TheGunBlog.ca — Firearms Outlet Canada Inc. said about 5,500 people packed into the Tactical & Competitive Shooting Sports Show this weekend for the first event of its kind in Canada.
Fred Pellegrino, who owns the store and hosted the expo, organized Taccom to help shooters and others learn about guns and gear for tactical and sport shooters. He ran the free event in a planned target range connected to his retail store in Ajax, Ontario, 45 km east of downtown Toronto.
“We all had a blast,” said Adam, who drove with two friends from Ottawa about four hours away. “There were some amazing products that you just don’t get to see in certain shops here in Ottawa. It was a little crammed, but that’s a good thing for the future of the show and the firearms community.”
Canada’s 2.1 million licensed gun owners bought more than a thousand handguns, AR-15 rifles and other so-called “Restricted” firearms per week last year. Hunting is on the decline, but sport shooting is “exploding.”
“The traffic we had yesterday was insane,” Pellegrino said Sunday afternoon. “These are our core customers.”
“The turnout has been amazing,” said Chris Weidenfelder. His company, Outdoor Escape Sales, represents brands including Desert Tech and Zev Technologies. He said it was so busy at one point that he got pushed out of his booth.
Benelli, Beretta, Glock, Mossberg, Nanuk, Ravin, SIG Sauer, Tikka and other major brands had staff to display products and provide information.
“I don’t know of any other show like this,” said Chris, who shoots pistol, rifle and shotgun and came to test trigger mechanisms made by Trigger Tech of Mississauga, Ontario. (They equip 7 of the top 10 shooters in the Precision Rifle Series). “It’s nice to be able to handle the firearms, and to be able to talk to the companies.”
Gun Bans Coming
The expo fell on the weekend after the federal government proposed a law to make gun ownership more difficult, register all firearm purchases and ban more guns.
“In a way, the timing couldn’t have been better,” said Pierre Plourde, a local firearm lawyer and exhibitor at the show. “It’s a motivation for people to show interest and stand united. We need to stand united.”
Pellegrino said he hired 2 police officers, 2 armed security guards, 1 medic, 25 staff and 15 volunteers to help manage all the people. He had to create separate lines for the store and the showroom.
“The booth was so packed you couldn’t move,” said Jonathan Melo, sales manager for North Sylva Co., which had the largest space at the show and distributes Colt Canada, Smith & Wesson and IWI among its brands.
Duke and a friend from Toronto said they stood in line for 70 minutes in freezing weather to get in, even though they had tickets. They didn’t know how long they’d have to wait or that they were waiting because the showroom was full. They said they came to evaluate handguns to find the best fit, but when they got in, the selection was smaller than they expected. Most had trigger locks that made testing difficult.
Looking to Next Year
“The fact that there was a massive lineup around the corner means that people are interested in the sport,” said Thomas, who shoots cowboy action using handgun, shotgun and lever rifle. He came with his son who has a minor’s firearm licence. “I work in a corporate environment in downtown Toronto. I’m thrilled that this is even going on.”
“The big thing is to promote the sport to people,” North Sylva’s Melo said. “We’re trying to provide an atmosphere where they can safely handle firearms. Where else can you go to safely handle handguns, rifles and shotguns all in one space? We’re already looking forward to next year.”
More Comments From the Show
Jyoti. PAL holder. Got her licence last week:
- “I didn’t want to come, but I’m glad I did because I got to hold guns that I never thought I would ever hold.”
- “I like the Beretta PX4 Storm.”
- “The presence of security was comforting.”
Anonymous, (Jyoti’s partner). PAL holder.
- About the show: “It was much busier than I expected. It was great to see that the manufacturers were there. I really appreciated that the head guys were here.”
- About Firearms Outlet Canada: “The service is really good. The store is top-notch.”
Duke, no PAL. Came with friend who has a PAL.
- “It’s my first gun show in Canada, and I thought it would be larger.”
- “You couldn’t really get a feel for the guns because of the trigger locks.”
- “I was hoping to learn about firearm laws in Canada and how to get a gun licence.”
Exhibitors (Alphabetical by first name)
Chris Weidenfelder. Outdoor Escape Sales. Manufacturer’s representative.
- “The turnout has been amazing.”
- “One of the things I appreciated was that it’s a very focused user group. You can have more meaningful conversations with committed customers over two days as compared to the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show over five days.”
- Weidenfelder got a lot of questions about Desert Tech’s new MDR bullpup rifle. He expects it to be available for purchase in a few months and to be classified as “Non-restricted.”It will cost $3,200 to $3,400, depending on calibre.
Gord Lamoureux, Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights.
- “We sold more memberships by noon on Day One than during the whole Toronto Sportsmen’s Show” last week.
James Boulerice. Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights.
- “We’ve never had that many people lined up ever.”
Mike Brake. Brake Tactical Training Solutions. Training.
- “It’s been phenomenal.”
- Brake also taught two seminars on precision long-range shooting.
Mike Duynhoven. Canadian Shooting Sports Association.
- “We had impressive numbers.”
Rex Shields, Action Target. Provo, Utah.
- “The traffic has been non-stop.”
- “People are starving for places to shoot up here.”
- “This is a great start.”
Rob. National Historical Arms Museum.
- “We had a lot of people come through.”
Ryan McLeod. Highlander Tactical. Kydex holsters, mag carriers.
- “One-quarter of the people who stopped by the booth knew me from social media. Three-quarters didn’t.”
- McLeod, who works during the day as a weapons technician for the Canadian Armed Forces, makes holsters for the military, police and sport shooters. One of the features he promotes is a belt loop that accommodates belts of 1.5 inches, 1.75 inches and 2 inches.
Ryan Schellenberg, Wolverine Supplies Ltd. Distributor and retailer.
- “It’s a great show. The square footage is small, but it’s been a really busy show. A couple thousand people have been through easily. Next year I’m hoping it’ll be in a bigger place.”
- People were lining up to view Wolverine’s WK180-C rifle. He said they are also visiting the store in Manitoba near the Saskatchewan border to see it.
- “People are driving 4 – 5 hours to come look at it.”
Ryan Steacy. International Barrels, and champion rifle shooter.
- “I’m talking to a zillion people.”
- “My goal is to make really, really good barrels for people, to not have them pay $800 to $900, and to not make them wait forever.”
- Steacy, whose clients include precision sport shooters and military snipers, aims eventually to sell straight barrel blanks for about $419 and ship within a week.
Scott Little. TDSA Canada. Training.
- “We were swamped.”
- “We had great conversations with a lot of people who were unsure what to expect when they train with us.”
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