>Chicago weather the third week in January was below zero as I left for Orlando en route to the 2009 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade show. The annual SHOT show is the single largest shooting industry event in the country. Over 23,000 vendors this year, and it felt like it. With me this trip were some of the upper echelon of OpticsPlanet including our CEO, president, some folks from purchasing, and volume sales. I brought Ryan from my technical sales team with to pop his cherry at his first SHOT show. The temperature was in the 70s a couple of days, and I actually felt warm sun on my face for about 4 seconds one day going from the convention center to the limo. Not much time for outside play. Pretty busy and intense trip.
Lots of walking, lots of carrying. Good shoes and a comfortable day bag and strap are a must. Depending on your needs and experience level your carry bag may weigh as much as a couple of bowling balls at the end of each day. I shipped home about a 50# bag of paraphernalia before I left. A lot of this information will help supply our company with fodder for a year of additions and resources.
I was there to press the flesh, put faces to names, see new products, bitch about problems, suggest ideas, look for new vendors and categories that may work for us, and say hi to a lot of gun monkeys like myself that I’ve known for decades. So many of these people are not just acquaintances, but friends. They’ve played in my basement and kissed my wife and petted my dog. Some have kissed my dog and petted my wife, especially after a few drinks.
SHOT is the superbowl for guys like me. During my first SHOT shows in the eighties it was important to be a young stud and hook up with other industry professionals and burn the candle after the show closed and still show up sharp and prepared for the next day’s marathon. I did that a lot. Now I’m longer in the tooth with volumes of experience. I leave most of the parties to the younger crowd. You have to be as sharp as you can to do your best work, and I require the same of my charges that represent OpticsPlanet.
Lots of cool new stuff this year, as always. Seems like everyone has a black piston gun now, and since the greatest gun salesman ever was just elected president, all are oversold, underproduced, and backordered. Lewis Machine and Tool makes my favorite so far. The FN SCARs look great, as do guns from Microtech Small Arms and Para. On the hunting scene I still admire the Browning X-Bolts, the Sako A7, and the Weatherby Vanguards.
New vendors we will possibly carry this year include various gunleather companies, and some tactical gear and boot companies. In optics there are quite a few mount companies and manufacturers like C-More, Horus, Kahles, US Optics, Valdada, and many others. Premier had a couple of the most amazing scopes I’ve ever seen, and a couple of new tactical prototypes from Vortex blew my doors off. S&B has a new line of one inch “American” scopes, and Nightforce, Leupold, Swarovski, Zeiss, and Bushnell have exciting stuff as well. Watch Burris this year with some great new products. Some miscellaneous vendors will carry medical kits, gun cases, and electronics.
The immediate tasks for our company are to add new products and adjust pricing, making corrections and modifications as needed.
I make my own itinerary, and I am always pleased when someone says “I just bought something from you guys!” which happens constantly. OpticsPlanet is very well known and we pull a lot of weight. I also heard a lot: “Oh, Tony (or Annie, or Henery) was just here and we had a great meeting.” Our folks get around. It’s pleasing to work for a company that draws so much water in my chosen industry.
I also found out that one of our company big shots tried to sell his sister for a bucket of cherries when he was younger. Since she’s really good looking I asked if the offer was still open, but I guess I’m too late. I didn’t get fired, and my Shirley wouldn’t have cared for another pet around the house anyway.