By Jade Moldae
A number of things stood out to us at this year’s SHOT Show, but here are three highlights we observed that might impact the direction the industry takes this year and in the immediate future.
1. Enthusiasm Among Attendees
In SHOT Show’s miles of aisles, one would be hard-pressed to find an attendee not excited about the opportunities ahead for the industry. For the first time in eight years, the industry launched the New Business Year without the looming threat of an anti-gun president. Sales won’t eclipse what the industry experienced in 2016 — but it will benefit from more stability and a “normalized” marketplace. And that’s a good thing.
Dealers and manufacturers alike said they’ll be able to “catch their breath” and carefully evaluate their business plans, as opposed to reacting to the sudden market shifts of the previous few years. Some even used the word “bullish” to describe their approach to the rest of 2017.
Attendee enthusiasm was further fueled by the number of new products from established brands and from newer companies.
2. An Opportunity Realized
Donald Trump’s inauguration as the nation’s 45th president — which took place on the show’s final day — was widely celebrated by attendees. Many exhibitors live-streamed the event at their booths and President Trump was roundly cheered as he took the oath of office. With a new-look administration, the industry can again focus on innovation and growing its customer base. Several people I spoke with said they will focus on creating ways to expand the shooting sports to non-traditional demographics this year.
During his State of the Industry Address, NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti reinforced a similar approach to attendees. He said the industry will welcome the “widest possible inclusion of all American citizens of all races, nationalities and orientations” and encouraged others to reach out to these newcomers. For more on Sanetti’s State of the Industry address, see p. 28.
3. Hope In Legislative Reform
The industry has been further buoyed by recent events on Capitol Hill. The Republican-controlled 115th Congress has already rolled back some Obama-era restrictions and several prominent bills have also been introduced. If passed and signed into law, they will have significant (positive) effects on the industry.
On the show floor, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 garnered a considerable amount of attention and excitement from attendees. Un-surprisingly, suppressor manufacturers have welcomed this act’s reintroduction and are actively championing for a successful passage. Additionally, retailers realize they’ll reap the benefits with increased sales of suppressors. With the common use of suppressors, both indoor and outdoor ranges would have the ability to be “good neighbors” in the surrounding community. This would be a win-win for the industry and will have a wide-ranging impact — especially in attracting the “next wave” of customers.