Safari Club Convention And Other Events Too? What A Great Week!

I received a press release announcing the 2022 Safari Club Convention has opened registration. It is to be held in Las Vegas on January 19th to the 22nd at the Mandalay Bay. Those dates got me to thinking about what else just might be happening at that same time.

I found this! The AVN Adult Entertainment Expo is being held the 20th to the 23rd at the Hard Rock Casino.

And this as well – the World of Concrete! Tools, trucks, mixers, oh, my!

Just kidding. I mean they are being held in Las Vegas at the same time but that is not really what caught my eye.

What did catch my eye and excite me is that the SHOT Show is being held January 18th through 21st at the Sands Expo Center. The recently opened Caesars Forum will also be the scene for part of the SHOT Show.

So this means both the Safari Club Convention and the SHOT Show will be in Las Vegas the same week. I really think this is great because it would be one airfare and one hotel instead of two. I certainly plan to go as things stand now.

I’m sure I’d be exhausted trying to do both but what wonderful exhaustion it would be!

You Knew It Was Coming – SHOT Show Canceled.

The NSSF sent out an email within the last two hours announcing that the 2021 SHOT Show had been canceled. You just knew that it was bound to happen no matter what was being said.

Frankly, I think they did the smart thing. It would have been interesting to hear the conversations regarding the election and Remington but those really don’t require going to Las Vegas.

From NSSF:

Statement from NSSF President & CEO Joe Bartozzi:

Due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the world, NSSF, the firearm industry trade association, today makes the difficult announcement that the 2021 SHOT Show has been cancelled.

NSSF has remained in constant communication with Nevada officials throughout the year in our planning for the 2021 show. While there has been a concerted effort to expand the allowable levels for large gatherings by the county and state, with positivity rates peaking during our key planning period we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 show. Sadly, these spikes are currently transpiring worldwide. Given the sheer complexities, diminishing timeline and immense logistical planning required to conduct a trade show as large as SHOT, NSSF simply could not move forward at this point with so many unknowns and variables. We truly appreciate the guidance of Nevada and Las Vegas officials in allowing us to communicate this news to our exhibitors and attendees well in advance of the show. We would also like to thank the Sands directly for their help and efforts to navigate this unprecedented situation.

The planning and work that has gone into the 2021 SHOT Show has been nothing short of remarkable. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, the NSSF staff and our show partners have been working around the clock to plan our largest show in history while keeping the health and safety of all involved as paramount.

The support of our show exhibitors this year has also been nothing short of remarkable. With three months to go until the show, floor space for both the Sands Expo Center and our expansion to the new Caesars Forum was nearly sold out, with more companies than ever before represented at the SHOT Show.

All of this positions us for a 2022 SHOT Show that will be undoubtedly the best in our industry’s history, and we look forward to bringing our entire community together again at a show that will be one to remember.

During the coming year, NSSF asks for our industry’s unwavering support as we continue our fight to promote, protect and preserve our industry in these unsettling times.

Throughout this year, NSSF has remained at the forefront for our industry. As thousands of businesses across the country were shuttered as being “non-essential” during the pandemic, NSSF worked nonstop to have firearm retailers, ranges, manufacturers and distributors listed as “essential” which allowed them to remain open for business.

NSSF is your trade association. Everything we do—from education, safety initiatives, compliance and security resources, import/export guidance, consumer activation initiatives, government relations, and the SHOT Show—is aimed at helping businesses in our industry succeed. Now, more than ever, we need your continued support.

Safari Club Cancels Vegas Convention

Safari Club International announced late yesterday that they had canceled their convention scheduled for February 3-6, 2021 in Las Vegas. They noted that the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the State of Nevada and Clark County health officials made it impossible to have a successful event. Included in the Clark County restrictions reported on Monday, are a limit of 1,000 attendees or registrants for trade shows, conventions, conferences, and other large events.

Other large shows that have been previously canceled include SEMA and the Consumer Electronics Show. The SHOT Show says they still plan to go on but realistically I don’t see how. The Complementary Spouse and I are registered to attend as media but will likely cancel due to all the restrictions. Friends in Las Vegas also have told me that the hotel discounts along the Strip have attracted the wrong crowd and crime is up significantly.

From their post:

For 49 consecutive years SCI has conducted its annual convention, bringing together from around the world, hunters, exhibitors, conservation stakeholders, and generations of SCI members. This annual event celebrates hunter advocacy, raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for wildlife conservation, and enables the planning of hunts that further support conservation on every continent. It is one of the most anticipated gatherings of the year not only for the reasons above but also because it is the one week that our community can rely upon to renew friendships and reignite the fire that drives us all to carry on the traditions of hunting.  We did not reach this decision lightly…

Despite our disappointment with this development, SCI will be there for our members and exhibitors in 2022 to reflect on all these accomplishments and celebrate them together. The 2022 Convention will take place in Las Vegas and will be a celebration of our hunting heritage and the perseverance we all needed to get through this, together.

Jim Shepherd of The Outdoor Wire covered the cancelation in his column this morning. He noted:

As SCI and SCI-Foundation’s CEO Laird Hamberlin told me, “we couldn’t make it work with the box we’d been put into by Las Vegas, Clark County and Nevada officials.”

The box in Las Vegas is, indeed, a small one. Using its latest guidance, Las Vegas’ rules limit events to 250 people. In some instances, that rule can be maximized to 1,000 people.

SCI’s exhibition space alone covers 625,000 square feet. Each evening during the Convention, SCI holds banquets and social events routinely attended by as many as 2,000 people.

Considered by many to be essential elements of every SCI convention, they were non-starters under the Las Vegas restrictions.

Changing the dates, I’m told, wasn’t an option. Restrictions on crowds and uncertainties about international travel were also concerns.

Collectively, all the challenges and unknowns just made the kind of extravaganzas the SCI Convention has become, impossible.

Heavily impacted by this decision will be the guides and outfitters who would have exhibited. For many, bookings done at the SCI Convention account for 80% of their annual business. SCI, according to Shepherd, intends to expand its “Share the Impact” program to these guides and outfitters.

What Does This Mean For The 2021 SHOT Show? (Updated)

There was word this week that two major expositions had been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, there was the National Association of Sporting Good Wholesalers (NASGW) Expo that was scheduled for October in Grapevine, Texas. This is an annual gathering of wholesalers, manufacturers, media, and sales reps in the hunting, fishing, and firearms industries where new products are brought out and displayed. What the SHOT Show is for dealers, the NASGW Expo is for the wholesale industry.

Laurie Aronson, chairwoman of NASGW and CEO of Lipsey’s, had this to say about the cancellation:

As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to impact every aspect of our lives, we have all been forced to make difficult decisions. On Monday, the NASGW Board of Directors voted unanimously to cancel this year’s Expo. This was a decision that none of us wanted to make, but it was the right decision. With mounting cases in the state of Texas and increased travel restrictions in numerous states, particularly in the northeast, we could not leave things to chance in hopes that cases would subside or that states would ease restrictions. We’re not blaming Texas. The biggest reason this decision had to be made was for the health and safety of our members, our colleagues, our employees, and the entire shooting sports industry.

They are working out the logistics on how to present the new products and awards virtually.

The other big show announcing its cancellation was the Consumer Electronics Show or CES. That show was to take place the week before the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. They have said they plan to offer the show “all digitally”. CES is the largest show and convention to take place in Las Vegas with upwards of 180,000 attendees.

With the growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it is not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person.

An all-digital CES 2021 will allow the entire tech community to safely share ideas and introduce the products that will shape our future. You’ll be able to participate in all the awe-inspiring moments of CES wherever you are in the world. We are designing a unique experience for the tech industry.

Given that the 2021 SHOT Show is scheduled for January 19th through 22nd, one has to wonder what will happen with it. This is to be an expanded show with the new Caesars Forum opening additional exposition space. It is connected to the Sands Expo Center by a skybridge.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is still saying it is a go but they do have this posted on the SHOT Show website. They have also adopted a set of social distancing and safety guidelines.

The NSSF looks forward to hosting the 2021 SHOT Show in Las Vegas this coming January at both the Sands Expo Center and Caesars Forum, and we plan to proceed as scheduled. We are actively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, as the health, safety and well-being of our industry and the local community is a priority for us. We will continue to monitor the situation and share show updates in a timely manner. 

Jim Shepherd in The Outdoor Wire this morning said what he is hearing is that it will go on. Nonetheless, companies are coming up on cancellation dates and will need to decide on their participation regardless on NSSF’s ultimate decision.

I had planned to go and I even have a voucher that would probably cover my airfare. That said, despite the expansion, how much new stuff will firearms manufacturers release given they are selling everything as quickly as they can make it? And do I really want to be in a crowd of people anymore?

Decisions, decisions. For me and for the NSSF.

UPDATE: I have updated this post with a comment on Twitter from Chris Dolnack. He is the Senior VP of NSSF who is in charge of organizing and running the SHOT Show.

Chris also posted a comment on the SHOT Show Insider page regarding the cancellation of CES and what they means for SHOT.

SHOT Show All Systems Go; Silver Lining in CES Cancellation

CES, the nation’s largest trade show, announced this week that it is canceling its in-person show in Las Vegas this January. With many of its major exhibitors—and its attendees—based in Asia and other parts of the world, the show was confronting increasing uncertainty involving global travel to and from the United States. If there’s a silver lining to the CES announcement, it’s that CES was to be held the week before the SHOT Show—and while we are disappointed that CES won’t be taking place, its cancellation will allow more local resources than ever before to be devoted to the SHOT Show. And both the Sands Expo Center and Caesars Forum will be primed and ready to welcome us to Las Vegas. We’ve received a number of inquiries this week about the status of the SHOT Show due to CES’s announcement, and also regarding the cancellation of the NASGW Expo in October. Rest assured, we are all systems go and we are working around the clock (our sleep patterns these days) in planning to ensure our customers’ and employees’ health and safety are at the forefront throughout our time in Las Vegas. With six months until the show, we are fortunate that we will be able to learn a lot from other shows taking place in other countries before ours. And, with six months to go, both the Sands Expo and Caesars Forum are nearly sold out for SHOT, making it our largest floorplan ever. We are well-positioned to make this the best SHOT Show we’ve ever held, and we are very much looking forward to reuniting as an industry in Las Vegas in January. — Chris Dolnack, NSSF

DC Project Brings Attention To Women Gun Owners At SHOT Show

The DC Project held a rally yesterday at the Fiocchi booth. It featured many of the women of the DC Project who were attending the SHOT Show. My guesstimate on the number of women wearing teal DC Project shirts was over 50.

From DC Project Facebook Page

This rally attracted the attention of the local Las Vegas media. The focus of the report was on women becoming involved in both armed self-protection and the shooting sports.

Dianna Muller, championship shooter and the founder of the DC Project, and California attorney Lara Smith were featured interviewees in the story.

While at the SHOT Show, I learned that there are plans to expand the DC Project. The goal is to recruit at least one woman in every Congressional district. The hope that these women will establish relationships with the local representative and become viewed as a resource on firearms issues.

Speaking of women at the SHOT Show, there were quite a number of women participating as buyers, exhibitors, and media. Yes there were a few “booth babes” but the number continues to decrease each and every year. This is good news for the industry as it realizes that women are a growing market that needs to be shown the respect they deserve.

Remind Me Again Why SHOT Show Continues To Be In Vegas

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The largest convention centers in the United States are not in Las Vegas. The largest, McCormick Place, is in Chicago and then the second largest, the Orange County Convention Center, is in Orlando, Florida. The Sands Expo Center which is the site of the SHOT Show comes in at tenth in size.

I can understand why McCormick Place was not chosen for the SHOT Show. Despite its size which I can assure you is huge having driven right past it twice in the last week, no one in their right mind would want to hold a convention in January in frigid Chicago. I won’t even speak to the anti-gun politics of Chicago as a reason to avoid having the firearms industry trade show there.

I come from the school of rewarding our friends and punishing our enemies.

Nevada voters just elected Democrats to three out of four House seats including one flipped seat, ousted Dean Heller (R-NV) in favor of Jacky Rosen (D-NV) in the Senate, flipped the governor’s office from Republican to Democrat, hold both houses of the state legislature, and now have only one Republican official, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, elected statewide. The Las Vegas Sun opines that Democrat dominance of the state should continue thanks to Latinos and young voters. I’m sure you might want to add (some) ex-pat Californians to that list as well.

Contrast this with the State of Florida. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) beat Tallahasse Mayor Andrew Gillum (D-FL) for the governorship. Rick Scott (R-FL) beat three-term incumbent Bill Nelson (D-FL) for the US Senate. Republicans hold the other three statewide offices (AG, Ag Commissioner, and Chief Finance Officer). Despite losing two seats in House delegation to Democrats, Republicans still hold a 14 to 13 edge. They are also projected to hold majorities in both the state House and Senate.

The Sands Expo Center which is the location of the SHOT Show in Las Vegas has about 1.2 million square feet of exposition space. Earlier this year it was announced that the SHOT Show would expand their venue to include the MGM Grand Conference Center in 2020 and the Caesars Forum in 2021. According to the announcement, it is due to running out of space at the Sands Expo Center and having to turn away potential exhibitors.

The Orange County Convention Center, by contrast, has 2.1 million square feet of exposition space and is the nation’s second largest convention center. You would not need to expand the SHOT Show to multiple locations to handle the growth in exhibitors. OCCC also has over 6,000 parking spaces. Orlando does have fewer hotel rooms with “only” about 121,000 rooms as compared to Las Vegas which has approximately 175,000 rooms available. However, when you expand out of the city limits of Orlando to places like St. Cloud and Kissimmee you thousands of more rooms. Another advantage to Orlando is the generally warmer, even balmy, weather you are likely to find there in January.

I would be all for immediately switching the 2020 SHOT Show from Nevada to Florida for many of the reasons mentioned above including more space and a gun friendlier location. However, it won’t happen overnight.

 The fly or flies in the ointment on making the switch are two-fold. First, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has extended their contract with the Sands Expo Center through 2027. I don’t know if this is because they got a better deal from Sheldon Adelson or because they just were very familiar with the location. The second issue is a shooting range large enough to handle Industry Day at the Range. The Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club is outstanding in that regard. There are a number of shooting ranges in Central Florida but nothing approaching it that I know of.

To conclude, the gun industry has changed from being a boys’ club to being more inclusive of women and families. You see fewer and fewer “booth babes” at the SHOT Show and the NRA Annual Meeting than in the past. It would be nice if the industry’s major event would leave Las Vegas behind and move to a more gun and family friendly location like Orlando. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Will This Be Considered A School Shooting?

It seems any act of violence with a firearm in or near a school is considered a “school shooting”. It matters not that the act of violence had nothing to do with the school, happened after hours, or involved no one affiliated with the school as either the shooter or the victim(s).

By now many, if not most, have seen the shootout during a car chase between Las Vegas Metro Police and two suspects in black Ford Expedition. All the major mainstream news channels have shown video from it. The shootout featured one officer shooting at the fleeing suspects through his windshield. This was after the suspects started shooting at the police chasing them. If you are like me, you worried that he would have permanent hearing loss.

You can watch and listen to the chase from the body camera footage of Officer William Umana who is a 17 year veteran of LVMPD.

At the end of the chase you can see the SUV crash into a wall. That wall is part of Howard Hollingsworth Elementary School in Las Vegas.

Thus the question will be do the gun control prohibitionists and their media allies consider this a “school shooting”?  Obviously it isn’t but that hasn’t stopped them in the past.

SHOT Show Expanding

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that the SHOT Show will be expanding their venues in order to allow more exhibitors. While the Sands Expo Center will still be the primary location through 2027, they will expand to the MGM Grand Convention Center in 2020 and to the planned Caesars Forum in 2021.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation recently signed a contract with MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. to bring the four-day trade show to their future convention spaces, said Chris Dolnack, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the Connecticut-based foundation.

The SHOT Show has a number of companies on a waiting list for either exhibition space or for the chance to expand their booths. Currently, they have about 1,000 companies waiting for space according to Chris Dolnack who heads the SHOT Show. The amount of space will expand from 650,000 square feet of exhibition space to over 950,000 square feet of space by 2021 when the Caesars Forum comes online.

Scheduled to open in December 2018

Dolnack made the point that the SHOT Show is not just firearms companies but also ammunition, optics, and other manufacturers.

Exhibitor growth is coming from cartridge, equipment and optics manufacturers as well as producers of accessories, he said. More than 400 equipment manufacturers exhibited at the show this year.

“By further diversifying the show and having a larger number of new companies, we will attract retailers every year that may currently come every other year,” Dolnack said by telephone on Tuesday.

“No one ever walks into a show and says ‘show me what is old.’ This will give retailers the opportunity to see several hundred new companies and pick up some more products.”

The Caesars Forum is expected to cost approximately $375 million and open sometime in 2020. The Forum will be located behind LINQ with the Flamingo and Harrahs on either side of it.

Artist rendition from Caesars Entertainment

 I would imagine that the convention industry in Las Vegas is pretty excited by this. If you think about it, you will now include most of the length of the Strip in the SHOT Show. It will be anchored by the Sands Expo on the north and the MGM Grand Convention Center on the south with Caesars Forum occupying a mid-Strip location.

I think this is a great expansion but the amount of walking will increase exponentially. I know I usually walk miles daily at the SHOT Show and this will only increase it. I still wish they’d consider holding it in Orlando or other eastern US location but given the contract with Sands goes through 2027 I can keep wishing.