The week of January 14-17 marked the dates for the 2014 SHOT Show. Each year thousands of people journey to the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, NV to experience the largest shooting, hunting and outdoor related trade show. This year had a record attendance of 62,371! Troy and I were fortunate to be included in that number. With a last minute decision, we decided to check into whether or not we would qualify for admission. The passes we tried to acquire were Media passes which would have given us a lot more freedom in taking pictures, receiving press releases, etc. However, since the media applications were sold out by the time we decided to make the voyage, we inquired if there were other options to get in the door. We ended up getting non-buyer passes. In retrospect, I'm glad we still attended since it was an overall great experience of meeting friends, networking and in a way enjoying a "non-hunting" vacation, but our hands were a little tied in obtaining material to write about.
I wasn't going to let that stop me ~ in a way it felt like a challenge.
The rules are strict about taking pictures if you don't have a media badge. Basically, don't. I wasn't able to carry my D3100 Nikon camera, but armed with my cell phone, I simply asked various booth owners if it would be okay to snap a picture or two. I quickly found that after introducing myself, chatting about their products, letting them know we have a website geared towards the hunting industry, taking a picture or two was welcomed. So.... I have a few to share with you all!
I was brave enough to take a picture of a drone ... just before it flew into the back of a girl's head.
Before diving into some of the new products we found and love I thought I would share a few of the lessons learned while attending SHOT Show. Follow up posts will highlight products / companies that stood out to us at SHOT
Lessons Learned from SHOT:
Tennis Shoes are Stylish: I thought I would be cool by wearing cowboy boots the first day. I have never been so not cool. While my feet may have looked fabulous, they didn't feel fabulous. If your feet hurt, you get grumpy. I'm afraid that I was grumpy some of the time in Vegas. As a result, I may have not been as friendly as I should have. I apologize to those you may have experienced my grumpiness. Once I found a spot to sit down, I didn't want to move. Honestly, this may have hampered the opportunity of meeting some fabulous people.
For example, we attended the Real Avid and Hawke Optics tweet up on Tuesday night and I also had the opportunity to attend the Women's Industry Dinner aka "Gun Girl Dinner" hosted by Britney Starr (managing editor at the WON) and Jacquelyn Kelly (Armed in Heals). I made the mistake of walking over a mile in heels to get to the Gun Girl Dinner. Troy, you were right. We should have taken a cab. I was in pain. In retrospect, I see now that I missed out on meeting a lot of great people simply because I was too tired to get up and mingle. I sat down and chatted with those within hearing distance of my seated position. In all seriousness, you are probably tired of people telling you to wear comfortable shoes. Well, if you are as stubborn as me, you need to hear it one more time. Wear comfortable shoes, with inserts preferably.
Plan Your Attack: These large trade show events are truly amazing, but it can easily be overwhelming. We had downloaded the SHOT Show app on our phones, which I highly recommend, and created an agenda that was easily referenced with a few clicks. However, even with reviewing the schedule and lay of the land, we found ourselves mimicking a pinball darting back and forth between booths, making a crazy path around the show floor. The booth displays are spectacular, designed to grab your attention. So instead of walking the aisles in a methodical manner, our footsteps zig zagged all over the place as we jumped from booth to booth. It would have been fun to track our steps somehow to see the path we actually walked each day. I'm sure it looked like a couple mice trapped in a maze. Hey... SHOT Show app people, maybe you could incorporate this option into the app next year? A foot step tracker at Shot Show. I'd like to see which booths I truly missed!
One day after roaming the show floor, out of pure exhaustion I think I told Mia Anstine that I had seen everything there is to see. She smiled at me and chuckled softly. I then said, "No really - I think I did." However, after looking at everyone's posts, I now keep telling Troy, "How did we miss that??" or "Where was that?" I stand corrected, Mia! I now know why you laughed at me.
Arm Yourselves: One thing we almost missed was the importance of bringing business cards. While it is a given that business cards are necessary if you are attending SHOT as a buyer or exhibitor, it is just as important if you don a non-buyer or media badge. The networking opportunity is huge at a trade show like this, and it is expected that someone will ask you for contact information via a business card, either to follow up, send product or simply for future reference. Be prepared and arm yourselves. Don't miss out on any opportunities.
Here's just one example of what I'm talking about. We had the privilege of meeting Will Primos. (btw - what a great guy!) We told him that we've watched practically all of their videos because we have 'free tv' and our form of entertainment is grabbing a bowl of popcorn and watching hunting DVDs. (In fact, Lars with @NRAblogpoked fun of me a bit b/c of the free TV thing ... that's another story.) Anyway, after chatting about some of their hunts, he asked if we had their latest video, which we had to be honest and confess we hadn't watched it yet. He was gracious and asked for our business card. Not long afterwards while hanging out in the First Lite booth, I received a phone call. Will Primos was calling me and wanted my address to ship his new video to. LOL! Thanks, Will! Apparently, having a shipping address on your business cards is helpful too.
Attending SHOT show was a great way to start off 2014. Putting faces to names that I've been chatting with on twitter for quite some time was really fun. We met so many wonderful people in the hunting industry that share our passion! If you have never gone, I would highly recommend it. If you have specific questions, please ask - this SHOT show novice is happy to lend whatever help I can provide, or point you in the right direction.
I'm still recovering, nursing a nasty head cold, and trying to quickly heal my feet so I can start training for my marathon. Overall, I'm thankful for new friendships and the opportunity to reconnect with folk I haven't seen for a while. Here's to a new year, new opportunities, and new friendships!
From the Draw
A website devoted to sharing bowhunting stories. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.