January 17, 2023
When SHOT Show's 17th annual Industry Day at the Range was held on Monday at the Boulder City Rifle and Pistol Club, there wasn’t much that the weather didn’t do.
First, there was a chilly rain, mud, and water puddles as the day started and shuttle buses rolled in from The Venetian Expo center in Las Vegas. Then, it seemed like a tropical storm had invaded the desert as the wind whistled out of the nearby Eldorado Mountains at speeds of 25 mph, with gusts approaching 40 mph.
Then, the skies cleared and attendees needed sunscreen and lip balm to avoid sunburn and chapped lips, but it clouded back up, more rain came, along with some event-delaying lightning, and more wind.
But by day’s end, there was a rainbow that mirrored the good spirits that descended upon the damp desert floor east of Las Vegas as the 45th edition of the SHOT Show prepared to open up for a Jan. 17-20 run at the Venetian Expo and Caesar Forum trade show halls.
The annual Industry Day at the Range gives media attendees and buyers the chance to see what's new in a real-world setting before the suits and ties come on for the show. While ammo might have been in short supply since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it was abundant at Industry Day as shooters fired countless rounds.
That included many rounds being tested by our Game & Fish team on hand to cover the SHOT Show this week, including Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller, Editor John Taranto, and many others from G&F, and Outdoor Sportsman Group sister publications, including Gun Dog, Wildfowl, Petersen’s Hunting and others.
How many rounds might have been fired? That is difficult to say, but In 2016, it was estimated that more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition were fired during the event, according to a Fox News story.
While no attendance figures were immediately known, the crowd seemed large, the shooting spaces were plenty busy, and most exhibitors seemed quite happy with the day’s results. When my Outdoor Sportsman Group colleague Jeff Phillips and I left the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club at noon to head back for other activities in Vegas, there was a lengthy line of media and buyers waiting to get in after another bus had arrived on the desert floor.
What all of the attendees got to experience on Monday—in addition to all of the weather variability—was a bigger, better version of the host facility. Like the shooting, hunting, and outdoors industry has seen in many sectors, the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club had several improvements to show off. In fact, SHOT Show officials noted the club’s expansion in a news release a few months ago, stating that the show and the host organization National Shooting Sports Foundation were "…excited to announce that due to high demand of shooting space, there have been significant expansions made to the range over the last several months. The expansion includes new exclusive bays and which has allowed for a new dedicated suppressor area."
That expansion news is saying a lot since the shooting club, one of the older shooting facilities in America, has quite an expansive history according to its website: "Our club range was originally built in 1938 by the Army Corp. of Engineers and features one of the few 1,000-yard shooting disciplines in the U.S.A. Between the original construction date and the mid 1990's the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club added a silhouette rifle range and an open pistol area."
Mind you, the club was already expansive. "Since the mid 1990’s the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club has converted the open pistol area to the current day Courtesy Range, with 12 shooting bays, three shotgun shooting stations, two dedicated training bays, one trap range and one skeet/trap range. In addition, the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club has created a members only range area with 8 shooting bays, 3 shotgun shooting areas, improved the silhouette range to include steel targets ranging from 200 to 900 meters and the known distance range to include 200, 300, 600, 800, 900 and 1,000 yard firing lines.?"
Now, the historic shooting facility is even more expansive and accommodating for those who like to push a few brass casings through their rifles and handguns, not to mention powdering some bright orange clay pigeons on the shotgun range. It’s also reflective of the growth of the SHOT Show, including the record-breaking expansion a year ago that caused the long-running trade show to win an award.
All of that space, old and news, was gobbled up on Monday as crowds of eager SHOT Show buyers, media members, and other industry figures descended upon the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club.
Even though the weather was indeed challenging—it was the strongest wind I can remember encountering at the event and also the first time I've ever seen water puddles and mud on the Nevada desert floor—the event was a big success, harkening back to what many remember the SHOT Show being prior to the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic that has caused so much disruption, uncertainty, suffering, and death since its beginnings in the U.S. back in 2020.
But if Monday was any indication, the pandemic is an afterthought in the minds of many as hundreds were willing to get muddy boots, stand in line to try a new product, and warm up with hot coffee and refreshments provided by companies like Mountain Ops. In the end, the sky seems to be the limit this week in Nevada, even if there is some cloud cover obscuring part of that sky.
With the sun breaking through yesterday and a big rainbow appearing by day's end, moods were bright and anticipation was high that a good week was about to unfold at the 45th SHOT Show.
And with the crunch of boots on thousands of brass hulls and shotgun shells underneath everyone's hurried steps, the show’s theme this year seemed confirmed already because in 2023, the SHOT Show is indeed a big deal again as Monday’s Industry Day at the Range seemed to prove.