Shoot To Live, Live To Shoot

There’s an answer to a question posed in yesterday’s post regarding ways to expand the shooting sports at a pace that matches the expansion of gun ownership, and that answer is found in the tag line of this blog: Guns are the new Harley-Davidson.

Harley was smart enough to realize that their long-term growth depended not just on people BUYING motorcycles, but RIDING them. The garages and closets of America are filled with gadgets and toys that people bought because it was the cool thing to do at that time, but then they quickly moved on to something else.

This is why I use the term “tactical pet rock” when it comes to today’s gun owners: At best, they’ll be like Harley owners, and understand that owning a gun means a change in their lifestyle. At worst, they’ve bought a novelty item like a pet rock that will languish on a closet shelf for decades until it’s time to get rid of it.

Harley-Davidson sells motorcycles pushing the idea of the open road, independence and freedom. They rarely talk about their actual products to new motorcycle owners, they talk about how a Harley makes you *feel*.

This is called “lifesytle marketing,”, and it’s an almost un-heard of thing inside Gun Culture 2.0.

Harley creates the “motorcycle lifestyle” with “Learn to Ride” events all over the country that teach people who want to buy a motorcycle how to actually RIDE a motorcycle.

Quick: Which gun company is doing that same sort of thing to encourage people to own (and shoot) their guns?

That’s right, none of them.

Glock is the closest to doing such a thing, and no, it’s not GSSF I’m talking about. Rather, it’s the Everglades Glock event they’ve put on the past couple of years down here at Louland gun range. It is a celebration of Glock ownership and has simple, easy-shoot stages that are closer to what a competition is truly like, rather the point-and-squirt stages of Steel Challenge or GSSF. This event is more about Glocks, how they shoot, what you can buy for them and how they fit into your lifestyle than it is about shooting a match or learning a new training technique.

We forget just how much new gun owners DON’T know about guns, and how “basic” our basic level of training and competition needs to be. Getting people to have fun at a shooting match is important, as is getting people to be carry more confidently because they’re well-trained. We forget, though, that the fun and the confidence has to come first, and then (and only then), the competition and the training will follow.

Life In The (Competition) Fast Lane

Most people who are buying guns today are buying them because they are afraid, and more specifically, afraid of being kilt.

So what do we do? We insist that in order to get better at shooting, new gun owners must do something that they fear even MORE than death, namely, public perfomance, and go shoot a match out in front of their peers.

Insanity. We stack fear on top of fear, and then we are amazed that the fearful don’t show up. The biggest problem right now is that there is no sanctioned on-ramp between blasting away in an indoor range and shooting IDPA. That needs to change (no, Steel Challenge doesn’t count*). The SSCA doesn’t demand that people immediately go from hauling around their kids in a minivan to competing in the 12 Hours of Sebring**, yet the USPSA does that all the time.

Gun sales are BOOMING: Over the last two Black Fridays, Americans bought enough guns to outfit the entire Marines Corps.

Twice.

So why aren’t USPSA, IPDA, et al growing at the same rate? Why isn’t post-CCW firearms training growing by leaps and bounds? If competition and training are supposed to be an essential part of Gun Culture 2.0, where are the new gun owners, and why aren’t they in a pistol bay somewhere? Clearly, there is a disconnect between the rate of gun sales and the rate of participation in both the shooting sports and firearms training beyond CCW, which tells me that what we’re doing now to attract people to those activities is clearly not working the way it should be. In response to this underperforming metric, though, all I hear is “No, they just need to shoot Steel Challenge more!” or “No, they use need to realize that owning a gun means you’re a Sheepdog!™ and train approprately”.

Those ideas are clearly not working. We need to try something else. More on what that “something else” might be in tomorrow’s post***.


* Steel Challenge doesn’t count because you’re just standing there, shooting one round at five steel targets five times a string. Yes, there is a timer involved, but the actions you’re performing (hitting five different targets as quickly as possible as you stand in one place) could just as easily be done in a lane indoors.
** The Sports Car Club of America is just as bad at this sort of thing. The only way to learn to drive fast on a track is to go to a track and hope there’s someone there who can teach you. Better drivers have fewer accidents, so you would think that the SCCA would be helping drivers drive BETTER, not faster… and you’d be wrong.
*** “I’ll see you shiver with an-tic-i-pa…”

A Quick Thought About The CZ P10C

While the name on the P10C says “CZ”, the fact is, there’s nothing in it that really makes a CZ a CZ. No DA/SA action. No metal frame. No slides riding inside the rails. I kinda feel like the fireman on a steam engine, watching as one by one, the trains that used to be pulled by Mikados and Prairies get switched over to teams of F3s and FA-2s. Yes, they’re more efficient to make and easier to operate, but no, they have no soul.

CZ Knocks It Out Of The Park

Attention, Springfield, Sig and Smith&Wesson, there is a new entry into the “Not Glock” sweepstakes, the striker-fired (!) CZ P10C.

Wow, did NOT see that coming. Ok, a few thoughts…

  • A trigger that puts the PPQ to shame? Wow, that must be one heck of a trigger because the PPQ trigger is darn good.
  • Polymer. Striker-fired. Rails inside the slide. Pretty much everything the CZ75 ain’t, it is.
  • No word on trigger pull yet, but it will probably be not much more than the five pound minimum for IPSC Production.
  • Takes CZ P07 holsters and sights, but not the mags. 🙁
  • Fits into Glock 19 holsters!
  • Ambi *everything*… Mag release, slide release… you name it. Cool.
  • Looks like it has ergonomics that are on-par with the rest of the CZ line, and that is a good thing indeed.
  • $500 MSRP? That’ll mean it will sell for at least $100 less than a Gen 4 Glock 19. That’s not Walther Creep Creed pricing, but it’s very, very good and puts a lot of pricing pressure on the XD and the M&P 9c.
  • Sights are… ok. Hopefully the introduction of this gun will put some pressure on Trijicon and others to come out with true combat sights for this gun and other CZs as well.
  • LOVE the undercut trigger and the low bore axis. This should be a phenomenally accurate gun, even if the slide rails are in the wrong place for a CZ. 😉
  • By introducing the C model first, it looks like CZ is FINALLY getting serious about the concealed carry market here in the U.S.

All in all, I say CZ is on to something here. With these features, at this price point, the CZ P10C looks the gun to go if you want a small, affordable, reliable 9mm.

After Action Report – Everglades Glock Range Day

Glock Event Stage

Not that easy of a stage, but people seemed to enjoy it.

Run and Gun

Four shooting areas, all steel, with some strong-side shooting as well.

Cosplayers were out in force.

Cosplayers were out in force.

Glock 40 MOS

Glock 40 MOS. I’m not a Glock guy, but I likey.

I popped down to Louland Gun Range over the weekend to check out the Everglades Glock event put on by, well, Glock and Step By Step Gun Training.

It’s a low-stress, lightweight version of a Glock Shooting Sports Event, but with stages that vary from year to year and some stage movement as well. There were four stages, along with a demo stage where people could pay five bucks to try out the Glock of their choice and a exhibitors area with vendors and a food truck.

This. This is how you do an “Intro To Competition Shooting” event, and you do it right. What made it work?

  1. Glock was the title sponsor, but their footprint on the event was smaller than at a GSSF event. I’m not a Glock owner, but I could be, and Glock did a good job of balancing their presence there with the need to bring in more shooters.
  2. Fun stages that were more than paper targets or plate racks. Shooting steel is fun. Shooting on the move is fun. Shooting steel while moving? Lots of fun. Look, you can go to an indoor range and stand there in one place and then blast away at a target all you want, but just about the only time you can move and shoot is in a pistol bay. Why, then, does Scholastic Steel Challenge and other “Introductory” sports set up static stages? When you played “Cowboys and Indians* ” as a kid, did you stand in one place and shoot your fingers at each other, or did you run all over the neighborhood like a roadrunner on meth?
    I thought so.
    So why, then do The Powers That Be think that standing in one place is a fun thing to do for people who’ve never shot a match before?
  3. Prizes. Even if it’s only one or two guns, it’s enough. I’ve seen people go NUTS for bar stools with Browning’s label on them, imagine what they’ll do for a free Glock 19.
  4. Relaxed atmosphere. No one was screaming “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!!!!”. No Threepers. None of the usual gun show nut jobs, although one guy had on thigh holster, because Mall Ninja, that’s why. The vast majority of people there were normal-looking and normal-acting. There is a time and a place to get riled up for what you believe in, but that time and place is not when you’re trying to bring new people into the cause.

Kudos to Louland, Everglades Ammo, Step By Step Gun Training and Glock for putting on such a fun event, and I hope others will learn from it and help spread the good word of safe and FUN practical shooting.


* That’s “Nomadic Livestock Management Engineers” and “Oppressed Native Americans” to you more post-modern types.

Saints Preserve Us!

Really, Springfield Armory? All that buildup, all that lifestyle imagery to let us know you’re making AR’s now?

Ok, there’s nothing really wrong with your guns, but still, the time to make this AR would have been six years ago. Now, AR’s are a commodity. Coming out with a new AR now is like announcing in 1984 that you’re making a PC compatible computer, or launching with a new dot-com business in 1999. The market is darn near at it’s saturation point right now, and if you’re expecting to blow everybody away with a D.I. with a fixed front sight at an MSRP of $899, you’d best send a few prayers up to Saint Homobonus, just to be sure.

Update: 

Actually, now that I think about it, aside from this Daniel Defense spot, this is the first major campaign for an AR that didn’t involve either MOLLE straps and men in body armor rappelling from buildings or 3 Gunners doing 3 Gun stuff at a range somewheres. Springfield does deserve some kudos for trying to wrench the market for AR’s from the hands of Tier One Operators and put them into the hands of Pier One shoppers.

Remember Kids, Don’t Try This At Home.

Yeah, so I’ve been writing a lot about firearms training recently. I think it’s because I’m finally to the point where I can see the (many) holes in my technique, and I want to patch them up and get better.

A corollary:

We did not have a lot of choices for hamburgers in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta. There was McDonalds, A&W and very local places like Peter’s Drive-In (if you get a chance to try their peanut butter and banana milkshake… don’t.). At the time, all of those place discouraged special orders and had lousy customer service.

Then Wendy’s opened up, and there was a literal line outside the door. With fresh ingredients and good customer service, they were like nothing else we’d experienced.

We didn’t know what a good burger tasted like because we had never tasted a good burger.

Which is where I am now. I see the goal, and I’m getting closer to it. My pathway to that goal involves thinking about how I want to accomplish things, and rather than keep my (inane) thoughts to myself, I’m writing them down for all to see.

Am I a tactical guru? No. Do I want to be a tactical guru? No. Do I want others to see the path I’m going down and decide for themselves if I make sense or not? Sure, why not? There are no secrets to this stuff, there’s just mindset and the ability to execute on-demand.

For me, the execution is built through dry-fire, practice and competition, and the mindset is built by writing down my thoughts and working through things with all the power that my (ever-diminishing) brain cells can muster. I’m not an expert on this, I’m just muttering to myself in the corner about the things that are happening inside my head.

Match Report: Pistol Match at Louland 10/20/16

I had been trying to get out of the house to shoot a match on the weekend the last three weekends in a row, but time and tide worked against me. However, I realized that if I ducked out of work a bit early (thank goodness I’m salary, not wages), I could shoot the Thursday night match at LouLand and still have my weekends available for honey-dos.

So I did.

This is not a tough match. Lou has an extensive background in USPSA, but, in his own words, he’s tired of putting up with the crap that USPSA throws at him, so the matches are easy to shoot and have a low round count. Most of the stages consist of 3-5 shooting boxes with steel targets, and no table starts, memory stages or awkward shooting positions.

Like I said, not tough.

I shot well, or I should say, as well as I expected to given a three month hiatus. I had one Mike the entire match (I coulda sworn I hit that plate six times and not five) and a dropped shot or three, but other than that, I was happy.

One stage in particular was interesting, Stage Four. It was a very simple stage, but it revealed some things about my fellow shooters.

stage_four

It’s a nice little balance between speed and accuracy, and if you swap out the partial targets downrange with 6′ plates and toss in a mandatory reload, it’d make a dandy little drill stage because it combines speed, movement and accuracy all within 12 rounds.

But it was interesting watching how the shooters accustomed to this match handled this stage. There’s one sound lad in particular who is blazingly fast on the trigger and has great food speed, but his accuracy is… suboptimal. He blew through this stage in just under five seconds, but with a bunch of Charlies and a Mike on that close-up target. He shoots this match a lot, and his shooting style was developed in an environment that rewards fast movement and fast shooting, and if you miss, well, that’s what makeup shots are for!

stage_scores

How he would do at an IPDA or Bianchi Cup match, where accuracy trumps speed? What would that do to how he approaches this match?

If you want to remove the blind spots in your defensive skills, you train with a wide variety of competent trainers. If you want to shoot matches and have them assist your defensive skills, you need to shoot matches that show where you need improvement, not what you’re doing well.

 

Take What Is Best, Discard The Rest.

There’s been quite a lot of chatter from parts of the internet about the effectiveness of timers in training and what skills we should use as benchmarks in our training. Some of it is good, some of it isn’t.

A lot of the talk centers around what should and should not be tracked with a timer, because chasing those skills, some say, is a waste of your time and effort.

Let’s look at one of the most “gamer” skills out there, target-to-target transitions. “On the street” it doesn’t matter HOW fast your gun moves from one target to another, right? That sort of stuff is pure gamer, useful only for getting a better score at a match or impressing your buds at the range.

Or is it?

Let’s review.

  1. Pistols, even the vaunted .45AKCACP usually do not stop a threat with just one shot*.
  2. This means that multiple rounds on-target (preferrably in the center-mass area or into the ocular cavity of the skull) are going to be needed, and they’ll be needed under very stressful conditions.
  3. People don’t like getting shot and they tend to run away from people who are shooting at them.

All of this means that if (God forbid) we get into a gun fight, we may need to dump many rounds into a target that is moving so that it does not get shot full of holes.

Think being able to quickly acquire a new target and move your gun so the sights are on-target helps in that situation?

I do.

Still think that target transition speed is a “gamer” skill?

Let’s watch this in practice. Notice how fast the bad guys de-ass themselves after their supposed victim shows his claws. The “victim” in this case wisely decides to stop shooting when it’s apparent that their victim du jour is anything but and de-ass themselves from the situation, probably weighing slightly more as well, thanks to the several dozen grains of lead that is now deep inside their chest cavity.

They call them “running gun battles” for a reason, people.


* Although a round into the ocular cavity that drives into the medulla oblagata does tend to end things right quickly…