'Media Day in Baghdad'
SHOT Show 2013 opens with a bang as media line up at firing range
BOULDER CITY, Nev. — Neither 30-degree temperatures, nor 20-mile-an-hour north winds, nor a 35-mile drive away from Las Vegas could keep the media from one of its most popular rounds at the annual SHOT Show.
It was nicknamed by some as "Media Day in Baghdad," unofficially, of course. The backdrop of desert hills and the sound of constant gunfire made the Iraq reference apt, if inappropriate.
Despite the weather, the 8th annual "SHOT Show Media Day at the Range" was more popular than ever – sold-out, in fact. A day dedicated to shooting the latest firearms – whether rifle, sidearm or shotgun, for FREE – is a guaranteed game plan for success. It has become so popular that access was limited for the first time. Media requests after the first 1,200 were denied.
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Though the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show is in its 35th year, "Media Day at the Range" is a relatively new development. It began when a group of manufacturers started providing the media with a hands-on experience prior to the start of annual SHOT Show. Giving the gun media a chance to fire a gun and see it in action has proven invaluable.
"Of all the events throughout the year, there's nowhere else we have with this many people at one time – media who write about the firearms industry," said Gary Giudice, founder and president of Blue Heron Communications. "This is it. It's an important event."
And it's important to note that this day – prior to the start of the three-day tradeshow in Las Vegas – represents only a small fraction of the industry gathered for the show itself, which encompasses 630,000 square feet and 12.5-miles of aisles in the Sands Expo and Convention Center. But the Boulder City Pistol & Rifle Range was prime real estate for some manufacturers Monday.
Winchester's new AA TrAAcker shotgun shells serve as a good example of the benefits. A new wad encapsulates a fraction of each shell's pellets, and thus provides easily-visible tracking of the shot string. In simple terms, you could see where you missed, if you failed to break one of the clay targets launched at the range. Rather than a clear plastic shot-cup, these 12-gauge shells have either a black or orange wad. You can vary the colors depending upon the shooting background on a particular day.
The idea sounds sort of pie-in-the-sky, so no amount of advertising copy could replace seeing these shells in action. As a training tool for shotgunners – whether beginners or those trying to sharpen their skills – the Winchester TrAAckers seem truly innovative.
It's difficult for any manufacturer to come up with a stunner here in a crowd that has seen it all. However, Giudice, whose company represents Smith & Wesson, among many others, was part of one of those groundbreaking products a few years ago. It was S&W's Model 500 revolver, a .50-caliber that became the new "most powerful handgun in the world."
"It was a big deal and everybody had to shoot it," Giudice said. "It still is a big deal. We don't have anything but new products here. But if we had that gun here, they'd still be lined up to shoot it.
"You can't come out with a product like that every year. That was pretty special."
Giudice, for one, hasn't noticed anything groundbreaking among the thousands and thousands of new products this year. That's not to say there isn't one here, or that there aren't a bundle of items that will appear on consumers' Christmas lists next December. But, again, this is a tough crowd.
"It's interesting that one of the hottest guns out there is the 1911 handgun," Giudice said. "It was invented in 1907 by Mr. (John) Browning. It was adopted by the military in 1911 (hence the name), and yet it's still one of the hottest firearms out there. Everybody loves that gun.
"Smith & Wesson is introducing four new guns at this event, and two are 1911s. Guys are shooting the heck out of those things (today).
"It's over 100 years old, but it's one of the 'new products.' Now when you look at what we're introducing this year and the old gun, you're thinking it's not the same gun at all. But it's still a 1911.
"So when you're talking about new products, what is new?"
At this website, we'll make an effort this week to portray everything new at the 2013 SHOT Show. Then you can decide for yourself how to answer the question: What's new?