Here is a sad and revealing fact. Most gun owners have not taken any training. Perhaps that made sense for gun culture 1.0 who grew up using a firearm for hunting. Maybe it made sense when firearms habits and skills were handed down from generation to generation, but times have changed for most gun owners. Learning to handle a firearm is critically important for gun culture 2.0 where gun ownership is centered on self-defense. We don’t want to learn that skill on our own.
As I’ve said before on numerous occasions, there really isn’t a way to train yourself to hunt. Either you do it, or you don’t, and for a city-dweller like me, that means I don’t. I don’t have a farm, so can’t sit out in a field and shoot gophers and hoping that I win a lottery ticket so I can go off into the woods and blast Bambi to bits seems a little silly, given the fact I can show up at a local USPSA match and shoot, not put in for a tag which allows me to shoot a match sometime in the future.
Gun Culture 2.0 is “Shall Issue”. Gun Culture 1.0 is “May Issue”. There are no real barriers to shooting a match or taking a class other than the ones we create.
Just do it.
Gun Culture 1.0 is/was built around buying guns for hunting and the target sports. It sprung up shortly after World War II, supported by written magazines like Guns&Ammo and Field&Stream. These publications mainly talked about guns in the context of outdoor pursuits such as turning Bambi and his many woodland friends into tasty meals and other such things. The act of shooting was, at best, the final link in the experience.
Gun Culture 2.0 is about buying a gun for concealed carry and practical shooting. It sprung up after the NRA asserted itself as a force to be reckoned with (rather than a sportsman’s organization) and the concurrent liberalization of concealed carry laws across the country. Focused on pistol bays and shooting ranges, it brought guns in from the farms and ranches and into the modern home. Shooting is the primary focus of the activities in this culture, with the gun (usually a concealed pistol) used to secure a person from harm rather than secure a source of food.
Gun Culture 3.0 will be an extension of Gun Culture 2.0, but it will be about how do you integrate the gun that you’ve already purchased into how you live. Pick up a copy of Field and Stream: How many of the articles in the magazine are about guns, and how many are about what you DO with a gun once you bought it? Now pick up a copy of Recoil or Shooting Illustrated or Guns. How many of the articles in those magazines are about the latest and greatest Blast-Inator 3000 firearm and how many are about how you can fit a gun into your lifestyle? How many of the ads in those magazines are about guns, versus all the other things that happen in your life?
Concealed carry is still huge, and hunting is still going strong. Gun media, however, is fixated on the idea that the reason to buy a gun is the gun itself, not the reasons why you want to own one beyond “It’s a gun”. Gun Culture 3.0 will talk about how guns and the security they provide, integrate into our larger life. Enthusiasts buy guns because they are guns, everyone else buys a gun to do something with it, and that’s what Gun Culture 3.0 will be about.
The gun owners of Gun Culture 3.0 are part of the mainstream of American culture, and it’s high time we start acting like it. We’re not on the fringes of American society, it’s the cultural elites in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles who are out-of touch with what makes America, America.It’s time to make gun ownership as common and accepted as motorcycle ownership and make a trip to the (gun) range as controversial as a trip to the (driving) range.
We live our lives. We own guns. We carry them. Deal with it.
UPDATE: When I got my concealed carry permit 10+ years ago, my instructor said that only one in three of us would actually carry our gun. Gun Culture 3.0 is what happens when that changes. Gun Culture 1.0 was/is fairly respectable and respected: You could (well, until recently) own a gun for hunting and not be considered a “Gun Nut”. No one blinks at a copy of Field&Stream or Outdoor Life in a doctor’s office waiting room. Gun Culture 3.0 will be when no one blinks at a copy of Front Sight or The Tactical Journal in a waiting room.
To be honest, the only reason I can come up with why a “Gun Culture 1.0” writer like Dave Petzal would write something like this is because he doesn’t understand that his love of the outdoors and desire to put food on the plate is pretty much identical to my love of competition and desire to stay safe as a member of “Gun Culture 2.0”.
It’s not one or the other, it’s BOTH.
Thinking more about last week’s article for Bearing Arms, everything about hunting is about getting past the gatekeepers. You need your safety class, then your tags, then you need to find someplace to hunt or someone to show you where to hunt. There are checkpoints along the way to make sure you’re the “right type of person” to hunt, and even then, you may not get a chance to hunt if you don’t have the right connections.
In other words, “May Issue” concealed carry.
Practical shooting, though, is different. If you have something even close to the right gear for the match and have a basic understanding of gun safety, you shoot. You may have to go through a safety briefing and have a more experienced shooter guide you through the match, but if you show up, you shoot.
Which path leads to growth? Well, that one’s not hard to figure out.
My first article for BearingArms.com is up, on how it’s much easier to get into practical shooting than it is hunting. If hunting wants to grow, it needs to be as easy to join as it is for me to walk onto a stage as a newbie and shoot a match.
I have to hand it to Ruger: They upset the market back in 2007 with the LCP, reinvigorated the Scout Rifle market in 2011 (with a catchy tagline they “borrowed” from me) and now they’re looking to jump onboard the rising tide of precision rifle shooting with their new gun.
So far I have fired five different 6.5 Creedmoor loads from Hornady and Doubletap off a bench rest on Gunsite’s York Range at 100 yards. I use the bipod and support the butt with a sandbag, and despite hating to shoot 5 shot bench rest groups – and I don’t think I’m very good at it – the Ruger Precision Rifle has proved to me it will shoot. I’m abusing the rifle and breaking another rule of precision shooting because I run through the group strings quickly and the rifle gets very hot and never cools down. Thus far my smallest group is 0.41 inches, fired with Hornady’s 120gr. A-Max Match, just edging out my best group with the 140gr. Hornady load of 0.55 inches. The worst group I’ve recorded (and I’m sure it was me, not the rifle or the ammunition) measured 1.51 inches. An overall average for 36 five shot groups with five different 6.5 Creedmoor loads has thus far produced a 0.912” average; that’s 180 rounds of mixed ammunition staying under one inch. Five shot, five group strings, or 25 rounds, are typically averaging around eight tenths of an inch when I manage to do my part well.
MSRP for the Precision Rifle is $1399, and we’re already seeing them go for under $1200 on Gunbroker. Team up that rifle with a a decent bipod, good rings and something like this Vortex scope, and you have a 1 MOA gun for around $2500.
Not bad. Okay Ruger, now make one for left-handed shooters.
Wake up, politicians: The idea that gun owner = hunter ended when Clint Eastwood uttered “Do you feel lucky?” and it’s not coming back anytime soon.
Take a few moments to read this story on Wired.com about a big-time “Big Buck Hunter” video game contest, and ask yourself what it would take for Wired or Stuff or some other trendy media outlet to talk about USPSA or 3 Gun with the same amount of enthusiasm.
Some select points from the article:
“It’s all patterns,” he’d say. “If you want to win, just know the patterns.”
Patterns are key. Bucks appear in specific places at specific times. Knowing the patterns requires practice. Practice requires time. Time requires money. But my friends and I are young. We can find time and money.
Sounds a lot like Steel Challenge to me…
“Andy (a gamer in the article) touches on the growing trend of players owning personal Big Buck machines. “You used to be a douchebag if you did that,” he says. “But then those people started winning championships. So.”
Waiting for the inevitable “Playing Big Buck Hunter will get you killed in the woods” comments…
“The stereotype is that most of the people who love BBH are Republican, pro-gun, NRA members. That’s true, but only to an extent.”
“By the time I get to The Pourhouse, (the site of the championship), the atmosphere is much as I remember it from Friday. Same faces, same outfits, same rodeo energy. The emcee implores the crowd to drink Old Milwaukee, because it’s the sponsor and it’s free. A hype video introducing “Big Buck Hunter HD Wild” plays on a screen. It has lots of new animals.”
Think about how SOCIAL playing this game is, and then think about how social the average USPSA match is. Sure, the guys on the squad trash talk with each other and have fun, but when’s the last time you were at a match that a) had spectators b) had facilities for spectators or c) encouraged spectators to be social and root for their favorites.
The finals offer a three-trek format, a change that benefits Tower, who tends to be a faster shot. He pulls away early, blasting at bucks even as they materialize. He hits them all. It’s freakish, and unstoppable. He takes the match. Green and orange confetti falls from the rafters. Tower raises his arms in triumph.
I catch up with him a little later. He’s glowing with excitement and perhaps alcohol. “Only had four beers all day,” he says. I have trouble believing him. Then he says he’s the fastest Big Buck Hunter shot in the world. I have no trouble believing him. I ask if he’s got any advice.
“Aim small, hit small,” he says.
I have no idea what this means, but damned if it doesn’t sound good.
Hey, look, a competitor who can differentiate his type of performance from everyone else out there! How fresh! How exciting! How completely absent from USPSA! We call Rob Leatham “The Great One” (and he is) but WHY is he the great one? What makes his style so dominating versus Max or Eric or Jerry? How do we expect to stimulate interest in our sport if the people who shoot it aren’t interesting?
Playing a video game in a bar is exciting, social and popular. Shooting a match is exciting, and if we can figure out a way to make it social, we can make it popular.
The question is, is that what we want to do?
First off, a moment of Zen.
That’s my Savage 16 on the rifle range at Owensville Gun Club. You’ll note that I haven’t been talking much about that gun lately because I’ve been stuck in a vicious circle of suck: I haven’t been able to get a good group to verify that it’s zeroed, and I don’t want to shoot it because my targets (and what’s NOT on them) make me look like a complete loser.
The source of this loserness wasn’t easy to diagnose, either. It wasn’t something simple like a trigger jerk or a flinch, it required a two-part solution.
- New scope rings. I had Extra High rings on that gun because of the large objective lens of the Millett scope, except that I have a 20 MOA base on the gun that lifts up the scope even more.
As a result, I had set up my scope WAY above the point where I could get a consistent cheek weld and scope sight picture.
Changing out to a set of Weaver medium rings has made a HECK of a difference in getting consistent hits on-paper.
- New ammo. I had been using M80 ball of questionable origin (I think it’s Greek surplus, but I may be wrong…) in my practice sessions, and I could get 3MOA out of it, at best. Switching to Hornady Steel Match (which apparently isn’t made anymore. Bummer.) has made a world of difference, and all of a sudden I was making 1MOA any time I wanted to, and that man-shaped piece of steel at 325 yards got rung with boring repeatability.
When the Steel Match runs out, I’ll switch to Prvi Partizan Match for practice and maybe even matches, at least until I get my reloading press set up again.
I wasn’t talking about shooting long-range because I wasn’t any good at shooting long range. Instead of training hard to fill in the gap, I was avoiding the problem in front of me.
Not no more. Now that I’ve identified the problem, I can work on a solution.
And one thing you can’t see in that photo is the flock of wild turkeys that wandered across the range at about 400 yards. I was tempted, VERY tempted to get the main course for next month’s big dinner, but managed to hold back and shoot at the inorganic targets I had in front of me…