The 2017 SHOT Show has come and gone, and with almost 65,000 attendees, it was the second most attended show ever! Just over 20% of the exhibitors at the show were new this year, and to say that there has been tremendous growth in the industry is an understatement.
We continue to see significant investment capital flowing into the industry. We met with many companies and investors who are seeking to buy or invest in the shooting sports and hunting products industry, and we are convinced it remains a seller’s market for attractive brands.
Firearm sales in 2016 were at a record level, partially due to fears of increased regulations. Post-election, the industry is expecting a few years of decreasing regulation and business-friendly policies. Though this shift has its benefits, it has also reduced the pressure for customers to buy firearms. Our industry sources are expecting gun sales to decrease by 10-25% in 2017, especially AR-15 style firearms. Shooting and hunting accessories are expected to hold steady or grow this year. We will be watching the trends closely through the year.
The number of hunting license tags, permits, and stamps issued in the last few years has remained more or less constant, and the revenue states bring in from issuing hunting tags is, in most states, in the millions of dollars. Our home state of Montana ranked 4th in license revenue, trailing only Colorado, Texas, and Wisconsin. With an increase in recreational shooters among today’s youth and millennials, sport shooting is a lifestyle that certainly doesn’t seem to be going away. With new advancements in gun accessories, it’s easy to see why.
Advancements in technology are making sport shooting more enjoyable and accessible to a wider range of people. An advancement I’m especially excited about is in the manufacturing of composite barrels. Producers are beginning to create stiffer, more accurate barrels that dissipate heat better.
Another area we’re watching for technological developments in is that of silencers. The Hearing Protection Act (HPA) of 2017, which has been introduced in Congress, would allow silencers to be treated the same as long guns, which would allow more recreational shooters to access them. The passage of the HPA would be a boost for the silencer market, which is already growing due to an improved shooting experience with reduced recoil and lower sound levels.
I think it’s safe to say that the state of the shooting, hunting, and outdoor trade industry is remaining strong, and has lots of potential for growth to continue and prosper. Next year’s 40th anniversary SHOT Show is sure to bring new developments, exciting technologies, and a wide range of new companies and advancements that the industry has never seen before. See you there!