It feels weird writing an AAR about a trip but some people might find this useful. I, for one, know it would have been nice to be properly prepared for my SHOT Show experience. If you’ve never been to SHOT Show before then you’ll hopefully be able to take some good info away from this.
Tuesday, January 20th, 2015
2:45 am alarm goes off. Awesome. That’s right… 2:45 am. Get to the airport around 4 am, through security by 4:15 am, and at the gate around 4:30 am. Flight was leaving at 6 am so this wasn’t terrible. I passed the time checking out SHOT Show updates from the previous day. Boarded the plane at 5:40 am and fell asleep. Woke up at 6:45 am and we’re still in Seattle. Turns out the plane broke and we needed to wait on a mechanic to come out and fix something. Fix what? Who knows… I’m not a plane doctor.
Landed in Las Vegas around 9 am or so which isn’t terrible. Grabbed a Taxi and headed to the hotel… if given a second chance I would have taken one of those cheaper airport shuttles but that’s fine. Arrived at the hotel and dumped my luggage in their free storage area. It was finally time to hit the show.
Tip 1: Here’s the first tip to anyone who has never been to either SHOT Show, the Sands Expo center, or Las Vegas for that matter. You’ll be walking a ton… probably double digits in miles each day. Bring comfortable shoes… I did and they helped a ton. A lot of people were mentioning that their feet hurt so if you don’t want to be that person then bring something comfortable.
Tip 2: Here’s the second tip which is one I got from a buddy when I was looking into hotels. Book your hotel somewhere close to the expo. I booked at Harrah’s which is literally the hotel next to the Venetian Expo Center and it still took 10+ minutes to walk to and from the show each day. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I had booked further away. If you’re booking further away remember to factor taxi fare (~$15 each way) into your hotel price.
Now the show is huge. This is something everyone I talked to had told me. Even John from Combat Swag told me I’d be spending most of my time trying to figure out how to get out of the maze called SHOT Show. I thought he was joking but he wasn’t… that place is HUGE. I did have one thing going for me though and that is I attended another conference at that same location maybe six or eight months before SHOT. At the very least I knew where the rooms where and the general layout of the area. If you’ve never been to the Sands Expo Center I highly recommend looking over the map on your flight in. You won’t regret it.
So I get to the hall and there’s so much everywhere. I had a loosely organized list of places I wanted to hit up but as soon as I saw the vastness of the area any plan went out the window. After stumbling around for a good hour I found a booth that I had intended to hit up. I traded my first patch with someone who had hit me up on Twitter and was starting to feel good about everything. Showing up to an event with ~67,000 people alone can be a little intimidating.
To remedy this I hit up Tay: the man who has everything. Now not only does Tay Have Everything when it comes to patches but he’s got the plans to. That guy knows how to roll through SHOT Show. We hit up a couple booths that had MPBM members present and found ourselves some Red Bull. After that we hit up some of his friends and headed towards Lunch. At lunch Tay brought over Mike from ORCA Industries which was awesome. I’ve never met Mike before but it was great to chat with him and his friends. More ADR SHOT Show patches were given out and I even ended up with one of the ORCA Kuma Bear SHOT Show patches.
After lunch we hit the show hard for a good 4 hours and I ran into the duo from NERD. Traded patches with them then continued on to the booths. For more information on the booths I visited I’d recommend checking out the SHOT Show Tuesday post on the website.
The Tuesday night post-show party was at Bond in the Cosmopolitan. It was the ITS Tactical & Prometheus Design Werx Meet & Greet and there were hundreds of people there. It was wild. It was there that I ran into tons of MPBM people which was easily the best part of the night… right next to shaking hands with Patrick of Prometheus Design Werx.
There was a TON of swag there and I was fortunate to walk away with a patch, set of dice, and poker chip. They did a great job with the amount of space they had (not much) and how many people showed up (a ton).
Now it’s common knowledge that everything in Las Vegas is expensive. Restaurants are expensive, bars are expensive, everything is expensive.
Tip 3: Right across the street from the Cosmopolitan there’s a Walgreens. Now this Walgreens is a little more expensive than most (what isn’t) but it’s still cheaper than everywhere else. I was able to pick up a six pack of good beer (an IPA) for around $11… which is roughly the cost of one beer in Las Vegas. If you want some road beer or snacks (from what I’ve found) you won’t find a cheaper place than Walgreens.
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
Woke up at 9:30 am which was excellent.
Tip 4: Sleeping in seemed smart to me. You’ll be walking double digit miles at the show and you need your energy. You’ll be standing the vast majority of the time and being tired throughout the day wouldn’t be great.
Headed to the show for a very big and busy day. First stop was the media room… time for coffee. After that I walked the floor then made sure to make the 11:30 am Morale Patch Black Market meetup. It was great to see everyone in a less crazy environment than the previous night. We were actually able to talk a little and hear each other… imagine that!
After the meetup it was some more walking the show before the Wednesday night gathering of TAD Junkies. For more info on what I did and were I went on Wednesday you can read the Wednesday post on the site.
After the show I hit the hotel room to drop stuff off then went to the TAD Junkies meetup. It was awesome to meet up with some of the folks from Triple Aught Design and MOTUS. I was able to pick up one of the TAD SHOT Show patches (different from their recent release) and have some good conversations.
Everyone was showing off what TAD gear they had and there were some pretty impressive pieces. If anything it was nice to hold and see some of these pieces in person as usually they’re only available to see in pictures online.
It turns out one of my old co-workers works the software stuff for TAD… small world right? He wasn’t at the show but his name popped up in conversation and I figured it was him. In the past he’s done some writing for ITS Tactical and runs the website Pig Monkey. The funny thing is when we worked together I had no clue he was into gear!
One of the cooler Litespeed mods I saw was this one in which all of the standard plastic buckles were replaced with cobra buckles. With 8 buckles replaced the total cost for this mod (at retail) would be around $280. Not cheap but it definitely looked great.
Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
Nothing too exciting happened on Thursday. Woke up, took a shuttle to the airport ($7 versus the $35 cab ride from airport to hope) and flew home. No issues what-so-ever.
Tip 5: If you have the time and want to save some cash take a hotel shuttle to the airport. It’s much cheaper than a Taxi with the only disadvantage being it can take a bit longer. I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t have the time but if you do (and a good book) then go ahead and save some money.
SHOT Show 2015 was an incredible experience. I was able to meet and network with a ton of people who I, up to this point, had only talked to online. Seeing all of the new and exciting gear was great as well but it was really the people behind it all that I enjoyed meeting. Given the opportunity I’m absolutely heading back there in 2016… no doubt about that.
I received a ton of patches at the event which was really fun. What was even better than receiving patches was meeting and talking with the people who make them. Of course you should give something back when you receive a gift… which is why I brought these.
I brought some limited edition ADR Poker Chip patches for SHOT Show 2015 to give out but ended up bring around 30 home with me. The remainder were listed on the site last week and sold out before the night was over.