Julie Golob On The State Of The Shooting Sports.

Julie Golob On The State Of The Shooting Sports.

Julie is a much, much better shooter than I am, and she’s been a professional shooter for quite awhile now.

She also owns more chickens than I do, but that is not relevant to the discussion today.

What is relevant is the talk she gave at the NSSF Industry Summit on what’s going on (and isn’t going on) with the shooting sports. Why aren’t the people who have CCW’s getting out to the range? Where are the disconnects?

The video below is worth your while, as it lays out the problem pretty clearly. I just hope the industry response to this won’t be “I know, let’s create ANOTHER shooting sport that only works in a pistol bay, where you’re standing still, shooting a .22! That’ll get people to bring their carry guns out to the range!”.

Simply put, new gun owners don’t compete (or train) because new gun owners don’t see it as a valuable use of their time and resources, and they choose to spend those items doing something else that they see as more valuable.

Period, full stop.

Want to get more people on the firing line or out to your match? Show them the immediate value of what you’re doing. Make the commitment of time, money and ego as low-key as possible. And for crying out loud, if they want to learn how to shoot the gun they bought for self-defense, don’t stick a .22 in their hand!

It’s All In Your Head, Kid.

It’s All In Your Head, Kid.

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.

Yet.

Concealed Carry Needs An On-Ramp

Concealed Carry Needs An On-Ramp

Or at least, a better on-ramp than what we have now. We say “Carry your guns, people, it’s a lighter burden than regret!” and then we do nothing to actually help people get used to carrying a gun.

We ask them to run a marathon, without teaching how to prepare for a marathon.

Fortunately, there’s at least one training team that’s doing something about that problem, and their model could change “Gun Culture 2.0” forever.

Go check them out at Ricochet.com.

Talk About The Passion.

Talk About The Passion.

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.

*Your Ad Here*

*Your Ad Here*

Mondrian Cycling TeamFirearms-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.

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

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.

Glock And Roll

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.

Shoot To Live, Live To Shoot

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

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…”