Family fun shines at SSAA Sydney SHOT Expo

Sydney’s picturesque Rosehill Gardens saw close to 17,000 people pass through the gates across the weekend of June 23-24 for the 2018 SSAA SHOT Expo. The sun shone on the men, women and children who flocked to the popular family event, with this one turning out to be one of the biggest SSAA SHOT Expos.

The Expo runs biannually across various states and is the largest expo in Australia for the shooting, hunting and outdoor trades, with exhibitors travelling from around the country and as far afield as the US, South Africa and Turkey.

This year’s event filled three halls, including the lower level of Hall 1 and extended along the outdoor areas of the showgrounds. Events ran from one end to the other throughout each day and with a pass providing entry for both days, there was an opportunity on Sunday to take part in something you’d missed on Saturday.

From morning to afternoon the Expo hosted free knifemaking, blacksmithing and axe throwing, along with Field to Fork cooking, deer caping and butchery demos. Expert talks came from former Olympic shooting coach Greg Chan, Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medalists Russell Mark and Laetisha Scanlan, fishing personality Al McGlashan and hunting expert Jennifer Nakamura.

Gunsmith Nick Haliwell also guided enthusiastic guests through setting up their own custom rifle. A PA system was in use throughout the day to keep visitors informed of the weekend’s events, guest speakers and demos.

Thanks go to major sponsors Winchester, Beretta, Swarovski Optik and Safari Firearms whose displays were shining examples of the professionalism and expertise on offer across the 160-plus stands. The SSAA SHOT Expos provide a fantastic opportunity for vendors to not only showcase their products and advertise their brand, but to answer any questions for new and existing customers.

Every exhibitor represented our sport and recreation to the fullest, with thousands of products available for enthusiasts to buy the tools of their trade. Hannes Nothdurfter of Swarovski was happy to support the industry and display the Swarovski brand, saying: “It has been an absolute cracker again. Eight years now and it just keeps growing.”

The popular event had an amazing family-friendly buzz, with everyone soaking it up at their own pace. The Expo’s accommodating and casual feel made the security and police presence, although important and not to be undermined, feel a little redundant. There were ample chairs and tables available for those indulging in the array of food and drinks, with the bevvy of baristas kept busy all weekend. Many enjoyed a coffee and chance to rest their feet, making the most of the plentiful space while enjoying the impressive Rosehill Racecourse.

SSAA NSW, SSAA National and SSAA Insurance had a massive presence and showcased SSAA Disciplines, Membership and Merchandise. Free magazines from Media Partners Australian Shooter and Australian Hunter were up for grabs and it was good to see so many people getting behind Devil Ark, which has a tremendous partnership with SSAA NSW in working to prevent extinction of the Tasmanian Devil.

SSAA NSW also conducted Safe Shooting and R-Licence testing courses. These didn’t require pre-booking and were capitalised on by new shooters applying for their NSW Firearms licence (longarms) and hunters for their Restricted licence to allow the hunting of game and feral animals on public and private land accordingly.

A great time was had by the many kids who enjoyed free indoor archery and outdoor bowhunting. The fully supervised SSAA Indoor Pistol and Rifle Ranges and SSAA Outdoor Air Rifle Range were free for adults and children 12 years and older. The impressive SSAA Working Gundogs wowed the crowds with their intellect and the demonstrations drew regular rounds of applause.

It was a great opportunity for companies to showcase their products, including those launched at the Expo. With so many ‘Expo specials’, discounts and giveaways it wasn’t surprising to see so many loaded up with gear. Gary Georgiou of Safari Firearms was delighted with the success, saying: “It was great the Expo catered for women and fantastic to see so many in attendance. There was tremendous support and a lot of buzz with so much variety for the hunter and target shooter alike”.

General outdoor products like UTVs, edgeware, lighting, fishing equipment, clothing, boots and camping equipment ensured there was something for everyone and every occasion.

Scott Allen of Beretta said: “The Expo was again extremely successful for Beretta and there was a fantastic response to our new products”. Beretta’s Aimpoint VR hunting setup was hugely popular, with Federal Sports Minister Bridgett McKenzie exclaiming: “This is so cool!” as she took her shot.

 Other notable attendees who form part of our ever-growing shooting and hunting community were NSW Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Party MP Mr Ian Goodenough and New Zealand Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) chairman Paul Clark.

Winchester Australia marketing coordinator Jackie Martin was impressed with the weekend, saying: “Sydney 2018 was an exceptionally successful show for Winchester Australia. Feedback from all our guests was positive and they were amazed by the attendance and passion of our shooters. Another spectacular event from Exhibitions Group and the SSAA. See you all in Perth.”

The SAAA looks forward to hosting our third WA Expo on October 13-14 at Perth’s Claremont Showgrounds, which is set to attract thousands of attendees from WA, interstate and overseas and will be a huge boon for the state’s economy.

We proudly promote not only shooting as a sport and recreation but also the extended hunting and outdoor trades communities. Thanks to SSAA members and staff and our whole community we can look forward to another great weekend in October.

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