What I did at SHOT Show 2012, Part One.

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For those of you who might have wondered, I spent last week at the annual SHOT Show in sunny Las Vegas. It was a busy week for me, as I had several meetings lined up and those meetings generated still more meetings, all of which turned out to be for the good. In fact, I was so busy meeting and talking with other people that I didn’t get to see as much of the show as I’d wanted!

That actually fit in with my plan, as I go to trade shows to network, not necessarily to see new products. From way back I learned that every magazine (and today every blog and discussion forum) will have tons of information on what was new at the show. I could learn all about the new stuff from the comfort of my living room, but I need to shake hands in order to get things done – that’s what a trade show is really for!

This was my first SHOT, and I must say that compared to other (larger) trade shows I’ve attended it is fairly compact and relatively easy to navigate. The show organizers could stand to do a little more work on attendee comfort – sideline benches and beverage sources were scarce, for instance – but overall it was pretty well set up. (The SHOT Show iPhone app, sadly, was more trouble than it was worth, forcing me to rely on an old-fashioned map that was surprisingly hard to lay my hands on.)

I didn’t get there for Monday’s media range day, an event which I determined I really didn’t need to attend (a view which was reinforced after talking with those that did.) Tuesday was the first day of the actual show, and was primarily spent going to those meetings I’d arranged prior. A couple of those spawned the first of my on-the-fly meetings, wherein someone would say “gee, you should really meet so-and-so” and off we’d go!

My biggest meeting on Tuesday was with my publisher, Jim Schlender at Gun Digest Books. We talked about the Gun Digest Book of The Revolver, of course, but also some future products. I won’t spill the beans just yet, but there will be more Grant Cunningham titles to come – along with some other great projects.


Me with Jim Schlender of Gun Digest. I’m the short one with the really cool hat.

(Sadly, I didn’t get to meet my editor, Corrina Peterson, who had to stay back at headquarters to mind the store. I’ll get a picture with her yet, even if it means flying back to Wisconsin to do it!)

In case you didn’t know, Gun Digest has an email newsletter that goes out weekly, and often contains great information and deals on Gun Digest publications. If you aren’t subscribed, may I suggest you do so?

Wednesday was more of the same, and one my favorite meetings was an interview with Paul Carlson at the Safety Solutions Academy podcast. I like Paul’s podcast because he always has interesting topics and the production is well done. I’m a big fan, and it was an honor to be on his show. He was working like a madman, doing a half-dozen interviews a day. That afternoon I was able to get out a little bit and see some of the actual show, rather than catching glimpses of it as I passed through on my way to see someone else.

Thursday morning I got around to see the major revolver manufacturers, visiting with Colt (whose people liked to talk); Ruger (who would talk but didn’t have much to say); and S&W (who wouldn’t give me the time of day.) I also checked in at some of the booths that were around them, including that of Honored American Veterans Afield. This is a group that’s doing good work with a small budget, and deserves all our support.

I made it a point not to stop at the Chiappa Arms booth, as the grapevine had alerted me that I was persona non grata for daring to point out, in print, some of the Rhino’s flaws. I also didn’t stop at the execrable GunsAmerica booth, but I did (very discreetly) flip them off as I went past. (Yes, I know it’s childish. Yes, I know it’s beneath my dignity. Yes, I know they probably didn’t even notice. But it felt so darned good!)

Thursday afternoon was jam-packed: first, I was invited to a meeting of some of the movers and shakers in the training business. A low-key call had gone out to meet up at a specific place and time, and you wouldn’t believe the talent that showed up! It was an honor to be invited to take part in that informal but influential gathering. It gave me a chance to meet some of my heroes in the field, including Claude Werner (something of a legend among those whose opinions count) and Dr. Robert Smith of Direct Action Medical Network (who developed the “human weapon system” concepts.) When great minds get together great things happen, and I think 2012 is going to see more than its share of great things in the training world.

One of my Tuesday meetings had unexpectedly spawned another meeting which was scheduled immediately after our instructor get-together. It proved to be extremely intriguing. You never know how such things will pan out, but it might just result in something really cool. I’ll let you know more as things develop.

I finished Thursday having a great interview with Doc Wesson on a live edition of The Gun Nation podcast. It was a lot of fun (it always is with Doc), and we covered my book, my impressions of the show-in-progress, and a bunch of other stuff.

Friday was “shiny rock day”, a term coined by Diane Walls (an honest, reliable writer whose work can be seen regularly in Concealed Carry and Women & Guns magazines.) Along with her husband Tom (“Pharmacist Tommy”), we walked around the show without any preconceived plan, but rather looking for things that caught our eye the way that shiny baubles dominate a magpie’s attention. We found plenty before the show closed for this year. A long drive home (18 hours!), and here I am!

I’ll be updating the blog daily until I get through all of the material I gathered. Coming up this week: yet another gun maker is clueless on the concept; a new line of revolvers from an unlikely place; you won’t believe who was showing yet another prototype AR-15; the most impressive autoloading pistol I’ve seen in years; rifle scopes I’m lusting after; keeping your first aid kit handy; a real Gat; the only 1911 I’d want to own; and more. Stay tuned!

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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