The British Shooting Show turns 10 years old this year and has moved to the vast halls of the NEC to mark the occasion. With three weeks to go, we get a glimpse behind the scenes
Where: NEC, Birmingham
When: 16-18 February, 9am-4pm
What: Only the biggest indoor shooting show in the UK, moving to the country’s largest exhibition venue and putting the shooting sports in the national spotlight in the way they’ve never been before. So a bit of a big deal…
Who’s there? Take a deep breath… Boss & Co, Browning, Westley Richards, Holland & Holland, Watson Bros, John Rigby, Longthorne, Atkin Grant & Lang, Perazzi, Beretta, Zoli, Caesar Guerini, Blaser, Sauer, Boxall & Edmiston, Elderkin & Sons, Stephen & Son, Fausti, John Jeffries Custom Guns, Benelli, Fabarm, Webley & Scott, Winchester, AYA, William Evans – and that’s just the shotgun makers.
How much? £17 for a one-day advance ticket. Under-16s go free. Parking is free.
More info: www.shootingshow.co.uk
Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable that a shooting event could pack out halls at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC). Even Newark, the British Shooting Show’s first venue where it stayed until 2012, was thought to be a bit ambitious.
But the show, under founder John Bertrand – and then John Allison after Bertrand’s sad death in 2014 – has grown immeasurably, moving to NAEC Stoneleigh and now, on the occasion of its tenth outing, to probably the UK’s best-known venue, the NEC in Birmingham.
Of course, the show is growing – John Allison says it’s going to be 32 per cent bigger overall than it was last year. But more than that, the move to the NEC means the British Shooting Show – and shooting in general – has arrived.
Already considered by many companies to be the premier event on the shooting circuit, the 2018 show will offer a stunning setting for every exhibitor – high-ceilinged, brightly lit, transport-accessible and just plain brilliant for everyone from the largest manufacturer to the tiniest retailer. If we were after an all-encompassing event to show off shooting to the wider world and begin to cast off the ‘old-fashioned’ label we’ve bene unfairly saddled with, this is it.
“The 2018 show sees the greatest number of manufacturers to ever attend the British Shooting Show,” says John Allison. “Along with the manufacturers we have the industry’s leading distributors working closely and supporting each other and leading on to the retailers, who can only be described as the finest retailers you’ll ever see at any show in the UK.” In fact, John reckons that nobody will be able to see everything at the show even if they spend all three days at it – such is its mammoth scale.
Of course, the show is a big retail opportunity for some preseason bargains on clay shooting gear. But it’s more than that – it’s a launch platform for the year to come. The show’s early position in the calendar means it’s often the first place you’ll see new products, as gun and accessory manufacturers time their product launches to be ready for the show. “The shotguns to be seen at this year’s show will be truly amazing, with all the massive brands attending,” says John. “In the true British Shooting Show style, it is now very much a unique visitor’s experience.”
So why the NEC? It’s bigger, yes, but is it better? What John is particularly keen to talk about is the location’s accessibility. “Apart from the sheer magnitude of the show with even more for visitors to experience, visitors will find travelling to the show much easier,” he says. “Three quarters of the UK is within a three-hour drive, and once you arrive, the parking at the NEC is free for visitors to the British Shooting Show.
“If the thought of the UK roads is something that doesn’t fill you with joy, there are 43 direct rail routes from around the country straight into the NEC, and if you’re travelling from abroad there are 143 direct flights into Birmingham International airport from European destinations as well as direct flights from the USA.”
The team has already undertaken a number of site visits to the halls they’ll be using to plan their use of space and fine-tune the layout. The details of who’s going to be where are under wraps until the day itself but organisers tell us all the themed attractions – the main arena, the sections on gundogs, gamekeeping and so on – will be present once again and in a bigger fashion than before.
John says the show is “90 per cent organised” so really, all that’s left is to get on site and build up the show. “Our teams are scheduled to be on site a minute past midnight on Wednesday 14 February to start the build,” says John. “Watches will be synchronised…”
We’ll be setting our watches too – we simply can’t wait.