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.

NSSF Names Schilling Director of Exhibitions & Conferences

The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) has announced that Melissa Schilling has been promoted to the position of Director, Exhibitions & Conferences. Schilling’s most recent position with the organization has been Director, Recruitment & Retention, a title she’s held since 2012.

Schilling brings a wealth of talent to this new position, which includes development and organization of NSSF’s many conferences and shows, including its annual Industry Summit, Congressional Fly-In and the SHOT Show, one of the country’s largest trade exhibitions, attended annually by more than 65,000 firearms industry professionals from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

“Melissa has risen steadily over the course of her career with NSSF,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “She has a proven track record of managing for results and is well respected by everyone she works with. Melissa has a remarkable ability to build and maintain strong professional relationships and I’m confident that she will be very successful as our Director of Exhibitions & Conferences.”

Schilling began her career with NSSF in 2003, first working in public relations before progressing to her position in Recruitment & Retention, where she worked closely with the American conservation community of fish and wildlife agency professionals and hunter education instructors. Highlights of her tenure with NSSF have included managing the organization’s Range Partnership and Hunting Heritage Partnership grant programs and the very successful, national STEP OUTSIDE program, as well as the Families Afield and Explore Wingshooting initiatives, which encourage mentoring and increased participation afield by hunters. Schilling also oversaw NSSF’s flagship firearms introductory program, First Shots.

“I am excited to take on the new challenges this promotion will offer,” said Schilling. “I’ve enjoyed more than a decade of service to the NSSF and the many, many people who ensure, year after year, that our industry sees continuous growth and participation in hunting and the shooting sports, and all with a level of unrivaled safety. It is with great anticipation and enthusiasm that I’ll continue to serve our industry as a whole, and NSSF’s members in particular, in this new role.”


About NSSF
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 11,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit nssf.org.

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.

More From the Floor: SHOT Show, Where the Work Gets Done

workDoneIt’s said over and over that SHOT Show is the place to be for anyone in the industry. Turns out there’s a lot of truth to that phrase.

Melesia Cisneros, Marketing Supervisor with Berger Bullets told us, “It really is about the face to face time that makes business through the rest of the year succeed. You need to sit down, shake someone’s hand, and when you can put a face to a name you’ve been talking to on the phone, that’s what builds the relationships. Also, we introduced a new brand this year, Applied Ballistics Munitions (ABM). Sure, we can do that at other shows, but this is the show to make that kind of introduction.”

Tom Heiser, Sales Executive with Celerant Technologies, a leading company in multi-channel e-commerce solutions and one of NSSF’s Affinity Member Benefits partners, told us “This show really gives us the chance to reconnect with our current customers, as well as introduce ourselves to new ones. We have a unique product, and this show gives us a chance to explain its ins and outs and why it can be such an asset to those in this industry.

Gary Byers, owner of Pro-Defense, tells us that for new products, the SHOT Show is making them a success. “We’re seeing more buyers than before, and they’re looking for not just new products, but unique products, which we have. We’ve been here on and off for 30 years, and this is the best show yet that we’ve attended and very productive for us as we launch these new products.”

Rick Alsen, National Sales Manger for Bevertail, which offers a line of waterfowling boats, blinds and other related equipment, acknowledged the value of the show for a company like Pro-Defense, but noted that there’s more to the show than that. “For many, this show is about showing new products,” Alsen told us. “For us, especially since we’re a brand that’s been around for a while and at this show before, it’s about finalizing details. We love the SHOT Show for that aspect of what we do, and it’s also vital for its connection with our international buyers. We do quite a bit of business with Russia, Finalnd, Sweden and Norway, for example, and if you’re not here and they are, you can quickly be forgotten. But by seeing our booth, our brand as they work the floor, they remember to have the meetings they need to with us.”

The working outdoor press, marketing professionals and associated industry organizations also get much from attending the show.

Mike Capps, Senior Account Executive with Howard Communications, “It’s a chance for us to interact with all the media and put them together with our clients. You can’t beat this kind of show for personal interaction, and despite how useful email and the phone is, you need that personal touch to really make the process works.

Steve Hall, Executive Director International Hunter Education Association-U.S.A., said, “I get a chance to thank all our supporters and sponsors personally, and that’s invaluable to a non-profit like us. Also, NSSF helps get the word out to the industry and retailers about us and helps us engage with them to help them understand the national voice behind the individual state efforts.”

Award-winning author Ron Spomer really summed up the show for us, though, saying, “Obviously, the making and maintaining contacts is integral to the show, but it’s the convenience of having everything and everyone at every level—manufacturers, public relations, marketing, retailers, other media members—that makes this show as productive as it is. It’s kind of like going to the Academy Awards—everyone who is somebody and is effective in the industry is here.”

SHOT Show Day 2—Word from the Floor

16150066919_046450c5b9_zThe staff at NSSF was receiving such positive feedback from the media in the press room, we thought Day No. 2 of the show would be a good time to take the temperature of the show floor and see how our exhibitors were getting along. Here’s what they had to say.

Cindy Daniel, Executive Vice President of Daniel Defense, one of this year’s top sponsors of the SHOT Show, said, “It’s been a very busy show. We’re optimistic that with the good vibe we’re seeing on the floor sales will pick up again and we’ll have a solid year.”

Daniel could very well be right. The show floor was humming with activity and we heard positive things from companies around the show.

“We’ve been pretty busy and there hasn’t been much down time,” said Kort Nielson, who works in marketing for Silencer Co. “Increasing our booth size and design and its new position in this hall has been good for traffic, but we’re also focusing on education.” Silencer Co. is holding two seminars this week for retailers on how to sell silencers.

Alexander Crown, working with military sales and suppressor tools in the Gemtech booth, told us, “Customers this year are more enthusiastic about the firearms industry as a whole. They seem to really be enjoying the technologies being offered.”

Jeff Patterson, PR guru with the Swanson Russell firm, said, “All our clients are happy with the traffic—SIG, Bad Boy Buggies, Otis Technologies, Weatherby, Leupold. The Leupold booth has been so crowded I can barely make it through, and most of our clients are looking forward to a steady year.”

Mike Capps, Senior Account Executive with PR firm Howard Communications echoed Patterson. “The ATK booth has been swamped . . . I think it’s due to the fact that it’s become one-stop shopping for the buyers. Under one roof you now have firearms, ammunition, optics and accessories, and we’re very pleased with the traffic that mix is generating.”

One company recognizing the leveling off of sales our industry experienced in 2014 isn’t resting on its laurels. Redding Reloading is experiencing high growth through expansion in international markets. “While we’re better servicing our domestic clients better right now, because we’ve been able to reduce our order backlog time from the four months we were experiencing last year (due to high volume) to two to three weeks this year, we’re really seeing tremendous growth in international markets,” explained Robin Sharpless, Executive Vice President. “Canada and South Africa in particular are proving very lucrative, as well as Australia and New Zealand.”

SHOT Show Facts and Figures

openingday5The SHOT Show® (SHOTSM stands for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) is the once-a-year gathering place for the shooting, hunting and outdoors industry—manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, publishers and wildlife conservation organizations. It’s where a passion for firearms, ammunition and outdoors equipment, plus the industry’s unified support for the Second Amendment, are on display.

The SHOT Show is owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation®, trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. The show is produced and managed by ConvExx. The show generates millions of the dollars in revenue that funds NSSF programs and services that help “promote, protect and preserve” hunting and the shooting sports. Among those programs are Project ChildSafe, the industry’s firearm safety education program; Don’t Lie for the Other Guy, which works to help prevent illegal straw purchases; and First Shots, which provides introductions to target shooting. See nssf.org for more information on NSSF programs and member services.

  • The 2015 SHOT Show runs Tuesday, January 20, through Friday, January 23, at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. The SHOT Show exhibition floor opens at 8:30 a.m. each day and closes at 5:30 p.m. except for the last day when the show closes at 4 p.m. (Law enforcement booths located in Venetian ballrooms open at 8 a.m. daily.) See complete show floor hours. The Press Room is located in the Venetian Murano Ballroom on Level 3. The Press Room opens at 7:30 a.m. each day. See complete Press Room hoursSHOT Show Industry Day at the Range, slated for Monday, January 19, at the Boulder City Rifle & Pistol Club, is for exhibitor-invited media and buyers.
  • This is the 37th annual SHOT Show. The first SHOT Show was in 1979 in St. Louis, Missouri. The SHOT Show has been held 16 times in Las Vegas, more than in any other host city, including consecutively since 2010. SHOT Show will be presented at the Sands Expo and Convention Center through 2020, under the latest agreement.
  • SHOT is the largest event held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Total exhibit space for the 2015 show is expected to be more than 630,000 net square feet—equivalent to more than 13 acres, the area covered by the New Orleans Superdome or the base of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
  • The SHOT Show boasts 12.5 miles of aisles—just a little less than the distance of half a marathon. Exhibitors, buyers, media and other industry professionals hail from all 50 states and 100 countries.
  • Nearly 70,000 professionals in the shooting, hunting and outdoors industry attended SHOT Show in 2014. The show is for trade only and is not open to the general public.
  • The 2015 SHOT Show will have more than 1,600 exhibitors and more than 2,400 members of the outdoor and mainstream media, including international media, cover the show and promote the products they see at SHOT in their print, Internet, radio and television stories.
  • The total weight of the exhibits for the 2014 SHOT Show brought in by Freeman, the SHOT Show’s general service contractor, exceeded 6,400,000 pounds, the heaviest show ever held at the Sands Expo Center.
  • Over 100 buses are hired by the SHOT Show to accommodate SHOT Show attendees staying at partner hotels along the Las Vegas Strip for complimentary rides to the Sands Expo Center.
  • It took 250 concessionaires to accommodate the food and beverage bistros inside the Sands Expo Center during the 2014 SHOT Show.
  • The Law Enforcement section remains the fastest growing segment of the SHOT Show. To illustrate this growth, law enforcement was started 12 years ago, covering 7,000 square feet; today it covers more than 170,000 square feet of the show.
  • Over 2,100 people attended the opening night NSSF State of the Industry Dinner at the 2014 SHOT Show.
  • Over 10,000 scans for more information were made by media and buyers of the products located in the New Product Center of the 2014 SHOT Show.
  • There were over 340,000 visits by attendees at the 2014 SHOT Show to the 2014 SHOT Show mobile app.
  • 98% of all exhibitors at the 2014 SHOT Show renewed their booth space for the 2015 SHOT Show before the 2014 SHOT Show even concluded.
  • The 2014 SHOT Show brought over $89.6 million in non-gaming revenue to the Las Vegas economy. Firearms and ammunition are a $8 billion industry. The total economic impact of the industry is nearly $38 billion, which supports more than 245,000 jobs.

The SHOT Show’s website is shotshow.org. Follow SHOT Show on Twitter @NSSFSHOTShow and #SHOTShow, and on Facebook.

Trade Show Checklist for Professionals

Business Card TradeA polished professional image is helpful and important when developing new client relationships and representing yourself among colleagues. Here are some of the top items on my checklist for maintaining professionalism at the SHOT Show.

  1. Business Cards – First impressions mean a lot when you are meeting potential clients and colleagues. A great way to initialize your professional image is by presenting a business card for them to see what you do. Business cards also assist in remembering names.
  2. Sanitizer – Like an interview, a good handshake is another important asset to a good introduction. The SHOT Show brings a lot of business opportunities, but it can also bring unwanted illness.
  3. Pen/Pad – Taking notes shows that you really care and are paying attention.
  4. Mouthwash – Bad breath can be a big negative. Not only is it unpleasant, but it is distracting. It also helps you clear your teeth of unwanted debris (i.e., spinach, chocolate, etc.).
  5. Phone – Your phone can be your lifeline at the show. Access the SHOT Show Blog, SHOT Mobile App, social media and clients’ websites.
  6. Business Formal/Casual Dress – It is important to dress appropriately both in and out of the show. You never know if you will meet a potential client in a casual setting outside of the show.
  7. Comfortable Shoes – Sore feet are uncomfortable and distracting. The SHOT Show has approximately 12.5 miles of aisles, so it is important to wear comfortable shoes.
  8. Deodorant – The SHOT Show should smell like guns and roses…
  9. Water – Stay hydrated. Being dehydrated can lead to head aches and loss of focus.
  10. Food – A convenient snack like a granola bar, candy bar or apple can help you stay focused on the show, rather than on your grumbling stomach. Meetings can build up quickly along with your appetite if you forget to pack a snack.

I never go to a professional conference or trade event without these items. Being prepared is a huge aspect of professionalism, and this list can give you a head start. These items can enhance your professional appearance, but remember, a professional image relies heavily on professional behavior, as well.

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