SHOT Show: Space Camp for Gun Nerds

Every January, the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) puts on a huge trade show open only to individuals in or affiliated with the gun industry (and only those over the age of 16, thank God).  It’s called SHOT Show and I’m currently working my way through my first one. New to this particular brand of firearm frivolity, I have spent the first couple of days thoroughly gob smacked.

First, Vegas—whiskey tango foxtrot?  The only adjective I can seem to summon about this town is stupid.  Or maybe retarded.  And I don’t necessarily mean it in a negative sense.  For example, yesterday I saw a light fixture that was designed to look like a three-dimensional spinning representation of a Russian hammer and sickle, made entirely of tiny crystals so it cast rainbows all over the walls of the restaurant it hung in.  My first thought was, “That is stupid cool!” There is no good reason for that totally retarded light to exist in the universe, but now that it does, I can admit that it is pretty rad.  And that doesn’t even begin to address the stupid icing on the retarded cake.  But that’s a whole other thing.

Anyway, here are a few observations on SHOT Show, thus far:

It’s actually a lot like space camp for gun kids, except the jocks were invited too and everyone mostly gets along.

Much like that Soviet lamp I mentioned before, there are great number of guns that basically serve no purpose other than being superfluously cool and SHOT Show displays pretty much every last one of them.

Casinos are extremely disorienting.  Gun shows are extremely disorienting.  Being lost in a gun show in a casino (not that it’s happened to me like every freaking time I try to go somewhere) is like a terrifying dream that you half don’t want to wake up from.

There’s a surprisingly high representation of young, clever, educated enthusiasts participating in the gun world in a productive, responsible way, including a growing number of women.  Having never been to SHOT Show before, I sense that it wasn’t always like it is now.  The internet community has posted a strong showing and seems to be taken seriously here in a way that is very encouraging.  And you thought YouTube was just for cute cat videos.

There’s a surprisingly low representation of scantily-clad women showcasing the merchandise, so to speak.  Not sure why they left the show hos behind this year, but I suspect it has something to do with the growing female market and an effort to cater to these new customers.

Despite the fact that trying to take in everything a show this big has to offer is totally exhausting and overwhelming, it’s absolutely impossible to walk past a display of custom AR-15s and short-barreled rifles and not touch them all.  It’s like not petting a box of newborn puppies.  It would make baby Jesus sad if you didn’t.

If you can imagine a kind of fun that entails getting repeatedly slapped in the face with magical rainbow unicorn tails from the time you wake up each morning until you fall exhaustedly into bed each night, that’s what SHOT Show feels like.  It hurts so good.

And now a photo that sums up the “work” I’ve been doing all week:

Just like petting puppies.
Just like petting puppies.