Just to put this out there, I’m reducing the number of posts about the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show to one a day. We’ve covered the apparent collapse of the show pretty thoroughly, but it remains newsworthy to highlight just how our gun culture has really learned to stand up for one another in the last several years.
Last night, Pennsylvania’s Olympic Gold Medalist Jamie Gray – billed as the ESOS’s guest of honor – canceled her appearances at the show. She posted on Facebook:
As an avid outdoors woman who grew in this sport in part due to my experience at ESOS, itâ€™s a decision that doesnâ€™t come easy but I have decided that I will NOT participate. My decision is due to what I feel would be an inability as an Olympic athlete to represent my sport, industry and USA Shooting teammates in the best possible manner given the political climate that will be present as a result of the decisions that have been made.
Perhaps the biggest news that doesn’t seem to be confirmed anywhere through a statement, but the official ESOS website now only lists one sponsor willing to be associated with them – Progressive Insurance. Cabela’s and Outdoor Channel have officially dropped out, but the disappearance of the Comcast logo indicates that maybe they don’t even want to be associated with the fiasco that this has become.
When it comes to the diversity of sportsmen standing with us, it has so far mostly been from hunters and archers. However, today Towne Marine announced that they are pulling their massive 30 boat display out of the ESOS in protest of their decision to ban modern semi-automatic firearms. Based on the map on the website, it appears they were the second largest display in the fishing hall.
The other interesting turn of events surrounds an archery event at the ESOS. It’s a world qualifier event, so it’s not something to just cancel without serious harm to the sport. However, the International Bowhunting Organization clearly felt they needed to something to stand up for gun rights even though they are trying hard not screw competitors who need to compete in this qualification. Here’s the meat of their statement on how they are striking the balance:
The PA-3D Bowhunter’s Challenge and IBO Indoor Nationals will take place as previously advertised, albeit without IBO representation. The local PA-3D Bowhunters organization has opted to host and oversee the shooting event on its own. The logistics involved in administering the competition, along with registered participants’ concerns with travel plans and airline reservations, are contributing factors for the decision to continue these events.
Proceeds received by the IBO in shooter fees, along with the Rinehart Target Fee, will be donated to the National Rifle Association specifically to fight the threats to The Second Amendment currently being faced by law-abiding American firearms owners.
The IBO stands with those who have chosen to boycott the Eastern Sports and Outdoor show and strongly condemns the action taken by Reed Exhibitions. (emphasis added)
Going back to the gun world, surprisingly, it took GunBroker until late this afternoon to pull out of the show. Given their reliance on business from people who absolutely support semi-automatic rifles, I would have assumed they would have pulled themselves out earlier.
While we have focused on many of the smaller vendors who are pulling out, news also comes today that one of the largest vendors that had space in four key sections of the show has joined the boycott.
Sportsmans Liquidations is one of the largest vendors at the show, Locker said. It originally had signed up for a large chunk of space â€” 130 booths, typically 10- by 10- feet apiece, split up into four different areas at the show.
Speaking of those smaller vendors, Keystone Country Store in Ft. Loudon, PA deserves some attention for their efforts. Not only are they pulling out of the show, but they told the media that they are instead having a celebration for the Second Amendment at their store. Part of the proceeds from their celebration will go to the NRA.
For the non-profits that have pulled their booths from the ESOS, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs announced that they are currently working with Cabela’s to get special days set up there to promote the organizations that are taking a huge hit by joining the boycott.
Given the size of some of the new boycotters, I think it’s safe to say that upwards of 1/4 of the show will be empty this year. If Comcast really did pull out as a sponsor, then they have lost 3/4 of their sponsors for the year. On Facebook, the boycott page has nearly twice as many followers as the actual ESOS itself. According to media reports, Reed Exhibitions plans to release a statement sometime this week. At this point, you really have to wonder what on earth they plan to say.