Which made me remember that the Walkman was the beginning of the personal media revolution we know live in. The introduction of Walkman was the first time that we could decide what music we ourselves could listen to at any given moment in the day, The Walkman begat the iPod which turned out to be an evolutionary dead end: Even Apple doesn’t make them anymore. It was a dead end because it could really only do one thing, play music. Even though the iPod could carry around thousands and thousands of songs, in the end, it wasn’t enough to compete against the next big thing, which was the iPhone and streaming music services.
The iPhone, on the other hand, is still continuing to grow and expand because it CAN grow and expand. Thanks to the App Store and iOS, you can make your iPhone into just about anything you want it to be.
Guns are iPods: they do only one thing. This isn’t a bad thing, though. After all, Apple’s “digital hub strategy” was built around one-use gadgets like the iPods and digital video cameras, and it resurrected the company and made them gazillions of dollars.
This is where we’re trying to get to right now with guns: We need a “security hub” strategy, where we integrate the unitasker (guns) along with all the other elements of personal security into our lives and the lives of the people around us and turn ourselves into our own first responders.
However, what made Apple’s digital hub strategy obsolete was another Apple product, the iPhone. The iPhone took all of those disparate tasks performed by separate devices and compressed them into one easy to carry device, which meant you didn’t need a computer at the center of your digital life anymore.
We’re not at that stage yet. Heck, we’re not even at the stage were Walkmans guns are a common sight in our society.
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.
There are reasons why martial arts dojos hand out stripes to the white belts: They help build confidence and encourage people to come back for more training beyond the basics.
Which got me thinking. What are the post-CCW stripes out there? What incentives do you give your students to do more besides a printed-out Microsoft Word Template that says you completed the bare minimum of training needed to carry a gun around in your state?
Standards matter. You and I may know what a clean Dot Torture says about your ability to shoot, but to a person on the street, it doesn’t seem that hard, and more importantly, it’s not a badge of recognition that is immediately identifiable as a significant accomplishment. The various state-level concealed carry tests scattered throughout Claude’s book are a great start, and it’s got me wondering if there are more tests out there that are recognizable outside the gun community more than a clean 5×5 is, but are less demanding than an FBI qual. Think if it as the qual you shoot before shooting the FBI qual.
The various military and police qualifiers come to mind. The Marine Corps test ain’t that hard, but it’s one of the very few that has something that even approaches testing the skills that armed citizens learn in their classes.
So what tests are out there that a guy on the street can immediately identify as being legit, but are able to be shot fairly well by a new shooter?
I overheard someone talking about their experience at the same knife defense class I went to, and the response they got was “You carry a gun: Why do you need to learn how to use a knife?” Well, this is why you need to learn how to defend yourself from 1 inch on out to 100 yards and beyond.
The Sharp Dressed Shooter is a great resource for those of us who want to protect ourselves whilst wearing something other than jeans and a t-shirt. He’s got a great video on Instagram showing the right way to draw from a tuckable holster. and by my count, it takes him about 2.5 seconds from the decision to draw to when the gun is up on target. This is quite fast for such a holster, and it’s obviously a product of hard work, practice, and a dedication to his craft.
The movement required to lift and clear your cover garment, get a good firing grip on the gun and then get it into play all scream out “HEY EVERYONE, I’M DRAWING MY GUN NOW!!!!!,” which is just fine for times when drawing a gun is really, really needed.
We know from listening to John Corriea’s narrated videos that a smooth, stealthy draw is needed almost as often as smooth fast draw is needed. Hence the problem with relying solely on a tuckable holster for (really) discrete carry: They’re a very good way to carry more than a pocket gun, but they are not a good way to get your gun out discretely if you need to.
Which is why I pocket-carry a .380 if I need to be a little more subtle than normal. My pre-draw routine with a pocket rocket is me casually putting my hand into my pants pocket, which looks exactly like me… casually putting my hand into my pocket. This is different than a tuckable holster or an ankle holster or any of the other options for really discreet carry: The pre-draw routine for all of those looks like someone trying to get a gun out from hiding, which is exactly what they are.
If you carry something bigger in a tucked-in tuckable holster, that’s great, you’re ahead of almost everyone else out there. Just consider adding something to your mix that allows you to get your gear into play without looking like you’re getting your gear into play.
I took the 1911 out to this week’s Shoot And Scoot and put another 100 rounds of Federal Champion Aluminum .45 ammo through it, and unfortunately, the gun suffered a catastrophic, test-ending parts failure that has completely shattered my faith in the 1911 platform.
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.”