It was hectic last week in Las Vegas when hundreds of exhibitors rolled out new guns and gear products for 2019. Just a few years ago, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) enhanced their annual extravaganza by establishing a Media Day at the Range the day before the SHOT Show opened. That gave gun writers a delicious opportunity to shoot anything and everything they would see over the following four days under the roof of exhibition halls.
Media Day became so popular, in fact, that guys bearing video cameras began interloping on the gun scribes exclusive turf. Then someone within the upper eschilons of gun show biz decided to invite dealers, distributors and exhibitors to the gun range facilities in nearby Boulder. Now, Media Day At The Range has become Industry Day At The Range. In essence, what was once regaled to inside has gone outside and everyone now gets a chance to waste tons of ammo.
Not to be outdone, some companies – Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Browning and FNH come to mind – used to hold their writers-only shooting events off-site. Now Sig Sauer has one-upped them all by establishing an invitation-only writers shoot 2 days before the inside show opens and 1 day before Industry Day at the Range.
While all this might sound unimaginable – it is – the enthusiasm of the shooting crowd bespeaks the continued blather dispensed by the anti-gun media that keeps telling us how bad things are in Gundom. Really? The continuous parade of headlines about a “Trump Slump’ in Gunville, Dick’s Sporting Goods chest bumping with Bloomberg’s Patriots, and Marchers For Their Lives-ers cajolling with Demanding Moms is apparently confusing some state and federal legislators into thinking that universal background checks and red flag laws being considered are signs of the eminent demise of an industry that has confounded gun controllers for a few hundred years.
We can tell you that witnessing the enthusiastic hoards of gun folks bumping shoulders just in trying to get through the massive crowds inside the Sands Convention Center failed to reveal desperate makers of guns, gun parts, gun apparel, gun safes, gun tools, gun ammo, and every conceivable kind of related-or-not-to-guns accessories such as gun bras for female gun carriers (we always wondered just where they would put their heaters)…take a breath…was the sure sign of the progress of a healthy American gun economy.
Has the number of historically male hunters declined? Well, yes, in terms of what we’ve seen traditionally. But now women have come to the rescue forming in-kind relationships equally as eager to take up the pursuit of game and self-protection in numbers never heretofore seen. And then there’s the long range shooting craze. In the old farts days, we hunters used to zero on instant fatality of an antelope maybe 400-500 yards away by holding over their backs in 12-inch increments. No more; encouraging that on game critters only brings about hunters who are more concerned about their machoism than their accuracy.
But that hasn’t stopped long-range shooting. It has become the coup-de-grass of rifledom. Both male and female shooters are now lightening their wallets and purses by investing in specialty rifles and optics designed to take out a steel plate not in yards but in miles! The most recent example came last November when Tuscola, Texas shooter Bill Poor nailed his target at a world record 5,280 yards. Think about that: That’s 3 miles!!! It took 14 seconds for the bullet to fly from the muzzle to the target. And now, everybody wants to break Poor’s record.
Gun “craze?” You bet. In Vegas, that’s a winning wager.