We Have A Lot Of Ground To Make Up.

We Have A Lot Of Ground To Make Up.

Speaking of the culture war against guns (and I have been speaking about that a lot recently), these are just some of the gun-centric shows have come and gone from basic cable since I starting writing this blog.

Lock and Load
Top Shot
Sons Of Guns
Guns And Gear
American Guns
Mail Call (NSFW, because Gunny)
Hot Shots
3 Gun Nation
Guntucky

Now, there are very good (legal) reasons why at least two of those shows are off the air, and two more relied on the sparkling personality of R. Lee Ermey for their success, but right now, there are exactly ZERO gun-related shows on basic cable. Yes, there are the great shows about guns and how they’re used on places like the Outdoor Channel, Sportsmans Channel and The Pursuit Channel, but those shows are not growing the culture because the audience for those programs is an audience that is already interested in the outdoor life.

We need more outreach programs that show up on channels which don’t rely on hunting programs for the majority of their content. Something like a gunsmith version of “Forged In Fire” is an obvious idea, but that’s just an opening bid. We need more. Let’s get back to the 2010 numbers, and soon.

Flash Site Pictures, Tuesday Edition.

Flash Site Pictures, Tuesday Edition.

Stuff I found on the web that interesting to me. Some of it may be interesting to you as well.

Maybe.

“Anytime you see a startle reflex, it’s typically because the signal going into your brain exceeded the capacity to absorb it.”
John Hearne was on Ballistic Radio, and it’s worth your time to listen to him.

Seven Things You Need To Know About Your First Time At The Range.

Civilian tourniquet use associated with six-fold reduction in mortality.

Speaking of tourniquets, I’ve started carrying an SOF-T-W tourniquet in a Blue Force Gear Ten Speed high ride rifle magazine pouch on my support side hip, and boy howdy, does it work well. It’s as easy for me to carry as a tourniquet now as it is a spare magazine.

What to look for in a good gun belt. I was really surprised how much information is out there about holsters, but how little there is about gun belts.

Conservatives (and gun owners too) made a big mistake when they abandoned the web in favor of social media. I agree, but then again, I  have a dog in this fight, namely, I run a gun blog…

Colion Noir talks with Joe Rogan about what gun ownership is really about (two hours long, but it’s worth it).

It’s a rough life being a gun writer. Really, really rough.

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Are The Fearful Themselves.

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Are The Fearful Themselves.

Your Monday morning dosage of clue, served to you hot and fresh with a side of wake the @$%! up and take someone to the range.

If a tool’s only utility is grounded in fear, it allows for one dimensional stereotypes of its owner. Those opposed to your beliefs will label you, contain you, which will anger you while also leaving you vulnerable to manipulation. Although this is unfair, it happens regardless.

Stereotypes of gun owners and gun culture in America couldn’t be further from the truth. Yet, the only time the nation as a whole interacts with gun owners is following the tragedy of a mass shooting. With emotions already high and fingers being pointed, responsible gun owners are pigeon holed into false identities that they then feel forced to defend.

When we act like the scary quasi-fascists and use violent phrases to defend our gun rights, people tend to think we’re scary, violent quasi-fascists.

Duh.

Moreover, talking like crazy, violent quasi-fascists goes against the very idea of being a gun owner. Inside the armed self-defense world, we preach de-escalation, calming words and verbal judo as a way to get out of potentially violent encounters. But, when we are confronted with emotionally-charged words of violence from those who want to negate the idea of armed self defense, we immediately go to the “MOLON LABE!” card and escalate the rhetoric.

Remember what happened in your concealed carry class? Remember all the questions you and your fellow students had about “Well, what if the bad guy is doing X? Can I shoot him then?”. What was the response to 99% of your questions about the escalation of force? Yep, that’s right, it was “Don’t shoot them, it’s a bad idea.”

We know that when we decide to carry a gun on our person, we must, MUST give up our “right” to be angry, because if we escalate the situation, it may go very badly for us. Note that in doing so, though, we are not giving our right to self-defense, we are merely using something other than 124 grain hollow points to accomplish that task. Just as we would only draw a weapon when it’s apparent it’s the only way to survive, we should draw a line in the sand and say “MOLON LABE!” only when, as Massad Ayoob puts it, it is in the gravest extreme.

Have we reach that point yet? I can’t answer that question for you, that is a personal decision. However, just as the answer to 99% of the “Can I shoot him now?” questions in your CCW class were “No,” I think the answer to 99% of the opportunities to escalate the rhetoric, our answer should be “No” as well.

We have other options. We know we need “tools in the toolbox” to defend our lives, so we need more options to defend our rights than just angry words. We need a full-court press to re-take our culture, and that means if we need to smile and take someone shooting, we smile and take someone shooting. If that means we join the NRA, we join the NRA. If that means there’s a TV show out there that treats civilian gun ownership with respect rather than showing it as the source of all evil, we BY GOLLY make that show the #1 show on the network.

I’m the NRA, and I not only vote, but I watch movies and TV shows as well.

If You’re Not Growing, You’re Shrinking.

If You’re Not Growing, You’re Shrinking.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;

Epistle of St. James, Chapter 2, Verses 14-22, NIV

Attention, Gun Culture 2.0. If we want to survive and thrive, we need to grow, and that means taking new gun owners to the range. Nothing else is going to work. Not rallies, not donating to the NRA, none of that means ANYTHING if we are not adding people to our cause.

Gun Culture 1.0 is dying because they didn’t spend the time to create entry points beyond “Take your kids hunting,” and the concealed carry / competition community is going to die out as well if we are not constantly bringing new people out to the range.

In a few months, we’ve gone from counting votes in the Senate trying to get CCW reciprocity passed nationwide to fighting for our Second Amendment lives. We’re losing the culture war, and if we think that relying on the same pro-gun messengers and messaging of the past is suddenly somehow going to turn things around for us, we are delusional, and deserve to lose.

Go to a rally. Make yourself feel good about your Second Amendment rights. Then go out share that good news with others.

Otherwise your good feelings don’t mean a damned thing.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says they believe in the 2nd Amendment but does not take someone to the range? Can that belief save their guns? If a brother or sister wants to defend their family, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay safe,” without helping them learn to shoot, what good is that? So also belief in the 2nd Amendment by itself, if it does not include others, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have the 2nd Amendment and I go shoot.” Show me your faith in the right to keep and bear arms apart from going to the range, and I will show you my faith by taking someone shooting. You believe that there is a right to self-defense; you do well. Even the Shannon Watts believes that — and shudders! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith in the right to keep and bear arms apart by itself is useless? Didn’t Jeff Cooper start up Gunsite to train more people as well create The Modern Technique Of The Pistol? You see that faith in the 2nd Amendment was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; *


* I may be spending a few weeks in Purgatory for that last bit, but it’s ok, I like Colorado!

What Would You Say You Do Here?

What Would You Say You Do Here?

Speaking of getting serious about training, Greg Ellifritz has a great article on focusing on the process of learning versus the outcome of getting hits on paper.

It’s common that instructors will occasionally have frustrated students who “aren’t getting it.”  The students may actually even be proceeding at a normal rate, but feel bad because other students are performing better.  Most instructors find it’s hard to help a student in this situation.  The student’s frustration creates a continuing downward spiral that leads to increasingly poor performance.

Here’s what I do to break the cycle with my students.  Get them to focus on the process rather than the product.  What that means is that rather than focusing on the end results (getting hits where you want them on a target), have the student focus on a single process that will eventually lead to a quality outcome.

This works. I’ve seen it work in my shooting, where an instructor has me focus on just one part of my shooting with the goal of getting me to get better hits. Most recently, it was Ernest Langdon showing me how one simple thing (increasing the angle of my support-side wrist) can make a BIG difference in my shooting (and it did).

However, this idea of putting the process first isn’t just limited to what happens on the range, it can affect how you see yourself as an instructor.  I’m thinking of all the amateurs I know who are proud of the fact that they’re NRA instructors and teach concealed carry classes. That’s nice. What improvements do you make in your students? Can you tell me? Do you recognize improvement when you see it? What do you do to make that improvement repeatable? Instruction is about making better shooters, not handing out certificates.

The good instructors I’ve had all have one thing in common: They focus on making better shooters. The bad ones? They focus on their own achievements.  If your pitch to me is “I’m an NRA Senior Master Chief Training Counselor”  or a similar list of credentials, that’s nice and all, but what does that have to do with me learning to shoot better?

However, if your pitch revolves around helping me understand where I need to improve and how you can help me accomplish that task, now I’m interested, because I care more your accomplishments as a teacher than your credentials as an instructor.

The Safety Fallacy

The Safety Fallacy

I’ll be honest: When John and Melody talked about how there is really no such thing as “safe” firearms training, I had some issues with what they were talking about. Not safe? What do you mean? Of course firearms training is safe! If it wasn’t safe, I wouldn’t do it!

However, as I was writing this post, I realized that the list of activities I enjoy which start with a five minute medical briefing are firearms training classes, and that’s about it. This got me thinking that yeah, maybe there is no such thing as “safe” firearms training.

And no, that doesn’t give us license to go full Pulkasis and send people downrange while we’re shooting.

An example:

In a skydive, even in a tandem jump, if I don’t do some essential things correctly like stance and exit position, I’m potentially in a world of hurt and may even die. Jumping out of a plane is inherently an unsafe action, (duh), so whether or not I get hurt while doing so up to me, my gear, my training, my instructor’s guidelines and the decisions I have made. For me, though, the risk is worth the reward (Memo to self: Go jump again, and soon.).

Shooting a gun at something is also inherently an unsafe action: A large, potentially life-threatening hole is going to appear in SOMETHING when you pull the trigger on a loaded gun. Where and when that hole appears is (literally) in your hands. Therefore, shooting a gun is not safe, it is the actions of the the shooter that determine whether it’s a positive experience or not. I can mitigate the risks, but I cannot eliminate them completely.

Is firearms training safe? No.

But it doesn’t mean it needs to be dangerous, either.

Deadly Serious.

Deadly Serious.

Tam talks about the importance of a medical/safety briefing before the start of a firearms class. To be honest, I’m to the point now that if a class doesn’t start with a medical brief, I seriously consider leaving right then and there, because it’s a good test of whether the instructor takes what’s about to happen seriously or not.  If they’re serious, they take safety seriously, and that means a safety AND medical briefing, including dumb stupid stuff that we’ve all heard before like the four rules. This is a great idea, if for no other reason that when someone pops a cap in their ass, the instructor can testify that yes, he/she DID do a safety briefing and YES, keeping finger off trigger why reholstering WAS covered, so as you can see, Your Honor, the plaintiff’s claim that he was not advised that such actions are stupid is clearly full of crap.

I digress.

The best med briefings I’ve witnessed go something like “The medkit is over there. It has these type of tourniquets, a chest seal, and other stuff. The backup med kit is over there. This dood makes the phone call, and if they can’t do it, this dood does. The address and GPS coordinates are written down over there. This dood is the primary care giver, this dood is secondary. This dood (usually somebody with a pickup) is primary transport, this dood is secondary. This dood is to go to the entrance to the range and wave in the ambulance, this dood is to go to the entrance to the bay and do the same. If you’re not one of the people I just mentioned, get out of the way and let things happen. If we need help, we’ll ask for it. Got it? Ok, let’s begin.”

Easy, simple and gives everybody a job to do.

Buying Into A LIfestyle

Buying Into A LIfestyle

I drive by one of the local Harley Davidson dealerships every day on the way to work, and the big LED sign out front of their shop usually has variants of three types of messages:

  • Learn To Ride
  • Big Sale
  • Concert / Event / Etc. Coming Soon

We’ll deal with the concert/events part of this at a later date, but note that only one of those advertisements has anything to do with actually SELLING Harley Davidson motorcycles. The “Learn To Ride” special is the most interesting to me, because if you buy a motorcycle, you buy a thing. If you learn how to USE your motorcycle, you’re buying into a lifestyle.

Think that this is something that gun ranges could learn from? I do.

Also, note how they describe their training class: It’s not “Open Road Riding Level One,” it’s “Learn To Ride.” They don’t try and confuse the consumer who’s trying something new and unknown with a bunch of buzzwords and cool-sounding details, all they say is “Learn To Ride.”

People are buying handguns because they’re scared, and we augment that nervousness with class names like “Tactical Handgun Operator Level I”.

Does a single mother with an abusive boyfriend REALLY want to take that class?

What would happen if every range in the country divided up their handgun classes into simple, related course names like “Learn to Shoot,” “Learn To Shoot Better” and “Learn To Shoot Really Well”?

Keep it simple, stupid.

Update: On Facebook, my friend and fellow Zero Hero Alf makes a terrific point: The really successful companies sell more than just product. 7/11 for instance, sells us stuff, but HOW they sell it provides us with more time do other things in our lives.

What is the value add for a gun store in our lives? What do they offer us besides selling us guns?

The Smoking Gun.

The Smoking Gun.

The problem with using the anti-smoking model against gun owners is that the societal benefits of smoking are pretty much zero, but the societal benefits of legal gun ownership are pretty easy to find.

Whenever a honest citizen defends their life with a firearm, there’s a benefit to society. Whenever an armed policeman shows up and saves the lives of high school students, it’s a benefit to society. Whenever an NRA instructor with an AR-15 stops someone from shooting up a church, it’s a benefit to society. When a hunter harvests game and helps out with balancing the environment, it’s a benefit to society.

We are civilization and we’re winning. Let’s fight for more civilization, in a polite and civilized way.

Welcome To The Party, Pal.

Welcome To The Party, Pal.

Me, in 2011:

“If Gun Culture 1.0 is to survive, it needs fresh blood, and that means bringing in urban professionals like myself and the thousands of other people who look at firearms as a defensive tool first and a sporting tool second.” 

Outdoor Life, in 2018:

Baby boomers make up our nation’s largest cohort of hunters, and they’ve already begun to age out of the sport. Within 15 years, most will stop buying licenses entirely. And when they do, our ranks could plunge by 30 percent—along with critical funding for wildlife management, advocacy for hunting, and a tradition that’s probably pretty important to you. In other words, the clock is ticking. And unless we act now, we might not recover from the fallout. 

Fortunately, the outdoor industry is starting to catch on.

“Hipsters want to hunt. But they don’t want to hunt the way a rural farm boy from Illinois wants to hunt,” Dunfee says. “They don’t want to dress the same way, they don’t like focusing on antlers, they don’t like taking pictures of their animals. But they want local, sustainable, ecologically conscious meat. And within our efforts, there are few places to realize those values.” 

Speaking as an aging punk rocker (I was into shunning the mainstream before shunning the mainstream was cool) who’s going on his first hunt in just over a month, more of this, please. Much, much more. Localvore foodies are one of our passive allies, and we’ll need them (and people like them) if we’re going to survive and thrive as a hunting culture and a gun culture.