Last week's announcement that Reed Exhibitions has decided to "postpone" this year's Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show seemed like a confirmation of the inevitable. Over the course of the prior week, furor over Reed's decision to ban modern rifles (any AR-platform products) from this year's show in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting and resulting political turmoil had literally swept through the hunting and shooting community. By the time Reed made it's announcement about postponing the show, more than 300 exhibitors and all but two of the show's corporate sponsors had already pulled the plug in protest. And considering a newly created Facebook page supporting a show boycott had garnered more than 18,000 likes in less than a week, it was pretty clear Reed was running hard to stay in front of a snowball that would eventually envelop them.
Plenty has already been written about the whole flap, but from a bowhunting perspective, I thought it was very interesting, and quite significant, that virtually every major archery-related organized involved with the show stood up in support of the boycott. Lancaster Archery Supply was among the very first major exhibitors to pull out, even before some of the bigger corporate sponsors pulled the plug. Other archery/bowhunting oriented groups to pull out of the show before it was postponed (cancelled) include: Bear Archery, PSE Archery, Bohning Archery, Hoyt Archery, TenPoint Crossbows, Excalibur Crossbows, Easton, Kinsey's Outdoors, Lumenok, Firenock, International Bowhunting Organization (IBO), TNT Archery and more.
Gun-control advocates have launched a major offensive in the past month, and it's clear gun-rights supporters are in for major battle that could prove pivotal to the future of the Second Amendment. Many battles lie ahead, and it will be some time before any of us know how it all shakes out. But if gun-control advocates thought they could use a divide-and-conquer approach to fracture the shooting/hunting community, the Eastern Sports Show boycott proved them wrong. At first glance, it might not seem like archery companies and bowhunting organizations have a dog in the fight, but clearly they understand we are all in this together. After all, if the use of firearms is significantly restricted, what does that do to the future of hunting?
As the old saying goes, "If you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us."