… But Fear Itself

There’s an interesting discussion popping up on the Gun Culture 2.0 blog on the role that fear plays inside the civilian armed defender community. On the one hand, you have the experience of those who don’t carry a gun on a regular basis who are fearful of the gun itself, as if it, and not the person wielding it, is reason for violence, and on the other hand, you have people inside the gun industry using fear to market their products.

A certain amount of fear is needed to sell something that may save your life. AAA sells roadside service on the basis of keeping you safe from a flat tire on a lonely road late at night, so of course Comp-Tac is going sell holsters based on keeping your gun safe and secure until you need it.

Speaking for myself, yes, fear does play a role into why I carry a gun. One of the reasons why I started this journey was becaue there was a violent home invasion in Central Phoenix and a three year old boy was briefly kidnapped.

My oldest son was three at that time, and it brought the reality of things (literally) home to me. My wife and I were both very familiar with the neighborhood where this happened (4oth and Thomas) and while it had been going downhill for a while, it wasn’t one of Phoenix’s worst neighborhoods. We had been hearing about gang activity on the West Side and around South Mountain for years now, but we were not concerned because those were not the neighborhoods we knew about and lived in. But 40th and Thomas? I used to work in a store on that exact corner, and my wife lived a mile and a half away on the edges of Arcadia. We knew that area of Phoenix well, and that brought it home to us.

Was it fear that drove me towards becoming an armed civilian defender? Yes, that was some of what’s behind this. Knowledge, however, is fear’s Kryptonium, and knowing that I am now sufficiently trained, prepared and aware to shift the odds in my favor more than there were ten years ago removes the fear of random attack and lets me live a happier life.

Push Me, Pull You

Tam is 100% correct here: It’s ridiculous for those of us who have spent years of our lives adjusting our clothes around our guns to suddenly expect that new gun owners will immediately buy a whole new wardrobe just because they want to carry a Glock 19 around.

Note to the gun community: We need to fit into people’s lifestyles, not the other way around.


There’s a push-pull going on here: Yes, we need to be better in recommending guns and holsters that people will use, but the fact is that I’ve found that novice shooters, left to their own devices, will choose smaller guns for CCW like pocket .380’s and mini-9s. We need to guide them towards guns they shoot well and shoot often and give them holster and carry options for they can carry comfortably and frequently.

I like my little Shield. It’s an accurate, reliable gun and I carry it whenever I can, but it is not a beginners’ gun. Sub-compact 9mms are a modern version of the snub-nosed revolver, and while some very hard, hard men have successfully defended their lives with snubbie .38’s, chances are, a first time gun owner does not have Walt Rauch’s skill*.

I don’t own a Glock, yet I continue to recommend Glock 19’s as a starting point for people who want a portable defensive firearm. They’re small and light enough to carry on a regular basis, yet they’re big enough to shoot properly and often. With a few exceptions for people with poor hand strength and the like, it’s where we all should start.

On the other hand, I started with a CZ75, and I didn’t turn out too crazy.

* Neither do I. Yet.

It’s Friday. I Should Be Thinking About The Weekend.

But I’m not. It was my youngest son’s birthday last weekend, and over the course of the past few days, I wrapped up a longish article for a new client (one that I am VERY happy to be writing for), and there’s a big project at work going on, so the best I can do for content right now is leech off of Tam’s excellent article about dealing with the realities of real-world carry by pointing you towards the first article I wrote for Shooting Illustrated, which dealt with concealed carry in the office.

Concealing a Glock 19 in a tuckable holster means pretty much nothing if it takes you a quarter fortnight to draw the darn thing.



Ask just about any gun nut, and they’ll tell you that Top Gear* is on their list of favorite non-gun TV shows. Why? Because it was** full of cool things, cool places and it was fun. Lots and lots of fun.


The good news is, the new show from the lads who brought us the good version of Top Gear (not the current version) are back, and their show promises to be full of cool things, cool places and fun, and it appeals to the inner 14 year old in all of us.

When was the last time you saw a show about guns or hunting that appealed to your inner 14-year-old? Top Gear was successful because it wasn’t a show about cars, it was a show about 14-year-olds who like cars. Same with another show near and dear to my heart, Mythbusters. Myhbusters wasn’t a show about science per se, there have been shows about science on television since the first days of PBS, it was a show about how a 14-year-old thinks about science, full of explosions and stuff.

Where is the firearms-related show that appeals to our inner 14-year-old? Guns are fun to shoot. Going to the range with friends is fun. Why are the so few FUN tv shows about guns?

Besides on YouTube, that is.

* When I speak of “Top Gear” I am not referring to any show of that name without Clarkson, Hammond and May.
** I really wouldn’t mind to see a good version of Top Gear pop up on the Beeb again. The more good shows about cars out there, the happier I am.

Gun Culture Vs. Pop Culture.

An interesting discussion popped up in the comments of this article for Shooting Illustrated on the guns of pop culture. Gun nuts were outraged that the 1911 wasn’t on the list, because, hey, ‘Murica and guns!

The thing is, the 1911 is a popular gun in gun culture, but in pop culture? Forget it. And I’ll prove it.

Play along with me here:

Dirty Harry and his Model 29 .44 Magnum.
Martin Riggs and his Beretta 92.
James Bond and his PPK.
John Wayne and his Colt Peacemaker.
_________ and his 1911.

See the problem? Naming an iconic character from pop culture who yielded a 1911 is not an easy task. The best I could come up with is Lamont Cranston, and he’s not really a household name anymore, thanks to a mediocre movie starring Alec Baldwin. I like the 1911, and there’s no denying what it means to gun owners in the U.S., but it’s pretty much unknown outside our little world. If we want gun culture to grow (and we do, right?), we need to be able to relate to people outside our comfort zone, so when they talk about how the gun that Agent Smith used in The Matrix and how cool it was, smile politely and nod, even though you’re thinking about how much you loath the Deagle.

Failure Is The Preferred Option.

Training to fail is the only way to get better, but failure is not fun.

“Tactical” training that mimics “playing soldier” adds in an element of make believe and is therefore more fun than more effective training that lacks such elements. All of us guys* liked “playing soldier” when we were kids and the rush of “taking charge” and mimicking violence and/or rigid adherence to authority, so it only makes sense that doing such things again as an (alleged) adult triggers pleasant childhood memories.

No one ever grew up “playing USPSA” (at least not yet) so it will be a while until walking through a stage triggers pleasant childhood memories.

Good training requires failure, because unless you’re Rob Leatham and you popped out of your mother’s womb with a 1911 in your hand**, you have bad habits you need to break. Breaking bad habits without breaking the student’s spirit is tough, and the “suck it up, buttercup” approach used by ex-military types is uniquely unsuited to us free-spirited civilians.

I mentioned this to my wife, who has 20 years experience teaching middle schoolers, and she said she gets around the despair that failure often causes by reminding her students of how far they’ve come. Her students can do the scary stuff because she reminds them that they’ve already learned so much in her classes.

This is where standards come into play. If you can show a student how far they’ve come from the first hour of class while teaching them something more advanced later on in class, you can make them want to learn more. In order to measure progress and boost confidence, you need to, well, measure progress.

It works for eighth graders, and might just work for adults as well.

* Yes, I know. How cisgender, heteronormative of me. Piss off.
** Ow, that must hurt Mrs. Leatham somewhat…

HPR Ammunition Closes Up Its Payson Ammo Plant

According to the local newspaper, HPR Ammunition has shuttered its operation in Payson Arizona.

HPR Ammunition reportedly sent more than 30 employees home Sept. 13, 2016 and closed its doors.

The business remains closed, but Payson officials say the owners have said they plan to reopen as soon as possible.

The owners of the company did not return calls seeking comment.

However, other sources said the company’s chief lender called in all its loans, apparently having something to do with the company’s efforts to open another, much larger plant in Tennessee.

With the Tennessee plant still not up and the creditors calling in their markers for what’s left of the Arizona ammo plant, hang on to those boxes of HPR ammo you currently have, they’re about to become collector’s items… 😀

Blast Off.

The Firearm Blog posted something last week that tripped a lot of my nerd switches, namely guns and space exploration.

All it needed was references to “Buckaroo Banzai” and it would have hit my nerd trifecta.

I digress.

Human space exploration has been stuck in a rut since Gene Cernan knocked the duct off his boots and left the moon behind him. Sure, we’ve got astronauts whizzing over our heads right now in a small aluminum tube, but the technology that NASA is recommending we use for the next 30 years looks an awful lot like mashup of 50 year old Apollo technology and 40 year old Space Shuttle technology, because, well, it is.


Elon Musk isn’t settling for that. The Interplanetary Transport System is breathtakingly audacious and uses ideas that were created by NASA but tossed away, such as carbon-fiber fuel tanks and full-flow staged-combustion engines. SpaceX has revolutionized space launches with lower costs for the same performance because they’re applying modern business practices to the business of going into space. SpaceX is run more like Apple or Google, while NASA and the government contractors it uses are run like it’s still 1942 or something.

I’ve been saying for a while now that guns have reached a technology plateau. There really hasn’t been an “oh, WOW!” moment in guns since the Glock came out and people started copying it (with varying degrees of success…). The closest we’ve come to that moment is, for better or worse, the Taurus Judge, which should tell you everything you need to know about the state innovation in guns today. Just like Elon Musk is doing with his new rocket, Gaston Glock started with a blank sheet of paper and used ideas that were either really new or had fallen by the wayside, like polymer frames and striker actions and came out with something that changed the world.

Now, part of the problem is that the civilian market for guns is hemmed in by stupid regulations. Cars with built-in mufflers have been around for over 100 years now, but pistols with built-in silencers (especially ones not in .22 caliber) are still uncommon thanks to the stupidity of the National Firearms Act. The same is true for PDW’s, which would tick just about all the boxes needed for a trunk gun / pistol carbine / whatever, but are needlessly expensive and hard to get, thanks to the NFA.

Like the other innovations of the last thirty years such as the personal computer and the smartphone, SpaceX’s bold reach for the stars has shown us that the days of waiting for government to change our lives are over. You want a better rocket? Build it yourself. Want a better firearm? Buy a CAD program and a CnC machine, and do it yourself.

It’s Not The Choreography, It’s The Stumbles.

We learn situational awareness by establishing a baseline for the environment and noticing what’s out of place. A mini van or an SUV with handicap plates idling by the front of the pharmacy is not out of place. A beat-up pickup truck or a tricked-out street racing car idling by the entrance to the pharmacy would be out of place, however, and if that happened to be at a pharmacy I was about to walk into, you are DARN RIGHT I’m not going in.

In that same way, we shoot matches because we get used to dealing with what’s out of place and unusual when we are dealing with stressful situations with a gun in our hands.

The very best thing that can happen on the stage is we do everything exactly the way we planned. As Steve Anderson is fond of saying, practical pistol is speed biased and negatively charged. This means that unless we pay attention to things, we tend to go too fast on a stage and not get our hits, and we tend to notice our screwups more than we notice what we did right.

Emptying a gun in a few seconds is not hard. Emptying a gun in a few seconds and getting your rounds on target? That’s hard. Also, noticing the screwups that happen on a stage lets us become accustomed to correcting for them as they happen and come out on top of things.

Isn’t that also what training is about?

The value of competition is when things don’t go well on the stage and we are forced to make things up on the spot, and that carries over 100% into firearms training. For example, we were doing a drill in a Combat Focus Shooting class where the instructor would call out a number from one to six, and then we’d put rounds into the corresponding number on our targets.

Except the time the instructor called out “seven”, and then things changed. Almost all the class reacted to the vocal command, but they didn’t process the data in the command until their gun was pointed at the target. The other students did not shoot competitions so they were not used to the unexpected happening on the firing line and reacted on instinct.

Me? I heard “seven”, saw that there was a “one” and a “six” on my target, added the two together, pressed out my gun and put rounds into both of them while the rest of the class stood there dumbfounded with their dicks guns out. The unexpected did not faze me, as I’d had to deal with missteps and altered plans with pretty much every stage I had shot.

We have spent thousands of years developing sports like javelin, judo, jousting, and other sports that don’t begin with a “J” to prepare our bodies for combat. Using sport as a way to prepare for war has worked for centuries, so why do we think that pistol competition are no help when it comes to pistol combatives?