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Contemplation in Vegas

I come to you this week worn out, jet lagged, and footsore. I just returned from the SHOT Show. (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade show) SHOT is sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and is held every year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vegas, if you have never been there is everything you think it is. (Whatever that maybe) It’s loud, and bright, and crowded, and everyone is having a great time, I think. It is a prime tourist location, everyone wants to go there so this is where SHOT is held, at least for now. With all the sights in Las Vegas, with all the casinos and the gambling and all the night life, I always go and do a strange thing. (Are you surprised?)

I go see Mary and the baby Jesus.

I know, it’s weird, but you guys should be used to it by now. On the front of the Venetian Hotel, part of the Palazzo-Sands Expo Center that houses SHOT Show, there are some beautiful statues and other art. High above this and off to one side sits a statue of Mary with little Jesus on her lap, I doubt if most of the people going up and down the Las Vegas strip even notice them. I try to go there at least a couple times during the show and stand for a few minutes, contemplate the scene of them overlooking all of the madness running up and down sidewalk. If no one is around I may venture a few words to them about maybe looking out for all of us down here, especially those I know that are going through recent tragedies.

Usually I will do this after a day of scrambling up and down the miles of aisles that make up the SHOT Show. 2020 marks the 42nd years for this show, the first one was in St. Louis in 1979. If it concerns anything in the world of firearms, hunting, competition and recreations shooting, and the outdoors, you are going to see it at SHOT. SHOT attracts more than 60,000 professionals from the shooting, hunting, outdoors, and law enforcement industry. More than 2,000 members of the outdoor media attend here to cover the products and programs they see at SHOT. The show this year attracted people from states and over 110 countries. Over 2,400 exhibitors were on hand in area of the Sands Expo and Convention Center covering about 16 acers, with over twelve miles of aisles, and I think your humble outdoor scribe walked all of them every day.

Every time I go to SHOT I am asked by many of you if I saw anything new and exciting in all of the mass of shooting and firearms products displayed there. In truth there is so much to see that I am overwhelmed each time I step into that world every year. One thing I want to bring up though and I will do it to make a point here in just a minute. Federal Ammunition Company came out with many new products this year, but the one that may attract the most attention is a new concept in muzzleloading.

The new Federal Premium FireStick is a premeasured self-contained powder charge that is breech loaded into a break action muzzleloading rifle. ( The bullet is loaded from the muzzle to seat on top of a bullet shelf inside the barrel of the rifle. The break-open action of the rifle is opened and the FireStick is then installed into the open breech to seat just behind the bullet shelf and seated bullet. A 209 Muzzleloader primer is inserted into the FireStick propellant capsule to charge the powder. The break-open action is closed. It’s now ready to fire, once the hammer is pulled back and the safety is turned off. The rifle for the FireStick to be used with is made by Traditions Performance Firearms, called the NitroFire and the current model is a .50 Caliber with other models to soon follow. (

The FireStick is an ingenious and safe alternative to some of the current methods of muzzle loading hunting and shooting. Almost immediately after it was announced I noticed comments on different forums and the book of faces about how Federal is claiming to have invented the enclosed cartridge and how this system is not really muzzleloader hunting, it’s not traditional, and the sky will probably fall any day.

All this falls into what I have been saying lately about the lack of hunter unity, and we had better be getting our act together. If this is a way for some of us to muzzleloader hunt safer and more efficiently, because the FireStick system will certainly be more weather resistant than anything we have in the muzzleloader line so far, I say amen. Once again, as I have said many times, if the method of hunting is legal, let’s do it and get more hunters out there and more boots on the ground!

I know you will be hearing more about what I saw at SHOT but I am back home now and I think about Mary and Jesus sitting there above all the fray as all those below scurry about like so many ants. I know they think kind thoughts about us.

I hope they will help us with all of our division and strife.