2016 In Review

Or, the year that everything changed, and nothing changed. I did really, really poorly on my shootey goals, but I did really, really well with other things.

I shot the fewest matches I’ve ever shot in one year, but I’m quite satisfied with almost every part of my pistol skill except my draw, and I’m working on that part every day.

Speaking of which, I’m on a regular dry-fire routine of ten to fifteen minutes of practice draws and trigger presses before I leave for work each day, and I’m doing at least a half-hour’s fast walking every night to get myself in some sort of shape other than “pear”.

While I haven’t been shooting much, my writing opportunities have really taken off. I’ve written a LOT for Shooting Illustrated and Ricochet, and I’ve added in the occasional article on Lucky Gunner as well.

Training-wise, the two-day class with Bob Vogel was well worth the money. If you’re looking for a class that will teach you pistol marksmanship, pure and simple, you’d be well served to take one of his classes.

SHOT Show was not in the cards this year, but NRA was, and it was wonderful to meet people like Andrew Branca, David Yamane and Tam for the first time and find out that they’re almost as nice in-person as they are online.

While I’m not working in the gun biz full time, my current job is one of the best I’ve ever had in my life, so I’m actually much, much happier than if I was slinging steel for a living. It was also nice to see some of my posts gain some traction inside the business, and I’m also working with a new startup developing a rather cool gadget for firearms training, but I can’t talk much about it right now.

Thank you, everyone, for coming by. I sincerely appreciate it, and have a happy and blessed New Year’s.

Ammo Buyer’s Club.

  1. Ammo at guns stores costs more, on average, than ammo at discount stores or shopping for ammo online. This is why gun stores rarely stock ammo, because unless they have a range associated with the store, the ammo just sits there, taking up space and (more importantly) capital that can be flipped to something else.
  2. People who go into gun stores to buy things rarely walk out with just that thing. TRUST me on this one.
  3. Gamification works.
  4. Dear Local Gun Store: 500 business cards cost you $20 on Vistaprint. Design something with your logo and address on one side (You DO have a logo, don’t you?) and 10 small boxes on the other side. Every time the customer buys ammo at a certain price point or more, they get a stamp. Get 10 stamps? Free ammo.

It’s called marketing. It’s not hard.

Breaking The NFA

I kinda like what my friend Dean is suggesting here, and it just might work, assuming that whoever Trump picks as Secretary of the Treasury has the cojones to put it into play.

When the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed, the Congress concurrently passed a bill to allow an amnesty for people who had unregistered NFA items. No fingerprints or tax was required.  Fill out a paper form and send it in, and your NFA item was registered.  The initial amnesty was for 30 days in 1968, from October 2nd to November 1st. The law contained a provision for further amnesties at the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury.

If the Democrats want to filibuster the Hearing Protection act, offer a 90 day amnesty on the registration of silencers for the NFA.  No tax, no fingerprints, just fill out a form and send it in.

Step 1: Make full-auto parts for AR-15s and other guns with a desktop CNC machine, turn you AR-15 “pistol” into a true short-barrelled rifle or build your own 80% suppressor
Step 2: Register those parts under amnesty
Step 3: Lather, rinse, repeat

I like it!

Take The Down Escalator.

My high school was not on the good side of town. We were not an athletic powerhouse, nor did I see a lot of luxury cars in the school parking lot. What I did see was a lot of low-level drug use and a bunch of losers who thought they’d lift themselves higher by putting other people down.

This was an… interesting environment for short skinny kid with glasses* to grow up in, and I soon learned that something other than fisticuffs was my key to survival in that environment. I learned to avoid the people who wanted to push others around, and when avoidance was impossible, I found that a little bit of humor and some quick thinking** prevented a beat down.

I figured out early on how to avoid the monkey dance, but in case you didn’t have the same (painful) experience growing up, Greg Ellifritz has a great article on why de-escalation is so important and he gives some excellent examples of soft words that turn away anger.


* Yes, I was a wimp growing up, and now I’m into guns. Figured that one out all by yourself, did ya, Sigmund?
** Never tell the starting left tackle on the football team that he should call himself a necrophiliac because that meant he loved to kill things. TRUST me on this.

This One Time, At Band Camp…

This was posted in a gun group that I belong to on Facebook.

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What’s interesting is that when people commented about him escalating the situation by “yelling out the car window” his response was “I normally do that, but this time, it happened in a school zone.”

Think about that for a second. You can follow the rules 99% of the time, but that one time you don’t, you almost have to shoot someone.

“I do it all the time, but this time, I didn’t” means, well, you DON’T do it ALL the time, you make exceptions.

Was there any reason not to de-escalate here? Was he in fear for his life?

The prosecution doesn’t care about the 99 times you did it right. They will convict you on the one time you did it wrong.

Training Desert.

Kathy Jackson uses a swimming lesson metaphor for firearms training, and it’s a good one because both firearms training and swimming lessons help you stay safer when you’re out at the range or in the water, and let’s face it, they’re both really good ideas as well.

But what if we told our new swimmers that the only places they could practice their freshly-taught skills wasn’t in the community swimming pool or school pool, but only in the bathtub in their own home or in large open bodies of water?

Sounds silly, right? There is no way that swimming would be popular if the only place to do it would be in lakes or oceans, and somehow paddling in a tub just isn’t the same as doing laps in a pool.

But that’s what happens in 99% of  firearms training classes. The students go the range, get their training on a pistol bay or outdoor range, and then are maybe given some brief instructions about dry fire and that’s it. No advice on how to hone your skills in an indoor, “bowling alley” range, which are far more common and accessible than pistol bays. Most indoor ranges don’t allow movement and drawing from a holster so it’s hard to make a direct correlation between defensive pistol skills and what you can practice on a range, but some practice is better that nothing. Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, has an e-book of drills that will increase defensive pistol skills but yet can still can be practiced on the indoor range, and to the best of my knowledge, he’s the first one to realize that not everyone hangs out on a pistol bay every weekend.

And that’s a shame.

Getting people to practice, and practice in the context of a fun day at the range (whether that range is indoor or outdoor) should be goal of every trainer, because happy and engaged customers are repeat customers.

 

A Glittering Cavalcade Of Gun Rights Celebrities.

And me.

I’ll be getting up at Zero-Dark-Thirty tomorrow in order to drive up to Tampa for the Second Amendment Foundation’s Gun Rights Policy Conference. Scheduled to appear are people like Florida Governor Rick Scott, gun lawyer extraordinaire Alan Gura, Linda Walker from the NRAand John Lott, who literally wrote the book on this sort of thing.

The conference will be live-streamed on Saturday and Sunday, look for a post with the stream up on Ricochet.com tomorrow.

I’ll be the one not wearing pants.

I Hope You Know That This Will Go Down On Your Permanent Record.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Epistle of St. James, Chapter 3, Verses 3-8, New International Version

 

Thinking more about this post from last week, I am constantly, incessantly and continually amazed at how many of my fellow gun owners live in a fantasy world where what they say in person and online will never, ever, affect what will happen to them if they have to use lethal force to defend their lives.

We wouldn’t hand half the ammunition in our gun over to our opponent before we started a gun fight, so why, then do we hand out ammunition to the prosecution, our opponent in a legal fight, with online statements like “I won’t get in trouble for brandishing, I’ll just shoot them instead” or “They should thank me for shooting that felon, not arrest me”?

And let’s not even START with “Keep honking, I’m reloading!” bumper stickers.

Product Review: Sunjack 14w Charger +1400maH battery

Sunjack 8w + 1400mah battery charger

I was recent sent a Sunjack 14w solar charger with an 8000maH battery for review*. I was looking forward to getting this kit and doing this review because I believe that the modern smartphone is an essential part of starting safe, and a smartphone (and some way to charge it) is an essential part of your “bug out” gear, and I’m pleased to report the charger and battery did not disappoint.

The Sunjack 14w Charger +1400maH battery is a great option for creating power to keep your smartphone up and running without connecting it to the power grid. About the same size as an iPad and weighing about as much as a large paperback book, it differs from cheaper solar chargers in that it charges a battery which then charges your phone.

Charger and battery outdoors

When the SunJack charger first arrived, the battery was half-charged, so I drained completely by recharging my iPhone with it and then plugged it into the charger and left it outdoors for 8 hours. I should note that I live in Florida and it’s the middle of hurricane season, but despite the partly cloudy skies, eight hours was enough to fully charge the battery. The fully-charged battery took two hours to recharge my iPhone 6+ from 10% charge to fully charged. The battery can also be charged up via a wall socket and a (not included) wall charger, and I found it that to be a faster way of recharging it than sticking it out in the sun (albeit one that only works if you have a working wall socket nearby).

chargingIf you’re like me (and I know I am), you rely on a smartphone for so much more than making phone calls. I’ve loaded up mine with useful things like an emergency radio scanner, a ballistics app and an e-book reader, so my phone is pretty much always by my side. I found the SunJack 8w+1400maH battery/charger to work just as expected, and it’s now a “must have” accessory for me if I leave the urban wilderness for something even more untamed. If there’s one thing I’d change about it, I’d ask them to toss in an iPhone Lightning-compatible cable with it along with the micro-USB cable it comes with, because, well, because iPhone, that’s why.

You can pick up the SunJack battery and charger at Amazon or on their website: www.sunjack.com/products/sunjack-14w-8000mah-battery


* Dear FTC, NSA, FDA and TVA: I’m putting in this sentence here because you want me to, but seriously, I say that this was sent to me “for review” right in the first paragraph. Do I have to rub your nose in it, like a puppy that needs to be potty-trained?