From National Shooting Sports Foundation
-- ORLANDO, Fla. -- Buyers, exhibitors and media from around the globe flocked to Orlando for the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry's largest trade show, the National Shooting Sports Foundation's SHOT Show held Jan. 15-18.
Though many trade shows have seen a decline in attendance, SHOT Show attendance remained strong this year, rising 3 percent when compared to its last visit to Orlando in 2007. According to preliminary figures, this year's show attracted 25,384 attendees, 22,098 exhibiting personnel and a record 1,425 members of the media for a total attendance of 48,907.
"This has been a tremendously successful show from a number of standpoints," said NSSF President Steve Sanetti. "Exhibitors and buyers were very upbeat, the products sold well, and I'd say the industry begins 2009 with a sense of cautious optimism in this challenging economy."
The show at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center comprised 715,000 square feet of exhibit space, with 1,800 exhibiting companies. Business was brisk on the floor throughout the show, according to exhibiting companies and retailers.
"It's been a good show, and, in fact, it's been above my expectations," said Phil Murray of Houston-based clay target maker White Flyer. "It's really exciting to see so many people being so positive about the industry. It is very encouraging for the rest of the year."
Not only was total attendance up from the last Orlando show, but the number of buyers increased 5 percent. "Our meeting rooms were booked, and the quality of the buyers at the show was very good. We saw good volume in our law enforcement booths, and we're very pleased with the media turnout," said Al Russo of Remington Arms Co.
First-time buyers were impressed with the new products and the size of the show. "I came to see what was new, and I absolutely have," said Bruno Leone, salesman at Aflaherty's Outdoor Store in Toronto, Canada. "I have been impressed with the new camo patterns and with some of the innovation in rifles that I have seen. I never was at a SHOT Show before, and I am awed by the size of the show and the number of people in attendance. The concentrated energy of the industry is exciting to witness."
High-tech rifles and handguns have seen a recent jump in sales heading into 2009.
"It's been a good show," said Scott Grange of Browning. "With all of the interest in high-tech arms, it good to see that the interest in our over/under shotguns was also up. The SHOT Show specials we laid out for retailers were very well received. The success here has helped position us for the expected upturn in the economy."
New products highlight the show's offerings each year, which is one reason attendees say the show is always a can't-miss event.
"The most important reason for anyone to come to the SHOT Show is to see the latest and greatest," said Ken Jorgensen of Sturm, Ruger & Co. "They're going to see the new products that they may not hear or read about for weeks or months."
The SHOT Show, owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), is the world's largest showcase of firearms, hunting and outdoor products. It provides a forum like no other for the industry to show off its newest products that will adorn the shelves of gun and sporting goods shops in the coming year.
Revenue raised at the SHOT Show funds NSSF's many programs and services that promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.