Yes, 2020 and most of 2021 were the weirdest years in my memory. With the world turned completely upside down, and to a large degree, stopped, thanks to the COVID epidemic, we didn’t get to experience the normal industry gatherings. The 2020 NRA Annual Meeting and Expo was canceled outright in 2020 and this year’s event has been postponed from its usual May time slot to September 3-5, 2021. Also canceled in 2021 was the industry insider SHOT Show in Las Vegas, traditionally the place where manufacturers show their new stuff to media, distributors, and retailers.
What’s in store over the coming months? With all the media frenzy over rising COVID infections, increased hospitalizations, and the hand-wringing over the COVID Delta variant in general, one might think upcoming events like the NRA Annual Meeting in Houston, TX… won’t happen.
As of now, the exhibitor list is still well-represented with our favorite airgun companies including Umarex, AirForce Airguns, Hatsan USA, and Hawke Optics, but there are notable absences in the exhibitor listings. Additionally, the ever-popular airgun range appears to be a casualty of a reduced show footprint.
Will the loyal show base respond and make the trip? I think so. People are fed up with the lockdowns and if for no other reason than grasping for normalcy or perhaps preserving what sanity we have left from the past year, we should see a respectable crowd. Maybe a bit smaller than normal, but hey, the NRA AM is notoriously overcrowded anyway, so maybe that’s not a terrible thing.
Will the show happen? I think yes on this front too. Events like these are giant revenue generators. The National Shooting Sports Foundation makes a large portion of its annual operating budget from the SHOT Show. While the NRA has a broad array of revenue streams, the annual expo dollars are nothing to sneeze at. If the NRA has any say in the matter, there will be a meeting and show come September. The other point in favor of the show going on is this year’s location. Houston, in the great state of Texas, is unlikely to exert any negative crisis tyrant pressure on social gatherings.
Right, wrong or indifferent, humanity has little remaining appetite for a shut-down of, well, anything. COVID is going to be hovering in the wings indefinitely, so we’ve got to figure out how to move on with life with this unwelcome partner.