Up to this year, the city of Brescia − in the heartland itself of the Italian gun industry − used to host the EXA expo every year in April.
What used to be the third most important world trade show for civilian guns, ammunition and accessories, although deemed an "international" expo, went however on to decline in the past years, as it failed to catch up with the changing market trends and with the needs and demands of the newest generation of shooters, and folded for good after this year's edition was canceled just days before it was scheduled to take place.
But Italy will not remain without a dedicated expo to showcase its gun industry products to the world − and to introduce new foreign products to its national market: a new event, named HIT - Hunting, Individual Protection and Target Sports, will take place yearly starting next February in the Vicenza City fairgrounds, in the north-eastern Region of Veneto, effectively picking up where EXA left.
Another smaller, hunting-related trade show − known simply as the "Hunting Show" − had taken place in the same Vicenza City fairgrounds around the same time in the past years; the "Hunting Show", however, immediately proved to be more modern-oriented and dynamic than the declining EXA, and its organizers − with the support of the Italian arms industry and wholesalers' trade associations (ANPAM, Assoarmieri and CONARMI) − decided to evolve its format into a more complete event that will take place in February 14th, 15th and 16th, 2015.
Gun enthusiasts, sports shooters, hunters and professional operators (Police officers, military and private security personnel) will be welcome at HIT, although the show will be more trade-oriented, addressing mainly to the needs of wholesalers and retailers, informing and orienting them on whatever new the national and international guns market has to offer.
Being a natural evolution of the "Hunting Show", the HIT expo will pay a special attention to hunters, to their needs and their culture.
However, given the ever-changing market trends, the organizers of HIT are well determined not to make the same mistakes that caused the demise of the EXA show. That's why a large portion of the show will be dedicated to individual protection, and either civilian or professional visitors will be able to speak directly with industry representants and top-level specialists in the field to get up-to-date with the latest products and techniques in the field.
All this will be made possible by specially-set simulation stages, providing a dedicated space for public demonstration of some of the products showcased at HIT, and of the best techniques for their use.
Visitors will thus be moving through an extremely rich and interesting exhibition floor, not only observing new products but also finally being able to witness how they work...
Sports shooting will of course be highly represented at HIT, in all its forms: the best products of the classic Italian sporting arms industry, including Olympic medal-winning shotguns, will be showcased alongside with modern sporting rifles − which will finally have the same highlight and dignity of more traditional guns in a gun expo in Europe! − as the popularity of "black rifles" is on the rise in Italy, particularly among the younger generations of shooters.
Not just a static exhibition of classic guns anymore: the HIT expo is meant to bring Italy back to the international gun trade shows circuit − rivaling with IWA and SHOT Show in quality, if not in numbers! − and will pursue that end by exploiting an organization which its predecessor, the EXA show, could only dream of.
Each thematic area − hunting, sports shooting, personal protection − will have its own dedicated pavillion; a large shopping area will also be available to visitors, but − just like it was for EXA, and unlike what the Italian anti-gun organizations tried to make people believe − sales will be limited to accessories, garment, knives, and other similar paraphernalia, and not to firearms and ammunition or other items whose commerce is regulated by law.
A conference area will also be set for important side events and meetings.
What is new at HIT is that the organizers finally want visitors to live and enjoy an all-round, full-immersion experience; as such, the Experience area will host practical demonstrations and simulations dedicated to personal protection weapons, tools, and techniques.
Starting from 2015, HIT will become a top yearly appointment for hunting, sports-oriented and defensive firearms, ammunition and accessories, as well as for optics; hunting, sports shooting and tactical garment and footwear; knives; and hunting rours.
The 2015 edition of HIT will also host the Dog Show, in collaboration with ENCI − the Italian National Kennel Club Association.
The organizers of the HIT expo also seem to be interested in opening the show to other themes that were often forsaken by EXA despite their high market appeal (e.g. airsoft, paintball and MIL-SIM). It would seem that the new show is gearing up to provide its visitors with everything that its predecessor could never get to − because of lack of political interest or poor organization.
European gun enthusiasts, save the dates for next February!
February 2014, Saturday 14th, Sunday 15th, Monday 16th
Open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day
Fiera di Vicenza, West area, Via dell'Oreficeria 16 – Vicenza (Italy)