I was chatting recently with a friend of mine about one of our favorite topics, the lack of sponsorship for competitive shooters outside of the gun world. Somehow, during our conversation, the needle in my brain skipped a few grooves, and I was reminded of my years playing role-playing games, usually with the people who designed the games we were playing.
I had some great times playing D&D and other games, and met some good people, but what I couldn’t do (and still can’t, to this day) is relate what happened in those games to anyone who wasn’t there. Playing a role-playing game is so intensely inwardly-focused, it just doesn’t translate to the outside world.
There are a LOT of people, like Larry Corriea, Jon Favreau, Vin Diesel and others who have harnessed the imagination and story-telling skill of an RPG and turned it into a profitable gig for themselves, but no one, ever, has made a ton of cash by talking about the adventures that went on inside a role-playing game.
Now pick that up and drop it on competitive shooting. Inwardly-focused? Check. Small group of aficionados who seem to speak their own cryptic language? Check. Usable in the real world only through interpretation? Check.
Today, a lot of people are making INSANE amounts of money in gaming, but it’s in video games, not role-playing games. There’s something to be learned here for the practical shooting community, but I haven’t gotten a clear grasp of what it is yet.
Maybe it’s former missionary in me, but I am FAR more concerned about bringing people into gun culture who own guns and don’t use them than I am about talking about TV shows like “Super Blastomatic Presents THE WORLDS BEST SHOOTERS DOING COOL STUFF YOU CAN’T” or “GO SHOOT THINGS IN THE WOODS, SPONSORED BY REDNECK CAMPING GEAR”.
The choir has heard the message before, and they don’t care.
One thing I’ve been encountering as I wade through the flotsam and jetsam of the “establishment” conservative movement over at Ricochet is that we conservatives have very little understanding of the importance of narrative. Establishment conservatives are upset that Trump won, and they can’t understand that Trump won because he created a narrative and stuck to it. No position paper or think tank has EVER won an election, but passion? Passion wins elections.
To bring this home to American Marksman and Big Guns (to name a couple of shows), there is plenty of passion for the shooting sports amongst competitors, but precious little concern for the other competitors in the sport. This is one of the reasons why USPSA, 3 Gun, et al, is stuck in a rut, because only people who compete in those sport watch a competition for the sake of the competition itself. The rest of us watch a competition to cheer on the heroes and boo the villains. Shooting competitions need heroes, and they need villains, currently, they have neither. Top Shot gave us heroes and villains, and it was the most-popular competitive shooting show ever made. Top Shot made the show about the competitors, not the competition, and it was popular beyond the shooting world.
And that’s not a coincidence.
Firearms-related companies seem absolutely addicted to sponsoring practical shooters as a means of marketing themselves, and a big part of that, for some insane reason or another, is having the shooter where a jersey to a match with the sponsor’s name on it somewhere, in the hopes that other shooters will see the sponsor’s logo and buy the sponsor’s products.
But have you SEEN the shirts more shooters wear? Can you tell, at a glance, who gives the shooter the most amount of support? No? Then why are the spending the $$$ to sponsor a shooter? Taran Tactical and S&W do a good job of branding their shooters, as did the late, great FN USA and Sig Sauer shooting teams, but other than that, what is there? I’m not asking for something as distinctive as the Lotus 72 (aka the John Player Special and probably the prettiest car ever to race on any track, anywhere), but how can a sponsored shooter stand out from the crowd (and provide more value to his/her sponsors) if all they’re doing is taking the same shirt templates that everyone else is using and slapping slightly different logos onto them?
Look, it’s not hard. Cycling teams have been doing this for over a century now, with some pretty tremendous results like the Mondrian-inspired jersey that’s shownin this post. All it takes is a little effort, a little more money and a desire to stand out from the crowd. Sadly, without that last one, no one will attempt the other two, and that’s why sponsored shooter jerseys will continue to all look the same.
Buzzfeed, that bastion of liberal muckracking, goes to Taran Tactical in an attempt to re-create that iconic Keanu Reeves 3 Gun run with a couple of regular joes.
What’s expected to happen next, doesn’t. They actually do a fair, even-handed report, and also manage to toss in a few talking points about how guns are the ultimate in women empowerment and how insanely fun it is to shoot 3 Gun.
More of this, please. Much more. This is what guns becoming part of lifesyle should look like.
Rudy Project has been a relentless supporter of practical shooting for years now, so when one of their marketing honchos posts something like this on Facebook, match directors around the world should sit up and take notice.
Honestly, I have no idea why anyone would pony up money to sponsor a practical shooting match, other than feeling like they owe a debt to the sport or something. ROI is almost impossible to track from sponsored shooters, because 99% of the matches out there give little thought to marketing the match outside of the match itself.
You can’t track what doesn’t happen. “Hey, we put up banners!” is the extent of the P.R. done for most matches. Social media is free and easy, and email marketing is cheap. Every match should have at least one person dedicated to updating the website (that’s if they HAVE a website, or one that can be easily updated) who also hypes the match before and posts thank-yous afterwards. How hard it is to have snapping photos and posting on social media? How about live-tweeting the PractiScore results for the super squad?
It should be written in the contract with the sponsor that the match will post at least one photo of a shooter from a major match sponsor on social media while the match is in-progress, and that’s the VERY minimum. This is bargain-basement marketing, and it should be teamed with an email after the match thanking the sponsors for their support. Show more value for your sponsors beyond a poster and a flyer tossed into the swag bag, and you’ll get more sponsors. People want SOMETHING for their money beyond a banner and a warm feeling in their pants.
MEMO TO LOCAL PRACTICAL SHOOTING CLUBS:
Don’t wait for 3 Gun Nation or the USPSA to capitalize on that insanely popular video to Keanu Reeves shooting at Taran Butler’s range. Rather, follow the lead of the Rio Salado and get your best 3 gunners out in front of the local news teams. They’re always hungry for local news that ties into larger stories, and Keanu’s shooting prowess has made it all the way across the pond.
Don’t wait for someone else to make our sport popular, do it yourself.
Why does every stage we’ve ever shot begin with an audible start signal? How hard could it be it integrate some kind of connecter into a CED (or other) timer that would allow for some shooter-initiated action to start the timer? Humans are not bats, we rely on sight, not sound to get around in our environment. Despite this, every stage begins with “Are you ready? Standby… BEEP!”
What if a stage began with the shooter reacting to a visual signal, such as a random popper falling from a tripwire controlled by the RO or something similar? Where in the rulebook does it say that the start signal always has to be audible?
The time has come for me to part ways with a gun. I bought a Mossberg 930SPX years ago for 3 Gun, long before some guy from Louisiana started shooting one, because at the time, it seemed like the best 3 Gun shotgun for someone who shoots long guns left-handed.
Key phrase in that sentence: At the time.
The 930SPX is a tactical gun, not a 3 Gun gun. It has an 18 1/2″ barrel and no choke, and no provision of adding chokes, either. I worked around these issues in the past by going with #6 shot on further targets or targets like an MGM spinner that require a bit more oomph, and it seemed to work. However, earlier this month, I shot a great match at Altair Gun Range, but I had serious problems flipping a spinner and left a half-dozen small steel plates standing up because I couldn’t get enough pellets on-target to make things happen.
I’ve reached the point where my gear is noticeably affecting my performance, so it’s time to move on. I’m looking at either a 930 JMPro, a CZ 712 or tricking out an 1100 for left-handed 3 Gun use. I know, I know, I should just bite the
shotshell bullet and get a Benelli, but I just can’t justify it from a price/amount of shooting standpoint right now.
3 Gun started out as the Soldier of Fortune match and it was very heavily influenced by tactical and military shooting of the day. Since then, 3 Gun has moved away from the “tactical” world (except for Trooper division) and evolved into more of a pure sporting event.
What if 3 Gun were more about the tactical and less about the gaming?
And this pops up in my Facebook feed this week:
So we got together a bunch of guys who shot and administered the old SOF matches.
COMPETITION DYNAMICS presents RESURGENCE, a Tactical 3-Gun Match that captures the full spirit and flavor of the legendary SOF 3-Gun matches.
It’s all authentic, from the original rule set to the semi-surprise stages in open terrain.
This match is being brought to 3-Gunners, law enforcement, and military shooters by SOF 3-Gun veterans.
It’s time to rekindle the spark: the ancestor to all modern 3-Gun events.
RESURGENCE brings that history to life.
I’m not a tactical dude, but I like the idea of this match quite a lot.