Parting SHOT…*

Parting SHOT…*

A few random thoughts…

  • Having a marketing guy for one of the biggest names in the business tell me they were doing their new product strategy based on my “guns are now a lifestyle” approach to things was a HUGE ego boost.**
  • Want cheep booze and eats? Head to Ellis Island. $9.99 steak dinner (a HUGE hunk o’ sirloin that was cooked perfectly medium rare) and $6.99 Makers Mark. Oh, and an Elvis impersonator as well. Yes, you could be all hyper-cool at some joint inside the Aria and pay $20 for a shot of bourbon while being surrounded by Asian supermodels, but me, I like my Vegas circa 1985.
  • Some of my friends are going ga-ga over the SIG P365, and it does look like a great little gun, but me, I look at it as a SIG’s version of Kel-Tec P11. Eleven years ago, everyone went ga-ga over the LCP, which was essentially Ruger’s version of a Kel-Tec P3AT. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… the most innovative gun designer in the post-Gaston world is George Kelgren, and the rate at which is designs are being copied just proves that fact.
  • If you’re in the 5.56mm AR-15 business, good Lord, you better diversify, and diversify QUICKLY. Aside from suppressors (which were surprisingly strong this year…) I didn’t see ANYTHING neat and nifty this year for AR-15 rifles. The price floor for AR’s was set last year at $399, and I don’t think it’s going up any time in the future.
  • All in all, product-wise, it wasn’t as good as it was in years past. I had to scramble to come up with six things a day to talk about for Shooting Illustrated, but we got the job done. Aside from the P365, there really wasn’t any “Oh, wow!” products this year, but there were more than a few embarrassing mistakes.
  • Business-wise (especially for us on the content production side), it was a helluva show, because the gun companies have figured out that in a post-levee world, they’re going to have to start marketing their products with more effort that just saying “Hey look, it’s in stock! Buy it before it goes away!”. The gun companies now need to move product, which means they want to get their product out there in front of the customers, which means they want to talk with us in order to get it done.
  • On a related note, I sold five stories to various NRA pubs at SHOT this year, which will more than pay for the trip. Gonna be a busy few months for me…

All in all… Best. SHOT Show. EVER!!!


* Words. This is my business.
** Yes, it happened. I have witnesses.

SHOT Show Is Almost Done…

SHOT Show Is Almost Done…

… and I’m almost done as well.

It has been a tremendous SHOT Show, maybe the best one I ever attended, but I learned two things:

  1. It is one thing to go to SHOT as new media with no real agenda, another to go as a buyer for a gun store, and another thing ENTIRELY to go as a writer with a deadline and a list of story ideas to come up with and source. Annette Evans and I worked out tokuses (tokii?) off from show opening to show close each day, and we hope you’ve enjoyed what we dug up off the floor of the show. This meant, however, that I couldn’t spend near as much time talking with old friends as I wanted to, which is probably a good thing, though, because…
  2. The SHOT Show crud is a real thing, and I’m currently in its grippe*. Rather than go out on the town and meet new friends, I’m in my room, blowing my nose and wishing for the sweet, sweet release of death.
    Or a good night’s sleep. One of those.

So what piqued my interest this year? This little Crosman BB gun, for one. Full auto. AR-15 SBR look and feel. $199 MSRP. I think three of them might wind up under the Christmas tree this year, because I have two sons and I’m not sharing mine if I get one.

Also, the new Remington Tac-14 Hardwood really grabbed my eye. I like guns with a story and a history, and the Witness Protection shotgun is definitely one of those kind of guns. Do I need one? No. Do I want one, along with a Smith and Wesson 459, a pair of RayBan Aviators and a big bushy mustache?

Oh yeah.


* You see what I did there? Word are my business!

Buh Bye.

Buh Bye.

I am outta here, headed off to SHOT.

One of the really neat things about the show this year is that I, along with Annette Evans, will be wandering the hallways of Sands Exhibition Center, looking for cool stuff to talk about for Shooting Illustrated. As all my efforts will be focused on what I’m doing for them, don’t expect any new content here next week.

In essence, I’ll be covering the largest gun show on the planet for the largest group of gun owners on the planet. Pretty cool.

And I *swear* I will not make it “All CZ, all the time”.

Ok, I’ll try to make it happen. But no promises.

Match Report, Louland Practical Pistol, January 11

Match Report, Louland Practical Pistol, January 11

As part of commitment to shoot more matches this year, I was able to squeeze in the Thursday night practical match at Louland Gun Club last week.

It’s a very lightweight match, usually all-steel courses of fire that have designated shooting boxes and less than 30 rounds apiece. One bay, though, is set up as a more typical USPSA stage, and that’s what we’ll look at here.

Stage Briefing
Targets A and B must be engaged from shooting area 1, else wise it’s shoot ’em as you see ’em. Target C back there is a right bastard of a shot that can only be engaged from the gap in the shooting area at the top left.

All in all, a fun little stage with a mix of hoser shots and a tight, tough shots with no-shoots.

How’d I do? Not bad.

Some things I like here:

  • I’m up and running as I do the reload. Not much hesitation at all, and I am up and on-target as quick as I can.
  • I shot the two targets at the end of the shooting area on the move, and then the last two as quickly as the ones before them. In fact, on the waveforms in the audio portion of the video, the spaces between all four shots are pretty much the same.
  • Most competitors shot the first two targets on the left side in the main shooting area from one spot, then moved up a few feet to take the partials behind the barrel. I figured out that I could split the difference and engage all four from one spot, saving me a few seconds on the stage.

Some things I don’t like here:

  • All that time shooting three shots at that first target, and I went Alpha-Mike. I figure I must have jerked the first shot (Ah, the joys of a DA/SA gun…), hit the second shot and then got a little anxious on the last one and tossed it off into the bar somewhere.
  • Everything looks good, but everything looks… slow. If I could speed everything up by a third, I’d be happy.

All in all, a good run for me. Had I not thrown that Mike, I’d have been the top non-Open shooter. As it is, I wound up third amongst iron sight shooters.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

Me, five years ago:

According to the commenters (some of which are combat medics), I needed to start with a pressure and a tourniquet rather than the QuikClot.

Which exposes a big gaping hole (no pun intended…) in my training: Aside from CPR and some basic first aid, I’ve had no training in dealing with the effects of a negligent discharge.

Today, I’ve had a day-long course in first-aid trauma med, and I carry either an improvised tourniquet or a full-on SOF-T everywhere I go.

Cool.

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Owning a gun is great thing, but owning a gun and shooting it on a regular basis is even better. Having a gun in your house isn’t going to make you safe anyomre than having a car on your driveway is going to get you to the corner grocery store: You have to learn how to use it safely and efficiently so it to do the job it’s supposed to do.

So what does it actually cost a new gun owner to shoot on a regular (monthly) basis? In 2013, back when I lived in Phoenix, I visited some of the local indoor and outdoor ranges to find out what a monthly practice session might cost a new shooter. My assumption is that you’ll go to the range and spend an hour shooting 50 rounds of FMJ ammo from a 9mm pistol at three different man-sized targets, which based on my experience, is about what most casual shooters do on a typical day at the range.

Ranges: Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club (outdoors), Ted’s Shooting Range (indoors), Caswell’s Shooting Range (indoors), Phoenix Rod and Gun Club (outdoors), Scottsdale Gun Club (indoors) and Shooters World (indoors).
Lane Rental: One person for one hour
Ammo: 50 rounds of 9mm FMJ. For ranges without ammo sales (PRGC, Rio), I used the price of a box of 9mm at my local WalMart.
Gun Rental: A 9mm pistol for one hour. For ranges without gun rentals, I used the cost of a typical quality 9mm pistol ($540) spread out over 12 months.
Membership: One year’s individual membership. Range memberships at Ted’s is for 14 months, not a year, so I reduced that amount for comparison purposes.

Just VisitingLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly Cost 
Rio Salado$5.00$13.00$45.00*$18.00$756.00
Caswells$15.00$21.00$7.00$43.00$516.00
Ted's Shooting Range$14.00$18.00$9.00$41.00$492.00
Shooters World$15.00$15.00$10.00$40.00$480.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$15.00$14.00$14.00$43.00$516.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$14.00$13.00$45.00*$27.00$864.00
With MembershipLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly CostMembership
Rio Salado$0.00$13.00$45.00*$65.92$791.00$95.00
Caswells$0.00$18.90$0.00$48.07$576.80$350.00
Ted's Shooting Range$0.00$18.00$4.50$44.17$530.00$260.00
Shooters World$0.00$14.25$5.00$40.08$481.00$250.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$0.00$13.00$0.00$44.67$536.00$380.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$0.00$13.00$45.00*$71.75$861.00$165.00

* $45 / month reflects the cost of owning your own pistol, spread out over 12 months

So for just a couple hundred dollars more per year or so, memberships at Rio Salado or Phoenix Rod and Gun look like a real bargain, right? After all, that price includes a new gun, and they have long-distance rifle ranges as well.

Not so fast.

First off, they’re outdoor ranges. Not bad, now that temperatures in the Phoenix area are leveling off, but that sucks when it’s 115 degrees outside or, for colder climes, if it’s winter and the snow is waist-deep on the ground.

Secondly, the public ranges at both outdoor ranges have a minimum distance that you can set up targets, about 8 yards or so. Not a big issue for some, but if you’re trying to train a new shooter, it can get discouraging for them to shoot and shoot and shoot and not see decent groups on the target.

Thirdly, you can pull down at a set up targets at an outdoors public range only during cold range times, and those happen on a schedule, and not when you need them.

Finally, most outdoor ranges have pistol bays, where you’ll be the only one shooting and you can set up and take down targets however you like. These are where the real improvement happens, as shooters can set up advanced drills that involve drawing from a holster, moving with your gun in-hand and multiple targets at multiple distances.

So which should you chose?

That depends on your needs. I use both on a regular basis. I’ve been a member at Rio for over 5 years. I like their public range, and I like the people. But I’ve come to appreciate the comfort of indoor shooting and the convenience of reserving a lane in advance in an indoor range.

It comes down to what kind of a shooter you are. A public outdoor range membership is great for people who know what they want in a firearm and don’t need (or want) to try out new guns. However, indoor rental ranges are the perfect for  people getting into the shooting sports: For less than $50 a month, you can try out many different firearms and find the one(s) that suit you best and lets you grow into firearms ownership at your pace.

Either way, there are no bad choices: The worst day at the range is still better than the best day in the office.

Lighten Up, Francis.

Lighten Up, Francis.

I have a friend who’s AntiFa, and his response when I suggested that maybe violence wasn’t the answer for his group was “Well, when I’m being threatened with violence, what choice to I have?” *

In other words, he hit me, so I have no choice but to hit him back.

Bull crap. That is a child’s response to violence: “Of course I hit him, he hit me first! I HAD to hit him!” **

“No choice?” We are humans, not animals. We learned to override our baser instincts around the same time one of us figured out that a burning branch wasn’t something to be afraid of, but rather, it was good for warmth and illumination and starting barbecues.

No, we do not always have control over the actions of others, but we always, ALWAYS have control over our reactions. Any cop could probably tell you about the times they’ve had some poor fool sitting on a curb in cuffs, watching a friend bleed out in front of them say something like, “Man, I didn’t want to do it, but he just wouldn’t back down.” At that point, one life is over, and one life is ruined. Who hit whom first is a bit of a moot point. I’m not willing to let this beautiful country with its beautiful freedoms go away just because a bunch of children started arguing over who threw the first punch.

* I’m old enough to remember when Martin Luther King Jr. was reviled by the right and loved by the left. My, how things have changed.
** I haven’t heard that said in our house since my youngest son turned ten, which speaks volumes about the emotional age of Antifa and other groups.

Ruger Continues To Break New Ground.

Ruger Continues To Break New Ground.

A Ruger shooting team? Anchored by Doug Koenig? Will wonders never cease?

Ruger’s never had a professional team, but today’s product mix gives them guns capable of competing in everything from cowboy action and rimfire challenge matches to practical disciplines like IDPA and USPSA, Steel Challenge, Bianchi Cup, even long range precision rifle matches.

What will raise eyebrows even higher across the industry is the identity of their new team captain: Doug Koenig.

After fourteen very successful years as a Smith & Wesson shooter, Koenig will now be shooting Rugers. And not just in the practical disciplines. Koenig tells me he’ll be expanding his schedule to include precision rifle competitions.

And this little bit from Doug is VERY intriguing.

“When I talked with Ruger engineers, they asked me what I thought – instead of telling me what they were going to do. So, I told them what I would like to see in a Ruger competition pistol, and it seemed like they were really listening.”

Let’s face it. Yes, Jessie shoots for Taurus, but does anyone REALLY think that her Open gun has any Taurus parts in it whatsoever? However, a competition-ready 1911 from Ruger, built to Doug Koening’s specifications would give Colt and SIG a run for their money.

Interesting times ahead.