Round Count: 7 Things You Must Know Before Going to SHOT
or, the story of how I popped my SHOT Show cherry
Nico. Tim the Russian’s Pet Sicilian
About three months ago I was approached by Tim the Russian about going to the infamous SHOT Show. Those simple words, “SHOT Show,” tend to make a change of underwear necessary for those involved some way in this industry. I had never had the privilege to attend SHOT, but it had always been something I wanted to experience. I registered, which is surprisingly easy if you are LEO/military. The registration process takes about ten minutes and is self-explanatory through their website. Since this was my first time, I thought I’d record some basic pointers to try and help those who haven’t been and are hoping to go someday.
1. Don’t be that guy.
From the moment I stepped into the check-in line at the airport I was drowning in a sea of tactical pants, tactical backpacks, tactical water bottles, tactical fucking everything. Yes, the contractor chic look and all the shit that goes with it has a use…yes, it is appropriate at certain times, but getting on a flight to Vegas to attend SHOT wrapped in operator habiliment and accessories just makes you look like a giant douche. Jeans and a t-shirt are perfectly acceptable. We’ve all probably been guilty of this at some point, but attending SHOT does not mean you need to dress like you’re going on a multiple day op in the gawddam desert. It’s Vegas. I guess this does illustrate the fact that some people attending SHOT can be quite comical at times. Just my opinion.
If you just need tacticool gear, go for some of the lower profile stuff Breach-Bang-Clear has reviewed before, like TD Apparel, or some of the others out there.
2. Comfortable Foot Wear
The Russian advised me there would be a significant amount of walking involved with this event. As with other things he’s told me, I chose to be stubborn. I did zero research into just how much walking we were talking about. If you’re able to, stay in a hotel as near to the show. The first three days I attended I stayed at the Cosmopolitan. The hotel is just fine, however, the distance is deceiving. The Vegas strip makes everything appear very close together; it’s not. The walk from there to the SHOT floor was about 1.2 miles, each way, usually two or three times a day. That’s four to six damn miles just walking back and forth.
This also means you get to enjoy more of the trolls handing out cards with escorts on them. If that’s your thing then more power to you,
We all get lonely at times.
If you can do it, get into the Venetian or the Palazzo. Failing that, go for the Mirage or Treasure Island.
Once you actually get to the SHOT floor, all that tactical bullshit people hike around will start dragging on you. Being the great dumbass that I am I opted to bring a broken-in pair of Merrell boots I’ve had for about five years. These things are great for work and running errands around where I live in the often Siberia-like conditions of the Midwest. They are not good for walking around this expo center.
Depending on what you’re there for you will more than likely be walking at least ten miles a day on the SHOT floor without even realizing it. This shit takes its toll on your feet, especially when you’re wearing boots around. Add twenty pounds of unnecessary uber-cool tactical impedimenta and you’ll be sorry.
3. Bring Enough Clothing
This should go without saying for anyone who has more than two brain cells. I brought plenty, however, if you are hairy and tend to sweat a decent amount like my Sicilian brethren you need to bring extra. Remember how I mentioned the amount of walking you’ll be doing? By the fourth day I was out of fresh socks and drawers because I had to change them twice a day due to the swamp ass, balls, and feet. After my three-day stay at the cosmopolitan I migrated to the Mirage to stay with some members of the BBC team who were gracious enough to let my redneck ass in. All these hotels have laundry service, for a fee. I opted to do the hillbilly thing and resorted to an old fashioned wash in the bathtub. This led me to having to hang dry my clothes. This in turn led to clothing being hung out the window to dry, which was shamefully visible for all to see from the strip. You gotta do what you gotta do. Overcome and adapt the redneck way.
4. Bring a log or Two
For those of you who enjoy a nice dip or five, Las Vegas casinos and hotels have some weird rule when it comes to chewing tobacco. Apparently having a spitter of any kind is deemed unsanitary. I find this ironic, considering all the cigarette smoke billowing in the air and the hookers roaming around in short skirts, but I don’t make the rules. Because they deem spitting unsanitary, very few locations will sell chew. You can find it in places like Walgreens and some of the hotel shops, but the selection is very limited and they run out on a weekly basis as the weekend nears.
Bring your own snuff. It will save you the headache. At one point Red Man was the only available option left. Not a terrible choice, but not my go-to.
5. Use the Strip as a Gym
Unless you have the opportunity to stay with a friend who has a gambling issue and gets rooms and fees comped, you will pay at least $30.00 a day to use the hotel workout facilities. The Russian and I found that running the strip was a cheap alternative. Throw in sets of pushups every two minutes (as long as you’re not a pussy and don’t mind dropping in dried hobo piss and God knows what else), and run all the stairs you can, you’ll can get a decent workout every day.
You will have to resist the urge to throat punch the trolls handing out cards, as they will get right up in your shit. If you’re feeling froggy, you can take a dip in the Bellagio fountain, although I don’t know if Metro PD will appreciate that. You might call ’em and ask (LVMPD non-emergency: 702-828-3111).
6. Get Your Department On Board.
On a more serious note, if you are a LEO, there is a LEEP program offered through SHOT and it’s legitimately worth attending. There are LEO-geared classes that run every day of the show for the first four hours. There is some good information in there, and some interesting things to learn. If you can get your department on board with these classes, you might be able to have your department give you training time to attend. There are a lot of opportunities to network with members of other departments and get good information from them as well. The SHOT website provides a list of the classes offered so you can get an idea of what you can present to your supervisors to try and swing it. Among the many officers we saw in class were Michigan State Police, NYPD, Chicago PD, LAPD, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Orlando PD, Pierce County Sheriffs Office, and many others.
The brass is going to think this is a boondoggle, but no kidding — you can liaise with some great folks at this thing and set up some great training (or, as some of the ones I saw did, compare notes on grant-writing).
7. Check Out the Smaller Booths
Yes, the giant booths are awesome and they have a lot of cool shit with their big names. Don’t spend all your time there. There are a lot of smaller booths that have cool stuff to see, and very knowledgeable people running them. A lot of these are smaller family-run organizations, so give them a chance. They make quality products that are produced here in the USA.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, it’s just some helpful things I discovered along the way. SHOT is an amazing experience and if you get the opportunity to attend, jump on it.
There will be another article to follow at a later time with more information. You can catch me and the Russian running around the strip next year, hope to see you fuckers there.
Nico the Russian’s Pet Sicilian
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About the Author: Nico is apparently Sicilian. Who knew? We thought he was Greek. Regardless, he has a wonderful unibrow, good taste in booze and a predilection for guns with a wood stock. The scion of a long line of policemen, he continues this heritage by crushing crime, vice, and evil in a large, unpleasant area that is unpleasantly close to Lake Michigan. When not chasing down iniquitous humgruffians by moonlight or making unwelcome housecalls with a stack of well-armored friends, he enjoys bourbon (lots of it), Copenhagen (the tobacco, not the city) and the o’ so sweet smell of gunfire.