Shoot To Live, Live To Shoot

There’s an answer to a question posed in yesterday’s post regarding ways to expand the shooting sports at a pace that matches the expansion of gun ownership, and that answer is found in the tag line of this blog: Guns are the new Harley-Davidson.

Harley was smart enough to realize that their long-term growth depended not just on people BUYING motorcycles, but RIDING them. The garages and closets of America are filled with gadgets and toys that people bought because it was the cool thing to do at that time, but then they quickly moved on to something else.

This is why I use the term “tactical pet rock” when it comes to today’s gun owners: At best, they’ll be like Harley owners, and understand that owning a gun means a change in their lifestyle. At worst, they’ve bought a novelty item like a pet rock that will languish on a closet shelf for decades until it’s time to get rid of it.

Harley-Davidson sells motorcycles pushing the idea of the open road, independence and freedom. They rarely talk about their actual products to new motorcycle owners, they talk about how a Harley makes you *feel*.

This is called “lifesytle marketing,”, and it’s an almost un-heard of thing inside Gun Culture 2.0.

Harley creates the “motorcycle lifestyle” with “Learn to Ride” events all over the country that teach people who want to buy a motorcycle how to actually RIDE a motorcycle.

Quick: Which gun company is doing that same sort of thing to encourage people to own (and shoot) their guns?

That’s right, none of them.

Glock is the closest to doing such a thing, and no, it’s not GSSF I’m talking about. Rather, it’s the Everglades Glock event they’ve put on the past couple of years down here at Louland gun range. It is a celebration of Glock ownership and has simple, easy-shoot stages that are closer to what a competition is truly like, rather the point-and-squirt stages of Steel Challenge or GSSF. This event is more about Glocks, how they shoot, what you can buy for them and how they fit into your lifestyle than it is about shooting a match or learning a new training technique.

We forget just how much new gun owners DON’T know about guns, and how “basic” our basic level of training and competition needs to be. Getting people to have fun at a shooting match is important, as is getting people to be carry more confidently because they’re well-trained. We forget, though, that the fun and the confidence has to come first, and then (and only then), the competition and the training will follow.

Innovate or (Eventually) Die.

Bob Owens mentioned something on Bearing Arms recently that dovetails nicely with something I’ve said in the past.

Him:

“I don’t think there is any risk of Glock rapidly falling out of the market any time soon, but history shows us that companies either innovate, or they die. Offering a new caliber or barrel length every few years—or finally making a single stack gun a decade after the market demanded it—isn’t innovating. It’s treading water.”

Me:

“Glock has pretty much stayed still, churning out the same size and shape of pistols with the same action for thirty years. They may stay on top for a while, though. To borrow a phrase from the IT world of 40 years ago, ‘No one ever got fired for buying IBM’, and that’s where Glock is right now: They are the safe choice, the one to chose because everybody else is doing choosing them too.”

I love the Sig P320 and I think the new CZ P10C is going to be a winner, but those guns are incremental changes, not innovations.

Guns change at the speed of industrial change, not Moore’s Law. They are creatures of metal and plastic, not silicon and software. Changing how a gun performs isn’t a matter of upgrading the processor or streamlining the code, it requires changing mechanical processes like altering trigger linkages or introducing new materials into the gun itself, and the potential affect such things will have on how the gun operates pale in comparison to the order-of-magnitude changes that the computer world is used to.

Yes, Glock will lose their dominance in the pistol market. Everything changes, so will that. No, I don’t expect it to happen in the next five to ten years (and I say that as someone who thinks that the sun rises and sets on a factory somewhere in Moravia).

Stay In Your Lane

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am eternally grateful that people show up here and elsewhere to read and comment on the baloney I spew out. I did not grow up with guns: Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned through trial and error, and every day, I learn something new, usually by screwing up.

There are reasons why I don’t talk about hunting or sporting clays or big-bore revolvers here, and those reasons are because I know absolutely nothing about those topics, which helps avoid things like this happening on this blog.

Avoid. Not eliminate, avoid. Bear with me as I figure this out for myself.

Occasionally, A Gun Appears.

This merits some further attention, as I know a few people who use “Top Gear” as the metric for what a good firearms-based TV show is supposed to look like.

“With no Stig, nor Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, the studio was the main thing, as the team believe the essential dynamic between the three men cannot be copyrighted to the BBC. In Clarkson’s words, the Grand Tour is still ‘three middle-aged men in poor condition, falling over and catching fire … and occasionally a car goes by‘.” (emphasis mine)

Now, what gun related shows fit that standard? “Shootout Lane” does such things, and quite frankly, a lot of hunting shows do as well, because  hunting, it’s all about the stuff before, during and after the stalk, and not so much pulling the trigger.

This is not true with Gun Culture 2.0, because when you shoot a match or take a class, there really is nothing to talk about outside of pulling the trigger. Aside from practice, traveling to shoot a match is pretty much like a sales trip for business, only a LOT louder.

Most car shows are about cars, but Top Gear was (and The Grand Tour) is driven by personalities, not the cars they drive. There are a few non-hunting shows out there that are personality-driven, but the vast majority are about the hardware, not the lifestyle.

That’ll change, and it will be cool when it does.

A Quick Thought About The CZ P10C

While the name on the P10C says “CZ”, the fact is, there’s nothing in it that really makes a CZ a CZ. No DA/SA action. No metal frame. No slides riding inside the rails. I kinda feel like the fireman on a steam engine, watching as one by one, the trains that used to be pulled by Mikados and Prairies get switched over to teams of F3s and FA-2s. Yes, they’re more efficient to make and easier to operate, but no, they have no soul.

What Gun Stores Don’t Know About Merchandising.

Walk into any camera store*, and you’ll probably get really confused about what camera is the best one for you, and what accessories you’ll need after the sale. Most camera stores take care of the second item on that list by offering camera “accessory kits” that include a gadget bag, cleaning kit, filters, etc, all wrapped up and ready to go. Typically, in the stores I worked in, we’d make more money on the sale of a $100 gadget bag and tripod combo than we would on a $500 camera.

Ever see accessory kits in a gun store? Me neither. Good thing guns aren’t confusing for first-timers to buy, or else gun stores would be leaving cash on the table, or something.

We are probably looking at the slow deflation of the gun-buying bubble over the next few months, which means gun stores will need to get smart about how they sell guns or go out of business. As Tam says, adding in more sales of profitable items like holsters and cleaning kits to the near-cost (or below) sale of a gun is one way to make sure the doors stay open and the lights stay on. If we want guns to become part of our lifestyle, it’s going to be because of all the things that come with a gun, not the gun itself. Guns just sit there, they are of no use until someone does something with them, and facilitating that usage is what accessories do, not the gun itself.

This is Merchandising 101 (heck, it’s Remedial Merchandising 090), but it’s practically unheard of in the gun business because most gun shop owners see themselves as selling guns, not selling stuff you can DO with a gun. This is silly, of course, because all the money is made in the stuff that’s needed to do something with a gun; the money is not to be found in the gun itself.


* Ok, first you have to FIND a camera store, then walk into it, actually, better yet, go shopping for cameras on Amazon, like everyone else does.

CZ Knocks It Out Of The Park

Attention, Springfield, Sig and Smith&Wesson, there is a new entry into the “Not Glock” sweepstakes, the striker-fired (!) CZ P10C.

Wow, did NOT see that coming. Ok, a few thoughts…

  • A trigger that puts the PPQ to shame? Wow, that must be one heck of a trigger because the PPQ trigger is darn good.
  • Polymer. Striker-fired. Rails inside the slide. Pretty much everything the CZ75 ain’t, it is.
  • No word on trigger pull yet, but it will probably be not much more than the five pound minimum for IPSC Production.
  • Takes CZ P07 holsters and sights, but not the mags. 🙁
  • Fits into Glock 19 holsters!
  • Ambi *everything*… Mag release, slide release… you name it. Cool.
  • Looks like it has ergonomics that are on-par with the rest of the CZ line, and that is a good thing indeed.
  • $500 MSRP? That’ll mean it will sell for at least $100 less than a Gen 4 Glock 19. That’s not Walther Creep Creed pricing, but it’s very, very good and puts a lot of pricing pressure on the XD and the M&P 9c.
  • Sights are… ok. Hopefully the introduction of this gun will put some pressure on Trijicon and others to come out with true combat sights for this gun and other CZs as well.
  • LOVE the undercut trigger and the low bore axis. This should be a phenomenally accurate gun, even if the slide rails are in the wrong place for a CZ. 😉
  • By introducing the C model first, it looks like CZ is FINALLY getting serious about the concealed carry market here in the U.S.

All in all, I say CZ is on to something here. With these features, at this price point, the CZ P10C looks the gun to go if you want a small, affordable, reliable 9mm.

We Got A Half A Post Written, A Full Cup Of Coffee, It’s Autumn, And I Have A Laptop.

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Hit it.

By my count, I have something slightly north of 10,000 words, 25 (finished) photos and a five-minute video to produce before the end of the year, in addition to my day job, which is really busy right now.

As a result, for the next few weeks, I may have to concentrate on those gigs instead of posting here.

Our Blessed Lady of Caffeination, don’t fail me now.