The 41st annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show promises to be bigger and better than ever.

It’s the place where industry professionals from around the world gather to do business, network, meet with old friends and generally celebrate the shooting sports. This is where anyone in the industry can rub elbows with more than 60,000 of their closest friends and colleagues.

It is an amazing happening each year when, just prior to the opening of the doors for the first day of the show, an absolute sea of humanity crowds the expansive hallways outside entrances on each of the two main floors — all eager to do business. In a matter of a few short minutes, the crowd passes through the doors and fans out over the more than 630,000 square feet of exhibition space. The SHOT Show is in the top 25 trade shows in the U.S.

“The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries,” show owner National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) states. “It is the world’s premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics and related products and services. The SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.”

There is something — an energy, even electric — about the SHOT Show that separates it from anything else in the world. It’s difficult to describe, but you understand when you see it. Certainly, any retailer can benefit from attending.

By having a real feel for the products and services that will be introduced during the coming year, retailers can better plot their own individual business strategies and come away with plans that can result in more sales as the months go by. That’s in addition to any actual business deals made during the show itself.

Even if there were nothing else, just the opportunity to meet and talk business with representatives from all of the major manufacturers in the entire industry would be worth the time, money and effort to attend.

For those who have been to scores of SHOT Shows, the event becomes an annual rendezvous where old friends get together and talk about all things firearms related. If it has to do with guns, shooting or any of the outdoor trades, it is at the SHOT Show.

Like the shooting sports industry overall, the SHOT Show itself has changed significantly in recent years. Yet, there is still the pervasive presence of what has always been at the core of it all: It is where business intersects with a way of life in a manner unlike any other industry.

It takes some planning to do the SHOT Show effectively because there simply are too many booths and events to get to all of them in the few days of the show.

Just getting through all the booths, navigating the crowd and getting from the end of one floor to the other is a challenge, and there are several floors. Bluntly, the SHOT Show is a marathon, not a sprint. Some retailers hit the show for a day, maybe two, with specific business targets, while others find that it takes the entire show to take care of all the business they do there.

New at SHOT for 2019

Each year, the SHOT Show adds exciting new things to help retailers and everyone else in the industry. “We’ve added more exhibits, new education and greater opportunity to connect with professionals for the 2019 SHOT Show,” the NSSF notes.

For 2019, Mike Rowe will keynote the State of the Industry Reception at the show. Rowe is best known for his role on the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs. He also runs the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to debunk myths about the skilled trades and help close the skills gap.

Retailer seminars are scheduled from Jan. 22-24. These sessions cover a variety of topics, including New Range Funding & Design; Inventory Management and Retail Design; Operation Secure Store & Risk Assessment; Lessons Learned for Successfully Navigating the National Instant Criminal Background Check System; Mastering Media and Public Relations; Successful New-Hire Programs; Town Hall Meeting Featuring ATF & FBI NICS; Dealer Liability, Industry Data and New Shooter Recruitment; and Law Enforcement & FFL Grant Workshop.

There are scores more seminars and events at the SHOT Show, far too many to list here. Details are available at https://showshow.org.

Don’t Forget About This

Additionally, the Supplier Showcase will feature more than 500 exhibits. Open Monday and Tuesday (Jan. 21 and 22), this is a chance to connect with suppliers of all manner of raw materials, equipment, products and services.

Not counting the breakfast meetings before the show opens each day or the gatherings at restaurants and in hotel suites after the show closes each day, the floor is open all day, every day.

The 2019 SHOT Show will be held at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas. Retailers who have been to the show before know its value, while those who have never attended should plan to be there and learn what they have been missing.