SHOT Show officials alongside a couple thousand close friends celebrated their successful show during a state-of-the-industry dinner Tuesday night at the Venetian Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
The Shooting, Hunting & Outdoors Tradeshow had opened at the Sands Expo that morning with a 635,000 net square foot showfloor and more than 63,000 attendees.
“Here we are tonight after the most successful opening day in SHOT Show history,” said National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) Senior Vice President Chris Dolnack.
Last May, NSSF terminated its contract with longtime show manager Reed Exhibitions, took exhibit sales in-house and hired ConVexx to run operations for the shooting- and outdoor-related tradeshow, which typically is one of the largest annual events held in Las Vegas.
“The challenges we had seven months ago seemed insurmountable at times,” Dolnack said.
He and others, however, also cited several statistics during their state-of-the-industry report pointing to a revival of the firearms and ammunition industry. NSSF officials said research had told them their attempts to develop new markets aimed at women, younger people and urban audiences had been successful.
NSSF President Steve Sanetti said the number of female target shooters had grown 32 percent in the last year and the number of people who were licensed to carry firearms had also grown 32 percent.
“A year ago we were put in the shadow of a horrifying event,” Sanetti said, referring to the period when the use of firearms became a matter of controversy following the killings in late 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., by coincidence the location of NSSF’s national headquarters.
“We have weathered the storm,” Sanetti said.
Sanetti and others also said during the dinner that the firearms and hunting industries were under fire from gun control advocates.
“Our industry was attacked from every side,” said NSSF Chairman Bob Scott, “but the NSSF, the National Rifle Association, the industry and our allies were united in our efforts to fight back.”