Like guns and hunting?
Club memberships and a slew of publications offer all kinds of information on ammo, firearms and a stormy sea of hunting options.
But if you're looking for a central location to see gear, talk with company experts and rub elbows with the biggest names and best-informed gun gurus and hunting honchos, the place to go is the annual SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades) show.
That's what thousands of visitors did at Orlando, Fla. Jan. 11 to 14. The 29th annual SHOT Show drew nearly 1,900 exhibitors. From AA&E Leathercraft in Yoakum, Texas to Zulani safaris in Limpopo, South Africa, they set up booths somewhere in the 656,000 square feet of the Orange County Convention Center to show their products and describe their services.
For those interested in statistical ranking, attendance and presentations make SHOT 27th in rankings of all trade shows offered. It would take a visitor all four days of the show to spend just one minute looking at each exhibit -- without stopping between booths or talking shop with the experts at hand.
A gallery of new products set up in a lobby next to the Law Enforcement section allowed viewers to see more items than typically appear at a city, county or regional gun show. Displays included everything from women's camo gear (www.foxyhuntress.com) to several treestands equipped like a northern Minnesota ice shanty.
Smith & Wesson took honors for the most introductions of new products for 2007 with 18 separate model introductions.
Well known domestic and foreign names such as Remington, Winchester, Benelli and Perazzi set up displays among an array of new and unusual gun and accessory makers across the nearly half mile of exhibits.
If you're looking for a gift for that picky, hard-to-please gunner and hunter, the SHOT Show is the place to go. Visitors can handle guns ranging from the most basic field grades to the finest of field and competition firearms.
Consider this: Perazzi has just the combo for that shotgunner with taste. In the trap and skeet combo line, one can select a four-gun over/under set of 12-, 20-, 28- and 410-gauge matched set for only $431,946.
Of course, models below that Extra Super set are less expensive, but a thorough check on all models in this series resulted in the lowest price of a mere $10,538. That trap gun comes with chokes, which most gunners do after seeing the price tags.
But seriously, given the number of championships won with these sturdy, enduring Perazzi shooting mechanisms, the gear has more than name recognition going for it. And, like valuable jewelry, they're nice to just gaze at while thinking up Lotto numbers.
As for lesser-known names, a sea of banners beckoned viewers to their displays. One in particular caught my eye, because its spelling looked something like a sequence in an eye test. Try this: Ucyildiz. Yep. It's actually the name of a pistol manufacturer (check your search engine) somewhere in Turkey.
A rep at the booth informed me it was looking for distributors in the U.S. Should you have a Federal Firearms License and are looking for another revolver to add to your product line, you might do biz with Ucyildiz.
Modern muzzleloaders have found their way onto the shotgun- and rifle-shooters gun rack, so I keyed on four major manufacturers to see how they run.
All four have new features for 2007: Remington's Genesis come in Camo and Buckmaster models; Knight's KP1 can be set up with interchangeable rifle barrels; Traditions offers a new Pursuit series and an over-and-under Express Double that shoots like a rifle; and Thompson Center's new Triumph has a breech plug (Speed Breech XT) that can be removed with a half turn of two fingers.
All these new smokepoles looked so good that I'm still looking.
Quaker Boy in Orchard Park, prodigious game call makers, topped Western New York vendors at the show for both booth space and new products. According to Bob Wozniak, the new Squeezin' Bleat -- which can be sounded soft or loud -- will be the deer-call dynamo for the 2007 season.
Mark Mann, of VK Plastics in East Aurora, markets a line of heavy duty hangers that can handle waterfowl, scuba, firefighter, law enforcement and all other bulky, weighty gear. Mann, when not at the Safari Club International Show, can be reached via e-mail at: email@example.com.
A trip to Orlando often involves something from Disney or a world of seas, but for Jean and me it meant a couple extra days with snowbird-guides Frank and Melody Tennity. This Honeoye couple heads to their headquarters south of Orlando each winter to get closer to big-mouthed bass.
That we did, with nearly two dozen bucket mouths on Crooked Lake the first day and more alligators seen than bass bites felt on Pierce Lake the next day.
Gun nuts and hunting hounds should set aside Feb. 2-5 in 2008 for the SHOT Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Before or after that, a shot to Orlando's bass lakes might be worth hunting for next winter.