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SHOT’s high-caliber show a celebration of freedom

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Every January, the outdoor industry gathers for the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT).

This extravaganza brings together industry professionals from the United States and more than 100 other countries. This year’s show, which ran Jan. 14 to Jan. 17, shattered attendance records, proving once again Americans love our guns.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reported that attendance figures eclipsed last year’s total by the second day of the show and finished at more than 67,000, an increase of 5,000.

“I think that really speaks to the quality of the event and the enthusiasm and passion of our industry to provide quality products for hunting, target shooting and personal and home defense,” said Chris Dolnack, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for NSSF.

The general public cannot attend the SHOT Show. Its main purpose is for manufacturers to display and sell their goods to retailers.

The show is so much more than that, though. It’s where awards are presented, panels are heard, relationships are built, ideas are spread, and freedom is celebrated.

Manufacturers of firearms, ammunition, optics, cutlery, apparel, accessories and law enforcement equipment all crowd the convention center. In all, more than 1,600 exhibiting companies were represented.

The show space actually covered 13 acres of product display.

A large portion of the show, which seems to increase significantly every year, is dedicated to tactical weaponry and accessories. Aisles and aisles of black guns leave a person feeling pretty good about living here in the good ol’ USA, knowing we’re the most well-heeled citizenship on the planet.

I’ve written before about the important economic impact shooters and hunters have on the economy of Indiana.

So I was pleased to learn NSSF issued a first-of-its-kind report that confirmed the importance of the shooting sports to the U.S. economy. “Target Shooting in America: Millions of Shooters, Billions of Dollars” revealed that the money target shooters spent in 2011 resulted in $23 billion being added to the nation’s economy and supported more than 185,000 jobs nationally.

“Communities and businesses of all sizes benefit from these activities,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. “Our industry is proud to be an economic driver that has helped workers keep their jobs and support their families even during the most difficult economic times.”

Both the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel presented various awards to the television shows that air on the networks.

Ted Nugent took home Best Overall Fan Favorite at the Outdoor Channel Golden Moose Awards. Jim Shockey took home most of the rest, but Lee and Tiffany got one, as did Willie Robertson.

At the Sportsman Choice Awards, Steven Rinella’s Meat Eater won Best Overall Production. This pleased me, since I believe Meat Eater is the best hunting show on television. Complete lists of results are available on each network’s web site.

The shooting, hunting and outdoor industries are thriving, and I’m proud to be part of them. You should be, too. If you are a shooter, hunter or general outdoors enthusiast, then you are, in my opinion, part of a nationwide family of folks who truly understand what it means to be American and understand what a blessing it is to live in this great land.

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