Who Are You, And Why Do You Want To Buy A Gun Today?

Do a Google Image Search for “Gun shop'” and look at the photos of the inside of the stores.

All of them will show a store with a guns in cases and guns on walls.

None of those interior photos will give you any clue which gun is better for you.

When was the last time you walked into a gun store that was set up to belp your decision-making process, rather than overwhelm you gun after gun after gun? Row after row of compact semi-automatics that give no clue as to what their eventual function might be isn’t a sign of a lot of inventory, it’s a highway to analysis paralysis for the average retail shopper.

The point of a gun store isn’t to have a lot of guns. The point of a gun store is to SELL a lot of guns.

So do so many gun stores make it hard for you to decide which gun you want to buy?

It’s Hard Being a Pimp These Days.

I’ve been thinking a bit more about the current state of gun journalism, and a few thoughts have popped into mind that may or may not make sense to you.

In the past, I’ve bemoaned the lack of metrics when it comes to guns and compared gun reviews to car reviews. That’s not fair, though, because due to their size and how they operate, a car is MUCH less affected by who’s behind the wheel than a gun is affected by who’s on the trigger.

A better comparison might be cameras, something which I have more than a passing familiarity with.

Strictly speaking, camera reviews suck. Always have, always will. Yes, they can compare signal to noise ratios and megapixels until the cows come home, but the fact of the matter is, if you gave me a Nikon D5 and gave Greg Heisler an iPhone, his pictures are going to be better than mine. They just will. That’s why he’s Gregory Heisler, and I’m not.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: My favorite camera when I was a shooter (clickclick) wasn’t the FM2 or the Hassie or the Sinar 4×5, it was a small, light (relatively) cheap Olympus XA rangefinder. I liked that camera because it was ALWAYS with me, and I got some great shots with when they popped up in front of me. Now, did I try to shoot tabletop still lifes or corporate portraits with it? Of course not, but that’s when the Sinar and Hasseblads (respectively) would come into play. The XA, though, just *shines* in my favorite kind of work, informal environmental portraiture, so that’s why I carried it for so long.

None of my decisions to buy gear for either myself or the studio was guided in any way by a camera review in a photo magazine. To be honest, most photographers know diddly-squat about cameras as a whole: I think I cracked open “Popular Photography” maybe once or twice in the dozen years I was a shooter (clickclick), but I read every issue of PDN and Outdoor Photography (because I’ve always been MAD for Galen Rowell‘s work). My experience as a shooter was hardly unique. Most of the day in, day out photographers I know have no clue about the camera market as a whole. They do, however, know the cameras they use everyday like the back of their hand.

How this applies to the gun journalism world should be easy for you to figure out.

Bowling Against Columbine.

Stay-in-Lane-

Thinking a bit more about this post, have you been inside a bowling alley recently? The best of them are something like the Headpinz bowling alleys, which combine elements of a Dave & Busters into the current “midnight bowling” craze to produce something that’s closer to P.Diddy than it is to Earl Anthony. The worst of them? The worst are stuck in 1963, without the cool “Mad Men” retro vibe.

Think about how that applies to gun ranges. There are some good indoor ranges near me, and there are some really, really bad indoor ranges near me, but they all have one thing in common: Aside from the occasional zombie shoot or the late, great Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun, no one, and I mean NO ONE is trying to make range experience itself into something that is FUN, rather than something like taking an loud algebra exam.

Why not?

Gun nuts like myself (and most of the people reading this post) need no excuse to go the range beyond a) we have ammo and b) we want to shoot it. The act of going to the range and shooting a gun is all the amusement we need.

That’s nice for us, but just as outdoor ranges are competing against kayak rentals and driving ranges and other forms of outdoor amusement, indoor ranges are competing against other forms of INDOOR amusement such as bowling alleys, movies, etc., and from a quality-of-experience perspective, going to an indoor range ranks right up there with getting your tires rotated or parent-teacher night at the local middle school.

As they are set up now, most indoor ranges (in fact, shooting ranges in general) suck the amusement out of shooting a gun, not create more amusement beyond what comes from actually shooting a gun.

If we want Gun Culture 2.0 to thrive in a post-scarcity world, that has GOT to change.

 

The Possible First, Then The Unlikely.

I have two young sons. They tend to do stupid things. They have a better chance of getting hurt and needing first aid than my chance of needing a spare magazine for my concealed carry pistol of choice. Therefore, do I carry bandaids and other such things with me pretty much all the time?

You bet I do.

Because of my lifestyle, the odds of me needing to use a Bandaid are pretty good. The odds of me getting into a gunfight and needing  to use a spare mag are incredibly small. The stakes, though… the stakes are incredibly mortal.

Waiting For Godot. And the HPA.

I like what SilencerCo is doing here.

Purchase one of our silencers through a SilencerCo Dealer any time between February 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017 then click the link below to register your product and upload your proof of purchase.

GET THIS
You’ll then receive a custom code via email within 72 hours that’s good for up to $200 worth of free gear on SilencerCo’s web store – accessories, merchandise – you name it.

I’m actually shopping around for my first can right now, and this is a tempting deal because there are things like silencer covers, QD mounts, etc, that quickly drive up the price of what is already an expensive add-on for your gun.

SilencerCo is adapting to the market as the market changes. Cool.

Après Le Déluge, Nous Sommes.

“After the flood, there is us.”

So what happens now, after the levee has broken? Well, aside from all the things that I mentioned before, the companies that will thrive in the future are the ones who can best answer this one, simple question:

“Okay, I just bought a gun. Now what?”

Sounds easy, right? The fact of the matter is, though, that Gun Culture 2.0 has grown up and matured without having to answer that question. For just short of ten years now, the only reason needed to buy a gun was “It’s a gun, and I should buy it now, because I don’t know if I’ll be able to buy one in the future.”

Imagine what’s happening in California right now, writ large. That’s what we were afraid of, and that’s what drove gun sales. That’s not happening for the foreseeable future, and now we’re in a new phase of gun ownership in America, where gun owners are buying guns for positive reasons, not negative ones.

This is a challenge for Gun Culture 2.0 because it’s driven, by a large part, by negative outcomes. Gun Culture 1.0 was about positive outcomes: You take a walk in the woods, you see Bambi, and you provide meat for your family and a trophy for wall by blasting him into oblivion. Everyone was happy with the outcome (except Bambi, that is).

This is not true for today’s gun owner, because we are preparing for the very, very bad day when we may need to use lethal force to protect a life that is dear to us. It’s not something we enjoy thinking about, but it is satisfying knowing we’re ready. Is it fun, though? No, and the company that is most-able to bring the fun into Gun Culture 2.0 is the one that will grow the most in today’s new gun world.

Harley was successful because they transitioned a negative brand image (biker thug) into a postive brand image (Open road! Freedom!). No one (yet) is working on transitioning from a negative outcome (killed on da streetz) to a positive outcome.

Heck, I’m not sure we KNOW what a positve outcome even is yet.

 

Oh, and what’s up with the title? Well, to borrow a line from the third-greatest Christmas movie ever made*, it’s one of the benefits of a classical education.


* Ronin is #1 (yes, it’s a Christmas movie) and Lethal Weapon is #2.

No One Expects The Gunsite Inquisition

Because I hate wasting good stuff on an away game.

“Our chief weapon is the 1911. And the color code. Our two chief weapons are the 1911 and the color code and the Weaver Stance. Our THREE chief weapons are the 1911, the color code, the Weaver Stance and the surprise trigger break. AMONGST OUR WEAPONRY are such diverse elements as the 1911, the color code, the Weaver Stance, the surprise trigger break and nice decals of a raven on our trucks.

Oh bugger. I’ll come in again.” *

Explainer:

* I should probably state for the record that I absolutely and unequivocally believe that Gunsite is one of the best places in the world to learn how to use a pistol. However, if you can’t laugh at the people on your side, you’re going to be bloody useless at laughing at the people on the other side of your cause.

Metrics Don’t Matter. Until They Do.

Metrics in firearms training are needed. When we’re at a range, we are training people to pass a test that will determine if they life or die, so why wouldn’t we want to see how well they’re doing at that sort of thing and track things like draw speed, accuracy under pressure and split times? That sort of thing becomes VERY important when bullets start flying.

The problem is, all the things that lead up to that point, the de-escalation, the awareness of a potential violent counter exist in a metric-free zone. There is no way to empirically judge how ticked-off a potential attacker is at any given moment, there are no ISO standards when it comes to how much beer is required to turn a milquetoast accountant into a raging berserker, and mastering the skills needed to not get into a fight in the first test is a very, very ambiguous task, one that relies more on intuition and (dare I say it) feelings than cold, hard facts.

Let’s face facts. The firearms training world is dominated by guys, and guys (Trigger warning: Cisgender, heteronormative stereotypes ahead!) tend to be more goal-oriented, left-brain types who crave metrics*, and we tend to like training that caters to our demand for ordered, “rational”progress. Is that the way it SHOULD be? Is that the way it will always be? Is that a good thing?

Dunno. But denying reality ain’t gonna get us to where we want to be.

Metrics matter to those who want to improve their skill because they give us goals to strive for. They don’t matter to people who want a gun to “feel safe”. To borrow from Kathy Jackson‘s excellent analogy of swimming lessons, most people learn to swim in order to not drown: It’s only a few people who take up competitive swimming as a hobby or career. It’s been decades since my last swimming lesson, but one thing I remember from all of my Red Cross-approved swimming lessons was that there were metrics, even for us wee small children. In order to move on to even the next level after dogpaddling, you had to prove to the instructor that you were capable of drown-proofing for XX minutes or could swim X^2 lengths of the pool in Y number of minutes using a variety of swimming styles.

And no one freaked out about how those requirement were discouraging students from learning how to stay safe in the water. The basic swimming classes gave enough info to not drown for those who needed such thing, and set up the next rung on the ladder for we Type A personalities who needed more.

It’s not No Standards / Standardize All The Things, it’s using standards to get better where standards can help, and leave them alone when they’re not needed.


* As pert of my long and varied job history, I’ve taken psych test after psych test during the hiring process, and they pretty much all show that I am almost perfectly balanced when in comes to left brain / right brain or rational / intuitive types of things. This means I crave metrics, but the metrics I crave are… weird. 🙂

Might be quiet here for a few weeks

Thanks to some hard work, a little luck and more than a little nepotism, a fantastic opportunity to bring a really, really cool product to market has opened up to me.
No, I am not quitting my day job, but yes, I will be very, very busy these next 120 days as I work with some very smart and talented people to help bring this idea to fruition.
To all my fellow gun owners and firearms trainers, all I can say is, prepare to have your mind blown.
Stay tuned.

The Levee Has Broken.

Olympic first. Del-Ton next?

A recent ad from Grab-A-Gun on Del-tons. Look at the prices!

Now the only question is, how big will be flood be?

Fear is a great motivator, and the fear of losing our right of self-defense drove a lot of gun sales over the last few years, and, let’s be honest, drove the growth of Gun Culture 2.0 as well.

What will happen to Gun Culture 2.0 now? Are we ready for a gun culture based on optimism and the continued growth of our right to keep and bear arms?

Do we even know what that looks like?