The vast majority of European sports and outdoor retailers stay away from hunting or sports shooting, although some of them cover sports fishing, especially in the Scandinavian countries. On the other hand, hunting products are still regarded as part of the outdoor sector in the U.S. A similar trend is taking place in Europe, where certain outdoor products are being increasingly offered in hunting specialty stores.

 A total of 1,622 companies exhibited at the last IWA show, held on March 8-11 in Nuremberg, Germany, up from 1,562 one year ago. Out of them, 240 firms presented a variety of products for the outdoor sector. Furthermore, 111 specialized in knives and 271 in optics and electronics that can also be used for a variety of outdoor activities. As for the number of trade visitors, some 45,476 attended the IWA this year, compared with 46,562 a year ago.

As at the OutDoor show and Ispo Munich, the Scandinavian Outdoor Group (SOG) has been organizing a Scandinavian Outdoor Village at the IWA since 2011. Fjällräven was the biggest exhibitor in the SOG space. All in all, there were 37 companies from Sweden, 18 from Finland, 17 from Denmark, 10 from Norway and one from Iceland at the most recent IWA.

Still, as at its beginning 46 years ago, hunting and sports shooting remain the focus of the annual IWA show, which stands for International Weapons Exhibition. However, the trade show has been broadening its reach since March 2002, when it was renamed IWA & OutdoorClassics. At its 2014 edition, the “&” was eliminated and the organizers introduced a more modern design, ceasing to treat outdoor as a separate segment.

The IWA has also been expanding internationally. Established in 1974 as a foyer exhibition accompanying the annual general meeting of the Association of German Gunsmiths and Gun Traders (VDB), with just 106 exhibitors and around 2,000 trade visitors, the fair now accommodates well over 1,600 exhibiting companies, 80 percent of which come from outside Germany.

Likewise, around two-thirds of the more than 45,000 trade visitors travel to Nuremberg from some 120 foreign countries to attend this unique industry event, which spreads over more than 100,000 square meters.

Over the years, trekking, the observation of nature, outdoor cooking and country lifestyle have become part of the same sector at the IWA. The original focus on hunting, sports firearms and ammunition has been constantly broadened, especially in the area of outdoor clothing, backpacks, binoculars and other optics and electronics for outdoor pursuits. Almost incidentally, the IWA OutdoorClassics has become one of the world's largest trade fairs for knives, from traditional pocket knives for picnics and camping to exquisite collector's items for display cabinets.

It will be interesting to see what will happen in Munich at the end of June, with the new OutDoor by Ispo opening the outdoor sector to “ever new horizons,” as its organizers define the new, distinctive claim of the show, which will include categories like adventure travel and mountain biking.

As at Messe München, lectures on digitalization accompanied the show this month. The next edition of the IWA OutdoorClassics will take place on March 6-9, 2020.