By Dan Shea
This issue of SAR is being handed out at one of our favorite shows of the year, IWA in Nurnberg, Germany. Every March since the beginning of this magazine (we'd been attending IWA for years before 1997 as well), we go to Nurnberg and enjoy meeting with the European small arms community. While IWA is the "IWA and Outdoor Classics" show with a large hunting and sport shooting theme, the Law Enforcement presence has grown dramatically just as it has at the SHOT Show. In many ways, IWA is considered the "SHOT Show for the rest of the world." This characterization is a bit unfair, as SHOT is very inclusive of international exhibitors and attendees, but has a reputation as being for the US market only. I can attest to that not being the case due to the massive number of international visitors we get at the shop during SHOT (we're based in Las Vegas area), as well as the clear effect on the international market that comes from the show.
IWA has a very profound effect on the small arms community around the world. Exhibitors from all over the world are present, and like SHOT, the networking opportunities are excellent. The USA Pavilion has also continued to grow as traditionally US-centric companies open their eyes and look out around the world and see the common interests for their products, as well as the possibilities for international cooperation at home. Many times new products that are showcased at IWA in March, start showing up on the US market by Fall of the year.
Many times it is hard for European companies to break into presenting their products into the US because of our onerous and confusing importation regulations regarding firearms and related products. One more side effect of exhibiting at IWA is not only does the displaying company reach European buyers, but the contact over the Atlantic opens many doors as well. While the European market is certainly enough for many European companies who want to stay within their traditional marketplace, those with an eye for adventure and growth will frequently find that IWA is a launching point for future ventures. The IWA show has many attendees from Asia, the Mideast, South America, and parts of Africa. This constant flow of new people presents opportunities to meet and make friends, and to form business partnerships that can continue to grow and hopefully prosper for years to come.
Our readers who have never been to the IWA show should consider it for 2012. SAR has a large international readership but is still US based, and we need to address an issue that is very American. Up until 2001, only about 10% of Americans had a passport, and the statistics constantly quoted were that only about 20% had ever used their passport on real, cross-the-big-puddle international travel. With a population of 300 million, that was 30 million with passports and only about 6 million Americans doing international travel (outside of military service). I can't verify that 20% number but it seems reasonable from my experience, and the 10% number was correct in the 1980s. Since Americans now need a passport to go to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, US passport ownership has almost tripled to about 27%. It's not that hard to do today. Flights to Germany in March are "off-season" and prices are good. Make your hotel reservations in advance to get the best prices. Nurnberg is a wonderful city to visit as well as trying to see some other areas while you're there.
Yes, I'm suggesting that you, reading this in the US, consider having "An Adventure" next year. IWA will certainly introduce you to the rest of the world's shooting community better than any other method I can think of. Hope to see you there: SAR is set up in the USA Pavilion.
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