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Photos: B&T Gun Show sees a lot of interest, but industry struggles, organizer says

The eighth edition of the B&T Gun Show returned to the Wylie-Mitchell building this weekend, with hundreds of people making their way through rows of gun displays.

ESTEVAN — Various guns and knives, ammunition and cases, gun rests and targets, bullets and scopes, thematic books and everything else one interested in guns may have a use for could be found in Estevan this weekend.

The eighth edition of the B&T Gun Show returned to the Wylie-Mitchell building this weekend, with hundreds of people making their way through rows of gun displays.

With about 25 vendors participating, occupying all 90 tables available, the show's traditional venue looked pretty busy on the first day. However, Kevin Thompson, the lead organizer of the event alongside Lionel Bender, said the industry in general is going through hard times due to new policies, which have affected many vendors.

"With the new laws, especially with the handguns, it has put a damper on the whole gun industry; some of our vendors have lost 40 per cent of their business ... But we are getting a good event and trying to get as many people here as possible. It's not like it was when I first started this gun show in 2014, but we have knifemakers, guns, there's one lady that sells jewelry, we have a bunch of everything for all people. It's not just guns," Thompson said.

This year, vendors came from different communities in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Some of the Alberta vendors that partook in the event before have lost their business, Thompson said. He also noted that the industry experiences shortages of some products like primers, powder, ammunition and more, which makes it even more difficult.

The show was put on pause in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and made its return last year, but it had to be held at the Royal Canadian Legion in Estevan due to scheduling conflicts. The 2019 show would have had the same number of tables due to building capacity, but Thompson said with handguns, which were very popular in early 2010s, they had more people coming through the doors.

"When you have handguns, you'll have more of a crowd, because not everybody is out here trying to buy rifles and shotguns. A lot of guys are here to buy handguns," Thompson said. "In 2014, me and my father [Gordon Thompson], we built the Estevan gun range for the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. The handguns were getting really popular in 2010ish probably, it was getting crazy with it down here in the southeast. So that's why I proposed to the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation at the time that we will donate the whole proceeds to the new construction of the pistol range, because of the high demand for handguns."

Over the years, the proceeds from the B&T Gun Show have been donated to the children's hospital in Saskatoon, multiple sclerosis and diabetes research, as well as to St. Joseph's Hospital and the Royal Canadian Legion Estevan branch.

"We've probably donated close to $90,000 in … seven years," Thompson said.

This year the organizers will need to use part of their proceeds to cover expenses, as they had to buy more tables, Thompson said. But the rest of the proceeds they plan to donate to the United Way Estevan.

"I try and find new non-profit [organizations] that I can donate to that will help, and I'm trying to keep the money in the community," Thompson said.

Thompson noted that every year for the show he seeks variety, so if anyone is interested in participating in the future, they can reach out to him at 306-421-9842.

The show continues on Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Wylie-Mitchell Hall.

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