Learning from Red Bull

Consider this video for the Red Bull Air Racing World Series: What can we learn from it when it comes to promoting practical shooting?

1. Personality goes a long way. The nationality of each pilot is up front and center, giving us a reason to cheer (or boo) right off the bat. 

2. Fan-friendly venues. The fans can see the action at the venue know the score as the event happens. Ever gone to a USPSA match or IDPA match as a spectator? From personal experience, I can tell you they really suck to watch (80% of a squad’s time on a stages is spent with walk-throughs, scoring and taping). 3 Gun Nation does a great job at distilling the essence of three-gun down to an exciting competition, but a little bleacher seating and some local promotion would go  help bring in more people to the sport.

3. Real-time scoring. The fact is, you can’t tell from watching a USPSA or IDPA competition who is doing well in the match and who isn’t. Sure, a competitor may ace a stage, but what that means to the match as a whole is a mystery until the final day of the match when all the scores are tallied.

4. Big-time sponsors. Smith and Wesson, FNUSA and Cheaper Than Dirt’s revenues COMBINED probably don’t add up to one-eighth of the money that Red Bull makes in the U.S. alone. Bass Pro Shops teaming up with Top Shot is great step in this direction (even if all they show is fishing commercials during the show). 

Dodge City: That’s in Wyoming, right?

Look for editorials from the mainstream media about “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” aaaannnny moment now. (Via Third Power.)

Wyoming moved a step closer on Friday to allowing people to carry concealed guns without a permit. The Wyoming House of Representatives voted 49-9 for a bill that would allow law-abiding state citizens over age 21 to carry concealed guns in most places. They would still be banned in some places, including schools, bars and some government buildings.

It’s been months since constitutional carry passed here in Arizona and the streets have yet to run red with blood, despite the fondest wishes protests from the Brady Bunch. My guess for post-permit carry in Wyoming? More of the same kind of nothing. 

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Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

Not to beat a dead llama, but I had a moment of clarity about open carry today while driving on the freeway. 

I was cut off in traffic by a small car with a “Jesus Fish” sticker on it, driven by a young lady who then proceeded to cut across two more lanes of traffic in her quest to enter the fast lane, where she immediately slowed down and jammed up traffic in that lane. 

At that moment, I didn’t see her as a person who shares the same faith and belief system I do, I saw her as a rude and possibly unsafe driver.

This is why I don’t have a “Jesus Fish” on my car: I know how bad I drive, and any statement I can make about my faith with such a sticker will almost immediately be over-ruled by my driving habits. 

And this is why I don’t open carry, and why it is so important for those who do open carry to act nicer than everyone else at all times. A person who open carries is an ambassador, a witness to firearms freedom, and if you are perceived as a jerk (or worse yet), ALL of the gun community is perceived as a threat. 

I realize that open carriers are on the front lines of a PR battle for restoring Second Amendment rights in the U.S., and that is why I support this issue. But just as I won’t let my faith be damaged by a dichotomy between how I drive and what my car looks like, I know my limits when it comes to how I portray the firearms community in public discourse.

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Hunting 2.0

The National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that hunting license applications are up significantly from last year

The NSSF credits the free time available and need for outside food sources due to the worsening economy, but I’m wondering if the people who’ve been brought into the shooting sports via Gun Culture 2.0 aren’t looking to branch out and try new things. 

While extrapolating a national trend from one’s own experience is pretty poor analysis, I can’t help but wonder with shows like “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” on TLC, “The Wild Within” on the Travel Channel and “Survivorman” on Discovery, there’s now a new generation of exurbanites who have grown up in cities but are now looking to re-establish our roots to our inner hunter-gatherer. If this is the case, then this uptick in hunting licenses won’t end with a better economy; instead, we’re looking at a fundamental shift towards hunting becoming an accepted part of our society once again. 


Always be polite. Until it’s time to not be polite.

James Dalton 

Robb asked me to weigh in on the open carry debate over on the USA Carry forums, so here’s my two cents (Canadian) worth on the issue. 

A little background. 

I’m Canadian, which means I grew up in a handgun-free (but not gun-free) environment, but I’ve lived in Arizona for most of my life. The first pistol I saw outside of a museum was when I was 19 and a customer walked into the hobby store I was working in with a hog-leg revolver strapped to the waist. 

That was my “Toto, we’re not in Alberta anymore” moment. 

I’d always shot guns (gophers see me and run in fear), but not handguns. This soon changed, and now I’m known as “that gun guy” to my friends and family. I’ve married a woman who’s a better shot than I am (not that hard of a task, if I’m honest…), had two sons, shoot USPSA, IDPA, and 3 gun and I’m an NRA member and pistol/PPIH instructor. 

And I chose to go about my life with a concealed firearm, rather than openly carry. 

Why? Because a firearm is a potentially lethal weapon, there is just  no getting around that, and the open display of a lethal weapon affects a few (but, thankfully, not most) people. It’s not a gun thing: If swords were the norm and not guns, I’d carry a sword cane and not the ancestral claidheamh mòr. I want people to react to me as a person, and I don’t want my firearm to be an impediment to the few who might take exception. Guns come and guns go, who I am will not change. 

An openly carried firearm changes things: Knowing that a person is carrying affects how I react to them, because it means if things go bad with them and things get violent, things can go very wrong. I am trusting them not to be a jerk, and if they are a jerk, they’re a jerk with a pistol. This is a BAD thing.

Not that I am expecting this to happen. I can count the number of fights I’ve been in since grade school on one hand and still be able to hold a fork while doing so, but that does not change the fact that a loud, aggressive person with an openly carried firearm is MUCH bigger problem (at least on the surface) than one without a visible firearm. 

This is why it is so vital, so unbelievably vital, that if you carry openly, you exceed the standards of polite behaviour for your community and not just act like everybody else. Carrying an openly displayed firearm means you are doing something very few people (even in Arizona) do, and by doing so, you become the standard by which the rest of us gun nuts firearms enthusiasts are judged by. 

It’s also 100% true that an open display of a firearm is a deterrent to potential violent criminals, but to me, the best way to not be a victim is to reduce my time spent in locations where there might be violent criminals. As much as I love la autentíca carne asada, I don’t go out to dinner at my favourite west-side carnicería at 11pm on a Saturday night. 

Now, with all of that being said (and the blood pressure of many of you rising to dangerously high levels), I support open carry completely and fully

And if you haven’t had an aneurysm by now, that last sentence was probably enough to pop a vein. 

We now have constitutional carry in Arizona because enough legislators here realized it was pretty silly to issue permits for people to cover up a gun that is legal for them to carry without a cover garment. This is a good thing, because it normalizes all of firearms throughout Arizona. We have sites like TrainMeAZ because Arizona is leading the way in restoring 2nd Amendment rights to its citizens. This is fantastic, and it’s due, in large part, to the past behaviour of the people here who open carry. 

While I don’t open carry, I support those who do, and I support open carry for all of the U.S. (and maybe one day, my native Canada. Hey, a guy can dream, right?) because proper (non-jerk) open carry takes something that is scary into something that nice people have with them all the time. 

The bottom line is, what a gun actually does is determined by the person who owns it. We in the firearms community tell the same thing to ourselves when we say, “It’s not the Glock/1911/9mm/.45″ that will save your life, it’s you and your training.” In other words, it’s not the gun, it’s who you are and how you act. 

Why do we expect people outside our community to think differently?

A nice person with a gun makes guns nice for everybody. A jerk with a gun helps nobody, not even himself.

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Military games

Once again, an idea that began in competitive shooting bubbles up to the real world

Surefire RTS

Dubbed the Rapid Transition Sight, it was designed by SureFire’s suppressor division head Barry Deuck to be a simple, elegant solution for shooters who use a magnified optic as their primary sight.

-Ultra-Durable: Machined from 7075 aluminum alloy bar stock, light weight and twice the strength of 6061 T6 aluminum -½ MOA elevation and windage adjustments

-Mil-Spec Hard Anodized finish

-Same height above bore as standard M4/M16A4 sights

-Ambidextrous: can be mounted for left or right hand shooters

-45 degree offset

-Low profile over picatinny rail only rising 2/10th of an inch so that it does not interfere with your primary optics

-Mounts directly to the top picatinny rail of your rifle

-No Special Tools Required: only uses a flat head screw and can easily be done in the field 

And it’s perfect for shooting Tac Optics in Three-Gun, too. I still shoot Tac Iron, but I will join the dark side and put glass on my rifle one of these days.

I’m changing my mind…

I’ve defend Sons of Guns in the past, but the episode I’m watching now has the crew of Red Jacket Firearms casually converting a semi-auto Tommy Gun to selective fire for a local sheriff, without explaining that doing this without the proper Federal permits will get you tossed in jail for a long, long time. 

This is not good. I think the Hughes Amendment is a load of hooey, but it is (currently) the law of the land, and it must be respected. 

Discovery Channel needs to step up here and set the record straight about what you can and cannot do with firearms in this country. 

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Don't be THAT guy

• Don’t wear head-to-toe MOLLE gear and ACU’s to a three gun match if you’re not active military or law enforcement.

• Don’t put enough optics on your rifle to give the Hubble telescope a run for its money and then miss a one hundred yard shot from a rest.

And don’t think that just because something is a right, it’s something you can flaunt in people’s faces

If some guy walks into a restaurant with an AR-15, I’m going to have my hand on my own pistol, figuring there’s a very strong likelihood I’m going to have to draw it in self-defense. Why? Because I can’t think of any reason a reasonable person is walking into a restaurant with an AR-15. Even if the guy with the AR is wearing a police uniform, I’d be quite nervous, because police don’t generally walk into restaurants carrying AR-15s unless serious trouble is afoot. 

The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, but if you come into my son’s daycare and start dropping F-bombs, I will ask you to calm down and clean up your language. Even if you’re a cop (or maybe ESPECIALLY if you’re a cop, you carry an AR into a restaurant, I will take notice and go to Condition Orange and be VERY attentive to what you’re doing.