Another Onramp Is Built.

There’s now an officially sanctioned, .22LR version of a precision rifle match.

The NRL 22 will provide a local monthly course of fire based off the NRL 22 Standard Target Package and Standard Barricade List. The NRL 22 Standard Target Package will be available for local match directors to purchase on the NRL 22’s web page for an affordable price. The list of standard barricades will be very simple, affordable, and mostly common items. Monthly courses of fire, target package, and a standard barricades list are all intended to be turn key solutions to simple, fun, and affordable Precision Rifle matches.

I like this idea. I like it a lot. First off, anyone who’s gone squirrel hunting will tell you that there is a real-world value to precisely shooting things with a .22 rifle from weird and awkward positions.

Secondly, the pistol caliber carbine division has exploded in USPSA because they offer the excitement and challenge of a 3 gun match, without the need to set up steel targets at 300 yards.

And if it’s hard to find a range that can handle 300 yard shots, imagine how hard it is to find a range where you can shoot out to 1000 yards.

Thirdly, a properly setup .22 rifle can give you 90% of the thrills of precision rifle shooting, but at far shorter ranges, and (more importantly) for far less money than a tricked-out custom rifle with thousands and thousands of dollars of optics on top of it.

Fourthly, precision rifle matches, by their very nature, required specialized gear, and any sport that requires specialized gear to win is going to need specialized gear as part of their on-ramp*.

And yes, at this very moment, I am shopping around on the Internet for a CZ 452 left-hand model that can mimic what my Savage 16 does.

Why do you ask?


* This is why the .22 practical sports are actually a pretty good on-ramp for people who already own a .22 pistol. What the .22 pistol sports are not, however, is a good on-ramp for new gun owners, who balk at the idea of having to buy yet another gun just to go play on a range.

Something That Can’t Go On Forever, Won’t.

Take a minute to read this great breakdown on the economic realities of firearms training from Karl Rehn.

“…out of a pool of 10-15,000 instructors in the state (Texas), maybe 100 are making 5 figures and less than 10 are making 6 figures, with almost zero deriving their primary full time income from teaching.”

Sobering words.

Follow up question: According to dojos.info, there are over 1,300 martial arts schools in Texas. How many of them are storefront operations and how many are run out of someone’s garage remains to be seen, but when was the last time you drove down the street and saw a strip-mall dojo? A strip-mall dojo (or a dojo in an industrial park) means that school is making enough money to pay the rent, keep the lights on and have some kind of administrative staff on hand to deal with the day-to-day operations of the store.

When was the last time you saw a strip-mall gun school?

Something to think about.

The Power Of Glock Compels You.

I pretty much agree with everything Rich Grassi is talking about here, with one notable exception.

The pocket gun becomes the cross to Dracula. When evil is near the owner imagines pulling it out and showing it to the ‘vampire’. Maybe the villain will flee and then again maybe they won’t.

It’s not just pocket-sized handguns, larger and more costly guns can become gris-gris. If you are carrying a gun that is half-loaded, is loaded with the cheapest ammo you could find and hasn’t been fired or cleaned in over six months that’s not a genuine defensive tool, it’s a good luck charm. If you drop a compact pistol naked into your pocket but have no plan for less-than-lethal force, don’t carry a flashlight or a pocket knife and have no spare ammunition for said gun, it’s a talisman not a fighting tool.

I carry a pocket gun not because I prefer it over something larger, I carry a pocket gun because for four days out of seven, it’s that, or nothing at all.

Something about a .22 on you right now versus a .45 in your truck, or something… Same idea.

Other than that, yeah, I agree with it all, because it’s stuff that I’ve been writing about for a long, long time. People want to FEEL safe, whether they’re actually safe or not, and having a gun around, even it’s not in handy reach, does give a feeling like you’ve done something about your safety, effective or not.

It’s the personal security equivalent of therapeutic moralistic deism that’s become our state religion these past few years. I want to feel good about my chances of getting into the afterlife, without all the baggage (and challenges) that comes with making a moral stand and having to confront our fallibilities, which might make us uncomfortable if we try such things.

Me? I’m more into Bonhoeffer than I am Joel Osteen, because a cause that requires no commitment to change on your part isn’t that much of a cause.

We Need To Talk About Your Flair.

NRA Certs Now Mean NothingThinking even more about the training done by the new NRA Carry Guard program (I’ll eventually stop beating this dead horse, but not today…), what does this mean to Fred, your friendly local CCW instructor, who has gone to all the time and energy to get his NRA Basic Pistol and Personal Protection Inside the Home instructor certifications, (and maybe a few more as well)? He’s gone to NRA school. He’s sipped the NRA Kool-Aid. He’s maybe even drank deep gulps of it, and become a Training Counselor so he (or she) can train others how to be an NRA Instructor.

Then Carry Guard comes out with their “Gold Standard” of firearms training, and there is ZERO mention of NRA training, or training for the armed citizen of any kind at all mentioned in their program. According to Carry Guard, the ONLY way to reach the “Gold Standard” is to be a snake-eating SpecOps type for X number of years.

Gunsite, Massad Ayoob Group, Thunder Ranch, Rogers Shooting School, Rangemaster, any of that? Nope, doesn’t count, it’s SpecOps or nothing, baby. Not even the NRA is good enough to train the trainers in this NRA program.

Look at this from the perspective of Fred The CCW trainer: All his NRA certs just went out the window. The NRA themselves didn’t use their certifications as qualifications for their “Gold Standard”, they went to the SpecOps community instead.

Kinda disheartening, I would think.

Roots Radicals.

Listen to Michael Bane talk about what drove the birth of Gun Culture 2.0.

Learning the rules of gun safety… competition… drawing from a holster… moving with a gun… concealed carry…

We’ve won. Gun Culture 2.0 is now the dominant force inside the gun industry. Personal safety is now the main reason why people buy guns. Now that we’ve won the war, what are we doing to win the peace? What is the gun industry doing to keep the victory going?

What organization is out there doing the things to get people involved in their sport? That podcast is from 2011. In 2011, the iPhone 4 came out. Snapchat didn’t exist, and neither did Facebook Live.

In the past six years, what sport has encouraged growth by changing what they offer new gun owners*? What is the on-ramp to IDPA**? Where is the organization that is will do step up and help people gain enough confidence with their new gun that they a) carry it and b) compete with it?

‘Cause brother, I am looking for it, and it is nowhere to be found.

And yes, the title is yet another musical reference.


* NOT new shooters. There is a difference. Shooters insinuates that they shoot their gun on a regular basis. This is different from a new gun owner who buys a talisman of ballistic self-protection and keeps it unloaded under their bed.

** I will throat-punch the first person who says “Steel Challenge!” or some other sport where you stand still and shoot targets with a custom .22 is the answer to this question. Those sports are how we get people who have a safe full of guns out to the range, not how we get someone who’s just bought a Glock 19 as their first gun.

If You Like Your Shooting App, You Can’t Keep Your Shooting App.

Apple will be rolling out another update to the operating system of their iPhones and iPads, and one of the features of iOS 11 will affect some popular apps for the shooting sports:

Apple has removed support for older 32-bit applications in the new iOS 11, which was to be expected after the 10.3 update added the ability to detect apps that are still running 32-bit processes on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

Two of the apps that are a must-have for me, (the Surefire Shot Timer and the Max Michel Shot Coach) will be affected by this, and I’m sure there are other apps out there as well. If you open up an app and get a warning that it might run slow on your device, be warned, it might not run at all in the future.

Darkness Falls.

Something I said in the comments of this post got me a-pondering: Why do firearms trainers who have a SpecOps background place such a high emphasis on night training, and is that sort of thing really valuable to those of us who don’t wear a uniform and a gun.

Let’s think about things for a second. If you have to kick in doors for a living, it makes sense to kick in doors at night, when the element of surprise and the grogginess of sleep are on your side. Night ops are a great time for offensive operations, especially if you have night vision gear and the bad guys don’t.

But let’s back up for a second… why would I, a middle-aged marketing guru, have to go onto the offense at night? Yes, there is the 3 am crackhead burglar scenario and the dark Wal-Mart parking lot attack, but if we look at the concealed carry engagement stats from students of Tom Givens, you’ll see that NONE of them used a flashlight in their encounters.

Why? Why are night operations such a priority for the military, yet next to useless for we civilians?

For the armed citizenry, unless you’re up at 3am patrolling the streets like the SHEEPDOG! you think you are, defending your life at night, in inky blackness, is probably not that urgent, for three reasons:

  1. If you have time to get a flashlight out, you have time to get your gun out. If you need your gun, don’t get out your flashlight, and vice versa.
  2. Crooks associate high-output flashlights with security guards and cops, and they tend to shy away from said people. Therefore, if you’re using a modern, tactical flashlight, you are SCREAMING to the bad guys that you are predator, not prey. As armed citizens, our job isn’t to hunt others, our job is not to be eaten by the predator.
  3. If you can’t see well enough to recognize your target, either add light to the target (which might make it run away, as per option 1 above), or don’t shoot at it. Fortunately for we civvies, most of the places we inhabit do have at least some modicum of illumination, and that’s usually enough to get a good idea of what’s in front of our muzzle.

So is learning how to use a flashlight and weapon-mounted light useful for those of us who don’t wear a uniform and a gun? Sure. However, in reality, it’s about as useful as a learning how to run an AR-15 as a defensive weapon.

Take that as you will.

The Most People-Friendly Gun Store You’ll Ever See. 

I made a trip out to the other coast earlier this month (sorry, Miguel, my schedule was pretty tight, or else I would have dropped you a note), and one of the priorities for me was a visit to Nexus Shooting Center. Visiting them has been on my radar for a while now, and I finally made time to check them out.

Outside, it looks, like, well, a stand-alone gun store. Not a lot different from a lot of other gun ranges, maybe a little more dramatic than most. Inside, however… inside.

Let’s just be honest: It’s the best gun shop I’ve ever seen.

Every gun store seems to look like every other gun store, because they all take their cues from each other. Nexus doesn’t follow what’s good for a gun shop, the look outside the firearms retail industry to create experience that’s more like the Apple Store than any other gun shop I’ve seen.

Let’s just concentrate on one small area, the way merchandise is displayed in the store. Aside from the signage, is there REALLY a difference between the gun counter at a Bass Pro and the gun counter at your friendly local gun store? Both of them have glass display cases showing off the pistols, and behind them, slat wall displays showing off the long guns.

Why? Did Moses come down from Mt. Horeb with “Thou Shalt Erect Slat Walls In Thy Gun Store”? Is that in some weird translation of the Pentateuch that I’ve never heard of? Who said a gun store has to look that way, and why has no one ever questioned if there’s a better way?

Enter Nexus. Rather than hang guns on the wall and lock them away in cases, Nexus displays almost everything using backlit panels that are actually LED televisions, making paper signage a thing of the past. Also, if you’ve ever worked in a gun store, you know that tracking which gun is on display is a constant struggle and a potential mind field for ATF compliance. With the backlit TV’s, the serial number of each gun is display right along side the price, keeping things nice and neat inside your bound book.

The (female) head honcho at Caswell’s range in Arizona once told me that to a woman, the experience of walking into a gun store is like walking into a strip club: It’s an overwhelmingly masculine environment that’s unwelcoming and vaguely threatening.

And in response to this obvious fact, gun store owners PROUDLY display the mounted trophies of their last hunt and calendars of half-naked women holding guns.

And then they wonder why women (one of the fastest-growing segments of the market) don’t seem to frequent their stores.

While the environment inside of Nexus is definitely “no-nonsense tactical”, it’s not threatening, because they temper the tactical with a bright, open layout and with a concierge station that welcomes people as they walk into the door.

And then there’s the range. There are twenty 25 yard lanes for their pistol and rifle customers, but the heart of the range are the twenty Nexus Lanes, an electronic targeting system that takes going to a gun range to a whole new level. The lanes are wider than the typical gun range phone booth: Two people can stand side by side with ease, leading to a more comfortable and relaxed shooting experience and also making instruction easier.

Rather than list all the cool things you can do with an electronic target system (like shoot targets that are 25 yards away within the confines of a 7 yard bay), I’d like to highlight two little touches in that photo which show the planning and effort that the owners of Nexus put into the customer experience.

That’s an Uplula universal magazine loader, and there’s one permanently attached to every lane inside Nexus. Now, why would a gun range spend an extra $30 per lane on a speedloader?

Think about it. If you fill your magazines with ammo faster, you shoot ammo faster. You shoot ammo faster, you either a) turn over your lane quicker (more profit), or you buy more ammo from the range master (ditto). I’d be willing to bet those speedloaders paid for themselves the very first day they installed them, and every day since then brings better and better ROI for Nexus.

Smart.

Secondly, this is a photo of the floor under each shooting lane. Rather than have a solid concrete floor under your feet, at Nexus, there’s a slat floor that allows spent casings to fall into a pit under your feet, where there’s collected up at the end of each day. No more skating on a sea of spent brass, and much less worries about safety incidents from customers losing their footing on a shell casing.

I could gone on and on about the other little touches inside the Nexus range and store, like their plans to reduce analysis paralysis (the bane of gun store owners everywhere) and the layout of their classrooms (home theater, not middle school), but the fact is, Nexus is what a gun store should look if your market is today’s city-dwelling gun owner. If you’re in S. Florida, (or are planning to be soon), you need to put a trip to Nexus on your to-do list.

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!

Carry Guard Surrenders.

In response to clear feedback surrounding the NRA Carry Guard Level I course announcement, we have modified the required firearm platforms as well as our site language to clearly articulate how firearms will be used in the class.

Bottom line: our decision to not include 1911s and revolvers as primary firearms in our initial Level I course was a mistake, and we appreciate the feedback we have received from the firearms community.

Not a good start, guys, not a good start. However, I think I found the reason why they initially banned 1911’s and revolvers: The suggested round count for their two three day class is… 1,500 rounds.

Yep.

Now if you’re shooting an 8 round 1911 or a 6 round wheelgun, that is gonna suck. You’ll be reloading 2-3 times more often than your friends who are shooting Glock 17’s, and you’ll probably be slowing down the class somewhat.

Reloads aside, shooting one thousand five hundred rounds, in a two three day class for beginners? I can *almost* see that for a pure shooting class like the Vogel class I did a couple of years ago, but 1500 rounds for a two three day beginner’s class that teaches, and I’m quoting here…

“Safety and Weapons Awareness; Pistol Ready Positions; Fundamentals (stance, grip, holster draw, sight alignment, trigger press, recoil management, follow through, economy of motion, self-critique); Treating a Malfunction; Live Fire Progression Drills; Combat and Tactical Reloads; Drawing from a Holster; Low Light/No Light Shooting; Combat Reload while holding a Light; Key Components to Carrying a Concealed Weapon; Carry Location Options (i.e. waist, ankle, purse, etc.); Real World Scenario Based Training (Airsoft scenarios)”

You’re teaching all that, and you also want your beginning students to shoot 1500 rounds in two three days?

Good luck with that.

UPDATE: I got the number of days wrong. It’s a three day class, not a two day class. However, 1500 rounds is still an awfully large amount of ammo to send down-range in that amount of time. The chances of you doing that and teaching your students anything beyond what gunfire sounds like is mighty slim. Heck, to teach the “Low Light/No Light Shooting; Combat Reload while holding a Light” and maintain even a basic level of safety is at least a couple of hours of non-shooting time.