A Formula for a Successful Gun Show Display



written by Gary Chang

Originally published January, 2010 Newsletter

My purpose in writing this discussion is twofold: to attract more participation in the private non-sale displays we promote at our two gun shows and to give a new participant, or someone considering entering, an idea of the formula for a successful display. The mission of Hawaii Historical Arms Association is to educate the public in all aspects of firearms, be it historical or the employment of such. We are unique in providing a forum for private displays of craftsmanship and artistry that often exhibit rare firearms and accouterments and provide in-depth education year after year.

Visualize your Display: In your mind, compose an image of how your presentation will flow before and during its construction; conceive your display as a whole. Please do not approach this guide as a “market checklist” to be completed. Give yourself at least 2 months to collect and label relevant materials. Having a friend evaluate your display before the show may be beneficial.

Title of Display: The title of your display encapsulates information about the subject you are conveying to your audience. Focus on a main topic. For example, to attempt a display of “Fighting Knives of the World” would be quite an expansive undertaking, but narrowing your subject to a more specific choice, such as “American Bayonets in Vietnam,” may be more feasible. You do not need a table full of firearms to create a successful presentation; in past shows a single rifle, or three variations of sniper-optics, won the competition.

Provide Evidence: Evidence is required to persuade the audience of the display’s validity. Provide printed facts and related paraphernalia to connect your display items into a coherent presentation. Although time consuming, this effort to substantiate your position will be appreciated and effective.

Identify & Label: Please do not assume your audience shares your knowledge and experience. Identifying and labeling your display make your presentation more interesting and convenient for viewers to learn about your topic.

Beginnings & Endings: Complete the experience by specifying a timeline for your presentation. For example, do not include a Colt 1911 .45 ACP in your display of “Civil War Revolvers.”

All of these tips rely on one another for their strength. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll present like a pro. HHAA awards prizes to the top three entries… good luck at the next show!

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