SHOT Show 2020 Recap

SHOT Show 2020 was a smashing success, and according to the NSSF, the venue will be that much more impressive in 2021. Here’s a peek at what you missed if you didn’t make it to Vegas.

SHOT Show 2020 Recap

Attendance at SHOT Show 2020 was down slightly, but attendees could barely tell, as crowds were still elbow-to-elbow.

The spacious Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, was once again the site of the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, the nation’s largest trade show for the outdoor industry. From Jan. 21-24, 2020, exhibitors, buyers and media prowled the show’s multiple floors in search of all things new and exciting in the worlds of shooting, hunting, outdoor accessories and military/law enforcement equipment.

According to Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, the 2020 SHOT Show was an overwhelming success.

“Over the show’s four days, a total of 55,149 buyers, exhibitors and media walked through the doors,” Dolnack said. “Overall, our attendance was slightly down, but that was to be expected. We do our due diligence, and research showed that most retail accounts that typically brought four people, brought three. Those that usually brought two, brought one. We are also continuing with our audit program. Each year we select 20 percent of attendees and conduct a basic audit. We find some people really have no business being at the show, and we simply deny attendance the following year. Exhibitors, for the past two years, have noted the quality of attendance has gone way up. That’s something we love to hear.”

From the time I’ve spent with Dolnack in person and on the phone, I can testify to the fact that he is a glass-half-full guy, and his positive attitude is contagious.

“I saw lots of optimism at the show this year,” he continued. “Our country is experiencing a 50-year high when it comes to employment, and consumer confidence is up. There is also a lot of optimism about the upcoming election. Range Day was great, and we are also very excited about the NSSF +1 Mentorship Initiative. We continue to drive forward; constantly looking for ways to help the show grow.”

Range Day

The day before the official opening of SHOT Show is like Christmas for many. Why? Simple. Industry Day at the Range is the largest one-day shooting event in the hunting and shooting industry. If you’re eligible and you’ve never attended Range Day, you’re missing out, and it needs to get added to your must-do-in-2021 list.

This year marked 15 years of Range Day success, and more than 1,800 media members and buyers gathered at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club to test the latest and greatest gun manufacturers have to offer. It’s truly a sight to behold.

“It’s great for us, the manufacturer,” said Browning’s Rafe Nielson. “Buyers as well as media personnel get a chance to actually shoot our firearms. Yes, we can do a lot of talking on the show floor, but the performance of our firearms speak for themselves, and we love seeing people get on the bench and give our new models a run.”

HAVA/NSSF 6th Annual Golf Tournament

The pre-Show HAVA/NSSF Golf Tournament, according to Dolnack, has raised more than $350,000 during its six-year timeframe. The goal of the tournament is to support disabled veterans as they progress through the healing process and ease into civilian life by way of guided hunts, target shooting events and more.

This year, the event was held on Jan. 19 at the Bear’s Best in Las Vegas, and 146 professionals from the industry tested their skills on this course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Awards were presented to team and individual winners.

NSSF Launches +1 Mentorship Initiative

A massive study conducted by the NSSF showed that millions of people want to know more about hunting and target shooting. The +1 Mentorship Initiative is all about these people. Many simply lack the basic knowledge of the hunting and shooting pastimes, and that’s something the NSSF wants to remedy. The initiative is supported by NSSF’s recently launched and websites, where anyone seeking information about hunting and shooting, with only a few simple mouse clicks, can be exposed to articles and videos from subject-matter experts. In addition, the NSSF is working with mentors to help get new hunters/shooters out in the woods and on the range.

As usual, celebrity sightings caused backups in the SHOT Show aisles. This year, Chuck Norris and Lou Ferrigno could be seen on the show floor.
As usual, celebrity sightings caused backups in the SHOT Show aisles. This year, Chuck Norris and Lou Ferrigno could be seen on the show floor.

Retail Seminars and SHOT University

The NSSF devotes piles of man hours in an effort to better serve the industry. Each year, inquiries and feedback from the SHOT masses are analyzed to provide show goers with a number of new informative retail seminars. The seminars run throughout the first three days of the show at various times, making planning your busy day all the easier.

SHOT University, always a well-attended event, is a one-day conference that provides an in-depth review of the many challenges retail business and range operations face. Lessons are put on during the conference from respected industry leaders, and many who’ve attended SHOT University leave with a plethora of new ideas to help them overcome challenges and grow their bottom line. Enrollment fees for NSSF members are $265. Non-members pay $525.


I walked past the NEXT Pavilion, located just outside the Press Room and Member’s Lounge on level three, a number of times and was very impressed. Often, it was difficult to weave through the masses just to gain entrance to the Press Room. Here, attendees can discover new manufacturers and suppliers who’ve made their first trip to the SHOT Show. With more than 100 first-time exhibitors, this area is a must-visit for those looking to find innovative, sales-generating products that you’ll likely want on your shelves.

The SHOT Show NEXT Pavilion was located on the third floor near the Membership Lounge and Press Room. It was abuzz with traffic.
The SHOT Show NEXT Pavilion was located on the third floor near the Membership Lounge and Press Room. It was abuzz with traffic.

So Much Intel

The size of SHOT Show and the number of people that attend can be very intimidating. Each year, I find myself giving directions or walking a new-to-the-show attendee to a booth. The biggest tip I can give, and Dolnack agrees, is to visit months before the show begins and start planning.

“Our site is very informative.” said Dolnack. “We have specific tabs set for attendees, exhibitors, media and the like. We have tabs about education and travel as well. Use these resources to better plan your 2021 event. A must-do is to download the SHOT Mobile app on your smart device. This little app allows you to bookmark exhibitors and find the quickest routes to their booths. In addition, you can get up-to-the-minute information and personalize your schedules. It’s really a handy tool, and if you take the time to play with it and familiarize yourself with it, the app will prevent wasted time.”

SHOT Show 2021 Announcement

The goal of the NSSF is to grow the industry. Period. Innovative minds within the group are constantly looking for ways to do so, and Dolnack provided a big announcement that points to major expansion.

“The event will still be at the Sands,” Dolnack noted. “The Sands has been so good to us, and with 670,000 square feet of space, it’s a venue we are very thankful to have. However, for 2021, along with the Sands, we will be expanding into the Forum at Caesars. This is going to give us an additional 150,000 square feet of space, and we already have a couple of exhibitors — Ruger and LWRCI — that plan to place their 2021 boots in the Forum.

“Exhibitors seem excited about the plan. This will free up some space and give them more room to expand their booths. It’s going to be great — not to mention the fact that this will help us with our waitlist. Currently, we have 1,000 exhibitors on our waitlist. We want to see them exhibiting at SHOT, and this added venue will help greatly with that.”

If SHOT Show 2021 isn’t on your radar, it should be. The event is simply magical and an experience you will never forget. Dates for the 2021 Show (Jan. 19-22) have already been set. Don’t wait. Make your plans now.

About the Author

Jace Bauserman is a former magazine editor and well-known freelance writer in the outdoor space. Bauserman lives in Colorado with his wife, Amy, and their three children, Hunter, Abbey and Brody. To date, Bauserman has hunted 16 different states along with a pair of Canadian provinces.

Photos courtesy of the NSSF


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