Gunnery Network News
Record-breaking SHOT Show Mirrors
Strength of Hunting and Shooting Traditions
NEWTOWN, Conn. - While most of the nation’s hunters and shooters cannot attend the SHOT SHOW® because it is open to industry professionals only, they would be pleased to know that the recent record-breaking SHOT SHOW in New Orleans reaffirmed the strength of our hunting and shooting traditions.
With a show floor stretching nearly a mile long and exhibitors filling a record 486,200 square feet of floor space, the 2001 SHOT SHOW provided attendees with an inspiring display of hunting and shooting sports products, equipment, accessories and services.
Exhibitors reported steady retailer traffic at their booths and strong sales throughout most of the Show. “We’ve had another great show,” said Bob Morrison, executive vice president and COO of Taurus International Firearms. Most exhibitors echoed that comment, saying business was good and not affected by a lower-than-usual turnout of attendees. “We’ve done fantastic business with the buyers who are here,” Morrison said.
The Show ran January 11-14 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, one of the few facilities in the country large enough to handle the world’s premier shooting, hunting and outdoor trade show. The convention center accommodated all 1,500 exhibitors on one floor.
“The layout is great here,” said Laurie Darouse of Lipsey’s whose Mardi Gras-themed booth featured a fountain, a fortuneteller and colorful beads for all visitors. Referring to the eight-tenths-of-a-mile-long floor at the convention center, Darouse said, “It’s a lot of walking, so it took a while for people to get to us, but once they found us we were very busy.”
Lipsey’s, the Baton Rouge-based distributor, is one of many companies participating in the Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Fund. The Fund, unveiled two years ago at the Atlanta SHOT SHOW, supports legal and communications initiatives critical to the future of the shooting sports.
Reports of a slowing economy may have caused some buyers to be more cautious than in past years, but sales nevertheless reflected a genuine optimism in the year ahead. “Historically our industry does fairly well when the economy slows down, so even if that’s what ultimately happens I believe we’ll all be fine,” observed Steve Hornady, president of Hornady Manufacturing and chairman of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Foundation, which directs the Heritage Fund.
“People were here to do business,” said Art Wheaton, vice president and general manager of worldwide sales at Remington. “I’m conservatively optimistic about the year ahead. The people with good products and good marketing will have a good year. The ones who don’t have those things won’t.”
Many first-time exhibitors were pleased with the Show. Andy Nelson chose the SHOT SHOW for the premier of a new product. “It was a big gulp for us to come here financially, but the response to our new String-o-Wings product has gone beyond my most optimistic expectations,” said Nelson. “The excellent media exposure alone has returned our investment.” Nelson said he plans to double his booth space at next year’s Show.
“This Show has been fantastic for us,” said Shari-Lyn Fix, vice president of sales for H&R 1871. “The interest in our products has been great. We’ve gotten a lot of new leads and return customers. This has been one of the better shows for us.”
Marlin, which was named the SHOT Business Manufacturer of the Year at the Show, reported that sales were good. “We noticed that buyers are being conservative this year, but our usual orders were good,” said Tony Aeschliman. “We were pleased with the Show.”
The election of George W. Bush, a friend to hunters and shooters, was a hot topic of conversation on the Show floor. While pleased with industry-funded voter-mobilization efforts that helped elect Bush in November, industry leaders cautioned that this was no time to be complacent. “Our opponents will be out in force in the next election, which is only 22 months away. Their losses will have them more fired up than ever,” said Hornady.
Another friend of hunters and shooters, Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, visited the Show. Gov. Foster, who signed legislation preempting municipal lawsuits against the firearms industry, invited the industry to New Orleans despite Mayor Marc Morial’s politically motivated lawsuit against firearms manufacturers, saying, “I strongly believe it would be wrong if the action of one mayor prevented your industry from bringing your Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show to our great state.”
When the doors closed on Sunday afternoon, buyer registration was down 6.8 percent from the Atlanta show and more than 20 percent below record attendance numbers in Las Vegas.
Overall attendance was 25,291, which included 12,857 retailers, 11,234 exhibitor personnel and 1,200 press professionals.
The record-setting exhibitor space of 486,200 square feet easily surpassed the 465,600 of last year’s Show. More than 447,000 square feet has already been sold for the 2002 SHOT SHOW at the Las Vegas Convention Center February 2-5.
State of the Industry
The Show featured a well-attended State of the Industry Report at which Robert T. Delfay, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, explained that the “foundation is in place” to empower all segments of industry to determine its future. “How many deer rifles, turkey guns, 12-gauge trap loads, 7mm reloading dyes, telescopic sights and how many yards of fuzzy tree camo pattern will be sold next year is not already preordained by some naysayer, some demographic trend or some anti-gun politician,” Delfay said. “We can impact these sales this year and next. The foundation is in place to do this.”
Among the blocks in the “foundation” Delfay and other speakers described are the industry’s multi-faceted efforts in public outreach, participation, political action and legal responses to municipal lawsuits.
“As proof of the industry’s strength and growth potential, you need to look no further than the nearly one mile-long floor of this 23rd annual SHOT SHOW-once again the largest in our history. It is an extraordinary success and a tribute to your association, to our industry and to the strength of what we stand for. The foundation for growth is in place,” Delfay said.
At the State of the Industry meeting, the National Wild Turkey Federation announced a $1 million contribution to the Heritage Fund to help support and preserve the nation’s hunting and shooting sports traditions.
As always, the SHOT SHOW attracts many organizations associated with the shooting sports. “This is good exposure for us,” said United States Biathlon Team Summer Program Director Mark Sheppard, whose purpose in exhibiting at the Show was to raise awareness about and generate support for both summer biathlon and traditional Olympic biathlon. An electronic shooting simulator at the USBA booth allowed attendees to test their skills with a biathlon rifle.
“I’m impressed with the information I’m able to get here,” said Dawn Archie-Johansen, a writer and media representative from Reno, Nev. “I’ve done shows all over the country and you guys here are very organized. It’s a good show,” she said.
The SHOT SHOW featured well-attended seminars that brought together firearms retailers and representatives from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to discuss important issues such as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and Don’t Lie for the Other Guy, the joint NSSF-ATF developed program that helps prevent illegal straw man purchases.
The SHOT SHOW continues to grow and its success in New Orleans mirrors the overall strength of the shooting sports. “Twenty-three years ago, another trade show did not share our industry’s vision about the future of the hunting and shooting sports and so we left that show and started our own,” said Delfay. “Today that other show no longer exists, but the SHOT SHOW is the largest show of its kind in the world and 35th largest in the United States. We attribute that to hard work, great products and a growing industry unity - all of which are on display at the SHOT SHOW.”
POC at NSSF is Bill Brassard at 203-426-1320.
Web URL: http://www.SHOTShow.org
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