Post-SHOT Thoughts

Well the 1,000-mile drive is done, and after a few days of respite I no longer feel as if my feet have been cut off by a chainsaw. I had plenty of time to assess the SHOT Show during my drive back home.

One thing that several other writers and I have noticed is the fundamental change in the focus of the show. When I first attended the SHOT Show some 20-plus years ago it was the Shooting and Hunting Outdoor Trade Show. So-called “black guns” were present, but they were pretty much relegated to the Law Enforcement section of the show. This was a time when black guns carried a stigma, and there was considerable pressure to ban them. At that time, then so-called “sporting” guns were bolt- and lever-action rifles, single shots, shotguns and revolvers. Semi-autos were—with few exceptions—lumped into the “black gun” bucket. In about a generation all that has been reversed.

I’d say well over half the guns and accessories at this show centered around the black guns. If it isn’t at least a semi-auto or has some tactical nomenclature assigned to it, there was little interest. Now that’s not wholly true, but it certainly was the trend. Traditional hunting guns just didn’t get as much traffic. Hunters are called “Fudds” with more than a hint of disdain by many of the show attendees.

This change in focus reflects a transformation within the marketplace. Fact is, semi-auto firearms are outselling traditional hunting guns—and by a big margin. The firearms market is very good now. I did not hear a single lament that sales were off for either guns or accessories. Many manufacturers are having a tough time making enough product to satisfy the demand. As to whether this is good or bad, I cannot say. It is what it is, but I would caution those that enjoy dividing the gun market by castigating some of us as “Fudds” to remember that the worm can turn again in the other direction…and just as quickly.

Another change I saw at the show is one of innovation. We gunners have tended to be a conservative lot and historically resistant to change, especially in our guns. No more. A younger, more vibrant and technologically savvy generation is embracing modern ideas like modular, more versatile firearms based upon a single platform.

It was reported that a record 61,000-plus people attended the 2012 SHOT Show. More than 2,000 alleged media folks were on the floor as well—another record. While it may be blasphemous to criticize growth in a business environment, that many people cruising the aisles can interfere with the logistics of conducting business.

On the other hand, this, along with the burgeoning popularity of firearm-themed television shows on channels other than those dedicated to outdoor enthusiasts and the blossoming of gun sports and competitions, offers solid proof that Americans love their guns and support the Second Amendment.

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