WON Landing Page March 2022

Sara Ahrens’ OffBeat: SHOT Show 2013 – Best SHOT Ever!

Each year at the SHOT Show, I try to take as much in as possible … too much. I’m exhausted each night trying to network with people that I may need or want to reach out to in the future. This networking has been invaluable for me, and I’d like to think it has equally benefitted the people I meet as well. But this year, I took a different approach. Call it lazy if you want, but I prefer to think of it as a more relaxed approach.  Maybe I’m maturing?

This year I took a people-oriented approach, as opposed to a product-oriented approach. Instead of focusing on researching a bunch of new products and networking with a bunch of new people, I made a conscious decision actually to meet some of the people I have only ever known electronically. I felt it was important to touch base with some of the amazing people I have met not only at SHOT, but also elsewhere. The only flaw with my approach is I made this decision at the last minute and in retrospect I probably should have made appointments. It was tricky catching up with a few people. Next year I’ll have this thing down.

What changed for me this year? Who knows! Perhaps the politics got to me. My state of mind travelling to SHOT was somber and concerned for the industry and the people I care about in those industries. My feelings compelled me to focus a little more on the people at SHOT and a little less on the products. The recent intensity of misplaced negative media coverage in regard to an industry within which are some of the most friendly and generous people I’ve ever met, made me reconsider my goals for this year’s event. I have come to realize that SHOT is special because of the people in the industry with whom I share a common set of goals and values and I deeply cherish those relationships. Thanks to a shift in priorities I think I had my best year yet at SHOT!

My 2013 SHOT Show Highlights:

Tom Knapp and Sara Ahrens

Sara and Tom Knapp. Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

  • Meeting Tom Knapp! I just love watching him shoot and anytime I catch him on TV, I cannot help but watch him in amazement. He is such a gentleman, one of those genuine people that you feel like you’ve known forever. He kind of flirted with me (in a sweet, non-creepy way). I just like him even more now!
  • Top Shot reunion. I didn’t get to see all of my housemates, but I did get to see some of my favorites from Season 3: Dustin Ellerman, Alex Charvat, Chris Collins, even Jake Zweig. Turns out Jake might have a show lined up on Animal Channel, which seems strangely appropriate!
  • Meeting Brittany Ellerman, Dustin’s wife. She has been my Facebook friend since the end of Top Shot and she is such a positive and optimistic person. Don’t we all need people like that in our lives?
  • Seeing Mike Lehner from Safariland Shooting Team, one of my past firearms instructors who holds a special place in my heart. I wish we had more time to spend with him, but he was working … hopefully next year.
  • Having an unexpected beer with Michael Bane and Denise Jackson. These two are quite a couple and their story telling ability rivals mine! I think Michael was going to tell me something about Shooting Gallery until my husband Mike derailed the conversation … guess I’ll never know! Good going, Mike!

    Barb Baird, Britney Starr and Sara Ahrens

    Barb Baird, Britney Starr and Sara at a Tweet-Up at the V Bar. Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

  • Having dinner with Kenn Blanchard, Britney Starr, Mia Augustine, Barb and Jason Baird. This group is probably one of my most favorite mixtures of personalities. Plus, they will help you finish your meals and drinks!
  • Meeting Tom McHale and his wife, another delightful couple who share a sense of humor. Tom is going to do a ride-along in Rockford someday and I look forward to working that shift!


    One of most of us in the industry’s fav guys — Larry Weeks, of Brownell’s. Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

  • Visiting briefly with Larry Weeks of Brownell’s. Larry is originally from Rockford, where I am on patrol, so I like to tell him how much things have changed. And no, I did not win the dream guns raffle.
  • Meeting Woody Smith from Vertx, my newest, favorite brand of tactical apparel. Thanks, Woody!

    Sara's new editor, Steve Tracy. Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

    Sara’s new editor, Steve Tracy. Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

  • Meeting Steven Tracy of Hendon Publications, who recently contacted me to write for Police Marksman. I am grateful for the opportunity to write in another area of my life where I feel I can provide unique perspective.

    Kirstie Pike (CEO, Prois Hunting Apparel), Sara and Joni Viles (Prois) caught up during the Prois Award get-together. Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

    Kirstie Pike (CEO, Prois Hunting Apparel), Sara and Joni Viles (Prois) caught up during the Prois Award get-together. Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

  • Attending the Próis Awards and watching Ruth Cusack accept her award. She wrote a fantastic article that depicted her experiences hunting in Alaska, which read like a Gary Paulsen novel. Impressive!
  • Meeting Mollie Martin of OTIS Technology. Mollie provided a very generous donation to the United Sportsman Youth Foundation, as did Próis. I am certain that those donations generated funds, which will be used to further programs for children. I am proud to have my blog is sponsored by Otis, and that I’m a Pro Staffer for Próis. I like the opportunity to represent companies that are not only generous, but that also share my values.
  • My favorite experience at SHOT was dinner with Barb and Jason Baird. Two people that my husband and I feel honored to call “friends.” It is rare in life to meet such special people.
police marksman mag and ahrens

She’s excited to be writing for The Police Marksman mag. And so are we! Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

I am certain that I am missing moments that were special at SHOT and I will feel bad if I left anyone out. I spent little time researching products and more time doing visiting with people that I rarely see face to face. I know that times are tough and people are critical of this industry, but I feel confident that things will work out positively because I have never met a group of people who embody the American spirit with their kindness and generosity.

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The Conversation

  • Barbara Baird says: February 6, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Aw, Sara. We’d have to rank that right up there, too!

  • Tom says: February 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    You’re exactly right! The best part of SHOT Show IS the people!

    Great meeting you (finally) in person there and I’m holding you to the ride along. Working on coordinating a trip!

    Glad to hear about your writing gig for Police Marksman – that’s cool!

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