Impressions of SHOT 2011:
by Michael A. Black
Law enforcement area expands
Once again I had the privilege of covering this year’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show for Gun Week. The thirty-third SHOT Show seemed even more heavily attended than last year, although attendance statistics put it at 57,390, which was only slightly below last year’s record-setting attendance level. The 2011 show still ranks third behind the record setting 2008 and 2010 shows. This year’s show, like its predesessors, was once again a fantastic smorgasbord of guns, knives, all kind of equipment associated with outdoor sports and law enforcement, and a host of educational programs about guns, shooting and the business of guns, ammunition and related products. An added significance to this year’s festivities was the 50th anniversary celebration for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association which owns the show.
Like last year, the four-day event was held at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas Jan. 18-21. My friend, Michael Bane, was given the Outdoor Channel’s Golden Moose Award for his continuing contributions on behalf of the shooting industry at the ceremonial NSSF dinner the first night. There were plenty of other celebrities there throughout the show, including multiple Olympic gold medalist Kim Rhode, comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who entertained during the State of the Industry dinner, UFC fighter Matt Hughes, rocker Ted Nugent, National Ladies Shooting Champion Randi Rogers, Xtreme Sports Shooter Patrick Flanigan, and of course, the USMC’s own hero, “The Gunny,” who was also available during the show, signing autographs at the Glock USA booth.
The SHOT Show also offers various classes on how to conduct a successful retail gun business (SHOT Show University), plus seminars conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and, as you’d expect, classes on hunting, shooting, knife fighting, and many law enforcement training subjects. I had hopes of attending several of these, but my plans were kind of cut a bit short for me due to a pernicious flu bug I picked up in Vegas. It put me flat on my back quicker than a straight right from Wladimir Klitchko.
However, I still had time to meet quite a few interesting people and see lots of neat new products. I was particularly interested in checking out new equipment related to the concealed carry of firearms. The executive pocket holster offered a convenient and concealable holster for small caliber guns. As has often been pointed out, if you value your lower body parts, you should always carry your gun in a proper holster.
Many hammerless models of smaller caliber pistols, such as the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38, were available to be handled. The lack of a protruding hammer decreases the chances of snagging on clothing when drawing the revolver.
On the distaff side, I had a neat time when I stopped by the Gun Tote’n Mamas booth (1303 Shermer Rd., Dept. GWK, Northbrook, IL 60062; phone: 847-446-5663; online: GunTotenMamas.com). The owner, Jane Derning, was very gracious showing her latest line of purses designed with built-in holsters. She let my companion, Shauna Washington, try several different models, using a blue gun to test the accessibility of a quick draw.
Derning went on to mention that all her purses have a slash-resistant steel cable inside their shoulder straps, and are equipped with special padding to prevent the outline of the gun from being discernible. She also stressed that all her gun purse models are ambidextrous, with holsters that can be removed. She started in the luggage business, but discovered a growing interest on the part of women who were seeking an affordable, yet functionally elegant holster purse. She’s always looking for feedback on her products. Check out the latest models on her website.
I was also very impressed with some of the tactical products I saw. Pictured here is a ceramic face plate that took hits from various weapons, including rounds from a .45 ACP, .223 Remington, and a .308 Winchester. You’ll note that the plate held up admirably, considering the firepower it was up against. Of course, I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of those hits. It no doubt would pack quite a wallop, but considering the alternative, I was sold on them. Tactical Products Group (1255 NW 17th Ave., Suite #2, Dept. GWK, Delray Beach, FL 33445; phone: 561-265-4066; online: tacprogroup.com), provided a wide range of SWAT related items and equipment.
Another interesting person came into view as I turned a corner and was face-to-face with a mean-looking guy pointing a shotgun at me. The menacing individual (pictured here) was one of a series of targets being marketed in the United States by Belgium police officer Francis Dorao. (More than 100 countries were represented at the Show and buyers came from all over the world; general information for show attendees in the official program are printed in several languages besides English.)
Monsieur Dorao came up with the idea of using his well drawn figures on the police shooting range. He has several overlays that can transform a bad guy holding a pistol into the same mean looking dude holding a bottle, an ice cream cone, or a wrench which are ideal for “shoot-don’t shoot” training programs.
The targets, which are drawn by a European comic book artist, Malik, give a more three-dimensional look than the flat photographic representations that most police departments use. Dorao is looking for a US distributor for his line of life-like targets, particularly on the East Coast. He’s already partnered with the New Mexico Target Company out of Los Alamos for the western market. Dorao can be contacted at PJL Targets, 258 rue de Beyne, 4020 Liege, Belgium; phone/fax: + 32 4 226 66 05; online: pjtargets.com.
With all the interesting things to be seen (1600 exhibiting companies), and the massive nature of the SHOT Show (630,000 net square feet), the constant walking did take its toll on the feet. We managed to get a bit of respite at a small booth called Happy Feet, where we tested and purchased a pair of therapeutic Massaging insoles. I’m mentioning these because of the endorsement of my companion, who didn’t complain about her feet all day after slipping the insoles into her shoes. We also got some great samples of re-sealable plastic bags from LOKSAK, a company that was demonstrating its products which provide excellent instant protection from air, water, sand and dust. They’re great not only for guns and ammo, but other items such as cell phones, I-Pads, maps, and just about anything else.
One of my last stops was to see my buddies at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) booth and to pick up a copy of their free informational booklet, Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide. The FBI/NICS also operated an informational booth at the SHOT Show.
Colt’s Manufacturing Company (PO Box 1868, Dept. GWK, Hartford, CT 06144; phone: 860-236-6311; online: coltsmfg.com) did an excellent job with their 100th anniversary edition of the redoubtable Model 1911. It marks the fact that a century ago the United States military adopted the 1911 pistol in .45 ACP as its basic sidearm of choice, a pistol designed by John Moses Browning, which is still in service, even if not the basic issue handgun for the military. I know I carried one during my military time like millions of others in US services.
The Second Amendment Foundation was well represented once again. We stopped by the booth a couple of times, and had a nice chat with Peggy Tartaro, editor of Women and Guns magazine. Peggy explained the organization’s plans for the upcoming year and its continuing legal battles against restrictive gun laws, as well as its educational and publishing programs.
I met Peggy and her father, Joe Tartaro, several years ago at one of their Firearms and Fiction conferences. These conferences did an excellent job educating mystery writers and TV-movie scriptwriters on the finer points of guns and shooting. We also discussed the continued growth of the industry in this recovering economy, and the organization’s plans for further court battles.
As I mentioned, the flu bug took me down midway through the show and I ended up missing pretty much all of the final two days. I did get a good feel for the show on the first two days, however, and I’m looking forward to next year when things will no doubt be bigger and better with more attendance. It’s set for Jan. 17-20, 2012, again at the Sands Expo Center in sunny Las Vegas. I hope to see you there.
Return to Archive Index