partners deep in the planning process for months, show organizers said that floor space for the event was still near a sell-out capacity some three months in advance of the 2021 gathering.
While there was no indication in the NSSF's statement today about any sort of virtual event being planned in place of the 2021 SHOT Show, there will undoubtedly be efforts similar to those conducted by companies like Outdoor Sportsman Group, which helped bring countless new fishing and boating products to the outdoors world in July 2020 when the annual ICAST fishing trade show in Orlando was scrubbed. And like similar plans being put together for product unveilings early next year for the recently cancelled ATA Show, expect to hear more about virtual efforts to bring SHOT Show new products to the world in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, the hard work to put on the 2021 SHOT Show will now shift to hitting the restart button for the next such event, a show that is currently scheduled for Jan. 18-21, 2022 in Las Vegas.
"All of this positions us for a 2022 SHOT Show that will be undoubtedly the best in our industry’s history, and we look forward to bringing our entire community together again at a show that will be one to remember," stated Bartozzi.
"During the coming year, NSSF asks for our industry’s unwavering support as we continue our fight to promote, protect and preserve our industry in these unsettling times."
Unsettling times for sure, even for many who love to get out in the outdoors world as far away from the hustle and bustle of city life as we can. Thankfully, while the SHOT Show will have to wait for another year now, the rest of us can load up the hunting pack, grab our wallet and hunting license, and shoulder a favorite rifle, shotgun, or bow before heading outside to enjoy the outdoors world — troubling times or not.
With a little luck, the outdoors is still a place that maybe the dreaded coronavirus can’t take away from millions of enthusiasts ready to escape cabin fever from one coast to the other.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.