When I Use The Term “Booth Babe”, This Is What I Think Of

On Monday I did a post about the growing maturity of gun  industry marketers and the absence of booth babes. By the comments, it seems to have been well received by the women of the gun culture.

As I mentioned in the post, the last time I was to the SHOT Show was in 1996 while working for a local knife company. I also mentioned that the company’s booth not only featured our knives but the owner’s girlfriend. She was actually really a nice person and quite smart. I never really got what she saw in my boss who was an incompetent boor who loved to show her off.

It took some searching but I found a CD-ROM with back issues of Blade Magazine.  I was searching for an advertisement from the now defunct Paragon Cutlery that might feature “Miss Paragon”. I was in luck and found the one shown below where they were pushing the X-9 Parabow.

While Kelly didn’t wear the outfit shown below, she did wear a skintight minidress with spike heels. Those body-hugging minidresses were not nearly as common then as they seem to be now.

So now you understand what I feared I would see at the SHOT Show. That I didn’t was a pleasant surprise.

Not The Blog Post I Intended Before SHOT Show

It was a comment by Grant Cunningham on The Gun Nation podcast that originally inspired me to think about this post. At a previous SHOT Show, he had asked trainer Gila Hayes if she wanted to check out the “Silicone and Aluminum” section. He was referring, of course, to the abundance of booth babes aka gun bunnies in the tactical section.

I had planned to do a post that juxtaposed booth babes with what I considered to be the young, accomplished women of shooting. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t object to pretty women in skimpy and revealing clothing. Far from it. However, everything has a time and a place.

I am not a prude but a realist. With the influx of all the new women shooters of all ages I thought companies that resorted to booth babes or gun bunnies to hawk their products were out of touch with the new reality. Women don’t mind seeing an attractive woman representing a company. From my conversations with many women at the SHOT Show and elsewhere, they do however object to the skimpily clad booth babe who doesn’t know the product and whose attire might have been more appropriate to that other event in Las Vegas the week of SHOT. It turns them off.

With this as the backdrop, I made it a point of trying to get pictures of what I considered accomplished women shooters at the SHOT Show. For example, there is Maggie Reese of Team Colt. She has won multiple 3-Gun events as well as USPSA events. I don’t think anyone would deny she is young and attractive.

Maggie Reese of Team Colt

I ran into Annette Wachter, the .30 Cal Gal, at the Devil Dog Arms booth. She is a member of the US Rifle Team, holds multiple national records, has won at Camp Perry, and was a fierce advocate against I-594 in Washington State.

Annette Wachter – 30CalGal
Then there is Julie Golob. Captain of Team Smith & Wesson, US Army Marksmanship Unit, multiple IDPA and USPSA National Championships, first person and only woman to win National Championships in all six USPSA divisions, and the list goes on. Plus being a mom, hunter, and great cook. And that is just the beginning when talking about Julie.
Julie Golob – Captain of Team Smith and Wesson

Finally, I ran into Kim Rhode at the Beretta booth. I was there for a presentation for bloggers when I turned to my left and there was Kim. As for Kim, she is the only American, male or female, to have won a medal in an individual event in five consecutive Olympic games. She has three Gold, one Silver, and one Bronze medal plus she is tied for the Olympic record in skeet with 99 out of 100. This doesn’t count her many wins in other international competitions.

Kim Rhode – Olympic Medalist in 5 Olympic Games

My only experience with attending a SHOT Show before this year had been at the 1996 SHOT Show in Dallas. I had been working part-time for a knife company and was given an opportunity to work the booth. The owner of the company used his then-girlfriend as the booth babe. Let’s just say she was blonde and enhanced and wearing clothing to show off her assets. Her job was to sit on a stool and look pretty. She didn’t know a thing about knives. However, she must have been legendary because when I mentioned to Michael Janich this year what company I worked for, he said, “Ah, Miss Paragon”.

As I said in the beginning, I wanted to contrast women like Maggie, Annette, Julie, and Kim with the booth babes or gun bunnies. My only problem is that I honestly didn’t see any. I’m sure that there may have been a few. They may have been at booths that I missed. Alternatively, I just wasn’t at their booth at the right time. If I had seen them, I would have taken their pictures just like I took the pictures of the women above. Julie Golob told me in an email that she didn’t run into any which was a big contrast from her first few SHOT Shows.

If my experience (and that of Julie) mirrors the reality of this year’s SHOT Show, then it shows a growing maturity by the industry’s marketers. That and a realization that women are an important and growing component of the gun buying public.