2016 SHOT Show Selected for International Buyer Program

For the third year in a row, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s® (NSSF’s®) SHOT Show® has been selected by the federal government’s International Trade Administration (ITA) as one of just 23 trade events chosen to participate in the ITA’s International Buyer Program (IBP) in 2016. U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig made the announcement in a press release Monday.

The IBP is a joint effort between the U.S. government and industry to bring thousands of international buyers to the United States for business-to-business matchmaking with U.S. firms exhibiting at major industry trade shows. An integral component of SHOT Show, the IBP serves as a value-added service to U.S. exhibitors at the show. The IBP recruited more than 420 international buyers representing 28 countries to the 2015 SHOT Show, where they participated in defined networking opportunities geared to maximize import/export potential with U.S-based manufacturers. Those opportunities included:

  • Showtime Program: U.S. exhibitors have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with U.S. Department of Commerce industry specialists from its overseas embassies. During these meetings, these specialists will brief attendees on individual market opportunities as well as discuss the challenges related to the safety/security and textile/sporting goods sectors and market potential for SHOT Show exhibitor products and services.
  • B2B Matchmaking Program: This focused business-to-business program allows the IBP to promote U.S. businesses to overseas delegates before and during the show. Exhibitors who register for this service have their company profile shared with pre-screened international buyers recruited to attend the 2015 SHOT Show by U.S. Department of Commerce industry specialists. More than 300 SHOT Show exhibitors participated in this service.
  • Export Counseling: At the International Trade Center, exhibitors to SHOT Show can visit and receive expert trade counseling from Department of Commerce trade specialists who help U.S.-based SHOT Show exhibitors identify the best markets for their products and introduce those companies to those international delegates seeking goods from these makers.

“We are extremely pleased that the ITA has recognized once again the potential for expansion SHOT Show provides its American exhibitors through the connections they make in the IBP program,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “This program grew 30 percent from its inaugural event in 2014 to its second gathering last year, simply enormous growth, and growth that plainly shows the firearms industry is fully engaged in capturing new markets and exploring new opportunities for profitability. Thanks to the continued support from the ITA and the renewal of the IBP program, we expect the expansion of this program to continue its strong, upward trend in the years to come.”

The 2016 SHOT Show will be held Jan. 19-22 in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Sands Expo. More information on the 2016 SHOT Show and the IBP program can be found at shotshow.org. Registration is expected to open in August.

Melissa Schilling is the Director of  Conferences and Exhibitions for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

2015 SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy Earns High Praise


Nearly 100 new and veteran SHOT Show exhibitors last week attended the 2015 SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy, where exhibitors filled seminar rooms at the Sands Expo Center to learn how to maximize their return on investment and exchange ideas to improve the show experience for all in attendance.

P1020028The first day of the Academy opened with some quick-witted remarks by Rick Harrison, star of the Las Vegas-based reality TV show “Pawn Stars,” as he urged the crowd to continue to fight for their Second Amendment rights and protection of the shooting sports. NSSF’s President and CEO Steve Sanetti then took the mic to welcome attendees and provide an overview of the Academy’s agenda, before turning over the stage for the afternoon’s keynote address. With an emphasis on perspective and how exhibitors can look at SHOT Show as an investment from which returns should be expected, motivational speaker and trade show expert Jefferson Davis took no time at all engaging the crowd in a focused exchange of ideas that forced exhibitors to reevaluate how the 2016 SHOT Show can be their best show ever.

Treated to numerous seminars and one-on-one sessions covering everything from budgeting, advertising opportunities and vendor contracting to interacting with the media, lead retrieval and improved logistics handling, the Academy strongly encouraged interaction both between exhibitors and with show management and their partners. A special highlight to these sessions was the presentation by noted social media expert Traci Browne. The author of The Social Trade Show emphasized how exhibitors can capitalize on the power of social media through a dedicated plan of before, during and after-show outreach campaigns, and her engaging speaking style had even the most experienced vendors taking notes and asking questions.

“We were very pleased to see so much interaction among the exhibitors in attendance,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “With a mix of veteran exhibitors and those who had a booth with us only a year or two, everyone was truly invested in working to make the SHOT Show a better experience not just for each other, but for everyone whom they’ll interact with during the show. That’s the kind of teamwork this industry and the SHOT Show need to continue on the successful trajectory they’ve experienced over the last several years.”

The 2016 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show will be held January 19-22 at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information, visit www.shotshow.org.

NSSF would like to extend a special thanks to its SHOT Show partners ConvExx, Freeman, Century Security, as well as the many professionals at the Sands Expo Center and The Palazzo and Venetian hotels (NSSF’s headquarters hotels for SHOT Show) for their contributions to the 2015 SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy.

Melissa Schilling is the Director of  Conferences and Exhibitions for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

2016 Industry Day at the Range Already Gaining Traction

Take a closer look at Industry Day at the Range.

While the 2015 Industry Day at the Range set a record for attendance, our management partners aren’t resting on their laurels. CMG Marketing & Events’ Cathy Williams and her staff are fast-tracking sponsors and exhibitors to ensure next year’s event is equally successful.

“We recently signed Kriss USA as a Supporting Sponsor of our event,” said Cathy Williams, CMG Owner. “We have had the pleasure of working with this company and its wonderful staff for many years as an exhibitor, and we are excited that their sponsorship this year will help continue the successful, upward trajectory that Industry Day is enjoying.”

Following record attendance at the 2015 event and a new invitation-only format that both better controlled admittance to credentialed media members and allowed for a select number of buyers to attend, CMG opened registration for the 2016 event on May 4.

“Exhibitor commitment to the 2016 Industry Day has been very strong in its first 30 days,” said Williams. “We’re already down to just two pistol range slots remaining, and shotgun, archery and non-shooting exhibitor spaces are filling at a steady rate. We’d also like to remind all NSSF and industry members that Industry Day at the Range is a great opportunity to get your brand out there if you’re on the waiting list for booth space at the SHOT Show. Not only can Industry Day provide hands-on awareness with media members and buyers looking for new companies producing quality goods, it’s a great way to get your feet wet with a show as big as SHOT Show before a space on the show floor becomes available.”

The 2015 Industry Day at the Range was attended by more than 1,100 members of media and 400 buyers getting a hands-on try of the goods on display by more than 170 manufacturers. Exhibitors included truck makers, knife artisans and archery equipment crafters, but none were more popular than the firearms and ammunition manufactures. More than 500,000 rounds of ammunition were expended by the crowd.

Industry Day at the Range is held annually on the day before the opening of each year’s SHOT Show. NSSF is the event’s leading sponsor, where we take the opportunity to spread the word about Project ChildSafe and “Own it? Respect it. Secure it.” You can see a preview of how this event works here. Want to become an exhibitor? Click here or visit shotshowrangeday.com.

Chris Dolnack is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDolnack.

IWA Show Connects U.S. Firearms Manufacturers to European Market

iwa_outdoor_clasics_2015_For many years, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has exhibited at the annual IWA & Outdoor Classics show in Nurnberg, Germany. It is always a productive event for us, but none more so than the 2015 show.

There are many reasons why exhibiting at the IWA & Outdoor Classics is a top priority for us here at NSSF, but perhaps the most important is that it provides us the ability to connect one on one with international buyers, exhibitors and media. These industry professionals have been key to the continued success of our own state-side SHOT Show® and they hold the promise for continued growth as they and our U.S. based members explore the hundreds of opportunities for those on both sides of the pond to do business together.

NSSF’s SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world.  With more than 1,600 exhibitors showcasing the latest innovations in firearms, ammunition and shooting and hunting-related accessories, in addition to a thriving exhibitors section catering specifically to military and law enforcement applications, the annual SHOT Show attracts more than 60,000 industry professionals from all 50 U.S. states and 100 countries.

With such worldwide appeal, NSSF began working with the U.S. Department of Commerce International Buyer Program (IBP). Introduced at the 2014 SHOT Show, the inaugural IBP had just a half-dozen participating countries, yet it was so successful at connecting those European firms and buyers with their U.S. counterparts that word quickly spread about the program’s value.  The 2015 SHOT Show IBP grew to representatives from 20 countries. I don’t have to tell you that’s tremendous growth for a program still in its infancy—and that’s a trend we’re committed to continuing with the 2016 SHOT Show and beyond.

To further help this effort, our partners in Las Vegas have hosted a Las Vegas Hospitality Suite during IWA.  Sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and the Las Vegas Sands and Venetian/Palazzo, the hospitality suite offers buyers and media an opportunity to learn more about the SHOT Show, the exciting city of Las Vegas and the fabulous Sands Expo and Venetian/Palazzo resorts in which the SHOT Show takes place.  Hundreds of visitors stop by our stand daily in the American pavilion to inquire about NSSF membership, SHOT Show attendee qualifications and how the International Buyer Program (IBP) works to connect European buyers with U.S. firearms enterprises.  Many of these buyers have never heard of the SHOT Show and are overwhelmed with the prospects in which they may encounter in Las Vegas each year.  It is this introduction to the SHOT Show that makes us most excited when we are at IWA, and proves the value of face-to-face marketing at trade shows.

There are three components to the IBP. These include the Showtime Program, where U.S.-based show exhibitors can meet one on one with U.S. Department of Commerce industry specialists from our overseas embassies, and the B2B Matchmaking Program that works to promote U.S. firearms businesses and products to foreign delegates throughout the SHOT Show.

The third component to the IBP is the SHOT Show’s International Trade Center. Here, breakfast, lunch and an afternoon reception are held each official show day. Private conference rooms are available for meetings, and hostesses are available to assist with scheduling. There is an emphasis on creature comforts—complimentary WiFi Internet access, full computer setups with printer capabilities, multi-language translators, and other amenities that make traveling abroad easier—as well that of providing privacy and quiet space away from the bustle of the show floor. More central to making the International Trade Center truly productive for our overseas friends, the center offers something to “both sides of the coin.” For international buyers, experts in U.S.-based firearms manufacturers and distributors are on hand to help identify the exhibitors and products that best match those buyers’ needs and arrange introductions. For the exhibitor, trade specialists from the U.S. Department of Commerce help our U.S.-based businesses identify potential new markets and arrange in-person meetings with the buyers attending those markets.

The feedback we’ve received from both overseas attendees and our U.S. exhibitors participating in the IBP program has been nothing short of glowing and that tells us that NSSF is hitting the mark when it comes to providing a return on the often significant investment in time and money it takes to attend our SHOT Show each year, both for our own U.S. exhibitors and member attendees, but especially for those traveling from abroad. If you’ve participated in either of the last two IBP programs, tell us what you received from the experience and elements you’d like to see added to the program. If you’d like to participate in the program for the first time, we’d welcome the opportunity to provide you additional information and add you to our growing list of participants.

Contact Melissa Schilling, NSSF Director, Exhibitions & Conferences, at mschilling@nssf.org, or me, Chris Dolnack, at cdolnack@nssf.org. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you next year in Las Vegas for the 2016 SHOT Show.


Chris Dolnack is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDolnack.

2015 SHOT Show ‘Tremendously Valuable,’ Satisfaction High

The 2015 SHOT Show, held this past January at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, has proven itself to be one of the best across the collective spectrum of exhibitors, buyers, law enforcement personnel and media members of the show, according to a recent survey conducted by NSSF.

While attendance was down slightly from the record-setting number of 2014 that reduction was due to a concerted effort by NSSF to purge the attendance roster of 2,200 non-qualified buyers, an effort those admitted greatly appreciated. Many comments we received indicated both exhibitors and attendees noticed that the crowd quality was higher, leading directly to a more productive show for everyone.

“The show was beyond expectations,” Arthur Grant of Packin’ Fur Defense told us. “We found several suppliers willing to work with us despite our being a small start-up in the restricted Southern California concealed carry market space. We were able to find a distributor to work with, as well as a half-dozen vendors who are new themselves to distributing to retailers.”

It wasn’t just the show floor that got rave reviews. Every one of NSSF’s dozen Retailer Seminars was sold out to capacity, as was SHOT Show University, while many press conferences were filled to standing room only. NSSF’s press conference announcing our research department’s newest report, “Women Gun Owners: Purchasing, Perceptions and Participation,” was still turning people away at the door 20 minutes into the presentation.

Several other areas of the show displayed remarkable growth. The New Product Center had more than 600 products on exhibit, double that from 2014, but the real boost there came in the product scans: 28,000 versus 8,500 from last year. Our International Buyer’s Program was also another event that doubled its participation. Overall, the 2015 SHOT Show was a tremendous success, as you can see below, and that’s something that prompts us to make next year’s show even better.

I’d love to hear your SHOT Show success story. Email me at cdolnack@nssf.org. Contributors will be randomly selected to receive SHOT Show swag.


Chris Dolnack is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDolnack.

Comedian Bill Engvall to Perform at SHOT Show State of the Industry Dinner

He’s a hunter. He’s a target shooter. He’s one of the top comedians in America today — and among the busiest. He’ll also be our 2015 SHOT Show State of the Industry featured entertainer.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is pleased to announce that comedian Bill Engvall will perform at the SHOT Show’s annual State of the Industry Dinner, set for Jan. 20, the first evening of the show in Las Vegas.

Bill has starred in numerous television shows, including solo specials, and appeared in several feature films. He is perhaps best known as part of the enormously successful Blue Collar Comedy concert films, which have sold more than 9 million units and are some of the most watched movies and special in Comedy Central history. The soundtrack for Blue Collar Comedy Tour — One For The Road (Warner Bros./Jack Records) was also nominated for a Grammy Award. This fall, he appeared on the top TV hit, “Dancing with the Stars.”

Bill has been at the SHOT Show before and proudly supports America’s hunting and recreational shooting traditions, so he knows that a full house will warmly welcome him.

We look forward to seeing everyone in Las Vegas next month at our biggest and best State of the Industry Dinner to date.

Learn more and order tickets here.


Chris Dolnack is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDolnack.

Exhibitors, Advertisers—SHOT Show Directory Deadline is Friday!

There are dozens of ways for exhibitors to get noticed at SHOT Show, but the one every attendee—media, buyers, range owners, retailers, and more—will see is the SHOT Show Directory. This is the book every show attendee uses to find you on the show floor and make contact with you throughout the year after the show is over.

It is crucial that all exhibitors must have their company update information submitted for listing in the Directory by the close of business this Friday, November 7. This is also the deadline for exhibitors and companies who wish to reserve advertising space in the directory.

“If there’s only one place you can afford to be seen this year, make sure it’s the 2015 SHOT Show Directory,” said Chris Tatulli, NSSF Director, Exhibit & Sponsorship Sales. “With more than 1,600 exhibitors, this is the single resource every one of the more than 62,000 attendees at the show will have in their hands, and the one resource each of those people will use every day, every week and every month throughout the year to contact you. Additionally, all exhibitors and advertisers displaying in the Directory will automatically find their listing on shotshow.org (a PDF of the full and final exhibitor listing will be uploaded there in the weeks before the show opens), and the Directory ties directly to the SHOT Show Mobile App so that attendees can instantly locate your booth and set appointments. Do not let the deadline pass to have your company information accurately updated or reserve the additional advertising space you need in the Directory.”

For more information on having your company exhibitor information displayed in the 2015 SHOT Show Directory, contact exhibitorhelp@shot.convexx.com. Those needing to reserve advertising space should contact Chris Tatulli, ctatulli@nssf.org. You can also click here to access your Exhibitor Dashboard and update your company information for the printed directory, online Show planner, and mobile app. You will need your exhibitor ID to log in. If you do not have your exhibitor ID, contact Show Management at 855-355-7468 or email regmgr@shot.convexx.com.

Dave Jeannette is Senior Director, Sales for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveJeannette.

Business Expert Gene Marks Highlights SHOT Show University Classes

GeneMarks_SSUThe NSSF is pleased to announce that columnist, book author and small business owner and expert Gene Marks will be hosting two segments of the 2015 SHOT Show University. Marks writes daily for The New York Times and weekly for Forbes, The Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur.com, FOX Business and Philadelphia Magazine. He’s authored five books on business management specifically geared toward small and medium-sized companies, the most recent being The Manufacturer’s Book of Lists (Create Space, 2013). A dynamic speaker, Marks has appeared on FOX News, FOX Business, Bloomberg and CNBC discussing matters affecting the business community.

Through his keynotes and breakout sessions, Marks helps business owners, executives and managers understand the political, economic and technological trends that will affect their companies, so they can make profitable decisions. He owns and operates the Marks Group PC, a highly successful 10-person firm that provides technology and consulting services to small and medium-sized businesses.

In his first segment at SSU, “How to Leverage the Power of Digital Marketing for Your Small Business,” Marks will discuss the many technological changes ahead everyone in the world of business faces. The next few years will bring big changes to how all businesses drive revenues, and Marks will address the decisions retailers should be making now so that they can increase revenues in the future.

In talking about these changes, Marks will tell you that it’s not just Google, Microsoft and Apple that are leading the wave. It’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media platforms, as well as the right kind of e-mail marketing, using video to connect to your prospects, taking advantage of new voice, chat and text tools to generate leads and using mobile tools for search, payment and relationship building. Marks’ questions to retailers: How are you touching your customers, your prospects? How are you making sure nothing falls through the cracks? What workflows have you created to make sure customers never leave? How are smart business owners leveraging the latest services, applications, devices and processes to maximize their revenues?

Marks’ second seminar is entitled “The Latest Ideas to Better Manage Your Cash Flow.” This presentation is for the owner and manager working in an established business and looking at the future—not next week or next month, but rather planning for the next few years. Marks explains that if you’re not thinking all the time about ways to manage your cash and grow your business, then there probably won’t be a business in the future. He emphasizes that if you think that your employees are as happy and productive as they’ll ever be, then this is where you’ll always be, and if you’re not always wondering about ways to reduce overhead and lower your costs, then someday someone is going to come along and out-think you.

During this fast-paced session, Marks will keep you on your toes with dozens of the latest methods and ideas for reducing expenses and building profits, i.e., generating more cash for your business. You’ll learn cost-effective ways for squeezing out more profits, boosting your bottom line and keeping more customers happy.

SHOT Show University is the premier event for firearms retailers. Seats are limited and this event will sell out, so retailers are urged to sign up now. NSSF Premium Retailers are offered a complimentary ticket to SSU. Additional tickets for both Premium Retail members and all other NSSF members who wish to attend is $250; non-members may attend for $500. To learn more about SSU and its many sessions, click here. To upgrade your membership to the Premium Retail level or to join at NSSF at the level that best serves your business needs, visit www.nssf.org/join or e-mail membership@nssf.org.

Special Featured Speaker Announced for 2015 SHOT Show University

Patrick Houlahan, Senior Consultant

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is pleased to announce that renowned former U.S. Marine fighter pilot instructor Patrick “Lips” Houlahan will be the featured speaker for the closing session of this year’s SHOT Show University (SSU). Now working as a senior consultant with strategic business training organization Afterburner, Inc., Houlahan brings a wealth of leadership and management expertise to the table, and his dynamic presentations keep audiences captivated.

“Plan, brief, execute, debrief. That’s the recipe for success for high-performing teams around the world. It works in the business of combat and it works in the shooting, hunting and outdoor business,” explained Houlahan. “The Afterburner team of consultants will teach you how to harness the power of Flawless Execution℠, starting with planning. You’ll learn the Six Steps to Mission Planning and apply them to all facets of your business. You’ll also learn about the power of STEALTH Debriefing℠. How many times have you heard a person admit they made a mistake? Let’s face facts: It takes a strong ego to succeed in business, and strong egos don’t like to admit mistakes. When that happens, your team never has a chance to learn from experience. Performance stays flat, and you never have a chance to address the root causes of lost business. In this keynote, my team and I will teach you how to use the STEALTH Debrief module to glean lessons learned and accelerate the experience of your entire team, while learning how to boost performance.

“Keeping jets in the air takes a staff of hundreds, coordinating, communicating and executing flawlessly. It takes a mindset to make this happen that many businesses don’t have,” Houlahan explained. “We help your team understand and begin to develop that mindset. Walking away from an Afterburner program, your team will be completely aligned behind your goals, ready to take action and improve business performance and management.”

“We are very grateful to have a speaker like Patrick ‘Lips’ Houlahan bringing his extensive management expertise to our retailers at SSU,” said Patrick Shay, NSSF Director, Retail Development. “This is a rare opportunity for our front-line industry retail leaders to learn what highly successful business planning looks like and how the principles Afterburner developed—and as they’re used by companies like PepsiCo, NFL teams, J.W. Marriott and more—will work for every firearms seller, from the small-town mom-and-pop shop to the big-box giant. This is must-see, must-hear material for every retailer in our industry.”

SHOT Show University is open to all retailers, but seating is limited, and this event is always an early sell-out. Tickets to the 2015 event are $250 for NSSF members and $500 for non-members. To show our appreciation to all our Premium Retailer Members, those members are eligible to receive one complimentary ticket. For more information on SHOT Show University, go to shotshow.org/education/. To upgrade your membership to a Premium Retailer level or to join the NSSF at whatever level that best suits your business needs, go to membership section of nssf.org.

Vegas Hotel Space at a Premium—Book Your SHOT Show Rooms Now

SHOT Show is one of the biggest trade shows in the nation and certainly one of the top shows utilizing the conference venues in Las Vegas—but it’s not the only one. This year, several other Las Vegas-based trade shows are taking place during the same dates as the 2015 SHOT Show, Jan. 20-23. That means hotel space will be at a premium.

“The last thing anyone planning to attend SHOT Show wants to do is find themselves in a hotel far from the strip and a long taxi ride from the Sands Expo Center,” stated Diedra Cauley, Director Exhibitions and Conferences. “NSSF has always had a dedicated block of hotel rooms available at special discounts for our attendees. This year, because of the stiff competition for hotel rooms we anticipate show attendees will encounter, we’ve expanded that block to make sure everyone who wants and needs to be at SHOT has a comfortable and affordable place to stay.”

NSSF’s official headquarter hotel is the Venetian/Palazzo, but through our booking partner OnPeak, we have special rates available at more than 20 official SHOT Show hotels convenient to the Sands Expo Center. They cover a wide variety of room-per-night price ranges and amenities, and all are within walking distance or a short cab ride from the Sands, in addition to having regular shuttle bus service to and from the show.

Reservations for these official SHOT Show hotel rooms ends Dec. 17, 2014, but bookings fill fast, so we encourage all our exhibitors and attendees to make their reservations now. Attendees and exhibitors interested in booking rooms in the Venetian/Palazzo can click here or call. Be sure to tell the reservation assistant you will be attending SHOT Show to receive the appropriate discount. For more information on all available SHOT Show official hotels, click here.

Important SHOT Show Travel Numbers

  • Venetian/Palazzo—U.S. 866-580-1198; International 702-414-4100
  • OnPeak—U.S. 800-388-8104; International 312-527-7300


Diedra Cauley is the director of exhibitions and conferences for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow her on Twitter at @dcauley.