Guns ‘R’ Us.

Guns ‘R’ Us.

As you probably know, Toys R Us went out of business earlier this year, and because they had a penchant for free-standing stores, that means there is a LOT of empty real estate in prime retail locations sitting around empty.

So why not turn old Toys ‘R’ Us locations into gun ranges?

Consider this:

  • Free-standing Toys R Us store are built on a pattern that tended to repeat itself, so you wouldn’t have to customize your renovations much from store to store.
  • They’re solidly built: Everyone I’ve seen has been made of either tip-up concrete walls or concrete block.
  • They’re usually in great locations next to shopping malls and major thoroughfares (although rezoning could be a hassle).
  • They can be had for a song. Retail is dying, and so the list of people clamoring for those locations has to be quite short.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a BIG gap in the gun market right now: We have nationwide chains of sporting good stores that sell guns, but the biggest chain of gun ranges (where you can actually USE those guns) is Shoot Straight here in Florida, which has a whopping eight locations (and to be honest, each and every one of them is VERY low-rent).

Someone (Glock? SIG? Action Target?) is going to do for gun ranges what AMF did for bowling alleys, and instill a standard level of service from one range to another so that the consumer understands the value proposition of what they’re getting before they walk in to shoot.

There’s probably a shuttered Toys R Us within an hour of where you are right now. Someone is going to SOMETHING with them, why not open a gun range inside of them?

I Have Come Not To Bury Front Sight But To Praise It.

I Have Come Not To Bury Front Sight But To Praise It.

First off, let’s face facts: The training you get at Front Sight isn’t as good as you get elsewhere. Is it bad training, though?

Well, no. They have good safety standards and if you’re new to guns, you will be a better shooter when you leave Front Sight than you were before you arrived.

What Front Sight does remarkably well, though, is market their product to the American consumer. When I went there back in 2012, there were over 200 people there that week taking one sort of class or another.

Do YOU have 200 people a week in your classes? I thought not.

Front Sight does those numbers by instilling a sense of community in their students: They are marketing not just gun classes, but rather, they are marketing the sense of belonging to something that’s bigger than you are.

How much of that is based on what’s taught in SEAOrg is an ongoing question, but it’s real, and it works well for Front Sight.

Want repeat students? Give them a reason to come back that’s more that just “Learn to shoot more better.”

This Is How We Win.

This Is How We Win.

Three weeks into the new job, and I’m going shooting this weekend at a Shoot N Scoot event with a co-worker who’s gun-curious.

This same weekend, there’ll be a bunch of gun owners stamping their feet and clapping their hands and doing the firearms equivalent of “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going away!” on the steps of the state capitol in Tallahassee.

But do events like that actually change the world?

No, not really. All things like that do is make the people who went to the rally feel like they DID something, but anyone who’s not in earshot of that rally doesn’t really care about YOUR right to keep and bear arms, they care about feeling safe in an unsafe world. Who will help calm that fear, a person screaming at the top of their lungs about “MY RIGHTS!!!,” or calm, cool, collected progressive who wants to make sure that those gun nuts don’t do scary things anymore?

You want to change the world? Change it one person at a time. Rather than make a spectacle of yourself, take someone to the range.

The rights you save may be your own.

Certifiable.

Certifiable.

There was an interesting little tidbit on last week’s “The Remnant” podcast, where Jonah Goldberg interviewed Charlie Cooke. Charlie is the editor of NationalReview.com and is a former subject of Her Majesty who now lives in the U.S. and is also a gun nut.

Why does that seem SO familiar?

In the midst of a discussion about the impact that 3-D printed guns would have on gun manufacturers, Jonah mentioned the impact that Indian casinos have had on Vegas: None at all. What happens is that people who start gambling in a low-rent dive eventually want to take their game (and the experience of playing) to the Nth level, and so that means a trip to Vegas.

Which got me thinking: Why don’t gun companies do more to improve the shooting experience at a gun range? They have a vested interest in getting people out to the range and shooting guns more, so why is the NSSF the only one who certifies ranges as being a cut about average?

Look, I like, nay, LOVE the NSSF, but let’s face it, the average gun owner knows nothing about them other than they’re the ones who toss in an Operation Childsafe pamphlet into the box of their new gun.

What would happen if, say, Glock certified ranges? Or Sig? Would people who own Glocks want to shoot on a range that they knew had the stamp of approval from their favorite brand of gun?

Something to think about.

Flash Site Pictures

Flash Site Pictures

Three Concealed Carry Myths Debunked. The Sheriff speaks the truth here. Read it.

What, a guns of the 80’s retrospective WITHOUT the classic Witness Protection shorty 870? For shame! 🙂

Tam does a good job elucidating what you want and don’t want in a carry holster (two guesses which holster shown in that article wasn’t one that she had in mind when she wrote it…). 🙂

Some nice little drills for the indoor range. If you can’t adapt your teaching to work on a “bowling alley” indoor range, you are setting your beginning to intermediate students up to fail.

Lessons from a daytime home invasion. A few years ago, we lived in a neighborhood in Chandler, Arizona that was, um, in transition, and the townhouse next to us had it’s door kicked in and ransacked, while ours wasn’t. Why? We had an external security door on both entrances, and they didn’t.

I really liked the iDryfire and Sharpshot EZ dry fire training apps. You can easily set up a dry fire dojo inside your bedroom or garage for under $100. Just do it.

This is actually a pretty good list of books about America’s gun culture. I see some that I’ve read, and some I need to read.

College students learning about guns. More of this, please.

Hobbyist’s Lobby

Hobbyist’s Lobby

Grant Cunningham (and others), talk about the “gun training hobby,” and I gotta admit they have a point. Going to gun school for more than just a few hours a year is not a thing that most gun owners do. Only a select few consider something like Rangemaster to be a “must-see” event, and they’re the ones who set the pace for “serious” firearms training in the U.S.

When does the circuit get flipped between someone who’s a casual gun owner and a gun training “hobbyist”? Well, for me, it was when I realized I don’t “go shooting” anymore: When I go to the range it’s to work on a drill or try out a gun or practice a skill. The last time I went to the range to shoot for shooting’s sake was when I did a quick test of the Kel-Tec PMR30, a ridiculously fun gun to shoot. Other than that, I see marksmanship as a skill to master, not as a pastime or recreational endeavor.

Is that a problem? No. But it becomes a problem when it gets in the way of me doing stuff with the people who like going shooting solely for fun. Those of us at the deep end of the pool need to remember how much fun it is splashing around in the shallows can be, or else we’ll never get people to try to extend their skills.

Upgrades

Upgrades

I have a few new products in for review for Shooting Illustrated, and so far they are three-for-three in the winning department.

The new Primary Arms 1x PRISM scope with ACSS reticle is simply terrific for people like me who have astigmatism. I had been running an admittedly cheap Bushnell red dot on that gun, but the clarity of the prism optic make for a much, much better shooting experience than either a conventional red dot or holographic optic.

I’m also reviewing the Timney Targa AR-15 trigger. Yes, it’s a 2 stage trigger, but it’s a really, really good one. I’d feel completing comfortable running this at a three gun match (and I’m doing that this week, as a matter of fact).

I’ve also got in a Sharpshot EZ dry fire trainer, and I really, really like it. It’s a bit more than other dryfire training devices, but unlike everything else, you don’t need to hike back and forth to your phone between strings. Plus it has a lot of great features like a shot timer and drills and can be used with a bunch of standard targets, putting it at the head of the class of dryfire training aids.

And speaking of upgrades, a little birdie told me that the new owners of the training complex formerly known as Altair have some big plans for that site, backed up with a decent amount of capital to make those plans happen.

Good. It’s a nice facility and it deserves to be used to its fullest potential.

Yes, You DO Need To Worry About That Little Guy.

Yes, You DO Need To Worry About That Little Guy.

NRA Instructor QualAs I mentioned earlier, I shot the NRA Instructor Qual with the Colt Competition 1911 that I’m running through a 2000 Round Challenge.

I had (*had*) been doing dry fire up to the day of the test with one of my tricked-out CZ75’s, in anticipation that shooting the qual with a gamer gun that has a wonderful single action trigger would give me a little edge, but seeing how I had a bunch of ammo left over after the Louland match, I went with the 1911 instead to shoot up the extra ammo. I did ok, right up to the point where I had five shots outside of the eight-inch circle at 15 yards, over the maximum of four that the test requires. To make matters worse, that one shot I pulled low and left not only DQ’d me because it was the fifth shot outside the circle, it was outside the six-inch max group size required by the test.

Whoops.

Look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the 1911 platform itself: It’s a gun that wins bullseye matches year after year after year, and it wins them because it’s stupid accurate. However, my experience with the 1911 is pretty much limited to the 1000 rounds I have through my test gun, while on the other hand, I passed the 1000 round mark with a CZ75 long before we had smartphones.

Lesson learned.

I’ll shoot the qual again, (probably next week) because I want to get my certs re-upped and start teaching CCW (more on that later) so I’ll shoot it with something I already know how to use accurately, not something I’m learning to shoot.

Flash Site Pictures

Flash Site Pictures

Are Race Holsters really worth the $$$$?

The Liberator pistol and Sten SMG were designed to be functional firearms that can be built in a garage, and this is further proof of that fact.

I did the writeup on the Ruger PC Carbine for Shooting Illustrated. Spoiler alert: I liked it. But then again, I’ve been a fan of pistol-caliber carbines for quite awhile.

Five easy upgrades for your AR-15. If you bought an AR but don’t know what to do with it, this is where I’d start.

Both the NRA and the Huffington Post agree: Justice Kennedy’s retirement is bad news for gun control.

Not sure I agree with the Sheriff here about carrying a reload. I carry one for my Shield, but with 9+1 in it now, I’m not certain I need one.

My CZ75s are proof that I was into TA/DA guns before they were cool (/gunhipster).

Farce On Farce

Farce On Farce

One of the interesting takeaways from my knife defense class was some of the comments in a Facebook group where Jeff Street posted a link to the article.  Another instructor in the group didn’t believe that the class taught anything worthwhile because it didn’t teach us how to then press the attack with a knife, it taught us how to get away from the knife and therefore was of little use.

The thing is though, I really, really don’t want to get into knife fight when I fight: I prefer not to get into a fight at all.  If I have to get into a knife fight, I want it to quickly evolve into a gun fight, because I’m much better that I am with knives.  A pistol fight also gives me the wonderful option of running away screaming in terror, which is the most effective defense against the knife there is.

The trainer who was complaining that our class was “unrealistic“ was a big proponent of force on force training to prove that his theories were correct, and the videos he posted to bolster his arguments showed that yes, they did indeed work.

As long as you play by the rules he set up prior to the start of the fight, and that’s a mighty big if.

I’m not really interested in force on force training which proves that your system works: I’m more interested in scenarios that show where it breaks and where we need to improve.  Force on force training works because we have to improvise on the fly when we’re in the fight. Force on force in training helps us improvise quicker, better, and more often, not repeat the patterns of training we already know, that’s what drills are for.

There are many trainers out there who denigrate the use of practical shooting as a way to improve your pistol skills. They say that the minute you define the rules of the match, it no longer becomes effective combat training.  Personally, I think you can thousand years of human civilization argues against this back. From the ancient Greeks on Mount Olympus to the Roman gladiator games to knights of olde jousting to samurai attacking each other with wooden swords, mankind has always used sport as a way to improve our combat ability.

Are there more rules in a sporting event than there are in real life? Of course there are! Those rules, however, are there so sport becomes a learning event, not a literal life-and-death struggle. We learn the rules, we master them, and then we learned to break them when necessary.