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.

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.