There were many reasons to attend Industry Day at the Range in Boulder City, Nevada, on Monday, Jan. 19, the day before the 2020 SHOT Show® opened. Firearms industry media members, manufacturers and retailers came to see what was new—and in doing so, find a way to better connect with like-minded consumer firearms owners and users.
The highlight of Industry Day at the Range, of course, is the chance for media and retailers to test all the new products making their debut during SHOT Show. The first half of the day is limited to credentialed media members, and long lines soon formed at shooting bays and displays across the Boulder City Rifle and Pistol Club as media waited to test new ammunition, peer through optics, and shoot firearms making their debut at SHOT Show.
Throngs of media waited to test ammunition across the vast club facility, and the repeated sounds of rifle reports said they discovered what they’d to find—shooting opportunities. Several new calibers and ammunition lines were unveiled by ammunition manufacturers.
“We have optimized ammunition for lever guns so the cartridges feed through tube magazines easier,” stated Federal Ammunition’s J.J. Reich. He was demonstrating Federal’s new Hammer Down rifle ammunition. Another booth was showcasing Federal’s new Fire Stick charging powder load for muzzleloaders. This product eliminates the need for blackpowder pellets and loose powder in a new inline-style muzzleloader.
Browning Ammunition also operated a test range so visitors could try a wide range of ammunition. “This is my first time at Industry Day at the Range, and it is interesting to meet and see so many folks in the shooting sports,” reported company representative Lucas Stephenson. “I want to build a connection with everyone I work with today at our range.” The many ammunition calibers Browning Ammunition made available to attendees included 6.5 Creedmor and .300 Win. Mag.
It wasn’t just guns and ammunition that were on display. “This event is pretty overwhelming and definitely offers a lot of stimulation,” said first-time attendee Nathan McLeod with Driftwood Outdoors. He was in the Fisher Space Pen booth discovering stylish writing instruments that have been included in NASA space missions and in use by numerous law enforcement and military personnel. The pens will write upside down and also underwater. And, yes, in case you’re wondering, the company offers 2A “bullet” ink pens.
Among the many government agency staff walking the streets and trails on site was Steve Hall with the Texas Parks & Wildlife’s Communications Division. “We are introducing 55,000 to 60,000 students to hunting and firearms each year in Texas, with several courses that are species-specific,” stated Hall. “Out Hunting 101 series covers deer, wild turkey and wild boar hunting, and those courses fill up fast. I’m here at the Range Day to look for new products to introduce into the courses, take photographs and to meet with manufacturers to discuss a wide range of hunting tools.” Hall also noted that MSRs (modern sporting rifles) continue to grow in popularity with hunters, especially hog hunters. Hall undoubtedly found some great choices, as Industry Day at the Range showcased many new MSRs.
Many of the manufacturers participating as exhibitors at SHOT Show had a variety of gear available for testing at Industry Day at the Range. The lines were long all day at the knife-throwing display Post Falls, Idaho-based Buck Knives provided attendees. Most of the blade slingers found out that this endeavor requires practice if you want to drive a knife tip into wood after a springy toss.
Other outdoor options included driving a Ram Trucks 1500 Rebel Eco Diesel pickup. “More than a dozen media members have driven our trucks on our off-road trails here today, and we are just getting started,” exclaimed Ram Trucks Marketing Department Manager Carl Lally. That truck had no trouble climbing very steep hillsides and has an assist to help drivers maintain control when the vehicle goes down steep inclines. Many colors and body styles are available.
Other outdoor gear included electric bikes and the popular Camp Chef stoves. Camp Chef displayed a new pellet grill/smoker that can be connected to a smartphone. The stove monitors the meats and foods being cooked inside and reports the details back to the cook via phone messages and alarms. This is cutting-edge (pun intended) culinary technology, and the pleasant aroma of the meats cooking under the dome means many American backyards will soon have one of these grills in use.
Many of the long guns on the range were intended to display scopes, and industry icons like Bushnell, Zeiss, Schmidt & Bender and others had media peering through some great glass. Swarovski Optik, in particular, brought a large trailer to the site and had a wide range of products to test.
“We are introducing the ZVi 1-inch riflescope with an illuminated reticle to the market, and here is the first place to see it,” said Dean Capuano, Swarovski Optik Director of Communications. “This product is based on what we’ve been selling and the request for illuminated reticles. Plus, 1-inch tube riflescopes continue to sell well in the U.S. market.” The large trailer and display were like stepping into an upgraded showroom.
Another industry member patrolling the grounds and ranges was Henry Pineda with the Washington Department of Corrections. He and his boss were looking for firearms, body armor, hearing and eye protection and firearms cleaning supplies. He noted this was his second year attending, and he used his first-hand experience at the event and product testing to determine items his department would purchase in the future.
Joel Nadler, an attendee based in Indianapolis, Indiana, owns a range, retail store and training complex. His time at Range Day was spent researching new firearms and shooting and comparing 9mm and 10mm firearms. “I’ve been walking, looking and shooting and seeing the firearms and gear I’ve been reading about in recently published gun magazines,” noted Nadler. “I shot a Rock Island Arsenal 10mm rifle and think some of my customers will like that. I also liked the Walther .380 compact pistol and know this would be popular with many of our female clients.”
Many smiling faces meant Industry Day at the Range was another success for the firearms industry as a whole. Now, with their hands-on experience in mind, they head to the show floor to place orders and create storylines to fill the months ahead. Check out the companies listed here. We bet that if these press members and buyers found those products interesting, you will too.