I attended the 3rd annual Meet & Mingle at SHOT Show 2018, held on Thursday, Jan. 25, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Bonnier Sportman’s Lounge at the Sands Expo. But why take time out of SHOT Show to stop and hang out with the gals? Well, if you’ve never been to SHOT Show, you might want to read a little of what you will find in this group of women during this brief interlude.
Not a Soccer Mom is sponsored by Jagemann Sporting Group
For those who have never been to the NSSF Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade, aka SHOT, Show, you might not understand just how massive the show is – 3 floors, scores of ballrooms, hallways, exhibit halls and corridors lined with booths. Radio shows, TV recordings and an entire DAY at the range devoted to what’s new in the firearms industry each year fill an agenda to overflowing. There is so much, that you phyically cannot take it all in. Some of the show-goers have tabulated and reported on their mileage (I’ve heard anywhere from from 5 to 43 miles!). You can bet on sore feet, stiff necks and headaches … and what really hit me this year came in the form of sensory overload – sights , sounds, smells (yes, this is an indoor space), a physical hum to the space from so many people moving about, and by the end of the day, my head screaming for 20 minutes of peace and quiet before the night events began, with parties, dinners and more work. And to be honest, the women at this event came to WORK. Olympians, national champions, shooters, writers, bloggers, small business owners, big business executives, designers, 2A advocates and more make up the women’s taskforce of the SHOT Show industry representation.
This is my 3rd year attending, and one of the things that strikes me about this event is that for many, in such an insane week of work, the Meet & Mingle provides a chance for them to connect with people that we need to meet and have business with, but also friends we otherwise might not get a chance to catch up with, due to people’s busy schedules.
The sponsor list for this year’s Meet & Mingle included Babes with Bullets, Beretta, Crossbreed Holsters, DIVA WOW, Jagemann Sporting Group, NRA Women’s Network, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Remington Outdoor Company, Sentry Products Group, Smith & Wesson, The Well Armed Woman and BulletProof Communications. While some corporate sponsors took a few minutes to share their missions and say hello to hundreds of influential women in the firearms industry at the event, others met new faces and people they’d only corresponded with before now. Amazing appetizers paired with an adult refreshment offered women an opportunity to relax after 3 days on the show floor and share a little of what it means to be a female in an historically male-centric industry.
This experience – of women wanting to socialize and network within an industry – isn’t isn’t unique to Americans … we met 2 ladies from across the pond, Victoria Knowles-Lacks and Claire Sadler. Victoria is the founder of The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club. The Brits led the room in a rousing song, “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” to thank the hostess and organizer, Barbara Baird. They also shared some insight into the same sort of relationships women experience around the world, highlighting that while we all come from different corners of the world and country, we all share some pretty common goals – one of which is to simply share our own excitement and enthusiasm with other women in general. When Barbara took the podium, she thanked Bonnier’s Eshonda Caraway, for creating the event again this year. She also thanked co-planners pro-competition shooter Julie Golob and Tisma Juett, Manager of Inclusion & Outreach, National Shooting Sports Foundation.
What I really love about this event though is not that it’s for women, but that it’s for ALL women who attend the show. No special invite required. No “cool kids” list you have to be on. No late night party over drinks off campus. Just bring your smile and your ambition and come meet other women who are out working in the industry just like you are.