A week from now, we’ll be walking ourselves ragged in the cavernous Sands Expo Center and blogging until our eyes glaze over. Dan, Nick, Robert, Joe and I fully appreciate what lucky bastards we are, and we’ll be putting in twelve-hour days making sure our blog is the next-best thing to being there yourself. In case Fortune smiles on you and you find yourself in Sin City with a SHOT Show pass around your neck, I thought I’d pass along a few hard-learned tips for thriving and surviving in this ballistic hedonist’s jungle of guns, PR flacks, prototypes, booth babes, promotional samples and bad convention food . . .
What Not To Wear: SHOT Show Edition
You’re among friends at the SHOT Show, but that doesn’t mean you can wander around dressed like Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. The Dude may abide in a t-shirt, bathrobe and pajama pants, but you’re not The Dude and this isn’t The Valley. You’ll need to dress for success.
Successfully rocking this getup at the SHOT Show requires you to have 1) Recent desert combat experience, preferably in Iraq or Afghanistan; 2) your own private hunting ranch in the Texas hill country; or 3) absolutely no sense of shame. Las Vegas is a desert city and those Danner desert boots are really comfortable, but passers-by will snort coffee out their noses if they can tell you fall into Category #3. Since a lot SHOT Show attendees fall into Categories #1 or #2, you’ll never fool them.
Ditto this Mall-Ninja costume, which is restricted by statute to SWAT team members, mall rent-a-cops, and the color blind. Yes, that’s a real TTAG shirt, but you can’t wear it with black BDUs and winter combat boots. It’s the law.
Hunting gear and clothing has a huge presence at the SHOT Show, so you might think your Pendleton shirt and Stormy Cromer hat will blend right in with all the Realtree-wearing bone collectors. It doesn’t. In fact, anyone wearing this had better practice up singing ‘Kill The Wabbit’ to the tune of Richard Wagner’s Flight Of The Valkyries because you know somebody is going to ask you for it.
Instead of putting on airs, it’s a better idea to just relax and dress comfortably. Blue jeans, cargo pants and flannel shirts are considered dignified ‘business casual’ around here, but unspoken SHOT Show etiquette frowns vigorously on hoodies and warmup pants. If you pull your hoodie over your head and wear your warmups too low, that etiquette will frown so vigorously that you’ll be gang-tackled by security before you get fifty feet inside the doors.
Happy Feet: Not Just An Annoying Animated Movie Any More
The show floor gives you five thousand places to see things, but very few places to sit down. You’ll be on your feet for the better part of eleven hours a day, and most of that will be spent walking the halls and stalls of the convention floor. Even at an ambling art-museum pace, you’ll ‘tab it’ five to ten miles a day so your footwear better be up to the challenge.
I’m taking my two most comfortable pair of lightweight hiking boots, by Danner and Columbia Sportswear. I’m wearing nothing but merino wool and polypropylene hiking socks inside them, because they breathe and cushion and never blister. As they say in Alaska, ‘cotton kills.’
Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, so plan your load-out accordingly. As in any survival situation, you’ll need some essentials if you want to walk out alive: clothing, water, shelter, light, fire and food.
I want to pack light and move fast, so I’m only taking what I really need: hydration, several cameras, notebook computer, utility knife, notebooks and pens, high-intensity flashlight, trigger gauge, business cards, and several hundred dollars (mostly in ones and fives) for the dancers. Just kidding. Really.
The next you hear from me will probably be from Sin City itself. As before, mine will be the first boots on the ground so I’ll try and post our first live SHOT coverage. And as before, Nick will probably find a way to scoop me. I’m used to it.