I have published a variation of the SHOT Show survival guide in years past and this is an updated version.
With the 40th Anniversary and 2018 SHOT Show just around the corner, there are many people attending for the first time asking what to expect. Though I am by no means an expert in SHOT culture, this will be my 8th year and I have attempted to attack the show in different ways to try to get the most out of a limited amount of time.
Here are a few tips to hopefully get you through and to maintain your sanity and have some fun along the way:
Wear Comfortable Shoes. You will hear this over and over again from SHOT veterans, and for good reason. With miles and miles of aisles and not so comfortable concrete laden floors only covered by extremely thin outdoor carpeting, your shoes will save or ruin you feet and legs after hours of being on them. You will have to decide between comfort or fashion. Also, try to take breaks, sit down for a few minutes and look for the booths that went the extra mile and purchased double-stuffed layering of carpet padding. (You may not see it at first, but you will definitely notice the moment you step foot in their booth. You may also not want to leave.)
Leave the Rolling Milk Crate Carts at Home. With over 60,000 attendees in past years, the show floor gets a little crowded. Add in everyone toting around those ridiculous milk crates with wheels and it becomes hazardous. Trust me, you will trip over no less than a dozen of these obnoxious things as you either get cut off or when someone leaves it directly behind you when you are at a booth. If you want to haul around brochures, bring along a backpack or something that is off the ground.
If you don’t believe how absolutely annoying these things are, check out this video compilation that my buddy Chris Tran did at SHOT last year. CLICK HERE. And follow him on IG while you are there.
Hydrate or DIE. You are walking a lot at SHOT, plus all of that alcohol you had last night will suck the water right out of you. If you can, stop by a Walgreen’s or somewhere and pick up a 12 pack of water. There is a Walgreen’s on the strip, directly between the Venetian and the Palazzo. The cost of a 12 pack of water will be probably the same as two waters on the SHOT floor. Throw one or two bottles in your backpack, not your rolling milk crate cart, and you’ll be glad you did. You may also want to throw in a Clif Bar or two each day as you may forget to eat or you may not want to spend $9 for a side salad at the cafe on the show floor.
Move with a Purpose. We all know what sheep are. Do not be one that meanders aimlessly through the aisles or stop dead in your tracks while others are trying to move with the flow. Have some knowledge of your surroundings and act accordingly. If you have to stop to figure out where the nearest pit stop is, step to the side and look at your map.
Have a Map. You can find maps just about anywhere. They are on the SHOT Show webpage, on the App, and in the publications you can find everywhere. Know where the booths are or figure it out for yourself. There have been over 1600 booths at the show in years past and add this years addition of the Supplier Showcase, there will be even more acreage to cover. Chances are if you ask any random person where a booth other than the big name companies, they will not know where it is or have the time to give you directions through the maze of aisles to figure it out. Need a map? CLICK HERE.
Have a Plan! Have a plan, but realize that it will not work out 100% unless your only plan is to meander. In years past, I typically made a list of all of the booths that I may have a slight possibility of wanting to stop at. Then I would take this list and break it down into priorities (Must Stop, Should Stop, Kinda Want To Stop). The first day I would bounce between all of the rooms and floors and stop by my “Must Stop” booths. Day’s 2 and 3 consisted of hitting the “Should Stop” and “Kinda Want To Stop) booths. Day 4 was typically reserved for making one last round and tying up loose ends.
This year I will only be at the show from Tue-Thurs with Media Day on Monday, so I will have to attack it a little differently. Most likely I will hit all of the side rooms and walk each aisle until I find a booth I need or want to stop at. These rooms are a little bit easier to take a bite out of than the main floors. Once these side rooms are done, I will find the booths on the main floors that I want to go to. The side rooms are easier to check out in entirety without getting lost.
DAY 4. Though I will not be at the show for Day 4 this year, here is a little bit of advice. Do not try to make Day 4 the day you make all of the stops you need to make and try to do business. The exhibitors are tired and/or hung over (hey, it’s Vegas) from almost a weeks work with little sleep and just want to tear down the booth and go home. You can see it in their faces. They have given the same speech over and over again about their products. This is a good time to make small, short, casual conversations with the exhibitors. Don’t be overly demanding on Day 4.
You will have Competition! With over 60,000 attendees, you may not be as important to the booth exhibitor as you think you are. Do not expect to gather their undivided attention for hours on end while telling them about this one time that you did something cool. Once again, if you have a purpose, get to it and move on.
SWAG. No, not Swag as the annoying term used by today’s youth, but the acronym, “Stuff We All Get”….SWAG. Yes, there is some free promotional items that companies hand out. Some of it is actually pretty cool and some of it is junk. Do not expect to go to SHOT Show and walk away with a whole arsenal of weapons and enough kit to make yourself a full time high-speed low-drag operator. It’s not going to happen. You might get some cool patches and some thumb drives with catalogs on it, but do not come to SHOT for that purpose alone…..and yes, I know of people who do that.
Speaking of Patches. If you have read this guide thus far, try to find me. I will have and will be giving away 100 Limited Edition Patches for free. This will be on an in-person basis and you cannot “pick one up for a friend”. Keep an eye out on the ZERO7ONE Facebook Page for a photo of the pack to look out for during the show.
Lighting SUCKS! For the pre-approved photographers/ videographers and media that are attending that are allowed to photograph booths and the products, sorry Chinese knockoff companies…not you, the lighting sucks. There is a complete mixture of lighting temperatures from tungsten to LED to whatever the flavor of the day was when the company was building the booths. Set your camera to AWB and hope you have a high ISO capability. ISO 1600 is about the minimum you can get away with. You can use a flash if you want, but I just don’t care to get the harsh shadows that it creates. Some booths think of this ahead of time and will have adequate lighting. For this I thank them.
Backgrounds suck too! Do not expect to get magazine cover quality photos during the show. Sometimes you can get lucky and sometimes you only have a casting couch to drop a rifle on to get that perfect angle.
Lights! Camera! Get out of the way! While on the subject of media, if you see a photographer or videographer shooting an image or video footage, don’t get between them and the subject or person being interviewed. When the video has to be retaken, you are wasting the time of the booth staff, which could be time spent talking to you. Just have common courtesy.
Celebrities. Yes, there will be celebrities in attendance. Some appreciate the recognition and will give you the time of day. Some are just plain d-bags. I won’t mention names, but most know who they are. The true celebrities at SHOT are the Military Heroes that are in attendance or guest-starring in a booth. Take a few minutes out of your day and talk to them. They are National Treasures and when they are gone, they are gone. Just don’t be “that guy” that walks up to a Medal of Honor Recipient and ask them how they “won” their medal.
Booth Babes. Again, yes, there are some very attractive women who attend SHOT and some who dress in less-than-conservative clothing and some come straight off the strip to help promote a product. Though they probably have some thick skin after doing what they do, treat them with respect. Don’t be the douche canoe who makes himself appear like some serial rapist that should be on a sex offender registry.
Networking. SHOT is a great place to network with others. The after parties are an even better place to network. After a few drinks, you get to really know who someone is and if you would want to work with them in the future. Try to get into one or more of these events if you can.
Don’t Get Sick! Don’t get sick at the show. Even better, don’t come to the show if you are really sick. SHOT Show becomes the Petri Dish of Vegas every year as tens of thousands of people from all across the world emerge into one small place and touch everything you are touching. I’m not a germ-a-phobe, but after how sick I got half way thorough the show last year, I am not taking any chances. Now that I am thinking about it, I’m heading over to Amazon to stock up on some Emergen-C and Hand Sanitizer.
For more information on SHOT Show, visit http://shotshow.org/
If you have specific questions, post them in the comments below and I will answer them as I have time between now and the start of the show.