How many readers can remember “March Break” as a time when one was glad to be out of the classroom for a week and enjoy what was supposedly the end of winter. It has been a long time for the author since school work and study dominated his daily routine, but “March Break still holds some semblance of freedom and desire, and that is the annual Toronto Sportsmen’s Show. As with each and every year, the city of Toronto becomes a focal point for tens of thousands of individuals who attend a multi-day event which is billed as “Canada’s Biggest Fishing & Outdoor Show”. The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show, hereafter referred to as TSS, started six and a half decades ago and has growth to encompass hunting, fishing, outdoor adventuring and to the surprise of many Toronto natives… GUNS!
With the show located on numerous levels and across two buildings at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) from Wednesday the 14th of March until Sunday the 18th, the show was host to several hundred exhibitors and multitudes of individuals. Please allow a bit of reflection however on the history of the TSS. For sixty two (62) years, the Toronto Sportsmen’s show had existed in one form or another as an annual event located at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds (CNE), but due to the unfathomable machinations of, the previous Toronto Mayor, David Miller; forced the show to relocate to the MTCC in 2010. Why Miller’s anti-gun zealotry deemed it necessary to destroy so many decades of history and pride is beyond comprehension. Now on its third year away from the CNE, the TSS is once again running what is now their 65th anniversary. It was estimated that the City of Toronto lost nearly $14 million of revenue when the show shifted locations, the reason being that all revenue from the MTCC flows to the province of Ontario, not the city. Fast forward to 2012 and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is opening the show which he has attended since he was a child and the hunting hall is growing.
As always, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association was present at the TSS and with the help of many volunteers was able to once again have a successful show in terms of membership growth and engaging in discussion with probably thousands of individuals throughout the duration of the show. Many thanks to CSSA Regional Director Gus M. who volunteered far more than what was asked of him and to Mr. Andrew Craig of Canadian Reload Radio fame who brought in his custom centre-fire silhouette rifle and a small video which was a great draw and topic of discussion. The CSSA thanks all who helped them with another successful show and as always the main topic of discussion was the demise of the Long Gun Registry (which TPF is proud to state just passed clause by clause reading in the senate as the author edits this entry).
Over the five (5) days of the TSS, several tens of thousands of attendees were able to experience a full gambit of outdoor pursuits as the show caters to the public and the newest wares and a “One stop shop” for nearly every outdoor need. In fact many attendees left the show in possession of products which were impulsive purchases in the first place. TPF however will concentrate this TSS review in the Hunting Hall aspect of the event. As always the primary focus of the Hunting Hall aspect was for Outdoor adventures such as hunting, hiking, boating, with additional luxury products as well as some interactive displays and pavilions being present.
This year was a slight departure from the norm, not only were there far more firearms on display for sale by retailers, this year represented the first time in many years which restricted firearms were for sale, let alone on display. Many thanks to Tactical Imports, whom took the first step, with the assistance of Mr. Tony Bernardo and the CSSA, were allowed to bring in some of there more “exotic” firearm products for the public to not only view order from them. Initially the TSS was refusing to allow Tactical Imports into the venue as it did not fit in with the traditional “Hunting” definition. When pointed out that many of the exhibitors, such as that depicted in the previous luxury product image, had little if anything to do with “Hunting” and that a firearm is a firearm, the TSS removed their objections and Tactical Import set up their display. Showing both non-restricted and restricted firearms in their booth, Tactical Imports has started what may be a growing trend by other exhibitors/retailers at the show. At least that is the hope of TPF-Online and many attendees whom we talked to.
As always some things never seem to change and that is a good thing in the case of the Toronto Sportsmen’s Association (TSA). The TSA crew has been coming to the TSS for many many years, and has always been the ones who have run the air-gun and archery ranges at the show. They are a truly exceptional group of individuals who continuously are to be thanked for exposing the future generations to the shear enjoyment that is available in shooting sport disciplines. Many thanks to Mr. Edwards and his volunteer crew for all his time and efforts over the past several years for continuing to provide exceptional public awareness and hands-on experiences like these for our youth.
The Canadian Military has been present as well in the last few years with an ever increasing display of equipment and public outreach. The author ensured that every one of our men and women in uniform whom was met at the show was thanked for their service and their efforts. TPF-Online will side step here briefly and state for the record that Support The Troops ribbons, pins, and decals are not being pro-war, but pro-survival. One does not have to believe in the circumstances which led to Canadian military involvement, but we should all wish our fellow brothers and sisters in uniform to come home safely and with as due speed. A full gambit of military hardware was present for display for TSS attendees to look at, ask questions about, and receive answers.
The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show is an annual event and it looks as though it is starting to grow out of the “traditional” mold of what constitutes our hunting aspects of outdoor recreation. That being said, the TSS is a huge endeavour which caters to the outdoors-man in most people in the Toronto region. So if you do not mind paying for parking and what some claim are excessive admission fees, you too can experience “Canada’s Biggest Fishing & Outdoor Show” every year. As TPF-Online looks forwards to next year’s show once again, we put forward the standard question: Is the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show; Tactical, Practical or Fantastical?
Video games such as Call Of Duty, Battlefield, and other first person shooters have greatly increased the appeal of firearms to the younger generations. For this TPF cannot apologize, as despite knowing that such video games turn violence into a hyped up and marketable commodity, it has done more to get the next generation of shooters into the sport than almost any other combination of approaches. That in itself shows how much farther all shooters need to reach to not only accept the newest members of our sport and hobby, but how much they need to get off their own derrieres and teach the unknowing masses what they are missing.
Unfortunately it seems that fewer people nowadays are hunting and the reason for that is because for the last couple decades, firearms have become publicly of crime and unlawful activities. Nothing can be further from the truth as 99.9% of firearms owners are caring, safety conscious individuals who, outside of hunting and wilderness survival, would find it very difficult to ever commit any form of violent act against another living creature. TPF authors personally know individuals who are firearms owners and refuse to even consider playing paintball or air-soft games for the simple reason that to play those games one would have to point a “gun” at another person. That being said the author has no issues with paintball, nor air-soft, as both are akin to the firearms community. They build teamwork, camaraderie, and just as actual firearms usage, safety is the number one responsibility of all those involved.
While hunting with firearms appears on the surface to be in decline, the reality is that more and more shooters are gravitating towards handguns, “black rifles” and action shooting sports. Readers should recall that in June 2011, TPF did indeed mention some of the various action shooting disciplines available to people. This time around TPF-Online is proud to have been able to enlist several individuals who compete professionally and have them give a tip or two about what to do if you are interested in this category of extreme sports. Be advised that many of these shooters are based in the United States and have a much more prominent network for action shooting information and contacts.
Getting into Action Shooting – Part 1! – On behalf of TPF-Online and the CSSA!
First up is Canadian shooter Sean Hansen. President of Freedom Ventures Limited, and a multiple IPSC Provincial Champion in Nova Scotia, is a strong supporter of action shooting and enjoys many years of good memories and experiences regarding his efforts in action shooting and has many more years to create more.
Next up is Blake Miguez, whom at just over 20 years old holds the title of 2011 ISPC World Champion and is proof that shooting for fun can lead into more opportunities.
The lovely and talented Julie Goloski Golob shares a bit of insight on the simple and easiest method of getting into action shooting.
Talking to these individuals is a great pleasure for reasons mentioned previously. Such individuals are thankfully not rare in the action shooting sports, and by that TPF-Online is heartened by the open and welcoming attitudes which many, if not all, of these top competitors have.
TPF hopes you the reader, and viewer in this case, hold your judgement until you see some more future shooting personalities in later installments, but as always; action shooting. Is it Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?
Just a bit more to whet your appetite as well…
Jerry Miculek – The fastest trigger in the world and arguably the best revolver competitor that ever existed.
Todd Jarrett – A world level competitor with millions upon millions of rounds of of experience and a great ambassador to the shooting sports as well.
Back in January, an event occurred, which the author has been privileged in attending now for the sixth year in a row. The event consists of a single day of practical hands on experiences for media and then four days of talking to an ungodly number of individuals whom are representative of the entire world for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Of course this equates to the 2012 SHOT Show which is the largest venue of its kind anywhere in the world.
The Monday, January 16th, the temperature outdoors was quite decent and the sky was cloud-free which made Media Day, once again a fine day to go and play with some of the newest firearms and related products which are currently or soon to be available for the commercial markets. Optics, ammunition, handguns, rifles, shotguns, stocks, and a host of other items were available to over 1200 media individuals to experience first hand the products available. Some items truly stood out for the author and the number one item memorable experience was cranking the handle of Colt’s reproduction 1877 Gatling Gun. 20 rounds of 45/70 Government, flew by and seemed effortless as you turned the handle of this beautiful reproduction of history. High quality prototype 308 Winchester chambered bull-pup rifles, custom machined .50 BMG projectiles, the Slide Fire stock, are just a couple of the items that were experienced by the huge crowd of media types.
For the next four days the actual trade show ensued once again at the Sands Convention center. Over 1600 companies were there with in excess of 36,000 people coming to interact with them brought the total attendees to more than 61,000 people over four days. Stunning, especially when you consider that representatives from all 50 states were there as well as representation from more than 100 countries.
TPF will not go into the thousands of products that were displayed and showcased as there are multitudes of other websites and writers whom dwell on the little nuances. There were however an extreme multitude of famous and mentionable people in attendance or in some cases, on display at SHOT Show 2012. As usual the legends and successful masters of shooting disciplines were present, as well as TV sensations both past and present. Lou Ferrigno, was seen repeatedly examining various products as a guest of Barrett Firearms; as well, several participants of the TV Show Top Shot Season 4 were discovering the huge industry on display at SHOT Show 2012. Further highlights of celebrity fanfare was the feature appearances by the crew of Red Jacket Firearms from the TV show, Sons of Guns, and many others.
A short, incomplete listing of well known people who attended Shot Show:
- R. Lee Ermey
- Les Stroud
- Bear Grylls
- Ted Nugent
- Troy & Jacob Landry
- Larry Vickers
- The SeAL team/cast from the movie “Acts of Valor”
- An nearly every known professional shooter, Outdoor TV series hosts, etc…
TPF isn’t going to go into the huge details about what was present and what new products were available for the US market. Suffice to say that the author would be able to write a short novella of several tens of thousands of words showing the various new non-firearm products, let alone new guns. We will however keep you, the reader, abreast of any products which these manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, graciously provide to TPF-Online for review.
Much of the excitement and great moments at the SHOT Show is when the author met so many other Canadians on happenstance, Mrs. Page from Packing Pink, Mr. Krete from The Gun Centre, Mr. Hansen from Freedom Ventures, Mr. Muir from Lever Arms, Mr. Ruston from Tactical Products Canada, and a host of others representing Canadian businesses. Many thanks are to be given to these individuals and companies for attending and creating the contracts and arrangements which continue to supply our Canada market with firearms and related products.
If you are ever able to go, TPF-Online recommends that you do so and experience the multi-billion dollar industry which is partially displayed at SHOT Show. And recall that this is just a PARTIAL display as there are many many other businesses and manufacturers who are not in attendance. A great example is FWB, or Feinwerkbau, one of the oldest and most renowned Olympic class firearms makers, wasn’t present yet again in this year’s SHOT Show.
This years SHOT Show was executed even better than last year and once again, anyone coming should bring a couple pairs of walking shoes to explore and experience the whole event and all booths. However, be forewarned that should you attend, plan your visits to the booths they would have roughly a minute for visiting each booth, and when you consider the sheer scale of the show, much of that time can be walking from booth to booth. There are many displays and extra events which can eat up several minutes of time, such as watching professional shooters show their skills, lining up to get autographs and pictures with celebrities, as well as hands on experience with the multitudes of firearms accessories and outdoor gear.
The 2012 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show is the largest event of it’s type in the world and TPF can guarantee that should you ever attend this event, every single product displayed at the show will be Practical, Tactical, or Fantasical.
A small example of how you can spend your time talking to one of the many representatives of companies in attendance. Presenting Angus Hobdell, who has been shooting CZ products since 1986 and a member of Team CZ-USA since 2003. In 2012, he is still a great competitor and 100% behind promoting CZ-USA.
On behalf of TPF-Online and the CSSA, many thanks Mr. Hobdell for your time and efforts.
As an added bonus, over the next few days and weeks, TPF will be releasing small video clips from many of the top action shooters in regards to the shooting sports and tips for improving your abilities. So stay tuned!