Every year, one of the most popular weeks of coverage here at Gun Nuts has been our coverage of SHOT SHOW, which started in 2008 when, while still blogging as Call me Ahab, I was able to get a press pass with the assistance of friends at NSSF and NRA. By 2009, I had switched the blog to Gun Nuts Media, but because it’s easier to renew a registration at SHOT than it is to change the name of the company you write for, I stuck with Call me Ahab on my press pass.
However, 2009 was the first year that NSSF allowed primarily Internet based media to get press passes under new, strict press guidelines. The new press passes had “Internet” on them where other passes would say “Broadcast” or “Press”, but the levels of access (in theory) were the same. My old Call me Ahab pass, having been issued prior to the guideline change, doesn’t say “Internet”, but rather “press”.
I’m getting ready to register for the 2010 show, and I had, for a brief time been faced with a tough decision born out of last year’s experience at SHOT. One of the things I had noticed last year was that certain vendors were wary, bordering on suspicious of the web based publishers. Initially, I had struggled with changing my registration over so it would be under Gun Nuts Radio, primarily becase I wanted to avoid that “oh you’re from the internet” reaction.
Ultimately, I decided to register under Gun Nuts and get that “Internet” stamp on my press pass. I realized that for me to advocate for people to take an evangelistic approach to growing gun ownership, but then to not take that same approach in growing and expanding new media would be downright hypocritical.
I’m proud of Gun Nuts, and what we have here. I’m proud that my monthly readership equals a medium sized gun magazine, and I’m damn proud of the people that are reached by Gun Nuts Radio. That’s why at SHOT in Vegas in 2010, my press pass will say “Gun Nuts Radio”, and I’ll wear my Internet tag with pride.
In the firearms industry, new media has tremendous potential to make a real impact, in part because some mainstream marketing solutions are closed to the shooting sports. Bloggers, twitterers (is that a word?), et al are poised to be huge in the shooting sports – and the only way to get rid of the “Internet” stigma is to get out there and be proud of what we are.
I should note that while some vendors were not welcoming to new media (I’m looking at you, Colt) others have embraced the web community with open arms. ParaUSA, Smith & Wesson, Daniel Defense, and many other companies have been proactive about creating a dynamic web presence, and I applaud what they’re doing. As new media pulishers, it’s important for us to represent our brand well, so that when companies dip their toes in the pool it turns into a rewarding experience.