Buh Bye.

Buh Bye.

I am outta here, headed off to SHOT.

One of the really neat things about the show this year is that I, along with Annette Evans, will be wandering the hallways of Sands Exhibition Center, looking for cool stuff to talk about for Shooting Illustrated. As all my efforts will be focused on what I’m doing for them, don’t expect any new content here next week.

In essence, I’ll be covering the largest gun show on the planet for the largest group of gun owners on the planet. Pretty cool.

And I *swear* I will not make it “All CZ, all the time”.

Ok, I’ll try to make it happen. But no promises.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

Me, five years ago:

According to the commenters (some of which are combat medics), I needed to start with a pressure and a tourniquet rather than the QuikClot.

Which exposes a big gaping hole (no pun intended…) in my training: Aside from CPR and some basic first aid, I’ve had no training in dealing with the effects of a negligent discharge.

Today, I’ve had a day-long course in first-aid trauma med, and I carry either an improvised tourniquet or a full-on SOF-T everywhere I go.

Cool.

Lighten Up, Francis.

Lighten Up, Francis.

I have a friend who’s AntiFa, and his response when I suggested that maybe violence wasn’t the answer for his group was “Well, when I’m being threatened with violence, what choice to I have?” *

In other words, he hit me, so I have no choice but to hit him back.

Bull crap. That is a child’s response to violence: “Of course I hit him, he hit me first! I HAD to hit him!” **

“No choice?” We are humans, not animals. We learned to override our baser instincts around the same time one of us figured out that a burning branch wasn’t something to be afraid of, but rather, it was good for warmth and illumination and starting barbecues.

No, we do not always have control over the actions of others, but we always, ALWAYS have control over our reactions. Any cop could probably tell you about the times they’ve had some poor fool sitting on a curb in cuffs, watching a friend bleed out in front of them say something like, “Man, I didn’t want to do it, but he just wouldn’t back down.” At that point, one life is over, and one life is ruined. Who hit whom first is a bit of a moot point. I’m not willing to let this beautiful country with its beautiful freedoms go away just because a bunch of children started arguing over who threw the first punch.

* I’m old enough to remember when Martin Luther King Jr. was reviled by the right and loved by the left. My, how things have changed.
** I haven’t heard that said in our house since my youngest son turned ten, which speaks volumes about the emotional age of Antifa and other groups.

The Rule To Every Exception.

The Rule to Every Exception.

Yes, in general, car guns are a bad idea.

But four days out of seven, I carry an LCP2 with no reload in my vicinity, so it’s nice knowing that there’s something nearby with a little more oomph to it. Is there a chance that my car could be broken into? Sure, I’ve had my car broken into, and I’ve learned from my mistakes. I had my truck broken into once because someone mistook my Bible in its leather cover for a purse, broke a window and ran off with that and a $40 leather jacket. I’ve lost camera gear due to truck break-ins, and every time it happened, I made the stupid mistake of leaving my gear out in plain view.

Unless it’s a riot situation where EVERYBODY’S car is getting trashed, crooks don’t break into random cars: They are looking for something, and when they see it, they balance the risk vs. reward and go for it.

No reward? Less risk. MUCH less risk.

The Button Pusher.

The Button Pusher.

A great example of why you want to hire a professional photographer.

It's all in the knowing how.

I have a friend who describes his job as being paid $100 to push a button. $1 of that fee is actually pushing the button, the other $99 is knowing what button to push, and when to push it.

People who aren’t professional shooters tend to focus on gear, specifically the camera. However, people who are actually working pros tend to focus on how to manipulate light, and the camera is tertiary at best. Some of them, like Ansel Adams and Robert Frank, learn how to adapt the light that’s there to what they want to see. Others, like Irving Penn* and Mark Seliger, learn how to add and subtract light until the get what they want.

These guys know that no amount of money invested in a camera is going to make up for sucky lighting, but they learned early to either how to master the existing light, or else a few dollars spent on a decent beginner’s strobe setup and a few more dollars (and a little time) spent on learning how to use light will make all the difference in the freaking world in your pictures.

Look at those two shots above: Unless you knew what the light actually looked like and knew what was needed to make it look better, you’d have taken the first shot. More importantly, because this was a wedding, you wouldn’t get a second chance to get a good shot?

Understand the metaphor yet, or do I have to hammer it home a bit more?

The photog knew he needed to solve the challenge of getting a good shot at that time and at that place, and he knew that a camera alone was not up to the task. As a result, he relied on his training and experience to under-expose the ambient light by at least two stops and then fill in the subject with a strobe light so that she’s properly exposed.

He also knew that standing up and shooting the camera at eye level wasn’t going to get him the results he wanted, so he got out of his comfort zone and got onto his belly to make the shot.

Get it yet, or do I have to use the phrase “tools in the toolbox” on ya? 🙂

Learn the rules. Learn to adapt the rules. Learn which gear helps you execute the rules to their fullest extent.

Then go have fun.


* If you’re doing commercial photography, specifically product photography, and you don’t know who Irving Penn is, chances are, you’re doing it wrong. What ol’ AA was to landscape photography, Irving Penn was to taking pictures for a client. It starts with him, so start there.

Define “Normal”.

Define “Normal”.

Now that Trump is in office gun makers are thinking “Ok, Obama’s gone, now we’re going back to normal” but the fact is, we’re still in an abnormal market environment.
When was the last time that:

  1. Concealed carry, in one form or another, was the law of the land?
  2. Personal protection and target shooting were the main driver of gun sales?
  3. There is no federal Assault Weapons Ban, nor a credible threat of one being on the horizon?
  4. We have a pro-gun President and a nominally pro-gun (ok, how about ‘not virulently anti-gun’?) Congress?
  5. Legislation that expands our right to self-defense (rather than more gun control) made it through the House of Representatives?

This is a target-rich environment. I hope we do something with it. Market forces have driven the price of guns down to ridiculous levels, clogging up the Retention part of the customer lifecycle. People who own already guns have taken advantage of the ridiculous prices of the past year, which makes Ruger’s new product strategy a very, very good idea.

For the first time in over a hundred years, guns are normal. Let’s keep it that way.

What Did I Changed My Mind About Last Year?

What Did I Changed My Mind About Last Year?

  1. The efficacy of pistol-mounted flashlights.
    They have a purpose, which is to identify that yes, that is the correct target you’re pointing your gun at. However, they are slow to activate, don’t have a brightness advantage over today’s flashlights and serve one purpose. Get a good handheld light instead, and learn how to use it.
  2. I don’t need all those spare mags.
    I carry one spare mag these days, and if I my carry gun held more than 8+1, I probably wouldn’t carry that either.
  3. Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?
    I used to carry two rounds on 9mm shotshells in my second spare mag. Hey, I live literally right next to the Everglades, and carrying some snakeshot seemed like a good idea at the time. I was wrong.
  4. The utility of hybrid holsters.
    Here’s the thing… Any holster that uses the pressure of your body as a retention device is going to fail in situations where your body isn’t pressing up against the holster. Can that happen while you’re laying hands on someone out to do you harm? You betcha.
  5. The utility of tourniquets.
    Over the course of this year, I went from carrying nothing to carrying an improvised tourniquet to carrying a SOF-T in a flatpack (more on that later). I made carrying a tourniquet a priority for me, and I was able to find ways to make it work.
Idol Threat.

Idol Threat.

The TSA has an interesting look at the various items it confiscated from people going through airport checkpoints. Among the obviously dumb ideas, (like trying to carry an item that LOOKS like gun but is really a knife onto a plane…) was this little tidbit of information:

Of the 86 firearms discovered, 73 were loaded and 24 had a round chambered.

The TSA specifies that they found these guns in carry-on bags, in other words, these are all off-body carry.

Here’s a breakdown of the guns found and the condition they were in when found:

Too bad. There's some decent guns here.

Only 85% of the people who had a gun in their bag for “self protection” had it loaded, and 28% had a round chambered. In other words, the 72% of the people who showed up to an airport with a gun thoughtlessly left in a bag they wanted to take on a plane had that gun in a condition where it was pretty much useless as for self-defense.

That says a LOT about the demographics of people who carry around a gun in a bag to make them “feel safe”.