I’ll be honest right off the bat. I didn’t see a tenth of it. So if you want to know what The Shot Show in Vegas is like, you’ll have to go somewhere else. Since I was with my Navy SEAL friend, we were in the tiny subset of the show that is the Military and Law Enforcement section. That meant we were in a separate section, far removed from the guys who were here to check out hunting rifles. Our part of the show was serious weaponry and the buyers checking it all out were professionals — border patrol agents, military contractors, special operations units from armies around the world and lots and lots of Russians and Israelis. I guess you could come in to this part of the show if you were a normal Joe, but the booth people weren’t going to waste much time on you.
Actually, I was hoping no one would pay too much attention to me. I wanted to be the Undercover Liberal. I probably didn’t have much hope of pulling that off since I was wearing a Batik skirt which instantly identified me as a granola eating, Prius driving, tree hugging, Obama supporting Liberal. But Chuck further blew my cover by introducing me at The Mako Group booth (where he’s been signing copies of SEAL Target Geronimo) as “his producer”. His hope was that I could extricate him from any unwanted commitments by citing “interviews”. But that blew my chances to just fade into the background and observe — at least at that end of the floor. So I took myself off further away to snap pictures — until I saw all the “No Photography” signs. Therefore I’m only able to show you a very few glimpses of my show experience.
Besides, the weapons weren’t the only guns. I’m here to say, Navy SEALs and Special Ops guys can’t really go under cover. You can pretty much pick them out across a crowded room.
It was pretty clear I wasn’t going to find anything here that would be of use to me in Sonoma. Although I did see a helmet mounted, night vision, infra-red laser thing that I bet John the Baptist would find useful in his never-ending war on invasive bullfrogs. Then I found a great pepper spray gun that was about the size and shape of the little derringer Gunsmoke’s Miss Kitty used to wear in her garter. I thought that would be handy if I happened to encounter our Miss Kitty when she was in a particularly bad mood. But at the booth, they said the gun was only tested for bears, not mountain lions. And besides, for years, we’ve had a pact with our very own Miss Kitty: we don’t go traipsing around her hunting grounds after dark and she doesn’t come out in the day and kill us or the dogs. So far that’s working out fine for everyone. I probably don’t need to jeopardize our detente by introducing capsicum.
Still, I did manage to find the only booth in our section that seemed aimed at the hunter. What the heck it was doing in the “Dogs of War” section, I’ll never know. The booth guy was very nice and let me take pictures of all the stuffed game animals their weapons would let you kill. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any weaponry that would be useful against the only critters we want to kill in Sonoma — bullfrogs and wild turkeys.
I should have gotten myself to the hunting section of the show, but the show is absolutely HUGE — taking up the whole of the Sands Convention Center and spilling out into adjacent venues. And, I’m not afraid to admit it, I was getting freaked out by all the weapons and all the testosterone. So I fled to walk down The Strip to try to clear my head.
I spent the rest of the afternoon watching trainers throw raw hamburger against the plexiglas walls of the Habitat and marveling as lions licked it off inches from my camera.
I think when it comes to weaponry, I’ll take teeth and claws over even the coolest military hardware.