Our SSAA SHOT Expos have become a landmark event for the shooting community in Australia, so it was inevitable our friends across the Tasman would eventually become interested and want their own event. The SSAA own the rights to the ‘SHOT Expo’ but, as a gesture of goodwill to our friends in New Zealand and the Council of Licenced Firearm Owners Inc (the NZ equivalent of SSAA), we happily passed on our concept and sanctioned the inaugural NZ SHOT Expo earlier this year.
“The Australian show is obviously more established in terms of the shooting public, but the New Zealanders were very happy about sports shooting having a dedicated event,” said Mike Nissen, Director at Exhibitions Group and one of the key figures behind each of the SSAA SHOT Expos.
Mike says he was approached by brands in New Zealand about holding a SHOT Expo because even though they already had their own hunting events, they didn’t have anything on the scale of the SSAA SHOT Expo.
“We used the SSAA SHOT Expo as a base and went from there,” he said. “After an inspection of the event by NZ police, they told us the safety steps we had taken were far beyond their requirements. Shooting in NZ is just more socially acceptable and the laws are more relaxed.”
More than 8000 people attended the NZ SHOT Expo, with the event running more or less the same as its Australian counterpart. Of course, one of the key differences was the prevalence of semi-autos and suppressors, as well as a generally much freer market.
“One of the best things to come out of the NZ event – and we knew this would happen – is that it brought the firearms community businesses together across the ditch,” said Mike.
“It’s an exciting opportunity, because more products will start to be brought back and forth between the countries. It’s a great potential market for Australian businesses and will lead to more brands being available for shooters.”
Of course, this isn’t the only connection we share with New Zealand and COLFO. We are both members of the World Forum on Shooting Activities and regularly discuss political opportunities. Also, the rivalry and growth of competition between Australia and New Zealand at the Pacific Regional Shooting Championships has been beneficial for both countries. Having our allies in New Zealand allows us to point to examples of sensible firearm laws. What’s good for the shooting sports there is good for the shooting sports here.
The next NZ SHOT Expo has already been locked in and will take place in Auckland on February 23 and 24 February, 2019.