First off, pretty much every single firearms trainer out there needs to watch this short video on how to give a presentation.
It’s given by Garr Reynolds, who makes his living helping the world’s biggest companies do better presentations, and it got me thinking…
I’ve mentioned this before, but when I took my CCW class many years ago, my teacher told me that only one in three of us would take the steps needed to make concealed carry a regular part of our life.
Firearms trainers are pretty good at teaching technique, where we suck, however, is helping people live a new lifestyle. This is because we approach concealed carry as a thing to be learned, not a life to be led.
Make your course about how their lives will change for the better. Mix in some fear because it is a scary world, after all, but give them a reason to WANT to carry their guns, rather than a fear that they need to carry them or they’ll die.
Thinking about it, wouldn’t be that big of a deal for 5.11, MagPul or SIG to get in on the action here. Startup costs would be fairly cheap: A few dozen acres outside of town, or better still, something you can pack into an 18-wheeler and take from town to town. The trick would be to tie your VR world into some existing IP in order to set the hook and raise interest for people outside of the gun community.
I’ve mocked tactical tourism in the past, but DANG if this doesn’t sound cool. Heck, how many dude ranches, restaurants and theme parks popped up in the 50’s with Old West theme to them because of Gunsmoke, Rawhide, et al? Those were all based on the gun heroes of the past, maybe it’s time for the gun heroes of today to get a share of the spotlight.
My current job is a casual dress environment, so for the first time since I started carrying on a regular basis, I’m NOT pocket-carrying a .380 four days out of seven, I’m carrying something more substantial pretty much all the time.
Do I feel more safe now that I have more firepower with me? No, not really. I know what each of the guns I carry on a regular basis is and is not capable of, and I adjust my worldview accordingly. We preach that it’s not the tools, it’s the training and mindset, then we tell people that if they don’t carry at least a Glock 19, they’re not taking things seriously.
I think some of that reaction is actually “If you show up to my training class with anything less than a Glock 19, you’re not taking things seriously,” and there’s an element of truth to that. Taking classes with a tiny 9mm or less sucks: I accept the fact that I am not going to win the coin or find myself $5 richer. All humility aside, though, I shoot my Shield well enough to take it to a good class, and as a result, I get training that is 100% relative to what I carry.
However, for the average schmoe, unless it’s one of Claude’s or Chuck’s classes on pocket guns or something similar, showing up to train with a snubbie is an invitation to a lot of frustration.
So what needs to change? The standards for what a “responsible” gun owner should carry, or the training that teaches them to be responsible?
Successfully completing this drill with my Shield was what convinced me that yes, I could defend my life with that little subcompact 9mm. Not only that, but I got my first hit at 50 yards within 3 seconds, from concealment. If you can do that with your carry gun of choice, there really ain’t a whole lot more you need to worry about. After that, you’re just gilding the lily.
I’m going out on location for stories more often these days, and there’s also the fact that I usually attend SHOT and/or NRA each year. As such, in order to keep all my krep in one place while doing such things, I built up a small little bag that will hold all my “Hi, I’m a gunwriter” stuff, but not weigh me down too much.
And just so you know, this sort of bag has been an obsession of mine for decades now. When I was a (photo) shooter, I worked up a nice little Domke-based kit that could hold an FM2 w/drive, a 105 f2.5, a 20 and a 35 f2, along with a 285, cords and a brick of film. There honestly was very little I couldn’t shoot with that rig, and it went with me everywhere*.
So I built this kit to be lightweight and easy to carry, but still have all the tools I need to write and shoot a story on just about any topic. Also, because I’m a paranoid right-wing gun nut, I tossed in a few little trinkets needed to get by should things get dicey. This all fits into the cheap-o sling bag I bought earlier this year, and it’s light and small enough to carry around for extended lengths of time without getting in the way.
Clockwise From Upper Left
Prep/ Daily Use Gear
Bandanna, lighter, some simple pain killers, rain poncho, a few first aid items, a mylar poncho, Imodium, painkillers, Tums… the kind of things that make you say “Oh, I wish I had (X) right now!” I’ve carried that sort of stuff with me when I was a photo assistant, and it comes in useful all the time.
Backup Battery for Phone
This is one is a bit bigger than most, and I like having that extra power on-hand. I use my phone for both consuming media (videos, Spotify, etc.) and creating media (photos, writing) so having enough juice to keep it going all day makes sense to me.
Here’s the deal: I know sweet bugger all about today’s cameras. I got out of the photo business right as digital came onto the scene**, so as such, I know my ancient D70 and that’s about it. Fortunately, for me, Tam‘s kept up with what’s going down in digital cameras, and on her recommendation, I picked up a gently used Nikon P7000 on Amazon for a song.
And that little thing is a joy to use. It’s the perfect blend of my old beloved FG and my old and even more beloved Olympus XA, with a few new digital tricks thrown in. It can do 90% of what my D70 can do and costs under $200. How cool is that?
Repeat after me: Built-in flashes SUCK. I’m still working on getting it to fire correctly via remote TTL, but pound for pound, that little Meike strobe is amazing. It has full manual down to 1/128, tilt and swivel, a built-in slave and it also comes with that little diffuser. It ain’t gonna light up a room, but it’s just dandy for fill flash or portraits. Oh, and did I mention it’s got a USB plug on it so you can recharge Ni-CADs without opening it up? So. Cool. I’ve also tossed a small soft box (not pictured) in the back pocket of the bag to help smooth out the light a bit when needed, with some pretty good results, as we shall see…
Love that little iWerks folding keyboard. I’ve used it for almost four years now, and to be honest, I prefer using it for serious writing than I do my laptop or desktop computers. Yes, the feel on it is a bit weird and some of the keys aren’t where they’re supposed to be, but when I use it in conjunction with my iPhone or iPad, I’m forced to concentrate on just writing, which makes me much more productive.
SWAT-T. I’m trying to standardize on those because a) they work and b) they’re a little more compact than a CAT.
Phone Gear / Cords
SD Card connector for my phone, various cords and plugs, spare batteries, etc.
Warming up to that little Gerber Suspension. The price is certainly right, it feels good in the hands, and it’s got all the stuff I need with very few things I don’t.
Nitecore T10 Flashlight
A disappointment. The Internet told me it was one of the best budget flashlights out there. The Internet was wrong: Go with this ThruNite instead. It’s about the same price, and it has basic features like a tail switch that the NiteCore doesn’t have, along with other features like variable power.
To give you an idea of what all this stuff is capable of, I took that photo of a Walther PPQ SC with the camera and strobe I just talked about, edited it with Photoshop Express on my phone, and now I’m finishing up this post using the iWerks keyboard.
I think I’m set.
Other stuff I have in the bag are pens, pencils, business cards, a little book, some earphones… all the little stuff you need when you’re away from a hotel room for an extended length of time.
And no, a gun is not part of this get up. I’m not that big of a fan of off-body carry anyways, so if I have a gun, I have it on me, not in a bag. I do, however, have a spare knife in the front pocket of this bag, because knives are always handy. The purpose of this bag isn’t to keep me going in a grid-down situation, the purpose is to keep me churning out content in the middle of a gun-related convention.
* Check out The Strobist for the modern-day equivalent of that type of shooting.
** I mean, I’ve never used Lightroom. Ever. I was born Photoshop, and I’m a-gonna die Photoshop.
There are reasons why martial arts dojos hand out stripes to the white belts: They help build confidence and encourage people to come back for more training beyond the basics.
Which got me thinking. What are the post-CCW stripes out there? What incentives do you give your students to do more besides a printed-out Microsoft Word Template that says you completed the bare minimum of training needed to carry a gun around in your state?
Standards matter. You and I may know what a clean Dot Torture says about your ability to shoot, but to a person on the street, it doesn’t seem that hard, and more importantly, it’s not a badge of recognition that is immediately identifiable as a significant accomplishment. The various state-level concealed carry tests scattered throughout Claude’s book are a great start, and it’s got me wondering if there are more tests out there that are recognizable outside the gun community more than a clean 5×5 is, but are less demanding than an FBI qual. Think if it as the qual you shoot before shooting the FBI qual.
The various military and police qualifiers come to mind. The Marine Corps test ain’t that hard, but it’s one of the very few that has something that even approaches testing the skills that armed citizens learn in their classes.
So what tests are out there that a guy on the street can immediately identify as being legit, but are able to be shot fairly well by a new shooter?
There are a bunch of reasons why I’m looking forward to this class. First off, it fills a big gap in my gun knowledge. Secondly, I’ve been wanting to shoot Precision Rifle for YEARS, and this class is a big step towards getting the confidence and skills to do so. Thirdly, it looks like a lot of fun, and fourthly, I’m gettin PAID to take the class, thanks to an article I’m doing for Shooting Sports USA.
I overheard someone talking about their experience at the same knife defense class I went to, and the response they got was “You carry a gun: Why do you need to learn how to use a knife?” Well, this is why you need to learn how to defend yourself from 1 inch on out to 100 yards and beyond.
The trick is making a shot when the shot isn’t there. That’s what a photographer does. It’s unbelievably boring to shoot cans of creamed corn on a white background (ask me how I know this), but you have to work and work at it until you get the results you need.
Almost anyone can use a gun well in the scenarios you see in basic pistol classes, where a big bad guy in a balaclava jumps out from behind a car and yells “GIMME ALL YOUR MONEY!”
Where training and experience show up is when the attack comes from surprise or from some who doesn’t look like a threat.
Get trained. Improve your mindset. Shoot well. Save a life. Maybe your own.
* The featured image in this post is “The Critic” by WeeGee the Famous. If you’re a shooter (of photos) you really need to check out his stuff.