SHOT hits back with a bang

Within 10 minutes of setting foot on the show floor it was clear that the trade were delighted to be back doing what they do best, at the 44th instalment of the now world famous exhibition.

The palpable ‘buzz’, halls full of the trade, glad to be meeting with business partners for the first time in two years, was there for all to experience. 

Footfall was inevitably down on pre-Covid show statistics, but in 2022 times have changed and the success of shows such as SHOT should not be measured with simple stats, particularly when judged against past exhibitions where international travel was so much easier. 

For example, GTW’s Willem Bonneux, who lives in Belgium, was instructed to take a pre-flight test in Las Vegas, before making his way back home. Luckily for him the test result was negative, however a positive result would have meant an extended 10-day stay in Vegas, with all the costs and stress involved. It is due to regulations such as this that some international visitors and exhibitors decided against attending this year’s event. Attendance was around 22 per cent down on the last SHOT Show in 2020, and the majority of this percentage would have been made up by international visitors who decided to stay home.

Health and hygiene were key factors at the first SHOT since Covid-19 enveloped the globe, meaning the wearing of masks and regular sanitising were needed. This didn’t detract from the experience – we were able to interact as normal with our partners, mask-wearing is customary in Covid times and our team sees it as crucial to getting back to ‘normal’ as soon as possible. However, it has to be said that, despite it being a Nevada state law, many visitors decided not to wear a mask, even when asked to by the police officers who patrolled the show floor.

Getting out on the floor

Our first glance into the SHOT media room also filled us with happiness; the team from the NSSF had gone through a lot over the past two years, to say the least, and the relief that SHOT was finally back was evident on the faces of the world’s media.

A quick coffee and bite to eat had us set up for day one of the show. It was busy. Despite a drop in footfall, we still felt that the halls were bustling with traffic and in fact at a more manageable level than previous years, when it could be argued that show floors were a little too hectic.

The general consensus

An estimated 80 per cent of exhibitors that we spoke to over the course of the four days gave us positive feedback, pointing towards successful business deals, meeting old friends and just being able to gather, face to face, as key factors for their success.

Some saw empty booths as a failure by SHOT to attract all of the key global players – large concerns such as CZ, Sig Sauer and Vortex Optics decided against attending. However, these were isolated comments. There is no doubt that big names like this would have made the exhibition stronger; however, we felt that the organisers did a great job in ‘covering up’ the space that was left behind. It really was hard to tell where, for example, Sig Sauer should have been.

We found Level 1, the basement of the Sands Expo, to be the busiest area, despite it being the most cost effective for exhibitors. It is here where you see new businesses eager to grow and this area has less of a commercial atmosphere than the higher levels.

The new Caesars Forum worked. We enjoyed the outdoor areas, that blast of fresh air was certainly welcome in mask-wearing times. 

Members of the trade seemed to enjoy this slightly slower pace, with some likening it to IWA in terms of its more relaxed atmosphere. After two years of doing business over Teams and Zoom many business professionals were happy to be eased back in to show life.

“With our largest floor plan in history, more than 2,400 attending exhibitors, and thousands of buyers here to make new and meaningful connections, we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of this SHOT Show,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF senior vice president and chief customer officer. “This is a very tactile business, and it means a lot to buyers to be able to see and handle our industry’s products in person. To our exhibitors, buyers, media, and everyone associated with making this year’s show a success, we extend our sincerest appreciation.”

Despite the many obstacles that exhibitors, visitors and SHOT itself faced, we felt that the show was a resounding success. The myriad of Covid rules meant that it was an impossible task for show organisers to please everyone. When asked pre-show, many attendees said that they wouldn’t attend if masks were required, while a similar number suggested they wouldn’t attend if masks were not required – it’s easy to see the scale of the task that SHOT had to overcome.

To be able to put on a show that boasted SHOT’s largest amount of paid exhibitors, in the show’s largest ever square footage, in the midst of the global pandemic, is no mean feat.

NSSF president and CEO Joe Bartozzi emphasized that the SHOT Show is the engine that helps fund NSSF’s efforts to protect industry businesses and fuel their success. “SHOT participants and supporters play a huge role in protecting the industry,” he said. “NSSF could not do what we do on behalf of industry without the financial support of this show.”

What they said

Johannes Knecht, Ballistol:

“Was great to attend after a two-year absence... We had a great success at our Ballistol booth at German pavilion! First time event for BAMLA (Ballistol America Latina) was a great show! Looking forward to IWA now!”

Paul Bradley, Primetake:

“We had a very good show. I was able to meet people in person which have been faces on a Teams or Zoom app up until now. Face-to-face meetings really allow you to get to know each other properly and develop trust and friendship. I met component suppliers, end users and friendly competitors. It was great to catch up and share some ballistics knowledge and gain more in many cases.”

Mark Petty, DC Machine:

“I thought it went great! I was able to reveal a project I’ve been working on: 5.55 to 458socom; MilSpec FCG & & BCG; American Walnut furniture.”

Michael Paige, GunSpace:

“We had great feedback on our firearm enthusiast social media app. I would say almost all dealers and manufacturers loved the app.”


A message from the convention centre…

Jeff Pressman, president and CEO ConvExx

“We did it! Another SHOT Show is in the books, and this one was special. Despite all the challenges during these times in producing a large event, we not only produced a large trade show, but we produced the largest one in its history. SHOT Show had hundreds more exhibitors this year than it had at the 2020 show. The SHOT Show grew over 100,000nsf (surpassing 800,000nsf!), and took on an additional venue to accommodate the new exhibitors. 

“We had attendees arrive in Vegas from 98 countries. We had registrations from 115 countries, but to have individuals from 98 different countries actually arrive when it is so difficult for international travel right now, I find that incredible and it shows the value so many find in face-to-face meetings worldwide. 

“We had six governors on one stage for a panel discussion regarding the importance of this industry in their respective states. Exhibitors and attendees were extremely happy with the show, with many saying it was their best show ever. We received notes and voicemails from exhibitors saying this week changed their lives and thanked us for putting on the show. I had members from the local labour unions come up to me and thank me for producing a show that felt like pre-pandemic times. The SHOT Show community really stepped up and it was inspiring.”

The Key Numbers

Visitors from 98 countries

SHOT grew by 100,000nsf

Over 800,000nsf in size

43,000 registered attendees

5th largest trade show in Las Vegas

SHOT Show provides $88 million in non-gaming revenue to Las Vegas

More than 2,400 exhibitors