July 27th through July 30th in Tacoma, WA is one of the best firearms industry expositions in the United States. SHOT Show’s younger, funner brother.
For those of you not familiar with Washington State, despite what popular culture or the Internet tells you, WA is actually pretty strong when it comes to firearms laws and rights. Despite political winds that favor more left leaning politics in liberal seats of power such as Seattle, WA State as a whole does pretty well for individual firearms rights and protections. Concealed Pistol Licenses (CPLs) as they’re called here, are shall-issue. Open carry is legally permitted, and our WA State Constitution is even a bit more specific than our overarching Second Amendment. In part, Article I Section 24 of our State Constitution pertaining to Declaration of Rights enumerates that:
"The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men."
Not too bad for a state typically associated with Starbucks, tech geeks, protests, and legal marijuana, huh?
WA also happens to be home of a great man that I’m proud to call a friend, John Hwang. I’ve known John for about 14 years now, and I bought my first AR-15 lower (a Rock River Arms) from him when he was a FFL dealer operating out of his previous Allstate Insurance office. Since those humble beginnings, John has created a powerhouse company called Rainier Arms, which has a reputation for bringing new, high-quality AR parts and accessories to the market. John is responsible for backing new companies that are now household names across the country, and is strongly dedicated to his faith, his family, missionary work, and creating new business ventures. He also happens to simply be a solid, genuine, good guy – as anyone that has met him, will attest to.
In 2016, John launched an expo event called the Northwest Shooting Sports Expo, that was held at the Tacoma Convention Center. I wrote a post-expo write-up about that event here at Guns & Tactics last year. At that time, John laid out his plan for another convention, which has been re-named TRIGGRCon, and that expo will take place in a just a couple of weeks, from July 27 – 30 (be sure to go to the TRIGGRCon website to see what days are open to the public and register accordingly).
John was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for Guns & Tactics and describe what will go down at TRIGGRCon 2017.
Chris Tran (CT): John, I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural Northwest Shooting Sports Expo in 2016. NWSSE, now re-named TriggrCon for 2017, is your brainchild. Where did the idea come from and what are your primary goals for the expo?
John Hwang (JH): In 2013, when we moved to our current facility, we had a grand opening celebration in our parking lot. To our surprise, many of our manufacturing partners wanted to attend to support the event. So we set up a few booths and had them display their products. Enthusiasts traveled from all over and the experience for them to have facetime with manufacturers was amazing. The overwhelming response from both the vendors & enthusiasts was to make this an annual event. The only events we’ve had in the NW prior were the typical gun shows that doesn’t represent what’s truly going on in our industry. Over the next couple of years, more vendors wanted to participate and event grew organically without any additional effort. Then the idea came, why don’t we put together a mini-Shot show where enthusiasts could come and experience a weekend that’s truly a first class. We identified the Tacoma convention center and started making calls to the vendors. We thought we could get 30 vendors to come out but we had over 70 in our inaugural year as well as several thousand spectators that attended the show.
CT: One of the things I appreciated most about last year’s expo, was that it was much more intimate. You and I both know that so much gets lost at SHOT Show, and your event was much more meaningful for me. I loved that Jeff and Bernadette Cross were manning the Cross Machine Tool Booth, or that the Beigel family was behind the CMC Triggers booth, that Jason & Melinda Sonju manned the Falkor booth…it was direct contact with the owners themselves. I thought that was very special. Do you intend to continue this trend for 2017?
JH: I think what makes TRIGGRCON special is its exclusivity. We will never make this show massive like the other shows, and that’s by design. Exactly as you’ve mentioned, the experience is very special because of the intimacy. Even though, we are missing out on a lot of revenue as we grow. There are 2 main reasons why I want to keep this show very exclusive.
1. I want to showcase the most innovative products and its owners. As you know in other larger shows, lot of innovation gets lost because there’s just too much white noise with too much going on. With a limited pool of innovative companies, the message will be much louder now. Also, because it happens 6 months after SHOT show, we have something to look forward to in the summer when the industry is typically slow.
2. The intimacy of TRIGGRCON is very special. It’s hard to put it into words but vendors and show goers alike, all commented how much they enjoyed the special experience. Also, as you’ve mentioned, about the Cross family coming out, we can say the same thing for Bobro Engineering, or Noveske to name a few. They don’t do any trade shows typically but they come out to support our event because of the friendships we’ve made over the years. You’ll need to come out to feel what we are talking about.
CT: For 2017, TriggrCon has almost doubled in size, it seems. What new companies will be there, and are there any companies that you yourself are looking forward to see?
JH: There are many new companies that will attend this year such as Arsenal Democracy, Hudson Firearms, Phase 5, Ghost Gunner, Savoy Leather, and also brand new companies like F4 Firearms debuting at TRIGGRCON. I don’t know what I’m more excited about, being able to hang out with my good friends or seeing some of the innovation I’m sure that will shock the industry. The one experience I’m really excited for all of you to see is the virtual 3 gun shooting simulator that was specifically created for the show. You’ll need to come see what I’m talking about, but it’s simply amazing.
CT: An addition from last year’s events, TriggerCon will host a media and industry-only range day. This sounds a bit like SHOT Show’s Media Day at the Range, just without the incredibly long lines. How does one qualify as "media" or "industry?" Will there be exclusives shown at the range day that others won’t see on the floor?
JH: You register online at triggrcon.com and there is a simple vetting process that will allow you access. The bigger we get, the more stringent the vetting process will become. But for now, since we are still in our infancy, it’s pretty easy to get access if you are a media person.
CT: Hopefully, for the readers that are just learning about TriggrCon now, is there still time to register? Where do readers go to purchase tickets?
JH: Tickets are free this year and you can get them at triggrcon.com.
This year’s expo promised to be bigger and better, but not overwhelming and sensationalized as other shows. If you’re in the PacNW area, this is definitely an event that you’re not going to want to miss. I’ll be there with the rest of the crew from Guns & Tactics, make sure to stop and say hello if you see me and the rest of the crew.
We will be conducting booth interviews, product highlights and first-looks, and maybe even some livestream footage. Be sure to sound off in the comments section below if there is anything that you would like to see us cover.
Hope to see you all there!