As the middle of January rapidly approaches, it can only mean one thing for the hunting world — The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show is here at last.
SHOT Show is the world's largest combined hunting, fishing, law enforcement and outdoor related exposition, bringing in people from all 50 states and at least 100 countries. Simply put, it is the Super Bowl of the outdoor and hunting world, where enthusiasts of all stripes make the pilgrimage to view the latest and greatest from the industry.
With myriads of showrooms and more exhibitors than the sands on the seashore, you could literally walk the floors of SHOT for days and not see everything there. It's the one place you can go each year to see the convergence of every major manufacturer from almost every industry related to the outdoor world. Did we mention that it's in Las Vegas? Not too shabby.
The Latest and Greatest
No doubt the thrill of SHOT Show is measured in the level of anticipation leading up to it. Outdoor aficionados and hunters wait with bated breath to lay their eyes on the newest guns, gadgets and gear — like the new .17 Winchester Super Magnum that was just recently announced. The cartridge is one great example of a hot new commodity that everybody's waiting to get a closer look at, and SHOT provides that opportunity.
The other big introduction will inevitably be the Remington 783, which is an incredibly affordable rifle that boasts of Model 700 performance. Priced at around $400 and brand spanking new for 2013, the 783 is built for accuracy and will be a big stop on the trade show floor.
Hunters will also be impressed with updates in apparel, as with ScentBlocker and the introduction of their new SpiderWeb bibs featuring built in safety harness system. Sitka Gear is also unveiling a new extreme cold weather component to their waterfowl line, which should be a big hit at the show.
Celebrities in the Building
As major companies like the Outdoor Channel make their presence known at SHOT, they bring with them personalities like Michael Waddell, Jim Shockey and Lee and Tiffany Lakosky — some of the biggest names in hunting, all under one roof. Not only can you get a picture snapped with your long lost heroes from hunting TV, you can also make all your friends jealous by posting them to Facebook.
There's also a star presence from some slightly different areas, like five-time Olympic champion Kim Rhode or country music stars Mark Wills and Craig Morgan. Or if you feel like getting your butt kicked, feel free to lip off to MMA champion Matt Hughes. We hear he can do some damage.
The other big thing to watch at the 2013 SHOT Show is the continued boom of the hunting and shooting industries. According to reports from 2012, the last six years have seen a nine percent increase in hunters nationwide. With something like 37 million sportsmen in the U.S. spending $90 billion a year to hunt or fish, it's apparent that what happens at SHOT could very well serve as a barometer for the industry as a whole and the economy in general.
As tensions continue to flare in the U.S. over potential upcoming gun control legislation, firearm sales have remained strong. Keeping with recent historic trends, anti-gun fervor has actually bolstered the industry rather than hurt it. As the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reported about a month ago, background checks were at an all time high (about 1.5 million) in November of 2012 — a 38 percent increase from 2011.
Long Term Impact
What will be an interesting footnote to the 2013 SHOT Show is how the industry continues to respond to those same threats of anti-gun legislation. So far sales have skyrocketed, with retailers like Wal-Mart selling out of semi-automatic rifles and many other outlets doing the same with magazines.
What happens at SHOT could give us an indication of what is to come for the hunting and outdoor world, though at present the outlook appears to be promising. If nothing else, SHOT Show gives hunters the opportunity to gather, share ideas and take a stand for the things we believe in and the lifestyle we live.
We're here in full force, proud of our American hunting tradition and we're not going away.