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As We See It

Does that gun-concealing clock come in red? And other observations from this year’s SHOT Show

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The 10 minute deer skinner is going to change the way you skin deer.

First, tie your doe by the neck to a tree or post. Now, since you already cut a neat circle around the throat, separating fur from flesh, simply attach one end of the device to the loose skin around the collar, and the other end of the device to the ball hitch of your car or truck. Now skinning the deer is easy as driving away.

As your car pulls forward, the skin will slip off your doe like a peel off a banana. Presto—one skinned deer in less time than it takes to order a pizza!

The 10 Minute Deer Skinner was booth No. 3853 at the SHOT Show—short for “Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade”—held at the Sands Expo center last week, where it’s said some 40,000 people came to wander convention halls of shooting and hunting gear.

And guns. Guns displayed on plush red pillows, guns with lasers, guns in pink and purple, guns that shoot mace, guns polished mirror clear or sprayed flat black, guns for police, guns for hunters, guns for kids, guns for snipers. Enough cold steel, it seemed, to arm all of Las Vegas, or build a suspension bridge.

There, now we can move on to the interesting stuff.

In one SHOT Show booth, there’s a brand of button-down shirts that conceal firearms with a secret pocket. This garners the attention of one man, who tells the vendors how he was forced to switch to “all these Bahamas-looking T-shirts” to hide his firearm—an undercover officer trying to pass in cruise-ship chic.

“This,” the salesman says, slipping a hand underneath his dress shirt and producing a gun, “is going to change all that.”

A few aisles over, the latest in bullet-proofing; vests, etc. One manufacturer displays the door of a cop car, shot through with a variety of guns, for caliber comparison. The 12-gauge hole is gaping and thumb-sized. Around the corner, a selection of armored vehicles. One man climbs into a Hummer outfitted for a SWAT team, pokes his head out a roof hatch and announces to friends below: “Dudes, we have to get one of these.”

Meanwhile, convention models mill in short skirts and high heels. At the SHOT Show, they pose with bullet loaders instead of cars. Some are hunting pin-ups, with their own booths and calendars—12 months of busty women cuddling up to bagged game: a babe, a bear, a boar, a big-mouth bass.

There are safari trips for sale. One California company is offering bear hunts. A South African company hangs photos of men crouching next to downed leopards and lions. Then there vendors who focus on the aftermath, the complications of moving a massive creature out of the woods and into your car. For this, there is the Game Sled—a bright orange kind of tarp that animals are strapped to, wrapped in, then dragged by the hunter back home. (Game Sled company tag line: “Bag it. Tag it. Drag it.”)

There’s the latest in cooler technology, of course, for storing your cut and quartered elk, or your hamburgers. One vendor shows how durable his coolers are by playing video footage of two bears desperately trying to get inside the insulated boxes. The animals shake the coolers, throw them on the ground, paw at them, smash them and get nowhere.

It’s unclear if the bears ultimately end up in coolers themselves.

There are booths full of devices for hiding guns in plain sight, like a Victorian-style clock that opens to reveal, behind its Roman-numeral dial, space for a pistol. There are gun safes custom-made to fit your car—a small black lock box that slips into the center console, or under the jump seat. Then there are rows of safes for your home, including one bright yellow vault scaled to attract convention attention: At least 6 feet square and 12 feet tall. Enough to house an armory. A walk-in safe. “They can make ’em any color you like,” a man says, heaving the door open to look inside. “I’m gonna move in.”

There are ready-made mementos—frames designed to hold the shotgun shell that took down the four-point buck last year. There’s decor—a line of camouflage wallpaper and bedding. There are practicalities—a rhinestone-studded can of pepper spray, a translucent high-capacity magazine, an “explosion-proof vacuum.” There’s a robust reading canon—a book on underwater shooting, for example, and a volume on defending yourself with a flashlight. (Perhaps you’ve accidentally left your pistol behind the clock again.)

And there are charities. American Snipers, for example, collects and sends donated goods to snipers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not cookies and blankets, but scopes, wind meters and rangefinders. Something to improve upon military equipment that’s sub-par, banged up or just not suited to our modern theater, where snipers are being used in growing numbers. Stationed at the charity’s booth, Jeff Chang—once a sniper in Baghdad, now a Phoenix cop—said that the group has helped hundreds of snipers satisfy one hard and simple goal.

“You absolutely do not,” Chang said, “want to shoot the wrong person.”

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Abigail Goldman

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