I follow our small team of writers up an escalator and onto the plaza floor that holds one of the many levels for SHOT Show. It’s a sea of booths filled with the latest in “tactical innovations” that the industry has to offer. Weaving around each other like a massive army of ants, are the patrons of the show. They vary in dress and persona but for the most part, all fit into some kind of stereotype associated with SHOT Show. The event, is a unique culture that moves fast and most attendees probably won’t be able to see everything the first time around; and I haven’t.

I have gotten to interact and meet some very cool people this time around, however; for the most part everyone at the show seems to regard my inquisitive nature when it comes to vendors and their products with mild contempt. It’s as if I’m not worth their time until I tell them I would possibly be interested in reviewing or writing about their product but even then, more often than not, they still aren’t very enthusiastic. This is understandable though because giving the same spiel over and over everyday to the same “tacticool” dudes has got to be one of the most monotonous things on the planet.

The seriously cool part about going to SHOT Show is connecting with all your buddies that are apart of your circle in the industry; for me that’s the SOFREP crew. I have had a seriously good time swapping stories and getting into shenanigans with people I don’t necessarily get to see during the rest of the year and especially all at once.

The products this year seem to be just another version of what has always been there in regards to gear and guns. With an over-saturated market in the tactical industry, everyone is attempting to gain an edge via one gimmick or another. There were a few very cool items this year though and when one caught my eye, I usually attempted to engage with the representatives at the booth with more resolve than I normally do.

The crowd of patrons for SHOT Show vary in form but mostly fall into set categories. The media guys are often bag/camera totting hipsters that spend so much time in the media room that you wonder how they have time to actually ask questions and see the products on display. The tacticool guys wander around with molle covered bags, 5.11 paints, operator hats, and tattoos attempting to dock  beads with each other; see Tactical Larping for an understanding of who these guys are. Then there’s the businessmen in their slacks and button-ups who are clearly there for acquisitions or sales. Lastly the celebrities wander the floor, or man a sponsoring booth and attract the attention of fan boys who oogle over their special operations background or something similar.

Despite these ridiculous and stereotypical circumstances, SHOT Show 2018 has been a resoundingly positive experience for myself and my present company. I was able to connect with some incredible people of solid character and had a blast despite an aura of condescending attitudes and elevated self-worth from the patrons and venders alike. If anyone has and opportunity to go, they should definitely attend for a year because it is worth it; just go with an open mind and take it all with a grain of salt.