Thinking about it, wouldn’t be that big of a deal for 5.11, MagPul or SIG to get in on the action here. Startup costs would be fairly cheap: A few dozen acres outside of town, or better still, something you can pack into an 18-wheeler and take from town to town. The trick would be to tie your VR world into some existing IP in order to set the hook and raise interest for people outside of the gun community.
I’ve mocked tactical tourism in the past, but DANG if this doesn’t sound cool. Heck, how many dude ranches, restaurants and theme parks popped up in the 50’s with Old West theme to them because of Gunsmoke, Rawhide, et al? Those were all based on the gun heroes of the past, maybe it’s time for the gun heroes of today to get a share of the spotlight.
Successfully completing this drill with my Shield was what convinced me that yes, I could defend my life with that little subcompact 9mm. Not only that, but I got my first hit at 50 yards within 3 seconds, from concealment. If you can do that with your carry gun of choice, there really ain’t a whole lot more you need to worry about. After that, you’re just gilding the lily.
I’m going out on location for stories more often these days, and there’s also the fact that I usually attend SHOT and/or NRA each year. As such, in order to keep all my krep in one place while doing such things, I built up a small little bag that will hold all my “Hi, I’m a gunwriter” stuff, but not weigh me down too much.
And just so you know, this sort of bag has been an obsession of mine for decades now. When I was a (photo) shooter, I worked up a nice little Domke-based kit that could hold an FM2 w/drive, a 105 f2.5, a 20 and a 35 f2, along with a 285, cords and a brick of film. There honestly was very little I couldn’t shoot with that rig, and it went with me everywhere*.
So I built this kit to be lightweight and easy to carry, but still have all the tools I need to write and shoot a story on just about any topic. Also, because I’m a paranoid right-wing gun nut, I tossed in a few little trinkets needed to get by should things get dicey. This all fits into the cheap-o sling bag I bought earlier this year, and it’s light and small enough to carry around for extended lengths of time without getting in the way.
Clockwise From Upper Left
Prep/ Daily Use Gear
Bandanna, lighter, some simple pain killers, rain poncho, a few first aid items, a mylar poncho, Imodium, painkillers, Tums… the kind of things that make you say “Oh, I wish I had (X) right now!” I’ve carried that sort of stuff with me when I was a photo assistant, and it comes in useful all the time.
Backup Battery for Phone
This is one is a bit bigger than most, and I like having that extra power on-hand. I use my phone for both consuming media (videos, Spotify, etc.) and creating media (photos, writing) so having enough juice to keep it going all day makes sense to me.
Here’s the deal: I know sweet bugger all about today’s cameras. I got out of the photo business right as digital came onto the scene**, so as such, I know my ancient D70 and that’s about it. Fortunately, for me, Tam‘s kept up with what’s going down in digital cameras, and on her recommendation, I picked up a gently used Nikon P7000 on Amazon for a song.
And that little thing is a joy to use. It’s the perfect blend of my old beloved FG and my old and even more beloved Olympus XA, with a few new digital tricks thrown in. It can do 90% of what my D70 can do and costs under $200. How cool is that?
Repeat after me: Built-in flashes SUCK. I’m still working on getting it to fire correctly via remote TTL, but pound for pound, that little Meike strobe is amazing. It has full manual down to 1/128, tilt and swivel, a built-in slave and it also comes with that little diffuser. It ain’t gonna light up a room, but it’s just dandy for fill flash or portraits. Oh, and did I mention it’s got a USB plug on it so you can recharge Ni-CADs without opening it up? So. Cool. I’ve also tossed a small soft box (not pictured) in the back pocket of the bag to help smooth out the light a bit when needed, with some pretty good results, as we shall see…
Love that little iWerks folding keyboard. I’ve used it for almost four years now, and to be honest, I prefer using it for serious writing than I do my laptop or desktop computers. Yes, the feel on it is a bit weird and some of the keys aren’t where they’re supposed to be, but when I use it in conjunction with my iPhone or iPad, I’m forced to concentrate on just writing, which makes me much more productive.
SWAT-T. I’m trying to standardize on those because a) they work and b) they’re a little more compact than a CAT.
Phone Gear / Cords
SD Card connector for my phone, various cords and plugs, spare batteries, etc.
Warming up to that little Gerber Suspension. The price is certainly right, it feels good in the hands, and it’s got all the stuff I need with very few things I don’t.
Nitecore T10 Flashlight
A disappointment. The Internet told me it was one of the best budget flashlights out there. The Internet was wrong: Go with this ThruNite instead. It’s about the same price, and it has basic features like a tail switch that the NiteCore doesn’t have, along with other features like variable power.
To give you an idea of what all this stuff is capable of, I took that photo of a Walther PPQ SC with the camera and strobe I just talked about, edited it with Photoshop Express on my phone, and now I’m finishing up this post using the iWerks keyboard.
I think I’m set.
Other stuff I have in the bag are pens, pencils, business cards, a little book, some earphones… all the little stuff you need when you’re away from a hotel room for an extended length of time.
And no, a gun is not part of this get up. I’m not that big of a fan of off-body carry anyways, so if I have a gun, I have it on me, not in a bag. I do, however, have a spare knife in the front pocket of this bag, because knives are always handy. The purpose of this bag isn’t to keep me going in a grid-down situation, the purpose is to keep me churning out content in the middle of a gun-related convention.
* Check out The Strobist for the modern-day equivalent of that type of shooting.
** I mean, I’ve never used Lightroom. Ever. I was born Photoshop, and I’m a-gonna die Photoshop.
As you probably know, Toys R Us went out of business earlier this year, and because they had a penchant for free-standing stores, that means there is a LOT of empty real estate in prime retail locations sitting around empty.
So why not turn old Toys ‘R’ Us locations into gun ranges?
Free-standing Toys R Us store are built on a pattern that tended to repeat itself, so you wouldn’t have to customize your renovations much from store to store.
They’re solidly built: Everyone I’ve seen has been made of either tip-up concrete walls or concrete block.
They’re usually in great locations next to shopping malls and major thoroughfares (although rezoning could be a hassle).
They can be had for a song. Retail is dying, and so the list of people clamoring for those locations has to be quite short.
In case you haven’t noticed, there is a BIG gap in the gun market right now: We have nationwide chains of sporting good stores that sell guns, but the biggest chain of gun ranges (where you can actually USE those guns) is Shoot Straight here in Florida, which has a whopping eight locations (and to be honest, each and every one of them is VERY low-rent).
Someone (Glock? SIG? Action Target?) is going to do for gun ranges what AMF did for bowling alleys, and instill a standard level of service from one range to another so that the consumer understands the value proposition of what they’re getting before they walk in to shoot.
There’s probably a shuttered Toys R Us within an hour of where you are right now. Someone is going to SOMETHING with them, why not open a gun range inside of them?
“Guns solve problems for the people who bear them.”
This. A gazillion times this. I, along with millions of other responsible gun owners in America, take the time and effort to maximize the benefits of owning a gun, while minimizing the drawbacks. I want my guns to SOLVE problems, not cause them.
Secondly is this quote:
“The National Rifle Association is a quasi-regulatory agency governing concealed carry in the United States.
The VAST majority of concealed carry instructors in the U.S. get certified to teach concealed carry in their state because they are certified by the NRA as a qualified instructor. As such, NRA Training is pretty much the standard (how rigorous of a standard is a topic for another post.
Looking forward to seeing what this turns up. I have friends on the mission field right now who are serving in countries that would kill them if they were found out to be Christians. We in America have lived many, many years without the threat of sectarian-based violence, and I hope we have a good many more as well.
This is a nifty little gadget that doesn’t scream “HEY, THERE IS IMPORTANT, EXPENSIVE STUFF IN HERE!!!” yet still keeps your stuff secure. If you travel often (especially if you store a laptop or a firearm in your room), it’d be something worth picking up.
Speaking of nifty little gadgets, Sabre Red has FINALLY built a decently-sized can of spicy treats with a good belt clip (although it’s still a bit big). Dear pepper spray manufacturers: All I want is a can that attaches either to my belt or inside my pocket that’s about the same size as a Glock 19 mag, with a flip-top safety and a reversible belt clip. Why is that so hard to make?
Me, four years ago: “Now that Glock has a mini .380 out, I’m seeing a lot more chatter about how with the right bullets (I’m a fan of Hornady XTP’s myself), .380 ACP is a viable self-defense round.” Bart Skelton, this month: “There’s a certain term that I’ve personally shunned that refers to small firearms and a certain species of rodent. I don’t care for the phrase.”
First off, let’s face facts: The training you get at Front Sight isn’t as good as you get elsewhere. Is it bad training, though?
Well, no. They have good safety standards and if you’re new to guns, you will be a better shooter when you leave Front Sight than you were before you arrived.
What Front Sight does remarkably well, though, is market their product to the American consumer. When I went there back in 2012, there were over 200 people there that week taking one sort of class or another.
Do YOU have 200 people a week in your classes? I thought not.
Front Sight does those numbers by instilling a sense of community in their students: They are marketing not just gun classes, but rather, they are marketing the sense of belonging to something that’s bigger than you are.
How much of that is based on what’s taught in SEAOrg is an ongoing question, but it’s real, and it works well for Front Sight.
Want repeat students? Give them a reason to come back that’s more that just “Learn to shoot more better.”