The sight was breathtaking – the impressive facade of the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Talladega Marksmanship Park looming ahead. After following country roads seemingly leading to nowhere, the behemoth of a building stunned, but paled in comparison to the park itself.
More than 30 exhibiting companies and a total of approximately 200 attendees roamed several areas of the park on March 8, having travelled from all over the United States to attend the inaugural Shooting Sports Showcase. The first in-person event the outdoor industry has seen in over a year brought three worlds together to provide an especially unique experience.
After greeting members of POMA, SEOPA, and NASGW at registration and watching a range safety video, it was up to each attendee to choose how to spend the day. Though with fewer exhibitors and attendees than larger trade show events, it was not impossible, but incredibly difficult to talk with everyone. Event hosts and tourism partners shuttled guests to various ranges while providing conversation and refreshments throughout the day.
was fortunate enough to view the event from two perspectives – as part of the host team and as a media member. From a media member perspective, I was beyond thrilled. Well-organized, the private event was not overcrowded, providing attendees the opportunity to spend quality time with all exhibitors. I was able to forge deeper connections and gain a familiarity with products that I have been unable to get anywhere else. Some of the bigger name exhibitors, like Taurus, also seemed to appreciate the pace of the event and the quality of time they were able to spend with attendees.
The atmosphere is what I enjoyed most – relaxed and open-air. Everyone was in a great mood, excited to be out, to network, and to be with friends. The day felt like a dose of the medicine everyone needed – a sunny and comfortable day dedicated to the shooting sports with great company. You could feel a weight lift and the struggles of the present depart. I took a few moments, standing under the Alabama sun, gazing over the row of exhibitor tents and down the unknown-distance range, listening to excited chatter, to remember what “normal” felt like. It had been so long.
For a first-time event, held during unprecedented times, all participants seemed pleased with the attendance and outcome. There was no shortage of content creation opportunities or guns to shoot. While every exhibitor had something different to offer, I most enjoyed the variety of targets and shooting opportunities available. Electronic targets eliminated the need to walk and replace targets while showing exactly where shots landed. Reactive steel targets on the pistol range and action bays provided satisfying feedback while the animal silhouettes with marked kill zones on the unknown distance range provided a hunting-themed experience. Exhibitor Longshot Target Cameras added an extra dimension to this range, having set up live video feeds to confirm hits. Attendees gathered round, eagerly watching the feed of whoever was shooting – marveling at the technology and enjoying the unexpected entertainment.
Though I may be biased, as a media member I can say that if you didn’t attend the Showcase, you missed an amazing event. The relaxed environment and top-of-the-line facility allowed for endless content creation opportunities and in-depth conversations. Exhibitors received one-on-one attention from media and vice-versa, providing a deeper level of insight to all participants. After all, it’s not just about sending lead downrange, but about the experience and opportunity to learn about yourself and others.
— Serena Juchnowski
The Outdoor Wire. (2021, March 11). [Press release]. https://www.theoutdoorwire.com/features/b7502135-c52a-4a0b-869d-f2a5e2086d1a