As I’m writing this, I’ve just returned from the first ever Shooting Sports Showcase held in Talladega, Alabama on March 8. The event was sponsored by the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) and the NASGW. We began talking about this venture before Christmas. All of us were weary and concerned about the impacts COVID was having on the industry because of our inability to get together, network and review products.
We began the conversations about the Showcase with a bit of trepidation, and a good bit of uncertainty on whether we’d even be able to put an event together in the midst of everything happening right now. With many companies still enforcing travel restrictions, it certainly had an impact on the size of the crowd, but there were enough exhibitors, distributors, retailers and media members anxious to spend time together. So we forged ahead.
With 99 percent of the event held outdoors, masks were not required on the range, though some still chose to wear them. As the organizers, we left it up to each individual to determine how much, if any, they’d wear their masks during the day.
In total, we had just over 200 participants for the event. We received a great deal of positive feedback and we’ve received incredible interest in the event for next year. Yes, we’ve already decided there will be a “2nd Annual” version of the event. It’s set for March 14-15, 2022 at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Talladega Marksmanship Park in Talladega, AL. Many companies who were not able to participate this year due to continued concerns about COVID, have already told us they’d like to take part in 2022.
I think it’s fair to say that all of us at NASGW, POMA and SEOPA are exceptionally excited about the potential for this event in the future and we’re particularly grateful for those who were able to join us for this year’s event. After more than 12 months of staying home and avoiding travel for the industry, it was refreshing to once again be able to catch up with old friends. It was equally gratifying to have an opportunity to see some new faces as well. Some of the faces behind the masks weren’t exactly “new,” but it had been so long since we’d seen each other, it seemed like we were having a reunion of long-lost friends. It really did my heart good to see so many friends and meet a bunch of new ones.
As part of my responsibilities in hosting the event, I was the “chauffeur” for attendees. I spent much of the day driving around the park and giving rides to participants seeking to move from one shooting area to another. Admittedly, I wasn’t the very best chauffeur, not because my driving skills are bad (at least by my standards) but because typically I’d run into someone along the way and get sidetracked on a 15-20 minute conversation. This of course meant I probably left people waiting for rides for much longer than they’d hoped. If you’re reading this… please accept my apologies.
The ranges were filled with great conversation, much laughter and a lot of shooting. The sights and sounds were amazing. They were much needed – probably for more than just me. Spirits were high. One guest asked me what my thoughts were and I replied very simply with one word… JOY. It was a joyous occasion to be back together with so many who were just so ready to be back in action. This was written all over the faces of pretty much everyone in attendance.
If you’ve never been to the CMP Marksmanship Park in Talladega, I encourage you to add it to your list of priorities. This shooting facility is truly first class. We were blessed to be able to hold an event there this year and everyone from NASGW, POMA and SEOPA is excited to see more of you there next year. You won’t be disappointed.
Thank you to each and every person who made the event a huge success. Thank you to the many sponsors who stepped up, we couldn’t have done it without you. We look forward to welcoming all of you, along with hundreds more, to Talladega next March.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay engaged. We’ve got a lot going on in the industry right now. It’s going to take all of us, old friends and new faces, to make sure we can protect it for the future.
Until next time,