Deer and reloading in Las Vegas

It's never been easier or safer to go shooting or hunting, but let's not forget the roots of our sporting traditions

By James A. Swan, Ph.D., author "In Defense of Hunting"

My feet and back are still recovering from four days of walking the aisles at the 25th annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show & Conference staged in Las Vegas Feb. 12-15.

Exhibit space was sold out. Seven miles of aisles!

According to Chris Dolnack of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the sponsor of the SHOT Show, this year's attendance will top the all-time mark of 32,000.

That breaks down into about 10,000 exhibitors and press, and the rest being buyers, as this show is not open to the general public.

The size of the show, billed as largest of its kind, and the crowd speaks to the popularity of shooting sports and hunting.

And, frankly, after checking out this year's products, one cannot help but feel it is now easier and safer than ever before for a shooter or a hunter to go out and have a good time.

The firearms manufacturers keep turning out guns that shoot more accurately. The ammo makers not only constantly refine their products, but they are moving toward a larger variety of lead alternatives ā€” Hevi-shot, bismuth, tungsten, copper and a half-dozen others.

In wingshooting, unlike any other kind of shooting sport, you do not have any good form of feedback about where you missed because your shot goes off into thin air, instead of leaving a mark on a target.

There are several laser shooting systems out there that let you practice and develop your skills by shooting a laser beam at a screen. But I was most impressed by the new Marksman Training System from Sweden, which seems revolutionary.

On a large screen the birds fly past and you shoot like all other similar shot simulators. But after your shot you can pinpoint your shot location, enlarge the image, see the pattern of shot and where it went and even use an instant replay to track the path of your swing to see where you lost being on target.

This kind of feedback is going make people become better shots faster than ever before.