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January 26, 2010

Media and the SHOT Show


When it comes to firearms and accessories, there’s no better place to soak up knowledge about them than at NSSF’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show. Media that cover these outdoor activities know this and use the SHOT Show as a combination story generator and education hub, which can pay dividends throughout the year and even for an entire career.

Last week, 1,800 members of the media made a point of coming to the SHOT Show in Las Vegas so they could learn about and ogle (sometimes not in that order) the latest gear the industry produces and sells. Having a better grasp of what products are designed for and how they function helps media gain a better understanding for why industry holds certain positions on legislation and regulations. For example, when you see how popular AR-style modern sporting rifles and accessories are, and that there’s an AR for nearly every sporting use requiring a rifle, you can see why millions of owners of these modular rifles are concerned about potential legislation that would prohibit ownership of them.

Factual errors that appear about modern sporting rifles and many other gun-related issues in media stories often occur because of reporters’ lack of knowledge about guns and gun ownership. The SHOT Show not only affords media an opportunity to see equipment on the show floors but to attend “media day at the range,” where reporters can see, handle and test equipment, and then pose their questions about design and specifications directly to manufacturer representatives. Most “outdoor media” who attend SHOT know the value of this media day prior to the show, and we were pleased to see that mainstream media writers made good use of the range day to learn more about firearms in a hands-on way.

With nearly 40 million Americans active participants in hunting and the shooting sports, it’s important that all media, not just outdoor media, better understand our sports and the equipment gun owners enjoy owning and using–lawfully and responsibly. There are many new owners out there after a record year for firearms sales. This sales surge, as NSSF President Steve Sanetti put it in his State of the Industry address at SHOT Show, “is a testament to the popularity of firearms ownership in America and proof that hunting and target shooting remain popular activities among all ages.” 

The show itself was a big success. In an economy that is still sputtering, the 58,444 trade professionals who attended nearly matched the all-time record set at the 2008 show in Las Vegas. And there were positive signs that the industry would continue to see robust sales in 2010, building on the extraordinary sales of the last 15 months.

See NSSF’s Bullet Points, the SHOT Show blog and @NSSFSHOT Show on Twitter for highlights of the show. There’s also lots of show-related Tweets at #shotshow. And here’s the SHOT Show wrap-up press release.