Nearly 50,000 people thronged the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, from January 15 to 18, 2009, for the 31st Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show and Conference. This was the largest SHOT Show yet, with more than 1,800 exhibitors presenting their wares in many associated shooting industry areas. A major growth within the show is the tactical law enforcement section, which has grown steadily since its introduction several years ago. In addition to the firearm exhibits, a variety of products with technical law enforcement functions were also available.
After last year's announcement of its acquisition of Armor Holdings, this year BAE has announced the reorganization of its law enforcement-related lines under the Safariland banner. Safariland is a respected name in leather and holsters; bringing all the lines under its name makes name recognition easier and consumer confidence in the various lines stronger. This does not have an effect on the Forensics Source line; it is still based on Lightning Powder, Identicator, NIK Public Safety, ODV, EVI-PAQ and Projectina.
The Forensics Source catalog has continued to grow. One new set of items that should appeal to the crime scene investigator is a line of vests designed for use by CSI. It's available as a fully equipped vest, or as a base vest to which wearers can add pouches as needed, a capability that has been needed for a long time.
Forensics Source has also expanded its training materials. A wide variety of teaching kits are available for use in school and college programs, academies and specialized training classes. From fingerprints to firearms, anthropology, serology and more, Forensics Source has materials to assist instructors.
American Gunsmithing Institute
Advanced training in firearms is important to various law enforcement personnel. The armorer is responsible for oversight of an agency's own firearms, as well as authorized, personally owned firearms of individual members. Firearms examiners must be proficient in complete disassembly of any firearm to permit them to determine if a firearm submitted to their lab is safely functional. While agencies are often able to arrange armorer training for firearms they purchase in bulk for inventory, the wide variety of firearms on the market precludes providing such training for all makes and models. Indeed, most armorer training is only aimed at common military and law enforcement guns; the wide variety of firearms designed for the sporting and personal defense markets are mostly orphans for such training.
The American Gunsmithing Institute is a video-based training program for firearms. It offers videos in two different realms; first is consumer based, aimed at the gun owner who wishes to upgrade his own firearms, as many enjoy building AR-15 and 1911 clones. The second is its professional gunsmithing programs. This is an extensive series of videos conducted by master gunsmith Robert Dunlap, a gunsmith with 35 years experience and former instructor at a collegiate, hands-on gunsmithing program. Unlike book-based correspondence gunsmith courses, this is a see-and-do program. Additionally, Dunlap adds his experiences to the program, giving the student insights not available from other correspondence programs.
There is no substitute for hands-on classroom training in the firearms field. Distance learning is tempered by the student's interest. However, with the few classroom programs available, and paucity of gunsmiths offering apprenticeships, the AGI programs perform the valuable service of bringing “almost” classroom training to the field.