As the first wave of crowds poured into the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show) Show Tuesday, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) Senior Vice President Chris Dolnack said, “We’re so much further along that I’d hoped we be.”
The hunting- and outdoor-related show opened at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas Jan. 14 with a 635,000 net square foot showfloor, more than 61,000 pre-registered attendees and 1,610 exhibiting companies.
All of that happened less than a year after the NSSF board suddenly terminated its long-term management contract with Reed Exhibitions, quickly took exhibit sales in house and turned over the operations component to ConVexx. The termination came after Reed canceled an unrelated consumer show devoted to hunting and fishing following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in late 2012.
Despite the turmoil, Dolnack said Tuesday that attendance is on target to grow at least 20 percent. The show was able to add about 5,000 net sq. ft., thanks to some renovations to the Sands complex and make room eventually for about 100 first-time exhibiting companies.
Dolnack said the show several years ago had to abandon any kind of ribbon-cutting events on opening day. “We have fire marshal issues,” he said.
Indeed, on Tuesday, as many as 20,000 attendees crowded into the lobby of the Sands Expo before the 8:30 a.m. opening.
While many shows are seeing exhibitors scale back their displays in an effort to save money on drayage and shipping costs, SHOT Show exhibitors appear to have doubled down with some booths resembling two-story wooden hunting lodges, complete with light fixtures made of deer antlers.
Dolnack said the show had a record 6.3 million pounds of freight hauled into the convention center. By comparison, International CES, held a week earlier at the Las Vegas Convention Center, had three times the net square footage, but only 1.5 million additional pounds of freight.
Norman Harrison, an attendee from Tehachapi, Calif., took a photo of Jesse James of Orange County Choppers just minutes after the show opened.
“I’ve only seen like two famous people in my life,” Harrison said, “so this is pretty cool.”
James is one of a long list of celebrities popular with the shooting sports-related world that will appear at the SHOT Show over the next three days, including Ted Nugent, Stephen Tyler, members of the “Duck Dynasty” reality TV series and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.