SHOT show surprises with items targeted to women

I browsed the "new products" room at the annual Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trades (SHOT) Show, held last month in Las Vegas, and found some surprises.

Among the dozens of newer (and higher-powered) firearms on display were some novelties that seemed to draw plenty of attention.

More women are into shooting and hunting these days and there were plenty of items aimed at the female market. 

HipHugger Holsters by Can Can Concealment weren't just fancy underwear. They were also a way to pack a pistol under your jeans. Handbags by Gun Tote'N Mamas were designed with a secret compartment for carrying a concealed handgun. Lethallace holsters allowed a feminine wearer to carry a concealed handgun around her torso, lower leg or waist. Some of these items were directly marketed to women "who have restraining orders." 

It was a sign of the times. And it brought to mind my days as a police reporter when our former Madison County municipal judge would hand out informal safety advice with his restraining orders. He would tell women victims to formulate plans to protect themselves in case they were threatened and law enforcement was slow to respond.

Another sign of the times was a non-lethal personal defense system from Moteng N.A. that shoots a heavy plastic weight (instead of a bullet or shell) as a first round. It can be used with either a handgun or long gun and will disable and stun an assailant without killing or seriously injuring him. It was clearly directed at the hundreds of police officers attending the SHOT Show.

Then there was the quirky and curious stuff.

I found myself staring (a bit red-faced) at "Blast Boxers" by BCB International. The reinforced men's underwear promises to protect the "family jewels" from shrapnel, bullets or anything dangerous that might fly their way. 

The bulky boxers were originally designed to protect soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan from the effects of roadside bombs. However, their market has expanded to law enforcement officers raiding booby-trapped drug dens all over the country.

The line between military and law enforcement gear was clearly blurred at the show. It is a sad commentary on the need for police officers to match the firepower of today's drug dealers. I even saw a bullet-proof baseball cap designed by BulletSafe Vests.

New products did include some items hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts would find valuable. 

I was intrigued by a camping lantern from ThermaCell Repellents that will not attract mosquitoes and other bugs. 

Then, there was the "Lidcam" from Rhino Blinds – a camera that attaches to the bill of a baseball cap and allows hunters to record their kills in real time.

New camouflage fabric by Ruko was on display. It is lighter in color than traditional camouflage and specifically designed for late fall and winter hunting when woodlands are bare of leaves.

Among the many new backpack designs were some that concealed not only weapons, but also built-in seats. Attaching the backpack low on a tree and dropping the seat would keep a hunter off the ground. It also would make it quicker and easier for a hunter to draw a bow or sight a gun. Both Sandpiper of California and ALPS Outdoors displayed backpacks with drop-down seats.

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