Barely a year has passed since I put digits to keyboard, recounting my first experience
at SHOT Show. Like countless others, I left my first SHOT full of incandescent energy,
trembling with ideas and wistful thoughts of 2021. I put one foot through the door and
thought “I’m not going anywhere”. Full of it, I was. Walking through the exhibition halls
pulsing with the energy of thousands of entrepreneurial alphas, like a New York City
morning at rush hour. Fortunately, I was successfully shepherded through this maze of
amazement by my SHOT Show Sherpa Shirley Watral (Firearms Instructor & Author).
She set the pace and schedule, and off we went visiting friends and colleagues, chatting
with potential new friends and colleagues. And like any Newbie, I did indeed get lost,
needing to call Shirley to come find me. Not before I managed to walk smack into one
of the massive concrete pilons in the lower hall. But hey, everyone has a few first time
SHOT shows gaffs. And the best part is sharing them over a beer and burger and
having a laugh.
SHOT Show is the shooting industry’s version of a High School Prom, family reunion, &
Trooping the Color all rolled into one, but with sensible walking shoes. Even under the
cadaverous fluorescent lights each vendor’s wares shone absurdly majestic, enticing
even the veteran cynic to stop and covet. It’s in one of these serene trances we came
across Tactical Distributors and their “Battle Briefs”.
What would my sophomore SHOT Show attempt look like? Would I emerge triumphant,
like the Beastie Boys with “Paul’s Boutique” with even better content for the Women’s
Outdoor Media Association and new possibilities for our She Never Quit fundraiser? Or,
like U2’s ill fated “October” album, would it collapse like a poorly timed souffle? Plans
were being made, new contacts to cultivate, blog posts were getting mercilessly edited,
coffee was being consumed, things were percolating by February. During group texts
and conference calls dreams were being dreamt making the improbable plausible.
No sooner had the ink dried on the several lists I made, than the Rona wrench was
thrown into all of our lives. Follow up phone calls and emails seemed pointless when
most vendors were struggling to adapt. I refuse to utter those two words that rhyme
with Pew & Gormal. I stood sentinel between the culinary and firearms industry, hoping
and emotionally groveling that they would stay two different stories. In some ways, they
have, in other ways they haven’t. Both industries were on the receiving end of the
pompous accents of officialdom. The cancelling of SHOT mirrored the universally
empty restaurant seats.
Two distinct American subcultures of hard workers, thinkers, and doers began circling
the same drain caused by mocking inconsistencies. Phone calls from colleagues in
both camps began to take an interesting turn. Some, like myself were frozen in
incredulity, others took a different tack. Restaurants throughout the country turned
themselves into small grocery stores in addition to converting to all take out. George
Ford from Gnat Warfare was poised post SHOT Show to introduce “Kevin Bacon”, their remote Tactical Pig targeting system to the retail market, summed it up
succinctly. George emphasized small business entrepreneurs in America had to pivot.
Looking around and wondering what’s next isn’t going to help. No one can foresee the
future. The friendships made at SHOT show can help us all pivot to move our
community forward towards prosperity. Seasoned attendees can’t deny the strengths of
relationships built. As far as I’m concerned, the thought of SHOT Show 2022 is balm
against this momentary laceration of our community. Look around and look through
your contacts like nothing’s changed, as if there isn’t a Dew Formal (not gunna do it).
Previous, possibly forgotten about, connections and introductions can help build a better
bulwark against the uncertainty of life’s vicissitudes. Find your pivot.