The room isn’t huge by Las Vegas standards, and it isn’t even on the main floor of the show, but it is a hub of activity nonetheless. On one side of the room is a lounge of sorts, a collection of banquet tables and couches where visitors gather to visit, rest their feet and perhaps conduct an interview.
On the other side are two long rows of tables, some with computers and others with nothing more than a power supply.
This is the Press Room, the gathering place for the approximately 2,400 members of the outdoor and firearms media expected to cover the 38th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show that is underway at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
During the four days of SHOT, as some industry members call the show, journalists from around the world will file thousands of stories from the Press Room, all covering something related to the firearms industry and the hunting and shooting sports.
The SHOT Show is owned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the shooting sports, hunting, firearms and ammunition industry. As such, the show is not open to the public, but it is the place where decisions are made regarding what you will and won’t see on store shelves or in the pages of your favorite catalog. And making those decisions are about 63,000 industry representatives from more than 100 countries.
Since its founding in 1979, the SHOT Show has taken place in Las Vegas 17 times, 10 of those consecutively since 2010. Under its current agreement with the Sands Expo Center, the NSSF will bring SHOT to Las Vegas through 2020.
According to the NSSF, SHOT generated more than $88 million in nongaming revenue, so the show is good for Las Vegas. The organization figures that amount will surpass the $90 million mark during this show.
To walk the entire show, which covers more than 630,000 square feet of exhibit space, I would have to walk more than 12 miles of aisles. Despite my best efforts, I have yet to cover that distance. There is just too much to see.
Through the years, I have attended several editions of the SHOT Show. During that time, I have seen significant changes in the event. Not only have I seen the show change in size — it gets larger every year — but also in terms of the products displayed and introduced as new.
For instance, when a section of SHOT was first dedicated to law enforcement-related products, the area was only about 7,000 square feet. That was about 13 years ago. Today that section of the show covers more than 170,000 square feet.
Another change is the strong shift of the firearms industry toward military style firearms. Shift probably is not the correct word; the change has been more like a wave of change. A wave that started with the first Gulf War and continued through the second. The change has some folks nervous, but if you take a look back to the firearms industry after World War II, there was a similar change in the design of sporting firearms available to recreational shooters and hunters.
When I leave the Press Room, I no doubt will find more industry changes on the showroom floor. Hopefully I will find some good things and pass those on in future columns.
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 email@example.com.
• The Clark County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Pueblo Room at Nevada Department of Wildlife, 4747 Vegas Drive.
• The Nevada State Board of Wildlife Commissioners will meet Jan. 29 and 30 (10 a.m. and 9 a.m.) in the Clark County Commission Chambers about 2016 big-game seasons.