As an art director, Michael Tabor gets being passionate about camera equipment. However, he did not understand the same kind of passion for guns, even if his employer, International Supplies, is a distributor for a line of quality, adjustable transport cases used for both photography equipment and firearms. So when he transitioned from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) to the SHOT Show, he arrived with a pre-conceived idea of who would be attending. What he discovered totally changed his opinion.
The first surprise came with the size and scope of the industry and the show. “My first impression changed right away when I discovered a much larger attendance than I anticipated it would be,” shared Michael. This year’s SHOT Show, organized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), broke a new attendance record with over 67,000 people. But it wasn’t just headcount that stood out.
Shooting-sports people were nicer, and far more friendly and polite, than attendees at the other shows in general. “I just didn’t see egos here. Everyone was so incredibly nice,” said Tabor. “Perhaps my fear of this industry was self-imposed, because I have never enjoyed guns myself. I was with my uncle when I was four years old at a range, and I remember that it was noisy and hurt my ears so badly I never wanted to touch a gun again.”
How nice was it that this non-shooter and non-hunter had a very positive take away from exhibiting at the shooting sports industry’s largest convention? For this industry writer, I was incredibly proud. Proud of the professionalism on display, and proud of the kind of people that I get to work with who elicited the response. This was a 180-degree turn.
“I mean, there are so many women involved and so many different types of people. They were professional, very respectful, and courteous,” said Michael. “And they weren’t all macho and filled with big egos. I didn’t see that.”
Michael did see people passionate about products, new technology, and innovations, folks looking for improvement in skill and overall product experience. That related hand-in-glove with an art director’s experience of cameras.
“I get liking cool stuff, and I can see why people have an earnest affection about how products work, how they look, and how they help with skills. I get that with photography—and now I see the same parallel with firearms,” said Tabor.
The show didn’t start off with a halo, though. Michael arrived from travel a bit tired, and dropped his bag down in the booth. He turned around and saw someone pointing a rifle down the aisle in his direction (unarmed and disabled of course, as those are show regulations). “It is alarming if you’re not used to it. I hadn’t been around people that like and use firearms before.”
As the hours ticked on, Michael saw the scope of the industry, the type of professional people who work in it, and their passion to make the best products possible. What a refreshing view from someone who was on the outside and finds himself now “inside” the industry ropes.
“I even picked up an application for the NRA!” laughed Michael.
I hope someone takes this man shooting at a range near where he lives—with proper hearing protection, unlike his uncle from long ago—and he experiences the fun that goes along with the products.
Because if Michael saw a positive side of the industry at the SHOT Show, wait until the adrenaline comes from enjoying time at the range—where my mantra is, “A day at the range is always a good day.”
So if you need some hard-sided customizable, waterproof, and watertight cases, reach out to International Supplies in Inglewood, California for an Explorer from GT Line. These quality Italian-made cases may cross over into other industries, but the people at International Supply are happy to be part of a vibrant and dynamic marketplace. Their promise is a 100 percent guarantee that your gear will be protected. Hat tip, guys. We 100 percent welcome you to the hunting and shooting sports industry.
K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.