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.

Life In The (Competition) Fast Lane

Most people who are buying guns today are buying them because they are afraid, and more specifically, afraid of being kilt.

So what do we do? We insist that in order to get better at shooting, new gun owners must do something that they fear even MORE than death, namely, public perfomance, and go shoot a match out in front of their peers.

Insanity. We stack fear on top of fear, and then we are amazed that the fearful don’t show up. The biggest problem right now is that there is no sanctioned on-ramp between blasting away in an indoor range and shooting IDPA. That needs to change (no, Steel Challenge doesn’t count*). The SSCA doesn’t demand that people immediately go from hauling around their kids in a minivan to competing in the 12 Hours of Sebring**, yet the USPSA does that all the time.

Gun sales are BOOMING: Over the last two Black Fridays, Americans bought enough guns to outfit the entire Marines Corps.

Twice.

So why aren’t USPSA, IPDA, et al growing at the same rate? Why isn’t post-CCW firearms training growing by leaps and bounds? If competition and training are supposed to be an essential part of Gun Culture 2.0, where are the new gun owners, and why aren’t they in a pistol bay somewhere? Clearly, there is a disconnect between the rate of gun sales and the rate of participation in both the shooting sports and firearms training beyond CCW, which tells me that what we’re doing now to attract people to those activities is clearly not working the way it should be. In response to this underperforming metric, though, all I hear is “No, they just need to shoot Steel Challenge more!” or “No, they use need to realize that owning a gun means you’re a Sheepdog!™ and train approprately”.

Those ideas are clearly not working. We need to try something else. More on what that “something else” might be in tomorrow’s post***.


* Steel Challenge doesn’t count because you’re just standing there, shooting one round at five steel targets five times a string. Yes, there is a timer involved, but the actions you’re performing (hitting five different targets as quickly as possible as you stand in one place) could just as easily be done in a lane indoors.
** The Sports Car Club of America is just as bad at this sort of thing. The only way to learn to drive fast on a track is to go to a track and hope there’s someone there who can teach you. Better drivers have fewer accidents, so you would think that the SCCA would be helping drivers drive BETTER, not faster… and you’d be wrong.
*** “I’ll see you shiver with an-tic-i-pa…”

A Carpet-Bombing of Truth.

“What we of the ‘cognoscenti’ fail to recognize and accept is that few average people will carry a service weapon.  Here’s why: a holstered Glock 19 is the size of a Small Priority Mail Flat Rate Box and weighs as much as two cans of uncondensed soup. What normal person wants to carry that on their belt or in their pants? Our continuing proselytizing for carrying a brick around is one of the main reasons only a small percentage of people who can legally carry actually do carry.”

Claude Werner

“To carry a glock 19 you have to want to carry a glock 19. A lot of people simply don’t want to carry something that big and therefore won’t carry something that big. Some people may scoff at the chocolate chip cookie sized .380; however, for a lot of people that represents the maximum inconvenience they are willing to put up with for what they perceive as a low probability event.”

– Mordecai Yitzhak

I recommend a Glock 19-sized gun for first-time gun buyers because it’s about the minimum size for a pistol that you can train with and practice with on a regular basis, and it’s also a darn handy home self-defense gun. Is it a good concealed carry gun for most people? Probably not. As I sit and type this, I have a “chocolate chip cookie sized .380” (I am SO stealing that phrase) in my pocket BECAUSE THAT IS ALL I CAN CARRY RIGHT NOW… and I’m lucky to get away with even that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again What’s the best camera for you, the non-professional photographer? The camera you have with you right now, and your ability to see photographs as they happen. What’s the best gun for you, the casual gun owner? The gun you have with you right now, and your ability to see danger before it becomes, well, dangerous.

Update: I wrote this post and queued it up yesterday, before I knew that Michael Bane was going to talk about these things on his podcast.

I gotta admit, though, I did like the old-school flow in that song, but then again, I’ve liked Chuck D’s music* since “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.”


* Music, not politics. There’s a difference.

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

compare5

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.

Good defense, lousy offense.

Judging by the reactions to the Ferguson riots and the shootings at military recruitment centers, we civilians make lousy armed security guards.

That’s a good thing.

Contrary to how we are often portrayed in the media, armed civilians (at least the ones I know) are not wild eyed vigilantes, we’re just people concerned with keeping our loved ones safe in an increasingly dangerous world. The closest I’ve come to any “offensive” firearms training was a one day tactical carbine class with Phoenix Firearms Training, and I did that mainly to get used to how my AR works in both defense situations and in competition. I have no desire to join a Battle of Fallujah Reenactment Society, coat myself in head to toe MOLLE and head out for some CQB practice. My job isn’t to defend this country, my job is to defend the lives of my loved ones.

Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump protests may require us to ramp up our skills at defending not just the lives of those closest to us, but also defend ourselves and our places of business against an unruly mob as well.

That day, however, is not here yet. While I have no desire to do such things, I may be required to defend a home or a place of business, and become my own roof Korean.

Not looking forward to that. Probably should be good at it before it happens, though.

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.

More on the ABDO

iPhone 6+ left, ABDO right.

iPhone 6+ left, ABDO right.

Something I didn’t add in to my review for Shooting Illustrated, but that little sucker is really good for carrying a gun into “non-permissive” environments, i.e. places where it’s legal to carry a gun but not permitted.

Don’t try to carry into places where it’s illegal to carry. That’s dumb.

The ABDO can carry a small pocket .380 and a spare mag, and if you lock it down with the (non-metallic) key, it looks acts and feels like a waterproof case for a “phablet”-sized phone. If you’re looking to carry a gun into someplace where they’ll kick you out but not arrest you if you’re carrying, you might want want to check out the ABDO and see if it works for you.