I spent last week in Las Vegas at the annual SHOT Show convention. For those who don’t know, it’s the shooting industry’s major business convention and darn near any company you can name is there. SHOT is where major new products are typically released, and it’s where the “people of the gun” congregate.
I go there specifically to network, to see people. The hardware isn’t terribly exciting to me; don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing a new gun as much as anyone, but I also know that I could stay home and get the same information. It’s the chance to talk to people in the industry which is valuable to me.
For this trip I was accompanied by Todd Koonce, a talented local gunsmith about whom you’ll be reading more. Todd is “Mr. Vegas!”, well versed with the recreational opportunities that Vegas offers yet possessing a phenomenal self-restraint which keeps him from going too far. We hopped in a car, drove to Vegas, and started our adventures.
The first person I wanted to meet was my editor at Gun Digest books, Corrina Peterson. I would in fact have considered the trip a complete success if I’d met only her! I’ve worked with her on three books over a span of almost that long, exchanged numerous emails, but had never gotten to actually shake her hand. Unfortunately I neglected to get a picture with her, but I’ll remedy that next time.
Many of the industry’s top trainers go to SHOT, and I got to meet both Ken Murray and John Farnam. Ken is something of an “instructor’s instructor”: he’s the acknowledged expert in scenario based training and the author of Training at the Speed of Life (yes, I have a copy – if you’re a defensive shooting instructor, you should too.)
John Farnam should not require much of an introduction, being one of the more well-known shooting instructors in the business. He’s also surprisingly non-doctrinal, amusingly self-deprecating, and very open to new ideas and approaches.
I’ll be working with both Ken and John (and some others you might recognize) on future projects, so watch this space!
I managed to cross paths, very briefly, with Ian from Forgotten Weapons. He was running around with Oleg Volk, and I sadly had to turn down their invitation to join them for a coffee break (I was running to another appointment.) Next time, guys!
Women and guns are big news these days, and I spent all of Thursday helping out Gila Hayes with pictures for her new book on concealed carry for women. Gila is one of the industry’s best trainers, and her last book Personal Defense For Women has carried my highest recommendation since it was published a few years ago. This new one promises to be just as good!
One of the things which impressed me was the number of next-generation men and women getting involved in this industry. They’re bringing new ideas and energy into shooting and self defense, and only a real curmudgeon would look askance at them. They’re the future, and I believe they’re capable of handling whatever gets thrown their way.
On a personal note, I’ve attended trade shows in several industries since I was 17 years old, and darned near every time I come back sick. This time I resolved to break that cycle; I carried hand sanitizer and used it every time I touched anything or shook hands with anyone, and every time I passed a bathroom I darted in and did a thorough hand washing. Despite all of that I still came back with a mild case of the flu! I’m thinking of going in a plastic bubble next time.
In Part Two I’ll talk about some of the gear I saw.
-=[ Grant ]=-