January 11, 2008
By Kim Hiss
As many of you know, around this time every year, the National Shooting Sports Foundation holds a convention of outdoors exhibitors called the SHOT Show. I went for the first time in 2005, and came to appreciate how truly massive the exhibition is -- acres of booths displaying every gun, bow, backpack, boot, knife, and camo innovation imaginable (the 2007 show had 1,870 exhibitors and was attended by 42,000 people).
As the industry gears up for the '08 SHOT Show in Las Vegas at the beginning of February, I thought it was worth zeroing in on one particular element of the event -- the booth babes.
Of course, show attendance is dominated by men, and to get their attention, some exhibitors hire women to hang around their displays who seem to have forgotten their clothes that morning.
I remember walking around the exhibition floor at that 2005 show, doing my job as an outdoors journalist just like any number of men in attendance. But the second I spotted the first of those booth babes, I immediately felt like an outsider -- like the only way a woman could fit into that man's world was to have killer legs and a chest that could knock an eye out. In a strange way, it was kind of like the time I went to Disney World as a kid and caught a glimpse of Goofy with his head off and the guy inside smoking a cigarette - I was in this incredibly impressive place, but one little detail sucked the fun right out of it.
Maybe I could have been more of a sport about that whole thing. I mean, boys will be boys, and the booth babes are a kind of tradition at SHOT. And I'm sure the babes themselves are very nice. But -- not to be a downer or anything -- every time I spotted another one of them, I just ended up feeling, well, kinda depressed. -K.H.