SHOT Show 2015: Day Two Notes and Quotes
As Day Two unfolded for the 36th edition of the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) SHOT Show (www.shotshow.org), the newness of this year’s event began to wear off on Wednesday as many companies and product groups settled down into the nuts and bolts business for which they came to Las Vegas to conduct at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
Once again, numerous industry announcements were made, products were unveiled to the public, and celebrities and television personalities signed autographs, including many at the autograph booth for Outdoor Channel.
With that backdrop, here are the sights, sounds and comments that proved noteworthy to our crew on Day Two.
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Folds of Honor Foundation Receives Big Bushnell Donation
At a Wednesday morning media breakfast put on by the ATK (and soon to be Vista Outdoors) product group, which includes Bushnell optics, the Folds of Honor foundation (www.foldsofhonor.org) was honored for their work to provide scholarships for the children and spouses of U.S. soldiers killed or injured in battle.
Founded by Major Dan Rooney in 2007 after the three-time Iraqi tour veteran and F-16 pilot witnessed a young boy watch the remains of his fallen father be removed from a commercial aircraft, the group has now helped out more than 8,500 such young people. During that time, more than $20 million worth of educational scholarship funds have been awarded by the group.
Bushnell (www.bushnell.com) began its involvement with Folds of Honor in 2010, becoming a corporate partner, or Folds of Honor Wingman, in helping ensure that the families of U.S. soldiers slain and wounded on the battlefield are not left behind.
On Wednesday, officials with Bushnell took their commitment to Folds of Honor a step further, giving senior VPs Ben Leslie and Major Ed Pulido, U.S. Army (Retired), a check for $364,500. That donation takes Bushnell’s financial investment in the Folds of Honor cause to just more than $1 million dollars.
Leslie and Pulido, a combat veteran who lost a lower limb during action, spoke to the sizeable early morning crowd about the organization’s purpose. With several poignant stories, there were a few teary eyes in the room and more than one standing ovations as the sacrifice of America’s military heroes was honored at the breakfast.
“With support from partners like Bushnell, we’re able to help lift up military families and honor the sacrifice our service men and women make to protect our freedom,” said Rooney in a press release statement.
David Petzal Wins Bill McRae Lifetime Achievement Award
Longtime Field & Stream gun writer David Petzal, known affectionately as “The Curmudgeon” to many in the shooting sports industry, was honored on Wednesday morning at the Bushnell breakfast. Petzal received the 2015 Bushnell Bill McRae Lifetime Achievement Award for his longstanding career as the dean of American gun writers.
“Some will tell you that gun writing isn’t real writing,” said 2014 recipient Wane Van Zwoll. “But when you read his writing, you know it can be.”
Petzal, who has written about firearms for the magazine for more than 40 years since his graduation from Coalgate University and his service in the U.S. Army, graciously accepted the award and paid tribute to the late McRae for whom the award is named for.
“In optics writing, there are really two time periods that exist,” said Petzal. “There is the first, which was before Bill McRae and there is the second, which was after Bill McRae. If you see something (today) on optics that makes sense, say thanks to Bill McRae.”
Robertson Family Launches Commander Line of Clothing
If there’s any doubt as to the star power that the Robertson clan of Duck Dynasty fame has, it was on full display Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
After an announcement earlier in the day at the 2015 SHOT Show in which the family unveiled its new Commander Life clothing line, the family and Buck and Duck Commander (www.duckcommander.com) brands held a launch party at The Yard Bird Southern Table restaurant at the Venetian hotel and casino.
An invitation only gathering that packed the inside of the restaurant with scores of fans, nearly as many people gathered on the outside of the eatery and bar during the two hours that the event was held.
“This is great,” said Outdoor Channel television personality and Buck Commander co-host Willie Robertson, alongside his wife Korie. “I’m very excited about the launch of this new line.”
Mossberg Unveils Patriot Rifle at SHOT
One of several new gun offerings from Mossberg, the American gun maker has unveiled the new Patriot Rifle at the 2015 SHOT Show.
Offered in four short action and seven long action calibers – including the new .375 Ruger – the rifle line features a patented LBA user-adjustable trigger system, fluted barrels, a drop box magazine, a spiral fluted bolt and Weaver scope bases. The rifle also has five stock options, either matte blue or Marinecote metal finish, fiber optic sights and standard scope packaging or an upgraded Vortex scope package option.
“Mossberg is a company that is really on the move,” said Linda Powell, media relations director for Mossberg. “We continue to have and build on core platforms that we have like our Flex System and MVP bolt action line, and yet we’re not laying back on our laurels. We’re actually continuing to expand with our new bolt action, the Patriot, a true classic hunting platform.”
Core 4 Element Boosts Line with New Zealand Merino Wool
Core 4 Element clothing (www.core4element.com), a member of the Easton family of hunting product companies, continues to expand its line with the introduction of a merino wool layering garments.
Built upon the idea of a complete layering system for hunters tackling a variety of rugged environments, the addition of a merino wool crew shirt, ¼ zip shirt and ¼ zip hoodie boost the concept even further.
“If you look at the Core 4 Element line, everything is designed from the ground up to be stealthy quiet, comfortable to wear and perform out in the elements,” said Rich Packer, marketing manager for the brand.
Buck Gardner DI-09 Swap Meat Acrylic Duck Call
Buck Gardner, the 1994 world champion and 1995 champion of champions duck caller from Memphis, Tenn., (www.buckgardner.com), was all smiles on Wednesday as traffic flowed in and out of his booth.
“I’m always amazed at how our company is blessed,” said Gardner, whose left arm is in a unique cast after a recent accident at home left him with a broken wrist. “We’re only in Day Two of the SHOT Show and yet we’ve already had a lot of people come by and have been able to conduct a lot of business.”
Part of that business is centered around an innovative call unveiled here in Las Vegas by Gardner. Dubbed the DI-09 Swap Meat call, this new model allows a hunter the option of turning the call into either a single-reed or a double reed with a simple move. Hand tuned by Garnder’s western Tennessee call making crew, the hand polished acrylic call features a reed keeper unit that can be easily attached to a key ring or a blind bag D-ring.
Notes and Quotes
Outdoor Channel autograph booth in front of the main entrance to the 2015 SHOT Show floor was a busy place on Wednesday. By day’s end, show talent that signed and posed for photographs at the booth had included the Buckmen, Team Drop Zone, Michael Waddell, Travis “T-Bone” Turner, Nick Mundt, Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, Theresa Vail, Jessie Duff, Louie and Theresa “T-Bone” Tuminaro, Shawn Michaels, Keith Mark, Rick and Julie Krueter, and the trio of Mark Drury, Terry Drury and Matt Drury.
Meanwhile, plenty of other Outdoor Channel show talent were spotted on the SHOT Show floor, making booth appearances for their sponsors, posing for photographs and signing autographs. A few of the network’s personalities spotted on the show floor included Jordan Shipley and his wife Sunny, Don and Kandi Kiski, Stan Potts, David Blanton, Ted and Shemane Nugent Jim and Eva Shockey.
What’s the pulse of this year’s SHOT Show? So far, so good, that appears to be the mood of NSSF officials on the 2015 SHOT Show’s second day of business. In the organization’s online blog (www.shotshowblog.com), a variety of people indicated that this week’s level of business activity has been good. “It’s been a very busy show,” said Cindy Daniel, Daniel Defense executive vice president, to the SHOT Show blog. “We’re optimistic that with the good vibe we’re seeing on the floor sales will pick up again and we’ll have a solid year.”
Jeff Patterson, a public relations expert with Swanson Russell, echoed those sentiments in his comment to the SHOT Show blog. “All our clients are happy with the traffic – SIG, Bad Boy Buggies, Otis Technologies, Weatherby (and) Leupold. The Leupold booth has been so crowded I can barely make it through and most of our clients are looking forward to a steady year.”
Such comments are good news after the industry endured a downturn last year from record sales the previous year. Mike Capps, representative for the well known Howard Communications public relations firm, has an idea why. “The ATK booth has been swamped,” Capps told the SHOT Show blog. “I think it’s due to the fact that it’s become one-stop shopping for the buyers. Under one roof you now have firearms, ammunition, optics and accessories and we’re very pleased with the traffic that mix is generating.”
Short films are becoming a big thing in the hunting world, artistic endeavors that allow a hunter to feel the sights, sounds and emotions of the sport through a cinematic lens. They also are giving product companies like Yeti Coolers, Sitka Gear clothing and Winchester Ammunition a new marketing platform for their consumers. Evidence of that trend can be seen this week on the 2015 SHOT Show floor in the Winchester Ammunition booth where crowds are gathering each afternoon to watch the new Deer Season XP short film.