SHOT Show 2014 – Meeting Folks and Other Stuff
January 17, 2014
It’s funny, or maybe not so much, how thoroughly people in the industry can forget who you are in a short year or so. Of course, I realize I’m not Pig Man or Jim Shockey, and my little ol’ blog doesn’t pull down zillions of hits and heavy shares on social media sites. Still, it sort of bummed me out to greet a few former industry contacts at SHOT this week, only to get that total look of, “who the hell is this and why is he bugging me?”Actually, in most cases the look is more like, “oh crap, did I promise this guy something and fail to deliver?”
But I get it. These industry people shake a lot of hands and do an awful lot of smiling… and promising… over the course of SHOT. On top of that, most of them start hitting the show circuit in January and don’t really slow down again until late spring. SHOT is only one of many, including ATA (Archery Trade Association), Safari Club Annual Convention, NRA Convention, and the big daddy of them all, the IWA Outdoor Classics show in Germany. And at every one of these shows, there are hundreds of guys like me.
So I try not to take it too personally, even from folks with whom I thought I’d established a personal relationship. I have to remember, part of these folks’ job is to make you feel special… even when you’re not.
With this in mind, though, I was very happy that some of my old contacts did recognize me. Mike Stock, from Winchester Ammunition took a few minutes from a very busy day to come say, “hello,” and to introduce me to the new media representative. There’s not a ton of time for small talk on the floor, but we caught up a little and then got down to business of making sure I had what I needed for testing. In the coming months, I hope to be trying out the RazorBack XT in 30-06 and possibly some of Winchester’s brand new Long Beard XR turkey loads.
A couple of notes about these Long Beard loads… first of all, it’s pretty cool technology. They’ve managed to encase the pellets in a resin which eliminates all air space between the pellets. As a result, the pellets don’t really have room to move around until they exit the muzzle. This means there’s less deformation of the pellets, resulting in tighter patterns and better terminal performance at longer ranges. While I’m not crazy about shooting turkeys out to 60 yards, this load is optimized for that eventuality, and based on the pattern I got at 40 yards, I have little doubt it’s realistic. This stuff is pretty impressive. My only concern, as it is with all of the super-tight turkey loads and chokes, is those really close shots where there’s barely any spread of pellets. You’ll need to be dead on with your shot. But patience and picking your shots are always the keys to successful hunting.
Someone else who remembered me was Laura Evans, the media rep from Crosman. Laura worked with me a couple of years back when I wanted to try out the Marauder. We’ve had a bit of correspondence over the last two years, and she greeted me immediately when I walked up to their table at the range. Later, on the show floor, she introduced me to Crosman’s social media guy, Chip Hunnicut, with whom I look forward to working on several projects… including some field time with the new Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2. The new rifle offers a few improvements over the original Trail series, one of which is the new “Clean Break” trigger, a two-stage trigger which is similar to the one I like so much on the Marauder. The new rifle is also pretty easy to cock, especially compared to my experience with the much older break-barrels I’d used before.
Speaking of the Marauder, this year Crosman has updated this great rifle and made it even better. The new version is streamlined a bit and set in a synthetic stock. As a result, the rifle is much lighter than the old version and will be a bit handier in the field. As much as I like my original, wood-stocked version, I do think it’s a little bulky for packing around on foot.
Another note about Crosman… While I was talking to folks at the Crosman tent at Range Day, I heard that there is interest at the company in developing something in the big bore lineup. While the Rogue, Benjamin’s .357 rifle was an interesting proof of concept, it wasn’t quite what the company wanted it to be and you won’t be seeing it in the catalogues any more. However, the “folks in the office” recognize the opportunities that big bore airguns offer, and there will probably be some news along those lines in the future. I’m pretty stoked at the idea of something that I can realistically use on hogs and axis deer (air rifles are still not legal for game animals here in Texas, although some other states like Missouri and Alabama do allow them).
My SHOT trip was short and bittersweet this year, as I had to pull out and head back to Hillside Manor on Wednesday afternoon. I left a lot of sights unseen, but it was good to get out there and renew some of those industry contacts, as well as some friendships. I’ve got a lot of cards and notes to follow-up, and this trip should result in some good stuff for the blog over the coming months.