Confidence. It’s What You REALLY Carry.

“If it isn’t on you when you need to fight, it ain’t your primary.”

– Tim Chandler.

I find no end of amusement in those who say, “YOU SHOULDN’T USE METRICS IN TRAINING BECAUSE FAILING A TEST DOESN’T IMPROVE A STUDENT’S CONFIDENCE !!1!” and then turn around and say “YOU STUDENTS SHOULD NOT USE THE GUNS YOU ACTUALLY CARRY EVERYDAY WHEN YOU COME TO MY CLASS!!!1! YOU NEED TO BUY A GLOCK 19 AND A KYDEX OWB HOLSTER RIGHT NOW OR YOU WILL BE KILLED ON DA STREETZ TOMORROW!!!1!”

Well, which is? If we are so concerned with people’s confidence in their abilities, why do we mock them when they show up to class with perfectly adequate guns like a Sig P238 or a S&W SD9VE instead of an FDE Glock? Are those *bad* guns? No, they’re not. Are they *great* guns?

Well, they’re not made by CZ, so no.

I kid, I jest. Mostly. But they are good enough guns.

I’m not sure how many trainers out there are aware that it is possible, VERY possible to take a class with a gun that isn’t a 1911 or a striker-fired, double-stack polymer 9mm.

I’m not sure how many trainers understand how useful a pistol that slips into your pocket and stays out of the way really is, and I’m certain that most trainers don’t understand how asking new gun owners to lug around a Glock 19 rather than something smaller is a big barrier to new gun owners.

You want to increase the confidence of new gun owners? Give them confidence in their ability to chose a firearm that fits THEIR lifestyle, rather than telling them which gun fits your lifestyle best.

 

The Levee Has Broken.

Olympic first. Del-Ton next?

A recent ad from Grab-A-Gun on Del-tons. Look at the prices!

Now the only question is, how big will be flood be?

Fear is a great motivator, and the fear of losing our right of self-defense drove a lot of gun sales over the last few years, and, let’s be honest, drove the growth of Gun Culture 2.0 as well.

What will happen to Gun Culture 2.0 now? Are we ready for a gun culture based on optimism and the continued growth of our right to keep and bear arms?

Do we even know what that looks like?

Well Done, Walther. Well Done.

I like this program. I like it a lot.

I like it because Walther is handing out money to ALL levels of shooters, not just the GMs.
Let’s face it, a D Class Shooter getting a win with a Walther is a better story to tell your customer base than a GM winning, who’d be good with just about anything.

The bounties the offer are pretty darn good, and they’re in CASH, rather than winning your your weight in free beer koozies or something.

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Think of the free advertising this is getting Walther if you show up on a stage at a qualifying match shooting one of their guns:

“Hey, why the Walther? Why are you shooting that Walther instead of (insert gun brand here)?”
“Well, I’ll tell you…”

Sure beats having a CRO mention your company’s name in the stage briefing and tossing up a few posters on a stage. Cheaper, too. Congrats, Walther, you’ve just upset the practical shooting apple cart, and in a very meaningful way.

It’s Like The NRA Reads This Blog, Or Something.

Me, a few weeks ago:

What’s needed is a politically-neutral exposition of all things Gun Culture 2.0 that has a participation element as well. No rants about “THEY’RE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY YOU GUNS!“. No Republican voter registration drives. Just guns, ways to enjoy your guns and ways to be around people who like guns.

The NRA, now:

Experience a full array of educational seminars and workshops featuring the best personal protection and concealed carry practices taught and demonstrated by leading experts and training instructors from across the country.  Ranging from one hour informational seminars to multi-hour, in-depth instruction and hands on training, there will be a wide variety of topics and options for all skill and knowledge levels.

Needs more shootey, but other than that, yeah, this looks pretty good. It’d be REALLY cool if the NRA could team up with a local range to run, say, a shortened version of The Mover and The Practical Bianchi Cup stages somewhere close to the event to help boost interest in one of practical shooting’s oldest events.

Thanks to GunCulture2.0 for the heads-up.

It’s Two, TWO Great Events In One!

Alright, let’s wrap this up.

One thing I’ve noticed is that practical shooting exists inside the bubble of the pistol bay. Even at an IDPA match, there is little to indicate that the real world exists, aside from the stage briefing before the shooting starts (“You are seated in a restauarant, enjoying your meal, when the Leprechaun Liberation Army Attacks. Engage targets T1-4 from the chair, then move to cover, etc.”).

Why? We tell people “Hey, go shoot a match, it will help with your defensive skills,” and then we do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to show them how to integrate the lessons of the match into your daily routine. At major matches, the vendors who show up tend to be oriented towards competition and competitive gear, rather than the stuff people carry with them every day. This is understandable, because typically only competitors show up to a match, and spectators are few and far between. So if you want more vendors, and therefore more money, you want vendors who appeal to people outside of just the people shooting the match.

In other words, matches want all the people who bought guns over the last few years to show up, but then we give them no reason to show up in the first place. We force new gun owners to go shoot a match OR take a class OR go to a gun show, and we hope that if they spend enough time searching, they’ll find something they will like.

Do you have enough time to look around for a new hobby? I don’t.

What if a match were about the concealed carry lifestyle? What if there were four stages with quick, simple courses of fire that had limited movement and maybe one reload (at most)?* What if there were demos from sponsored shooters on how to do a quick, smooth draw, and local firearms trainers who talked about ways to stay safe? What if there were a (small) gun show as well, and maybe a 1911 beauty contest or the like? What if the vendors were local gun shops, gun ranges as well gun companies and national brands who would benefit from gun owners shooting their guns more, like The Well-Armed Woman, the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, holster makers and the various ammo manufacturers? What if the NRA was there as well (like they are at most gun shows), but they aren’t a named sponsor so as not to scare off the newbies? What if the emphasis, for once, was on the JOYS of owning and (safely) using a gun, rather than getting people to show up on the steps of the State Capitol and shout “MAH RIGHTS!” at their local legislators?

IDPA won’t do this, and neither well USPSA or any other existing shooting sport: They’re too concerned about growing their own particular sports to create a feeder event like this. They should, however, show up at events like this to let people know about how their brand of competition is the natural follow-on to the simple stages at the event.

Gun Culture 2.0 is made up of concealed carry and target shooting and competition, but all those activities exist in separate silos, with little (if any) attempt to build upon each other. Just has Steve Jobs realized there is good money to be made by integrating the computer in the home into how we take photos and listen to music and watch TV, someone is going to realize there is good money to be made with integrating the reasons why we buy guns with how we actually use them.

Current gun-related events are the firearms equivalent of hanging out with your fellow nerds at a comic book store, or talking about how to turn double the capacity of floppy disk with the aid of a hole punch at your local computer user’s group meeting. Gun events, as they are now, appeal to the passionate hobbyist, not to the general public. Comic books and computers went mainstream, and what was uncool suddenly became very, very profitable. Guns are ALMOST mainstream, and there is a ton of money to be made when they do.


* No, NOT Steel Challenge or GSSF. We preach “Get off the X” in our training classes, and we to practice that as well.

The Needs Of The Many

Picking up from yesterday, what would be the pieces needed to create a “Sturgis for guns”?

  1. People are buying guns these days for self-protection, but they’re not shooting matches.
  2. New gun owners are not shooting matches because, in part, they don’t know that such things even exist.
  3. New gun owners don’t see the connection between shooting a match and improving their ability to defend their lives with their guns.
  4. New gun owners probably don’t have gear that’s suitable for matches.

Now, let’s look at what gun companies need to do in a post-scarcity sales environment.

  1. Don’t just sell guns for the sake of selling guns, but build a lifestyle brand around their product.
  2. Encourage people to buy more guns. Sure, that pocket .380 you bought SEEMED like a good idea in the gun store, but how does it work in an environment that’s closer to the real world?
  3. Bring in even more new gun owners.

And finally, what do the various shooting sports need in order to grow at a rate that approaches the rate that new gun ownership is growing?

  1. More shooters. You would think it would be glaringly obvious that in today’s market, if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking, but noooooo. Shooters seemed more willing to moan and bitch about how hard it is to get into the various state and area championship matches than they are about bringing in new shooters into sport that will allow it grow and flourish. Speaking of which…
  2. More money. If you’re VERY lucky and VERY good, you can win your division in a match like the USPSA Area 2 Championship, and you’ll get a nice AR-15 as your prize. That’s cool and all, but does a $1200 AR even begin to compare with the prizes that professional bass fisherman bring in*.
  3. More exposure. This, of course, will lead to more money and more shooters and also lead to more chances for the good shooters to make money.
  4. Beginner-level matches that relates almost 1-1 with concealed carry and that beginners can shoot with their guns. This where most “entry level” matches fall down, because they are so focused on getting people into competition, rather than getting them to shoot more (and yes, there is a difference).

So what’s it going to take to make everyone happy, and come up with something that a) makes money for gun companies, b) brings in new shooters and c) encourages more participation in the shooting sports?

More on that tomorrow**.


* The fact that there is even a thing such as “Professional Bass Fishing” just blows my tiny little mind all to pieces.

** Every good performance requires three acts, right? Besides, I know how brain-addled the average Internet user is, and even getting you all to read something this short in one sitting can be a challenge.

Glock and Roll

If guns are the new Harley-Davidson, where is the new Sturgis?

Motorcycle riders have been gathering at Sturgis since 1938*, but it didn’t become Sturgis until recently, when the middle class started riding motorcycles and wanted to travel somewhere to be with people who shared their common interest in motorcycles.

We have several gun related get-togethers like gun shows and the NRA Annual Meeting, but noticeably absent from those events is people safely enjoying how their guns shoot. Also, it’s my belief that there are gun owners who aren’t yet willing to join the NRA, due to the political nature of the NRA and it’s perceived extremism in some circles, and that needs to change, too.

What’s needed is a politically-neutral exposition of all things Gun Culture 2.0 that has a participation element as well. No rants about “THEY’RE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY YOU GUNS!“. No Republican voter registration drives. Just guns, ways to enjoy your guns and ways to be around people who like guns.

Some more thoughts on that tomorrow**.


* Incidentally, the first rallies were based around competition, not showing off your bikes. Think there might be a lesson there for gun companies? I do.
** Engagement, people. It’s called engagement.

The Company That’s Going To Beat Glock Won’t Sell Glocks.

The company that will become the new leader in selling firearms to consumers will be the company that best answers the question, “Ok, I just bought a gun. Now what do I do?”

Answer that question, and you will rule the world. Take a look at the chart below:

piechart115

If Apple had been content to be “just another personal computer company”, they’d have 9% of the revenue they currently have, or they would have gone the way of companies like Gateway, IBM and so so many others.

Way, WAY too many gun companies are content to just sell guns: They don’t understand that what they are actually selling is the feelings associated with owning a gun, not the hunk of metal itself.

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

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.

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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.

Home On The Range.

I’ve been helping a friend of mine come up with ideas on renovating an outdoor range here in Florida, and in doing so, I realized that his competition isn’t nearby gun clubs, it’s all the other outdoor activities that are around the club. Dedicated gun owners will go to the range. We have no choice. Shooting is our primary hobby, and that’s done (for the most part) on a range. I’ll drive for two hours to shoot out to 1000 yards or go to a really good USPSA match, and I’ll go even further to train with one of the legends in the business.

The casual gun owners who make up a big part of Gun Culture 2.0 are not like that. Guns are a part of their lifestyle, which means the guns they own and how they use them needs to fit into their lives as well. If the club cannot provide the same experience and level of service as, say, a municipal driving range, casual gun owners are going to chose other recreational activities over going to the range. You want to make it as nice to go to the range as it is to rent a kayak or go for a horse ride or things that compete for the same outdoor activity dollar.

This is why the “guntry club” idea has taken off. It’s not that 50,000 people have plunked down thousands of dollars for a Super Duper Exclusive Deluxe Membership, it’s that those ranges tend to have nicer experiences for the average schlep than other ranges do, and if you’re paying roughly the same price for the experience, you want to go to places that treat you well. People have limits on the money and time they can spend on their leisure time, and if shooting a gun isn’t fun, they’ll do something else instead.