Brand Ambassadors For A Country No One Has Ever Heard About.

Brand Ambassadors For A Country No One Has Ever Heard About.

I’m a bit of a gearhead. I drive a hot hatch, and I exceed the posted speed limit on a regular basis.

Perhaps a little TOO regular, if I’m honest.

I digress…

I watch The Grand Tour and Top Gear, and I love seeing all the exotic cars that show up here in this particularly plushly-upholstered section of God’s waiting room.

However, even I couldn’t tell you who the current Indy Car Champion is, and if, say, Lewis Hamilton showed up at a local Mercedes dealer to hawk some wares, I probably wouldn’t go see him.

Now admittedly, I am kinda celebrity-shy: I’m not really impressed by people who are famous, so that does color my judgement somewhat.

With that in mind, I have to ask myself, what is the purpose of a sponsored shooter? To advance the brand of the companies who sponsor them, that’s what, no matter how big or small the brand is.

This is why I’m very interested in what Shoot Center has done. They’re a local range who’s sponsored a shooter who shoots USPSA very well, and I think there’s a real opportunity for them and other local ranges to use a really good shooter to increase the prestige of the range. It doesn’t have to be much: In return, for, say, a case of 9mm every other month or so or maybe access to employee pricing on reloading supplies, have your sponsored shooter do a Facebook video on what makes a good defensive handgun. Or how to shoot better. Or how the safety rules on an indoor range. Heck, just do a video of the shooter punching out the X ring of a target at 25 yards: There’s a TV program dedicated to “Impossible Shots“, why not have your sponsored shooter strut his stuff on your range and show off how much of an authority he/she is on shooting?

A sponsored shooter brings some gravitas and authenticity to what’s being said, and store/range who has one and shows them off therefore appears more clued-in than its competitors, making it appear to be a better place to go shoot than the other ranges in town.

This is why people want to go shoot on a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus or Greg Norman: They want the ego boost that comes from doing something associated with someone who is famous for doing what they enjoy doing.

If you got it, flaunt it.

Don’t Try To Understand ‘Em…

Don’t Try To Understand ‘Em…

… just rope ’em, tie ’em and brand ’em
Soon we’ll be living high and wide.

My heart’s calculatin’
My true love will be waitin’
Be waitin’ at the end of my ride

Move ’em on, head ’em up
Head ’em up, move ’em on
Move ’em on, head ’em up
Rawhide

A quick roundup of some articles I wrote that aren’t SHOT-related.

That Dropzone article is my first article for Shooting Sports USA, and they’ll be more articles over there by me in the near future. One thing that happened at SHOT this year is that I really diversified the number of places I’m writing for: Look for stuff on Beretta’s blog, the USCCA and even (gasp) American Hunter sometime this year.

Speaking of roundups (and bad segues), I’m outta here later today, off to take ECQC with Craig Douglas this weekend. This is a class I’m really looking forward to (even though I’ll probably get my @ss kicked in new and exciting ways) because it’s an area of self-defense that a) I know little about and b) have noticed for awhile now that there are a lot of people teaching a gun solution to violence and a lot of people teaching a martial art solution to violence but there are very few people integrating the empty handed skills of martial arts into the gun world.

Well, Craig is one of those people, so I am really looking forward to this class, no matter what it does to my poor, decrepit body.

It’s TacticalPay Day.

It’s TacticalPay Day.

I was approached by the guys at TacticalPay to do a paid post about their credit card processing service for the gun industry. Normally, I turn down this sort of stuff, but you know what?

It’s pretty good, so I don’t mind talking about what they do on the blog here.

The processing rates are decent, and they work with Authorize.net, which means they’ll probably work with whatever e-commerce shopping cart system you’re using on your site.

It was getting mighty hard for some people in the gun biz to find a credit card service after Operation Choke Point started up, but TacticalPay works JUST inside the gun and gun accessories industries.

Cool.

So if your bank has been giving you the runaround on your credit card processing, or you think that you’re a second-class citizen with them just because you sell first-class guns, check out TacticalPay and see how they work for you.


* I said I didn’t mind talking about their stuff. I  never said I turned down their money…

The Missionary And The Socialite

The Missionary and the Socialite

One of the nicer things about climbing higher and higher up the gun writer caste system is that the signal to noise ratio gets A LOT better. The people I talk with on social media are really, really clued-in, and the amount of bad advice they hand out is pretty much derp-free.

But there is a price to be paid for being one of the Illuminati, and that price is that you really, really don’t want to suffer fools gladly, and it becomes very, very easy to look down on people less clueful than you.

Which is why Michael Bane’s podcast from a few weeks ago hit me pretty hard. Yes, it’s fun, (a LOT of fun) hanging out with smart people, but that needs to tempered with the realization that other people need to brought up, not put down.

An anecdote…

At the first Arizona Bloggershoot at the Casa Grande Public range a few years ago with Kevin Baker from The Smallest Minority, the benches to the south of us were occupied with a bunch of locals who were havin’ a grand ol’ time shootin’ things up with a half-dozen Mosins, a few HiPoints, a Mossberg Maverick and a Taurus PT145.

They were being safe, they weren’t muzzling us, and they were introducing a young boy to shooting. Who am I to tell them not to have such a good time just because their guns were cheap?

If we want new gun owners to shoot their guns more frequently, we need to create a gun culture that encourages such things. Speaking as someone who has paid money for a post-secondary education on how to evangelize, telling people they are not worthy of your church isn’t going to fill the pews…

Last SHOT…

Last SHOT…

One of the trends I noticed at the show this year was the return of suppressors with wipes.

Wipes, if you recall, are flexible, soft expansion chambers inside a can that do a great job of sucking up noise because they’re soft and flexible, but because they’re soft and flexible, they also wear out, while metal does not.

However, the ATF recently ruled that having spare wipes on-hand is a no-no, as those are considered to be parts to build a can, and you and I aren’t allowed to do that without the permission of the government.

But that hasn’t seemed to stop the industry. Gem-Tech has a nice little can that uses wipes, as does Thompson Machine and GSL Technologies.

The times, they are a-changing.

Parting SHOT…*

Parting SHOT…*

A few random thoughts…

  • Having a marketing guy for one of the biggest names in the business tell me they were doing their new product strategy based on my “guns are now a lifestyle” approach to things was a HUGE ego boost.**
  • Want cheep booze and eats? Head to Ellis Island. $9.99 steak dinner (a HUGE hunk o’ sirloin that was cooked perfectly medium rare) and $6.99 Makers Mark. Oh, and an Elvis impersonator as well. Yes, you could be all hyper-cool at some joint inside the Aria and pay $20 for a shot of bourbon while being surrounded by Asian supermodels, but me, I like my Vegas circa 1985.
  • Some of my friends are going ga-ga over the SIG P365, and it does look like a great little gun, but me, I look at it as a SIG’s version of Kel-Tec P11. Eleven years ago, everyone went ga-ga over the LCP, which was essentially Ruger’s version of a Kel-Tec P3AT. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… the most innovative gun designer in the post-Gaston world is George Kelgren, and the rate at which is designs are being copied just proves that fact.
  • If you’re in the 5.56mm AR-15 business, good Lord, you better diversify, and diversify QUICKLY. Aside from suppressors (which were surprisingly strong this year…) I didn’t see ANYTHING neat and nifty this year for AR-15 rifles. The price floor for AR’s was set last year at $399, and I don’t think it’s going up any time in the future.
  • All in all, product-wise, it wasn’t as good as it was in years past. I had to scramble to come up with six things a day to talk about for Shooting Illustrated, but we got the job done. Aside from the P365, there really wasn’t any “Oh, wow!” products this year, but there were more than a few embarrassing mistakes.
  • Business-wise (especially for us on the content production side), it was a helluva show, because the gun companies have figured out that in a post-levee world, they’re going to have to start marketing their products with more effort that just saying “Hey look, it’s in stock! Buy it before it goes away!”. The gun companies now need to move product, which means they want to get their product out there in front of the customers, which means they want to talk with us in order to get it done.
  • On a related note, I sold five stories to various NRA pubs at SHOT this year, which will more than pay for the trip. Gonna be a busy few months for me…

All in all… Best. SHOT Show. EVER!!!


* Words. This is my business.
** Yes, it happened. I have witnesses.

SHOT Show Is Almost Done…

SHOT Show Is Almost Done…

… and I’m almost done as well.

It has been a tremendous SHOT Show, maybe the best one I ever attended, but I learned two things:

  1. It is one thing to go to SHOT as new media with no real agenda, another to go as a buyer for a gun store, and another thing ENTIRELY to go as a writer with a deadline and a list of story ideas to come up with and source. Annette Evans and I worked out tokuses (tokii?) off from show opening to show close each day, and we hope you’ve enjoyed what we dug up off the floor of the show. This meant, however, that I couldn’t spend near as much time talking with old friends as I wanted to, which is probably a good thing, though, because…
  2. The SHOT Show crud is a real thing, and I’m currently in its grippe*. Rather than go out on the town and meet new friends, I’m in my room, blowing my nose and wishing for the sweet, sweet release of death.
    Or a good night’s sleep. One of those.

So what piqued my interest this year? This little Crosman BB gun, for one. Full auto. AR-15 SBR look and feel. $199 MSRP. I think three of them might wind up under the Christmas tree this year, because I have two sons and I’m not sharing mine if I get one.

Also, the new Remington Tac-14 Hardwood really grabbed my eye. I like guns with a story and a history, and the Witness Protection shotgun is definitely one of those kind of guns. Do I need one? No. Do I want one, along with a Smith and Wesson 459, a pair of RayBan Aviators and a big bushy mustache?

Oh yeah.


* You see what I did there? Word are my business!

Buh Bye.

Buh Bye.

I am outta here, headed off to SHOT.

One of the really neat things about the show this year is that I, along with Annette Evans, will be wandering the hallways of Sands Exhibition Center, looking for cool stuff to talk about for Shooting Illustrated. As all my efforts will be focused on what I’m doing for them, don’t expect any new content here next week.

In essence, I’ll be covering the largest gun show on the planet for the largest group of gun owners on the planet. Pretty cool.

And I *swear* I will not make it “All CZ, all the time”.

Ok, I’ll try to make it happen. But no promises.