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SHOT Show 2021 – The Sophomore Pivot

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.

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