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.

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*

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.

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.

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.

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.

Match Report, USPSA At Hansen Range, 080716.

I came into this match with zero expectations of competency: I haven’t shot a serious match in over three months, and my practice regime has been spotty at best.

I wound up 25th of 36 shooters, and considering I blew one stage completely (which we won’t talk about) and that there was only two other Production shooters (more on that later), I’ll take it.

I wanted to see what the difference was between a upper C Class shooter like myself and an A Class Production shooter was, and video seemed the best way to accomplish this. I had someone record my run, then recorded a better shooter on his run and then spliced them side by side, with graphics to show you where each of us are on the stage at any given time (Spoiler alert: He finishes WAY ahead of me).

A screenshot from my video editing software also provides some insight: His splits are significantly quicker, he’s getting in and out of shooting positions faster and he’s not missing.

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In the past, I poo-poo’ed the idea that physical fitness was a major component of practical shooting, but now I’m beginning to re-re-think that idea.

Ok, Mike, Let’s Talk About Production

Hi Mike, thanks for reading the first part.

You did read the first part, didn’t you?

Let’s chat a bit about Divisions. I’m ok with Carry Optics and, as I’m a fan of pistol-caliber carbines, I also like this new division for them, but let’s face it, Production is broken. Two of the biggest items that comes to mind are,

  • Actual guns in use. I love my CZ’s, but really, how often is that gun actually carried? On the other hand, Beretta 92.
  • Holsters. I had a rules lawyer try to DQ me for my Blade-Tech dropped offset. Adopt the Single Stack Division holster rules, and that goes away.
  • Mag capacity, however, is the biggie. The mag capacity needs to be upped to 15 rounds in a mag to start the stage, effective right now.

I know that upping the starting magazine capacity puts a hurt on shooters in New York, California, and other places outside America, but that’s what L-10 is for. Heck, in Canada, every division except Single Stack and Revolver is a variation of L10 because 10 rounds is the most you can have in a magazine in any pistol up there, competition or not.

Besides that, having to reload between Every. Single. Port. is just silly, especially if USPSA wants to retain some of its roots as a “practical” shooting sport. Looking at how how often reloading is actually needed in a gunfight vs. shooting on the move would be one way to bring USPSA (and IDPA as well) back in-line with what we now know what really happens in a gunfight, thanks to dashcams and security videos.

15 rounds in a mag also updates Production with the reality of guns today. Part of the appeal of the Wonder Nine is lotsa boolits, and enforcing an artificial Clinton-era mag capacity on those guns is silly in today’s post-AWB world. Going to 15 rounds would also align the USPSA Production division more with IPSC Production, something that matters only a few times a decade, I realize, but still, the thought is nice.

Finally, and this is the big one, it would align Production with how people actually buy guns. I ran into this issue last month, taking a new shooter to his first match. He had a Glock 19, four mags, three pouches and a decent gun belt. This is pretty much as good as it gets for the average concealed carrier, and yet, because of the lack of mags and pouches, he shot Limited Minor and placed dead @!$%ing last.

It’s not 1996. There’s not a Clinton in the White House (well, not at this moment, at least…). Stop saddling Production with rules from 20 years ago.