Walking up and down the more than 12 miles of aisles that wind through the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) is probably best described by the phrase that compares the processing of information to drinking water from a fire hose.
With more than 1,600 exhibitors and covering 630,000 square feet of exhibit space, I don’t believe it’s possible for someone to really see everything at what the National Shooting Sports Foundation bills as the world’s largest trade show of its kind. SHOT is the time and place where manufacturers, parts suppliers and retailers from more than 100 countries come together to determine the direction of the industry and select the products you will find on store shelves, whether they be in a brick-and-mortar store or online.
The 2017 edition of SHOT took place the week of Jan. 17 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center and marked the show’s 39th year. The show has taken place in Las Vegas 18 times, and has been here since 2010.
One of the changes I noticed this year was in the atmosphere of the show. The dark cloud of concern that has hung over the show for the past several years seemed to have lifted.
During his remarks at the annual State of the Industry banquet, Steve Senetti, president and CEO of the NSSF, spoke of hope and shared some thoughts about the future of the shooting and hunting sports.
“I have to confess that just a few short months ago, I had absolutely no idea about what kind of speech I would be making tonight,” he said. “Would it be a speech of resolve where we had to prepare ourselves for a bitter and protracted onslaught that was both promised and predicted, steeling ourselves for a fight that could last for years with an uncertain outcome at best? Well, that certainly seemed likely during the closing days of the election, but something whispered, “wait.” And so I did. The gun controllers lost.
“Now we look forward with new hope to a period in which we may breathe a bit easier.”
Senetti also recognized the concerns people have about what gun control advocates have termed “gun violence,” pointing out that violence is violence regardless of the tool someone chooses to use when carrying out a violent act.
“Our overriding hope is that when it comes to helping stop misuse of firearms by criminals and preventing access to them by legally prohibited felons, the violently mentally ill and the drug gangs to terrorize the disarmed inhabitants of our cities, the American public will realize we’re all on the same side,” he said.
Senetti issued a broad invitation for those who are concerned about firearms safety to join with the NSSF in its efforts to promote safety and responsible firearms ownership.
“We hope that our fellow citizens who, like us, are appalled at violent crime would heed our call. Law abiding firearms owners, and our industry are not the enemy. Support what works. Regardless of the source,” he said. “We know the messages that resonate with firearms owners, and which will promote responsible and safe ownership and use of firearms.”
Senetti pointed to Project Child Safe as an example of something that works. Through that program, some 37 million gun locks have been distributed in 15,000 communities nationwide. “We’ve seen fatal firearms accidents plummet 24 percent during the last 10 years,” he said.
Senetti also outlined a few hopes he has for the industry going forward, especially as it pertains to continued growth in the hunting and shooting sports.
“We hope that the parade of newcomers to the lawful and responsible enjoyment of hunting and the shooting sports will continue as it has for the past eight years,” he said. “We welcome the widest possible inclusion of all American citizens of all races, nationalities and orientations, regardless of whether they live in the city, or the countryside to come join our ranks.
”And we hope that all of you will help and encourage these newcomers. For they, too, are the faces of America’s future.”
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.