Goodbye, Bob.

Bob Owens

Bob, I wish you had talked with me before this. You were there when I needed a friend to pick me up during a dark, dark, time in my life, and now you’re gone.

I don’t understand this. This is the most un-Bob-like thing that I can possibly imagine you doing.

All I can say is, this wasn’t you. This was someone else inside you that did this, and I, along with hundreds and hundreds of other people, wish we could have stopped that other someone before this happened.

Bob’s family has set up a Go Fund Me page.

I suggest donating what you can, then donate a little more.

Bob was worth it.

Who Are The NRA Carry Guard Trainers?

Is the NRA Carry Guard the gold standard in training?

Update 8/1/17: If by chance you were smart enough to click through the link that The Trace had about this article in order to read what I actually said, let me repeat what I have written elsewhere on this blog about the NRA.

Yes, the NRA pays me to write for them, and yes, I make money when people join the NRA using the recruiting link I have on the side over there ->. I support the NRA, and I support the NRA’s mission. I also went to church before, during and after the Jim Bakker/Jerry Falwell/Jimmy Swaggart scandals, because I know the message will go on, no matter how fallible the messenger is.

Now, on to what you came here to read.


Included with the new NRA Carry Guard concealed carry insurance is some training in how to use a firearm and other stuff. From the NRA’s own website,

THE NRA CARRY GUARD TRAINING PACKAGE
FIREARMS TRAINING
No matter your skill level, NRA Carry Guard offers world-class firearm training. But next to knowing how to protect yourself physically, nothing is more important than protecting yourself legally.
RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES
NRA Carry Guard members receive immediate access to our Rights & Responsibilities video curriculum, featuring hours of instruction that will prepare you for the modern reality of self-defense.

Well that sounds kinda cool, right? But who are the people doing the training? Well, to be honest, I’ve never heard of any of them. This puzzled me, so I went about searching for the credentials and history of the trainers associated with the “Gold Standard” of concealed carry insurance, and what I found out was rather troubling.

There was no history. Well, very little history, and that is not what you want in a nationally-recognized training program.

To find out who the people associated with NRA Carry Guard were, I searched for the names of all the people involved in this program, using keywords like “‘name of instructor’+training” or “‘name of instructor’+concealed carry”. I was looking for the (digital) impression they have made in the firearms training community, and to be honest, it just isn’t there.

As an example, here’s the same search criteria, using my friend Jon from Phoenix Firearms Training instead of these guys. Jon’s training company isn’t the biggest one in Phoenix, but there are still ten pages of results for him using one of those keywords.

“‘George Severance’+concealed carry”? One page of results, and it’s all about his involvement with NRA Carry Guard. To the best of my ability (and I do online marketing for a living, including Search Engine Optimization), there is no evidence online to show that he was involved with concealed carry training in any way prior to his involvement with NRA Carry Guard.

Now it could be that all of the civilian firearms training done by these trainers has taken place in places that don’t mention the training online, or they don’t have websites about what they do because they don’t feel comfortable in today’s digital age, and Lord knows that technophobia runs rampant in the firearms community.

But are such things emblematic of the best thinking in firearms training today? I don’t believe so. We should take advantage of every opportunity we have to spread knowledge of the safe use of firearms, and that includes venues such as websites, social media and online video.

Let’s take a look at what I did find out about each trainer in the NRA Carry Guard program.

George Severence
Veteran U.S. Navy SEAL
NRA Carry Guard National Director
Through more than 20 years in Naval Special Warfare, George led special operations teams on four continents as a Team Leader, Platoon Commander, Troop Commander, Task Unit Commander, Operations Officer and Executive Officer.

That’s quite a resume, but George’s background in civilian training seems to be limited to running a fitness camp that uses Navy SEAL techniques to whip us landlubbers into shape.

That’s cool, but what does that teach me about having a fast draw stroke, or shoot/no-shoot situations?

Eric Frohardt
Veteran U.S. Navy SEAL
NRA Carry Guard Training Director
As a veteran Navy SEAL with nearly 12 years of active duty service, Eric had some of the best firearms training in the world and learned from some of the world’s most elite tactical shooting instructors. He’s the co-founder of BluCore Shooting Center.

Eric also has a background in teaching fitness. He’s also been involved in the launch of the Springfield Saint, a campaign that was managed by Ackerman-McQueen, the same people who manage advertising for the NRA.
Some coincidence there.

Jeff Houston
Veteran Green Beret
NRA Carry Guard Lead Instructor
Jeff served as a Green Beret with U.S. Army Special Forces, completing service in 2009. He was deployed multiple times to Iraq, and has excelled at completing various tactical shooting courses with both assault/tactical rifles and pistols.

I, too, have “excelled at completing various tactical shooting courses with both assault/tactical rifles and pistols”. Why am I not involved in this as well? Oh, and in another AMAZING bit of coincidence, Jeff just happens to be the director of training at the range that Eric opened up in Colorado.
Funny how that happens.

James R. Jarrett
Veteran Green Beret
NRA Carry Guard Curriculum Director
As a veteran Green Beret, Los Angeles Police Department officer, federal agent and deep-cover intelligence operative, James R. Jarrett has decades of experience as a tactical weapons practitioner and instructor.

James has, by far, the most results for firearms-related keywords of any of trainers. For example, he has a full six pages for his name + concealed carry. However, James’s training calendar looks a little… sparse. Now it could be true that he’s off somewheres training units that can’t talk about the training he’s giving them or he doesn’t want to train in the often-brutal Arizona heat, or it could be that he’s just not that busy.

Anything is possible. Not all things are likely.

Now let me be absolutely crystal clear about one very important thing: I am not impinging, in any way, the sacrifice and service these men have put in defending my rights and my family’s ability to live in peace. I am in complete awe of anyone who signs up for the military and runs towards the sound of gunfire, and I always will be. I am actively encouraging both of my sons to serve in the military when they are of age: That issue is settled, and I will hear no more about it.

However, I have to ask, what relevance does that training have to my life as a married, middle-class marketing guru? Yes, there is value to training from someone who has seen the elephant and won a battle for their life, but that experience needs to be made relative to my life if it is to be valuable to me. From what I’ve noticed about the resumes of all of these trainers, all of them stress their military creds as qualification to teach civilians. Do I really need military training? What does suiting up and kicking in doors with an M4 in my hands have to do with me keeping my family safe at home? I can see how training with a SpecOps type can make me FEEL safe, but isn’t the point of all of this to BE safe, regardless of how we feel?

I’m not getting it.

I’m a member of the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network, and the training DVD’s I received (and watched) from that organization were from guys like Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, Tom Givens and Marc MacYoung, all people who are recognized as leaders in training civilians how to safely defend themselves from the lethal force and also defend themselves in the courtroom afterwards. The US Concealed Carry Association has guys like Andrew Branca, Mike Hughes and George Harris on their training roster, filling similar roles, and they have a proven history of success in the streets and in the courtroom.

Speaking of the courtoom, all the training that Carry Guard seems to talk about is how to shoot people with your gun more better and more quicker. Where is the training in the legal consequences of using lethal force? Where is the less-lethal training? Where is the de-escalation? Where is the acknowledgement just having insurance isn’t enough, you need to do your part and not get into any fights you’re not supposed to get into? Talking about military service is one thing. Talking your way out of a fight with an angry, belligerent drunk is something else.

There are a lot of things to consider if you’re considering post-incident legal help, and one of those things is who are the people who are backing each program. In this case, while the military background of the NRA Concealed Carry trainers is very impressive, it seems to apply more to the streets of Khandahar than it does to a Walmart parking lot, and the NRA needs to consider adding in more options with the training and background that relates to the needs of me and my family, rather than the needs of special operations warrior.

NRA Carry Guard Versus Other Self Defense Insurance Plans

The National Rifle Association has finally decided to get serious about the post-incident legal protection and launched NRA Carry Guard, their new product to compete against the United States Concealed Carry Association and a host of others.

There was bit of a controversy last week over the NRA rescinding the invites of competiting products to the Annual Meeting, and let’s face it, the timing kinda stunk. However, given the high-profile placement that NRA gave to their revamped and re-launched self-defense insurance product at the Annual Meeting, I can see why they didn’t want any competition on the floor

Did I mention that they went high-profile with this?

I wasn’t kidding. This was what we saw when we walked into the convention center…

NRA Carry Guard Advertisment

… and this was the primary entrance to the show floor itself.

NRA Carry Guard Review

Subtle, they are not.

But how does NRA Carry Guard stack up to all the other post-incident legal plans out there? Fortunately for you, I’ve written about this sort of thing in the past, so I can attempt some sort of apples to apples comparison of all the plans out there. All the information on this comparison chart was created from either from what was on each plan’s website or from talking with representatives of each plan in-person or on the phone. As such, there are some gaps, as I’ve not managed to pry some info out of the a few of the companies on this list, and I recommend you read your policy very carefully before you sign anything*.

Comparing NRA Carry Guard To Other Plans

 CCW SafeSecond Call BasicTexas / U.S. Law ShieldUSCCA SilverArmed Citizens NetworkSelf Defense
Association Gold
NRA Carry Guard Bronze
Bail$25,000 / $250,000$1,000 / $10,000$2,500 / $25,000$2,500 / $25,000$25,000 + Merits10% of Bail$2,500 / $25,000
Your Own Attorney-YNYYYY
Criminal DefenseY$10,000Legal Fees Only $50,000$25,000 + Merits$100,000 Combined$50,000
Civil DefenseYNLegal Fees Only $250,000 CombinedBased On Merits$100,000 Combined$250,000 Combined
Civil DamagesNNLegal Fees Only $250,000 CombinedBased On Merits$100,000 Combined$250,000 Combined
Any WeaponYNYYYYN
Expert WitnessesYYNUp To Coverage LimitsY-Y
"First Dollar" CoverageYUp To $2,000YYYYN
Cost$129/year$9.95/mo or $119/yr$16.85/mo or $202.20/yr

+ $19.95 setup
$13/mo or $147/yr$135/yr$15.92/mo or $179/yr$13.95/mo or $154.95/yr

How does NRA Carry Guard stack up? Well, as a self-insurance, it’s right in their with the rest of them. I’m glad to see them get serious about this product because they’ve been leaving money on the table for a long time now and others have jumped into the fray with some pretty good results.


* As always, this is where I tell you that I, personally, have ACLDN, and that I am a USCCA Affiliate. Take that, FTC. I’m also not a lawyer nor an expert in this sort of thing, so take anything I say here with a lick of salt or two (lime and tequila optional), and be sure to run the documents for your policy of choice by a professional before you sign up for anything

NRA Annual Meeting, Day Two

Or, why, oh WHY did I choose to wear my dress shoes yesterday instead of my comfy, padded sneakers?

Today was spent wandering the exhibit floor, wrapping up sources for a few upcoming articles and coming up with new articles to pitch to my editors, and hopefully, they’ll pay me enough to afford this antique Winchester rifle.

450k? For a lever gun?

Yes, you read that right, that’s $350-450,000 American greenback dollars for that gun. The weird thing was, it was the second-least expensive rifle in the case: Its companion had a lovely honey-blond maple stock and even more engraving, and the expected sales price on it was $450-550,000.

If that seems a little outrageous, (and it is), we have this nice S&W Volcanic No.1, for the comparitively cheap price of $20-30,0000.

Volcanic!

Moving into guns from the this century, I was a little… whelmed by the Hudson H1. Yes, the trigger is nice, but is it nicer than the trigger in the CZ P10C? No, not really.
Hudson, docked.

And finally, signs for the NRA’s new legal services division, NRA Carry Guard, were EVERYWHERE, but more on that tomorrow.

NRA Carry Guard

NRA Annual Meeting, Day One

Or, eight hours on the floor, and I *swear* I haven’t been drinking yet.

A little more on the Springfield XD-E… The gun is surprisingly ergonomic, even though it looks like a shrunken-head HiPoint. The trigger is not the best DA/SA trigger I’ve felt, in fact, it was quite bad. The single action was felt heavier than the 4-5 pounds they said it was, and the double action was long, heavy and had noticable stacking.

Taurus T4SA

Taurus, throwing caution to the wind, came out with an AR-15.

An AR-15 with a $1199 MRSP.

Honestly, they’re not bad guns. THe T4SA has Cerakoating, Melonite barrels and bolt carrier groups, is lightweight (6.5lbs), and has Magpul gear all over. Not bad, and a step up above the usual entry-level AR-15.

Speaking of firearms manufacturers from the Florida with a reputation for low-cost guns, Sccy has finally come out with their CPX-3, a not-quite pocket gun in .380 ACP. I had a bad history with the first-generation Sccy, but since then, they’ve got their act together, the CPX-2 has been a great little inexpensive gun. One thing that impressed with me with the CPX-3 was how stupendously easy to rack it was. While the trigger on the CPX-3 was a still a Sccy trigger and there for long and heavy (8-10 pounds), it was smooth, even and didn’t stack. This would be my “go-to” recommendation for someone older who wanted a gun for self-protection and was worried about manipulating the gun into action.

Lastly, let’s talk about The Fix from Q, a bolt-action gun that set the world on fire when it was introducted at SHOT earlier this year.

All I can say is… believe the hype. The gun is AMAZINGLY light, the bolt feels terrific and the trigger is great.

If only they made a model for those of us who shoot left-handed.

What To Expect From Trump At NRA.

There are now only two trusted institutions within the American conservative movement: The military, and the National Rifle Association*. Thankfully, our system of government is set up so that political control of the military is limited at best, so that leaves the NRA as the one flag that rank and file conservatives can (mostly) rally around.

Well, conservatives outside of the Beltway and off the island of Manhattan, that is.

And now on Friday, Trump is going to be the first sitting President since Ronaldus Maximus to address the NRA Annual Meeting.

I’ve heard him talk twice now, and the fact is, political rallies just aren’t my thing. When he does speak, though, I’m expecting him to thank gun owners for their support, and for him to announce that he’s putting a nominee to head the BATFE (hopefully it’s Ronald Turk). I also expect him to talk about National Reciprocity and the Hearing Protection Act, because he’s been a bit silent on gun rights during his first 100 days, and those issues helped put him in office.

Look for further updates from the NRA Annual Meeting throughout the week.


* Yes, I know there are other organizations who claim to be “NO COMPROMISE!!” and preach that the NRA is nothing but a bunch of sellouts, but there are very good reasons why the bogeyman of the gungrabbers is the NRA, not the GOA.

Springfield’s Coming Out With Something New At NRA

’bout time.

From their press release:

Attendees will be the first to see an all-new Springfield Armory® pistol platform at the upcoming 2017 National Rifle Association Annual Meeting and Expo when convention hall doors open at 9 a.m., Friday, April 28, 2017.

Now, the company is poised to offer the next major addition to its broad and diverse handgun family. Designed to offer specific benefits that solve persistent handgun user challenges, the new platform brings a unique set of features that enhance usability and ease of operation.

Thanks Springfield, that told us absolutely NOTHING about what you’re coming out with at NRA. Fortunately, they did include a video, with some guy named Leatham, who I hear is a pretty good shooter or something.

Judging by the video above and screen captures below, it appears to be a small, thin, 1911 style pistol with a fiber optic front sight, Novak-style rear sight and a rail of some sort. Recoil seems feisty, so it may be chambered in 9mm or even .45, rather than .380ACP

Reports of a grip zone remained unconfirmed at this time.

Anyways, I’ll be looking at it at NRA, as will a number of other people, I suppose.

New Springfield 1911

Introducing a new springfield

Girls, Girls… You’re BOTH Pretty!

The USCCA* has been doing a pretty good job of racking up memberships and exposure as of late, and their “Concealed Carry Expo” is pretty much all Gun Culture 2.0, all the time, while at the NRA Annual Meeting, you’ll see farm equipment and whatnot mixed in with all the gun stuff.

And then this happens.

The United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) today announced that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has disinvited the organization from its 2017 Annual Meetings & Exhibits and the 2018 Great American Outdoor Show because of “concerns regarding its programs.”

The move shocked the leadership of the USCCA because they were given less than two weeks notice that they had been banned from the annual show, even though they had attended for the past several years. This decision also came as a surprise because over the past two months, the leadership from the NRA and the USCCA met twice to discuss the shared goal of the two organizations in support of the Second Amendment.

To be honest, I’m a little disappointed in the NRA’s actions. I’m not the biggest fan of the USCCA’s marketing, as it’s a little too frantic for my tastes, but this is not the way to go. If the NRA is losing ground to the USCCA in the training and concealed carry insurance areas, the way to beat them isn’t to ban them, it’s come out with better products. I’m also wondering if this is partially the outcome of the high-profile of the NRA-ILA as of late. When people think “NRA”, the think “Gun Lobby”, not “Guys who do great training (or not)” or “Wow, I like their insurance plan!”. If people see you as a one trick-pony, that opens up space for another horse in the race **.


* Just so you know, I make a little bit of cash off both the USCCA and the NRA from the links on this blog.
** Is that a tortured metaphor or what? I’ll leave it be, because I don’t want to beat a dead horse…

Gun Retention

No, I’m not talking about keeping your mitts on your gat when some mook is pawing away at it, I’m talking about gun companies keeping their customers loyal to their brands.

There’s a saying that, when it comes to warfare, “amateurs talk talk tactics, dilletantes talk strategy, but professionals talk logistics.”

I think the marketing equivalent of that saying might be “amateurs talk acquisition, dilletantes talk about conversion, but professionals talk about rentention.” In today’s world, it’s better to own the audience than it is to own the factory, and yet when a factory moves, it grabs the headlines. When an audience moves? Crickets.

One of the smartest things Glock has done is to create the Glock Shooting Sports Foundation*, not because it’s a good shooting match, (it’s not), but rather, it is an EXCELLENT way to gather the clan and celebrate all things Glock. By reinforcing the image of the Legion Series as an “elite” pistol, Sig is doing the same with their Legion Series, and um, that’s about it.

And that’s rather sad. Ruger had a good idea with the Rimfire Challenge series, but got hamstrung by the sheer lack of .22 ammo when they launched, and Springfield is doing a bang-up job of leveraging Rob Leatham and Rob Pincus in the competition and defensive worlds, but other than that, what’s out there? What marketing is being doing to tell customers “Ok, you’ve just bought one of our guns. Now buy another one!”

Brand loyalty exists within the gun community, heck, there are people still bitterly clinging to their Kimbers, a brand who’s glory days were a long, long time ago, and you’ll take my pre-B CZ75’s from me only when hell freezes over. Maybe I’m blind, but I’m just not seeing a concentrated push by gun companies to retain their customers and keep their market share, especially in today’s shrinking gun market.


* Nice website, GSSF… for 1998. Responsive site design, mother$#%^*, do you speak it?