The Newbies: An Outdoor Wire Digital Network Special Edition
This Special Edition is the only wire you'll be receiving today. Our normal wires are observing the Martin Luther King holiday.
And everyone's prepping for the consolidated SHOT Show Special Editions of the Outdoor, Shooting and Tactical Wires that begin tomorrow and will run through next Monday, January 23, 2017.
Today's special edition is the fourth installment of what we fondly refer to as "the Newbies". It's focused on first-time exhibitors. We began doing this four years ago because we realized it could be helpful to identify new companies before
we hit the show floor because shot is, well, huge
Having covered trade shows dedicated to anything from the natural gas and pharmaceutical industries to cars, airplanes, trains, boats, farm equipment and golf clubs, I've seen a bunch
of trade shows. Each had a distinct personality.
But SHOT Show is my favorite. It represents the intersection of the highest technologies and the most elemental of human activities.
Beginning tomorrow, you'll see technology that was unimaginable a few of years ago now available on anything from mobile phones to game cameras, automated feeders, fishing cameras and see-in-the-dark riflescopes. A majority of that technology serves a very elemental goal: making the hunter/gatherer more effective. We may be high-tech, but the elemental human is still very much present.
And SHOT is proof that the the traditional American outdoor lifestyle still represents a vibrant business category.
The companies that form the soul of SHOT aren't mega-sized. Many are smaller second, third or even fourth-generation family companies. Beretta, despite its global size, is essentially a family business - and it's been around more than five hundred years.
The rest of the exhibitors this week considerably younger. But they all share a pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit. Many small companies can trace their roots to a CAD drawing, but that drawing might have been the result of an idea that came while sitting in a hunting blind, kayaking across a lake, shooting at a range or relaxing in a hunting camp with friends.
Inspired, someone invested their sweat equity and sometimes their personal savings to pursue an idea they feel will improve the outdoor experience. Not everything presented this week will be a great idea, but every one shares that same goal. And each contributes to the unique flavor that is SHOT Show.
You might be surprised as you scan the listing of 2017's 130 new attendees. It includes some names you've never heard-and a few you'll instantly recognize.
BAE Systems is here for the first time because SHOT's another opportunity to connect with the LE/Military community. Those LE/military buyers are here because the "Modern Sporting Rifle" and all its attendant accessories have become accepted parts of the shooting/hunting industry. And the consumer demand has helped the tactical category have unprecedented growth over the past few years.
FYI….BAE is here to demonstrate their HAP (Headborne Attachment Platform) for "operators". In the military spirit, they'll be "briefing" on the HAP system at 11am and 2pm daily in Booth 7643. Expect to see lots of muscles, tactical clothing and tattoos in the audience, but don't be surprised if some hunting enthusiasts who employ a lot of similar high-tech equipment in their hunting of feral hogs. Hog hunting is decidedly high-tech.
Other companies may essentially be emerging from the shadows. Carolina Hosiery (Booth 10028) is a family-owned company that's been making hosiery for Browning, Ducks Unlimited and other companies for decades.You might not know the Koury family, but you've probably worn a pair of their products.
Others may be a surprise just because their name has been around a long time. L.W. Seecamp, has been synonymous with small, easily concealable pocket-type pistols for decades. But they're not just a "Newbie" they're a NEXT Company for 2017.
Seecamp Company was a second-generation family business struggling to keep going when it was purchased from the family in 2014 by Whalley Precision. With a reputation for high quality and quick turnaround, Whalley made a variety of parts for other companies- including some that flew on the space shuttles - but they'd never had a product of their own. So when Larry Seecamp decided to sell the business his father Ludwig began, the brothers who own Whalley (yes, it's a family business) decided to buy the company and make pistols.
It seemed to be a logical step for brothers David and John Whalley. Both their father and grandfather had worked at the Springfield Armory; David's first job was at Savage Arms.
So….L. W. Seecamp's pistols can be seen again at position N164 in the NEXT Pavilion.
BAE Systems and Carolina Hosiery come as Newbies, but bring all the resources of large companies. Things new companies located in those 10x10 booths can only dream of.
Here's the basic layout of SHOT and the simplest way to find the SHOT NEXT Area. NSSF Graphic.
But despite the disparities in size, they share one commonality: there's no guarantee of their success.
All of them don't need epic results. But some of the people you'll talk with this week need a home run here just to keep their dream alive. Some dreamers will undoubtedly impact the industry, but certainly not all.
For some, this will be their one shot at SHOT. Others will take their lumps, then regroup, rethink and relaunch. They may never succeed, but the tenacity is awe-inspiring.
That's why I enjoy jostling through the aisles without an appointment or agenda whenever possible. It's a gigantic bazaar -and dreamers can be located right next to giants. And that's where you hear the "buzz" of the show.
Three years ago the NSSF convinced big companies to voluntarily downsize so allow more companies to attend, and it was good. But they still weren't satisfied, and as a result, last year's show featured a pavilion called "SHOT Show NEXT" - an area where companies who still hadn't gotten booth space had the opportunity to showcase a single product.
SHOT Show NEXT is back again this year, and as busy as your schedule might be, you need to make time to walk through the area and take part in the business equivalent of speed dating. One product, usually one person, and (hopefully) one quick pitch. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Take the escalators up to the third level of the Sands Convention Center and check it out. If you want some more information, here's the link: http://www.shotshow.org/attendees/next/
Some of you may be glancing at this special edition on your phone between flights or on a shuttle to Industry Day at the Range. You're already hunting that "next big thing."
We want to help us find what's cool and innovative. If you run into me this week, tell me what you've seen.
For those of you not here in Las Vegas, check out the news releases in each of the wires. See something you think we're missing, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
; we'll try and check it out in more detail. You might point out the next big thing without even being here.
And this year we'll be giving you updates throughout each day via Instagram (theoutdoorwire) and I'll be doing periodic Twitter updates (@jimshepherd) as well as Periscope live feeds (@OutdoorWireGuy) if/when news warrants. Follow me on Twitter and I'll give you heads-up when we're doing live feeds on Periscope.
Good luck to all the "newbies" - we'll keep you posted.
-- Jim Shepherd