SHOT Show: What Actually Goes On

booth babeThe SHOT Show is a four-day hootenanny held every year in Las Vegas. It is the industry trade show for the entire shooting, hunting and outdoors community including a significant section for law enforcement. It is also the largest such show in the world with miles of exhibitors (seriously you would have about 60 seconds to spend at each one if you tried to hit them all) and over 62,000 attendees.

But it is not a gun show (no guns for sale) and it is not open to the general public (only to people in the industry). As a firearms writer I have been attending for six years, which basically makes me a beginner. But for the uninitiated here is what you can expect.

When I started going to SHOT there were a ton of booth babes making me sweaty and nervous. However, over the past six years the industry appears to have matured as more women and families are entering the shooting sports. The days of the booth babe are numbered and the last few remaining scantily clad, poster signing girls are relegated to Eastern European models (could explain why Donald Trump showed up) at the booths of foreign (Eastern European) gun companies and U.S. companies that import and do business with the above. Big gun manufacturers are professionally run corporations and don’t go for this sort of thing.

Some of the smaller companies present still use booth babes to try and draw attention but this is mostly either a semi-attractive (female) employee of the company in a tight dress or the somewhat attractive girlfriend of someone who works at said company. At the very least these booth babes can answer questions about the products they are posing with, which is why I am there in the first place. Nothing worse than being pawned off on some poor clueless woman pushing 40 and desperately holding onto her looks dressed in a boob enhancing skin tight mini dress with 5 inch heels while you wait for the company rep to finish up another meeting.


Several of the companies present will bring in a celebrity to basically act as a male booth bae and draw attention. Some of the celebrities who show I have no idea why they are there at all. The guys from that Gold Rush show are there hawking some sort of metal detector. The Gunny (R. Lee Ermey) is there shilling from a few different companies. Ted Nugent is usually wandering around as is the Incredible Hulk (Lou Fergino). Even Steven Segal makes an appearance and he seems to be close with the Eastern European manufacturers. I was invited to a dinner where he just showed up and no one ever introduced him and he never said a word.


It’s Vegas. The manufacturers are there to wine and dine their customers and the media. If you are a teetotaler you are missing out on half the value of the trip.


I almost forgot. They also have guns on display. Lots of very cool guns and also lots of the same guns over and over again. “Hey look kids, an AR.” Everyone want to showcase the newest and coolest product which can lead to some interesting conversations. “We designed this to simulate full-auto fire and cause the target to instantly explode in a fireball even with a near miss. We call it the Home Defense Centurion (not for indoor use). No we don’t have ATF approval yet but we’re confident that its coming so we have already shipped 1,000 units.”

My personal favorite is this one, “I can show you our super-secret prototype made from metal recovered at the Roswell alien spaceship crash which some old farmer had hidden in his barn all these years but you can’t take a photo, handle it or mention it to anyone yet and we don’t know when it will be available.” Or, “This gun is on pre-pre-pre production, but here, have a hat.”


If it isn’t tactical it’s crap! My wife has a hard time finding me at SHOT because everyone is wearing khaki tactical pants and a black polo with short hair. However, the ones who really take the cake are the guys in the size 56 waist tactical pants riding around in scooters like it was the Indianapolis 500 or hauling all of their effluvium around in shin crushing wheeled milk crates. You are also greeted to a sea of long tactical beards battling it out on the show floor like male Walruses in a dominance display. By my estimate there are also 50,000 former Navy SEALS who all killed Bin Laden and are selling books about it.


It is not a coincidence that the AVN (Adult Video News) awards show happens at the same time as the SHOT Show. Apparently gun owners are the only ones still buying porn DVDs. But hey when the zombie apocalypse happens and your wi-fi goes down who is going to be laughing then?

Originally posted at The Daily Caller:

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