Upcoming Training: Rangemaster Tactical Conference

Upcoming Training: Rangemaster Tactical Conference

Boy howdy, am I looking forward to this one. Not only because I’ll get to meet a whole lot of people in-person who I know only from the Internet, but also because of the training. Caleb Causey on trauma care! Ernest Langdon on DA/SA guns! Claude Werner on pocket snubbies! Mas Ayoob! Chuck Haggard! John Farnam! Craig Douglas! John Hearne! William Aprill! Greg Ellifritz!

Hang on a minute, all that awesome gave me the vapors. I need to sit down…

So yeah, really, really looking forward to meeting great people and taking some great classes. This is the training highlight of the year for me, bar none.

First Comes Motivation. Then Comes Action.

First Comes Motivation. Then Comes Action.

Claude Werner lists out some of the reasons why people don’t get firearms training.

  • Time
  • Expense
  • Accessibility
  • Scheduling
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of incentive
  • Lack of understanding

The thing is, though, people are willing to overcome the obstacles of time, motivation, accessibility, money and scheduling if they think that what they’re getting is worth the effort they put into getting it.

And if you don’t think this is true, ask yourself, when was the last time you drove the extra mile (or ten, or twenty) for really good pizza/Mexican/pasta/beer/whatever, versus stopping to eat at the first place you found?

I thought so.

If an experience, ANY experience, has been proven to be of value, you will do it again. How many people get CCW training? How many people then go beyond that CCW class and get more training in how to use their firearm effectively?

Answer: Not many. Very few.

The CCW Class is the top of the funnel: Enrolling in such a class is a tacit admission that a) threats exist and b) you’re aware of the need to do something about it. However, people who take a concealed carry class are not seeing the value in taking more training.

Why is this happening?

The answer, I think, lies in that word “effectively”. I don’t have the answer for this just yet, but the problem is clear: The value proposition for post-CCW firearms training is not apparent enough to gun owners, and that needs to change.

 

Surviving The Death Of The GunBlogosphere

Surviving The Death Of The GunBlogosphere

First off, let’s face facts: Gunblogging (and indeed, blogging of all kinds) is pretty much dead. It’s pining for the fjords of Norway. It has ceased to be, and social media is now triumphant.

-ish.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I am seeing a LOT of requests for links from companies and individuals asking me to link to them in order to boost their SEO results. 99.9% of them I turn down because I really don’t see how linking to vaping supplies or woman’s shoes is related to a gunblog, but I will let a few through if the idea is right. So maybe blogging at yourgunblog.wordpress.com or the like is in trouble, but if you’ve got your own IP address, your own domain name and some decent inbound links, people will want to talk with you about making their domain results a little bit better.

And then there’s blogger burnout. Yes, it’s a thing, but I do this so I don’t talk guns with my wife all the time, so I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I’m liking how the blog is working in conjunction with my other writing efforts, and I like where things are headed.

Update: More on blogging (photoblogging, to be exact) from my friend and mentor Don Giannatti.

As social media begins to reveal its rather impressively large negative influences, as well as the increasing stultifying of creativity even as it may create some as well, there must be another way to be involved and engaged.

Facebook is too easy. It is too contained. It is becoming an echo chamber for anger, pity, fake news and ideas, and the constantly inwardly focus of the perpetually incensed.

That doesn’t sound like a great idea for a community to me.

 

When You Find Your Student Is Your Master

When You Find Your Student Is Your Master

One of the things about the dojo model of firearms training is that it requires the use of advanced students to train the beginners: The brown belts train the white belts because in doing so, they a) free up the sensei’s time and b) learn how to do stuff in the process of training others. An example:

Something that helps make Step By Step Gun Training’s Shoot and Scoots so successful is that they have experienced shooters who are NRA Certified RSO’s help the new gun owners with things like finger off the trigger while moving and how to do a safe presentation and reholster. The RO’s aren’t there to help shave 0.2 seconds off a draw: Their job is to get the newbies (white belts) up to speed and in doing so, reinforce those skills in themselves, and in the process, learn how learn so they themselves can become better shooters. There’s an initial sorting process that takes place with first-timers so the RO’s don’t train people who are absolutely new to guns: Those people are sent to a lead instructor to get the Four Rules and some basic marksmanship drilled into them before they hit the range.

This process of using advanced students to help guide competent but inexperienced new students helps free up the lead instructor’s time to a) instill a basic level of safety into the really, really new students and b) allow time to work with experienced students on areas like faster trigger speed and better gun manipulation. The dojo model needs a sensei, but it also needs lots and lots of sempai as well.

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.

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!