The F.I.R.E. Expo (Florida’s Firearms Industry Range Expo) in Immokalee, Florida, came to life at a place called the Force Center shortly after the NSSF canceled the in-person SHOT Show experience this year. The sprawling complex is located on the grounds of an old prison complex and had the facilities and space to put on another expo.
In November, after NSSF's announcement, Shane Netherton, the organizer of F.I.R.E. Expo, jumped into action with the goal of creating an event that welcomed the public and gun media alike to shoot cool guns and revel in community. Within three months, they assembled an expo that aspires to be the SHOT Show of the East.
Pulling into the Force Center with Huey helicopters flying overhead and the old prison lurking in the distance truly made it feel like you were about to experience something incredible. Demos on the latest guns were available to everyone and continued every day of the event. If simply shooting a few rounds from each gun at the demo line wasn’t enough, you could enroll in their 2-gun competition.
Touring booths ranged from Staccato to Taurus, and almost every vendor had the same story: They spent 2020 catching up on orders from releases announced at SHOT last January. Let’s face it, 2020 was an insane year with gun sales reaching an all-time high. Manufacturers had been doing all they could to keep up and maintain production. Even with all their efforts, the demand was still higher than the supply.
But the F.I.R.E. Expo was a welcome chance to showcase their guns out on the range. Stay tuned for the booth tours, where we reviewed new releases in store for 2021!
It will be very exciting to see what they will pull together for the F.I.R.E. Expo next year. The Force Center facility is unique and offers plenty of space for vendors, while being able to host a 2-gun competition and have an entire prison complex available for the perfect content creation and training.
The F.I.R.E. Expo aspires to be different from SHOT by not making it an industry-only event. Everyone can go to range day, and everyone can attend. For many East Coast vendors, traveling to Vegas is expensive, and they miss talking to customers who are local. In Immokalee, they can build national and local relationships while enjoying the Florida warmth in January.