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The Shot Show: an idea becomes an institution.

Turning an idea into reality is one of the most rewarding things that any man or organization can accomplish. And, when that reality grows to the size of nearly 10 football fields and is recognized as the most successful event of its kind in the world that accomplishment takes on extraordinary proportions. Such is the case of the National Shooting Sports Foundation's Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference (SHOT Show) - an "idea" in 1979 and a shooting sports "institution" in 1990.

The idea behind the SHOT SHOW was to provide an annual marketplace for the shooting sports industry and also create a source of additional funds to expand the NSSF's programs promoting increased participation in the shooting sports.

In July of 1979 the NSSF mailed a questionnaire to the industry to gauge the interest in a separate trade show. A decisive 81% of the respondents said, "Yes - do it - we'll be there." A NSSF Show Committee was formed and the Charles Snitow Organization (now part of the Cahners Exposition Group) was selected. Jerry van Dijk was appointed Show Manager.

As opening day drew closer, speculation increased. Would retailers break long-standing tradition and attend another trade show? St. Louis was selected as the site for the inaugural SHOT SHOW because of its central location. A conference program was prepared, focusing on topics of interest to shooting sports retailers. Governor John Connally of Texas accepted an invitation as keynote speaker.

At 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 9, 1979, the first SHOT SHOW was declared open by Mayor James Conway of St. Louis. The 290 exhibitors occupying 56,000 square feet were rewarded when some 4,700 buyers and retailers passed through the doors for the three-day show.

Exhibitors continue to be rewarded by excellent attendance. When the doors open at the 1991 SHOT SHOW in Dallas, some 24,000 will attend - more than five times the number that came to the first SHOT SHOW. More than 1,200 exhibitors will occupy 350,000 square feet - more than six times the size of the SHOT SHOW premier. For a number of years the SHOT SHOW has been the largest show of its kind in the world (the 37th largest trade show overall) and the most effective marketplace for the shooting sports industry.

In addition to the outstanding marketing and networking opportunities it provides, the SHOT SHOW also includes a unique free conference program designed to help dealers become more successful with their businesses. Programs scheduled for the 1991 SHOT SHOW include "Modem Store Design -The Key To Increased Sales and Profits," "Promoting Your Store For Prestige And Profit," and back by popular demand, "Television Interview Survival Techniques."

Having a marketplace of its own and a special conference program are two direct benefits the shooting sports industry receives from the SHOT SHOW, but there is another benefit too, one that has a far-reaching positive impact on the whole shooting sports industry.

Revenues from the SHOT SHOW have enabled the NSSF to significantly expand its programs promoting increased participation in the shooting sports. And those programs are paying off. As part of its educational program, the NSSF has placed nearly 90,000 pro-hunting filmstrips and videos in the nation's schools, resulting in a dramatic improvement in teenage attitudes towards hunting.

Other programs such as editorial inserts in Boy's Life, Scouting, New Horizons and Women's Sports & Fitness magazines reach millions of youngsters and new potential customers with direct shooting promotions.

National Hunting and Fishing Day has introduced millions of Americans to the shooting sports and increased public awareness of the sportsmen's important and historic role in the conservation success story.

The Sportsman's Team Challenge is an all-around team shooting competition designed with the average sportsman in mind. This annual event, sponsored by Chevy Truck, gives thousands of ESPN cable television viewers a unique look at the shooting sports.

Summer Biathlon has shown remarkable growth in just three years, producing some 10,000 new shooters. In addition, Summer Biathlon has gained widespread publicity for the recreational use of firearms with features in USA Today, Runners' World and a number of major daily newspapers across the country. The 1990 Summer Biathlon series was sponsored by Kingsbury Non-alcoholic Malt Beverage, and included 55 events across the country.

The goal of these and other NSSF programs is to ensure a healthy future for the shooting sports. And, if the improvement of teenage attitudes towards hunting because of its educational programs is any measure, the NSSF has made great strides towards reaching that goal.

When the definitive history of the shooting sports is written, the creation of the SHOT SHOW will surely be cited as one of its milestones.
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Title Annotation:Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show
Author:Dolnack, Chris
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1990
Previous Article:Big D - 1991's SHOT Show city.
Next Article:Exporting the Shot Show.

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