SHOT Show: Year Two
This year marks Laurel's second trip to SHOT Show, this time as a member of the media on behalf of, well, it's pretty clear. Photo courtesy of Laurel Yoshimoto
It well may be that this year's SHOT Show was the same size as last, but you couldn't prove it by me. Last year, my first SHOT Show, I saw what I thought was the whole show and it took me all four days. This year, I didn't just see the booths and guns, I got to see the people and passion behind the physical products.
I walked away with less stuff this year. I didn't pick up one pen, and only acquired a few key chains and stickers for my son. To be honest, if a company had wanted me to grab a physical reminder of their booth this year, then they should have handed out moleskin for my blistered feet, lotion to combat the desert air, hand sanitizer to prevent me from getting the cold currently irritating my throat, and some sort of energy gel to help me to focus and pay attention to their amazing products. But they didn't. So I got to focus on more important things, like the change in my heart.
Up until about 6 months ago, if you had asked me what gun to buy, I would have instantly said, "Glock," because that was all I knew. While ignorance may be bliss, this past year, I have gotten to play with Smith & Wessons and Sigs a bit more, and I feel my monogunistic view of the world changing shape. I still enjoy shooting my Glocks, but there was not one thing at the Glock booth that I wanted this year. Not only were they lacking in new guns, but they did not even have good freebies, like a bandaid for my blistered heel. It was a rather confusing experience for this long time Glock lover. But oh, Smith & Wesson had some lovely revolvers, and the carbon fiber finish on their M&P pistols hit a nostalgic nerve for me, mixing a good pistol with a product designed by rocket scientists for lightweight and durable flexibility. Plus the M&P is compatible with upgrades from Apex Tactical, which is my favorite spiffer-upper group.
This year I worked with a different set of partners, some of whom religiously carry Sig's instead of Glocks. I couldn't understand why someone would want a Sig over a Glock. It was like preferring McDonalds to In-N-Out. Or was it? My partners didn't seem to have lower intelligences, in fact I would swear that one of them is smarter than me. They adored their Sigs. So this year, I went to the Sig Sauer booth twice, despite its lack of hamburgers of any kind, and walked past it slowly several more times, ogling the pistols and their flirty size-changing grips. I think the guns wanted me to take them and shoot them at fun matches. I may need to check out more Smith & Wessons and Sigs in the coming years. In fact, I am fairly sure I will. Pandora's box is open and I can't close the lid on the lovely guns I want to cheat on Glock with.
Speaking of years, I got a chance to go to the NSSF research breakfast. The nerd in me was overjoyed. I think I only drooled twice, which might have been because of the bacon and not the numbers, and then I proceeded to take about 20 pictures of the slides. They were so pretty. There is nothing like a slide with well-researched numbers to make me happy. At the breakfast I learned how that women tend to take up to a year to actually buy a new gun. Ask me in a year if I still shoot only Glock for my 9mm and .40cal needs. Men, however, tend to buy guns a lot more quickly. NSSF did a great job providing food for the body and mind. I appreciated the bacon, but was sad that complimentary foot massages weren't included. Maybe next year?
Safariland's new 578 GLS Pro-Fit holster.
Another company that became more alive to me this last year was Safariland. I wear their gear all the time at work because I trust it, and lucky for me, they are a company worth trusting. It was one of the most exciting moments of the show for me to see their new holster, the 578 GLS Pro-fit. It literally fits over 100 guns and has a quick draw. I loved getting to see the internals of the holster, to really understand what happens when I release the retention device. It was even cooler because it was presented by the man who we have to thank for so many advances in our holster needs, Mr. Bill Rogers.
The other thing that struck a cord with me was seeing three officers from the Safariland SAVES Club speak about how Safariland saved their lives. You see, Safariland knows that their products go out to real people who use them in dangerous situations. To celebrate the trust we place in their gear, Safariland keeps track of the law enforcement officers who are alive today because Safariland gear protected them. I got to hear the stories of three different officers, one contact shot in the chest while clearing a building, one shot in the chest with a 12 gauge shotgun on a car stop, and one shot on the very edge of his vest on a suspicious person call. All three survived because Safariland's products go above and beyond what is required by law. And even though I technically survived SHOT Show, Safariland could hand out canes as a booth give-away next year, to help their SHOT-weary patrons hobble around the rest of the show. Those would be a real save.
Networking at the Women's Outdoor and Shooting Industry Dinner are (L-R) Brielle Eaton of Cabela's, Denise Johnson of Rocky Mountain 3-Gun, Laurel Yoshimoto and the brilliant Julie Golob. Photo courtesy of Laurel Yoshimoto
Another new focus for me this year was females in the industry. I had not realized how many there are, and it was a pleasure to meet so many of them at the Women's Outdoor and Shooting Industry dinner. I got to meet Denise Johnson from Rocky Mountain 3gun, who has more happy energy than a mongoose facing a cobra. Sue Bookhout, who designs outdoor website content, was a lady with whom I felt truly kindred. So was the easy-going Melissa Lockburner, who owns Magnum Shooting Center in Colorado. She and her husband run their 32 lane indoor shooting range there. I got to meet many more, but I'll save those stories for later.
One new product I was happy to see was Kitanica's new Back Country Pants for females. It'll still be a couple months before they go into production, but they looked and felt like something I definitely could shoot well in. Not that I shoot like Julie or Randi, but not having to worry about my backside showing when I kneel down to get those hard targets will definitely improve my accuracy. I loved the feel of the material and the way the designer talked about his product. I could tell a lot of hours and love went into those pants. Another product that hasn't gone into production, but has promise, is a new Taser holster by Blade-Tech. It has a clever thumb-release so that the Taser comes quickly and cleanly out of the holster much more nicely than the rig I'm running right now. Speaking of running, that's one thing I couldn't do after the Blade-Tech booth. I couldn't even walk well. I am sure Blade-Tech should design a tactical litter with some buff operators to carry me around on the third day of the next SHOT Show.
Glaco's new CarrySafe™ sports the added Accessory Carrier based on Laurel's suggestion made during the 2014 SHOT Show.
I was lucky enough to find Galco carry-concealed purses last year at the SHOT Show, but I was surprised that they didn't have an attachment for an extra magazine. In fact, none of the purses I saw at SHOT last year had a place for such a thing. Fortunately, I met Mike Barham at Galco Gunleather, and he took my idea and gave it to his designers. This year they were proud to announce their Carrysafe Gen 2 that has an attachable Carrysafe Accessory Carrier, which is where my magazine would go. I was tickled pink to see my idea made manifest. A great handout for Galco's booth would be AED pads, for all the patrons who are shocked to see their ideas taken seriously by such a well-known company.
From Smith & Wesson to Sig Sauer, Safariland to Galco, and Kitanica to Blade-Tech, it was an honor to meet with the people who inspired and worked so hard to bring us all good guns and accessories. The industry is looking healthy, and it is thanks to the work and creativity of so many individuals. Even though the folks who survived until the end of the show were as glazed as donuts and walking like they had thumbtacks in their shoes, again exhibitors please see my suggestions on better booth give-aways, I still had fun with all of you. Dream big, you gun nuts, because I can't wait to see what you come up with next. Maybe a tactical cot area where I can practice the prone position between booths, for about twenty minutes at a time?
- Laurel Yoshimoto
Laurel is an average shooter who fell in love with the shooting sports. She resides happily with her loving husband and young son in Southern California and is proud to serve in Law Enforcement.