Blown Deadlines, Pumpkin Carving Bulletproof Vests, Women-Owned Gun Companies, and More – Oh My! (A Virgin’s SHOT Show Experience – Preview Edition)

    Next week, I’ll be attending SHOT Show in Las Vegas for the first time. I’ve read about it, my husband has been several times, but this will be my first experience…and I get to do it as MEDIA! Honestly, I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl!

    Sure, several of my articles next week will review some of the coolest and innovative products to come out of SHOT. But I’ve also lined up several interviews with some of my friends in the firearms industry as well as more-than-a-handful of women-owned gun (or firearms accessory) companies I’ll sit down with while in Vegas!

    Here’s a preview of some of the friends I’ll be talking to:

    What Doesn’t Kill You (BlownDeadline)

    If someone told you that just after you’d started your business, you’d:

    • Lose everything in a house fire for which you only had homeowner’s insurance (and had to pay for everything else out of pocket)?
    • Owe high-end firearms to dozens of angry customers which weren’t covered in the fire
    • Battle cancer and chemotherapy while keeping your business running?
    • If you had to answer phone calls and emails from customers failing to understand what you’re going through? The sleepless nights? The agony and frustration?

    …would you say it was worth it all if you came out the other side on top?

    I reached out to Michael Sigouin of Blown Deadline this morning to see what he had to say. He says, “Yes, and I wouldn’t change a single thing.”

    Mike went on to say, “I don’t regret anything. If anything the drama that happened made us and myself who we are today. Makes the reward much sweeter!”

    I first “met” Mike shortly after my husband and I opened our own FFL in east Tennessee. My husband had been finishing guns for a few years and was looking for a better way to apply certain camouflage styles and designs. He found a small shop in Michigan who sold firearm stencils on eBay and we ordered a few.
    Mike and I corresponded via email, found that his shop and our own had a lot in common. Thus began the friendship between us that has spanned more than a couple of years!

    The Cerakote Master and powerhouse behind the #CerakoteThatShit hashtag have painted firearms for the likes of Jesse James Firearms (JJFU), Aero Precision, F-1, BattleArms Development, and much, much more!

    I’ll be sitting down with Mr. Cerakote himself while at SHOT Show next week, but thought I’d give you a preview on the really amazing backstory he brings to some of his innovative designs and creations!

    As I’ve said on many occasions, “That guy is EVERYWHERE! Damn that Blown Deadline!”

    Adult Toys, Pumpkin Carvings, and Bulletproof Vests?

    We all have fun hobbies we practice in our spare time. Many small business owners would happily call themselves “serial entrepreneurs”.

    Very few of them LIVE it while balancing a marriage and family life with children, getting to ENJOY the fruits of your labor in business, and hobnobbing with stars like Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Kelly Ripa, and more!

    So how exactly DOES the manufacturer of one of the nation’s fastest-growing bulletproof vest companies go from running an adult novelty company…

    …to writing several books on pumpkin carving and appearing half a dozen times on national television with Kelly Ripa and an assortment of Hollywood elite…

    …to breaking ground on some of the most innovative bulletproof products to hit the market in decades (including a bulletproof baseball cap!)

    I’ll be sitting down with Tom Nardone, owner of BulletSafe Bulletproof Vests next week and finding out just how he does it all!

    I was introduced to Tom shortly after he founded BulletSafe and have carried his bulletproof vests in our own showroom ever since. Tom ALWAYS has something cool up his sleeve and you never know what he’s going to work on next.

    This interview promises to be fun, exciting, and full of surprises!

    The Student Becomes the Teacher

    The American Gunsmith Institute literally wrote the book (and a few accompanying DVDs) on how to become your own gunsmith, work from home, and turn your passion for firearms into a profitable and fun business.

    But there’s SO MUCH MORE to Gene “Machinegun” Kelly, owner of AGI, Bob Dunlap, and the crew at AGI! In fact, most of today’s firearms repair knowledge would have been lost had it not been for Gene’s sharp eye and development of AGI to pass on to future generations.

    In addition to my own husband using a lot of the AGI material when we were first starting out (and training our own gunsmiths with it as we grow and expand), Gene and I have actually been friends for a while as well.

    Next week, I’ll sit down with Mr. Machinegun to talk about the state of the firearms industry, where he believes the future of gunsmithing will be, and what AGI is doing to ensure that the great guns of the past continue to pass down to future generations.

    Gene “Machinegun” Kelly, owner of American Gunsmith Institute

    Living the American Dream

    When Dung-Ju (David) Ding left his job as a Taiwanese police officer and came to America for his wife’s Master’s program, he discovered what we as natural-born American citizens sometimes take for granted. That America is the greatest country on the planet. He questioned why more products aren’t made here in the United States.

    Better yet, he decided to actually do something about it and founded UTG/Leaper’s.

    The company has grown by leaps (no pun intended) and bounds over the past several years, growing from a garage-based business in 1992 to handling their very own Pro USA, European, and Chinese distribution centers!

    I’ll be honest, it’s hard to keep their Bugbuster 3-9×32 scope in stock at our store! With its etched glass, illuminated reticle in 36 different colors, quick disconnect scope rings, sunshade, and flip up caps at only $130 – it’s truly hard to beat for the beginner AR-15 shooter!

    Join me next week as I sit down with the folks at Leaper’s to talk about what’s next for this ever-growing parts and accessories powerhouse!

    A Woman Can’t WHAT?

    As part of my dedication to the female shooter (as evidenced by the 4-part series on the subject here on TFB) – I’ve cornered the market and gotten interviews with every Women-Owned business participating at SHOT this year.

    I’m excited to talk to American Metals, Accro-Met, Girls with Guns, Gun Tote’n Mamas, Hudson Mfg, Laughing Rabbit, Packin’ Neat, Peak Beam Systems, Miss Concealed, and more – even the Shooting for Women Alliance!

    I plan on showcasing what these femme fatales are working on now, what they’ve got planned for the future, and how they’re breaking through the glass ceiling and claiming their space in a previously male-dominated industry such as firearms.

    But Wait, There’s More!

    Fear not, loyal reader! I’ve also claimed space at some of the funnest and most innovative booths at the Show! For example:

    • Jesse James Firearms Unlimited (JJFU – and yes, I’m so excited I could explode. I’m a HUGE fan).
    • Seekins Precision
    • Cerakote
    • FJ Feddersen
    • Armalite
    • Brigand Arms
    • Faxon Firearms
    • SLR
    • Sprinco
    • Unique-ARs
    • And a LOT LOT LOT more!

    Plus Industry Day at the Range, an exclusive TFB access day, and my head is already swimming at all.those.GUNS!!!

    I may not get any sleep next week. It’s gonna be like Disneyland, but for firearms!

    I’ve got so much I want to do and accomplish, so many friends I’ve only known via email and phone that I’ll finally get to meet in person, connections to make, things to do, guns to shoot – so stay tuned!

    In the meantime, I’m off to purchase my very first pair of sensible walking shoes (do they make those in heels????) See you next week!

    Rachel Y

    Rachel Young is a 4x Best Selling Author. She and her husband John co-own an FFL/SOT showroom and machine shop in Tennessee, specializing in ARs, AR parts, and AR accessories.