Some Pre-SHOT Show Musings

What's hot at SHOT is only relevant if it translates into effective, useful tools for the thin blue line.

It is time once again, next week anyway, for the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show. Created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), it is the premier trade show for all of the activities described in its title, with the Outdoor emphasis on the shooting sports. This year it will be back in Las Vegas, from January 19-22, with a change in venue to the new Sands Expo Center. It is open only to people in the trade and is THE place for manufacturers and distributors to introduce new products, showcase their catalog of goods and services and, hopefully, sell them to dealers.

Because the media plays a key role in telling the world about all of the goodies that are available, and thus helps create consumer demand, we are also allowed to roam the aisles, check out the products and spread the (hopefully) good word. I've reported on the SHOT Show in the past and will be there again this year. It is probably just as well that the general public isn’t invited, as the throngs of people suffering from kid-in-a-candy-store syndrome, roaming zombie-like through the booths and exhibits trying to devour everything in sight, would probably create a chaotic gridlock that would take weeks to clear out. Fortunately, some of us from are willing to throw ourselves into the briar patch and try to sort out the offerings that have something to do with our purported areas of expertise. It's a tough job, but, well, you know.

With thousands of exhibitors and tens of thousands of attendees, it is a busy place. Even at that, there are additional media events outside the regular SHOT Show format and schedule, designed particularly to help media folks learn about new products. As you might suspect, an important and growing segment of the SHOT Show activities is the law enforcement market. Preliminary reports say that there will be law enforcement products and services on display in at least four different areas of the Show's new venue, as well as some products that will certainly be displayed in the general arena. Trying to anticipate how to efficiently peruse all of the products is a challenge. You could literally spend three days just going aisle by aisle and not retrace your steps, so experience and an action plan can really help save time and foot aches. Factoring out the safari and outfitter vendors, outdoor clothing companies, purveyors of various critter scents, lures and decoys, creative camouflage treatments and all manner of vehicles and contraptions for moving about or hiding in the wilds, what sort of goodies should we find for those who earn a living on the mean streets, trying to keep people safe so that they can enjoy their trips to the woods and waters?

One thing for sure, there will be firearms. And there will be every imaginable gun accessory and gadget, and probably a few unimaginable gizmos as well. There will be, for example, so many tables of AR rifle accessories that you just get numb looking at them all. Do we need them? Probably not, actually, but we're Americans, after all, and thus apparently genetically incapable of keeping anything simple and functional. We simply MUST tinker, trying to create that one tool that does everything. We rarely succeed, but inventors and manufacturers will oblige that proclivity and make sure we have the latest and greatest rails, optics and sights, slings that require a contortionist to use, lights, lasers, stocks, and attachment devices for virtually anything you can possibly use in connection with your patrol rifle. Hey, they'll even have a Pic rail mounted holder for your PDA/Handheld Computer/Cell Phone/GPS/Satellite downlink stay-connected-to-the-collective communicator. There are sniper apps for your iPhone. Really. There will also be flashlights. Ok, sorry, illumination devices, of all kinds, shapes, brightness levels and colors. There will even be devices that combine devices, so you can illuminate, disorient, shock, strike or simply baste someone with hot pepper sauce, all with one expensive, clumsy futuristic looking, um, thing. There will even be someone who makes a holster to carry it around in. What they probably won't have is a way to make more room on your duty belt. There will be knives of all sizes and shapes, including knives that don't look like knives and will probably be called stealth multi-tools. There will be breaching tools, body armor, simulated ammunition systems of all kinds, training dummies, video training systems, less-lethal force option tools, and so much stuff to wear that you could equip your department and just throw the dirty items away and never do laundry again. I think you get the picture.

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