In 2013 the outdoor industry came together to show their support for the Second Amendment after Reed Exhibitions, the long time organizer of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, decided to ban the display of modern sporting rifles and the sale of so-called “high capacity” magazines in the wake of the Sandy Hook murders. Exhibitors and would-be attendees of the show boycotted the show in response to Reed Exhibitions’ decision, which led to the show being postponed. The fallout over the show led to the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for local businesses and the vendors but was hailed as an important moment in the fight for our Second Amendment rights.
I’m not sure how it happened but in the twelve months following February 2013, Reed Exhibitions lost out on the Outdoor Show and the National Rifle Association stepped in with plans for a whole new event. The Great American Outdoor Show was announced and expectations were high that not only would the show feature the traditional game mounts, guides, trout pond and seminars, but possibly a return to the show I remember as a teen, where almost every firearm manufacturer would be there displaying their newest guns. I still remember holding a real H&K rifle in my hands at the show, something I only saw in movies of SWAT and special forces.
Well, the NRA well exceeded my (and many other’s) expectations with a whole new Shooting Sports hall that featured the likes of Smith & Wesson, Ithaca, Ruger, Walther and Beretta. Not only did all these gun manufacturers show up, but joining them were companies who specialize in the very firearms that Reed Exhibitions banned only 12 short months ago. Lancer, Black Rain and DPMS displayed racks of AR-15 rifles in every imaginable color ( gotta love the Muddy Girl pink camo).
Not only were modern sporting rifles on display, but some of the biggest names in accessories were there. Advanced Armament Corp (AAC), a company well know for their high-quality sound suppressors, handed out eight weeks of catalogs in eight hours. Show attendees were amazed when they saw a large map displayed at the AAC booth showing Pennsylvania, along with 30+ other states, where it IS legal to own a suppressor. Just a tidbit of info here, the bullet that smoked Bin Laden passed through an AAC suppressor before blowing out his brains.
MAGPUL Industries was also on hand displaying dozens of firearms sporting their well know stocks, grips, magazines and accessories. Dozens of other vendors displayed firearms, accessories, training tools and tactical gear. Cold Steel and Battle Horse Knives were on hand with their quality cutlery and there were all kinds of cases, bags, holsters and even a line of purses, designed for the discreet carry of a handgun for women.
I made some great contacts while at show and the one thing I heard over and over is that the Great American Outdoor Show was a “mini SHOT” show, and I agree. But even better, while SHOT is only open for industry professionals, every Tom, Dick and Harry can handle a vast number of firearms and receive information from industry professionals who only cater to other people in the industry during SHOT. Every vendor I spoke with said they would be back next year, and I expect that many more will join in. Who knows? Maybe H&K will come back next year so I can finally get to play with an MP-7!