Mind the (age) gap

I shot an IDPA match up at Hansen last week (match video to follow) and noticed once again how OLD my fellow competitors were. I’m no spring chicken, and yet I was smack dab in the middle of the age demographic for the match.

This is NOT a sign of a vibrant, growing sport, which is why I’m such a HUGE fan of the Scholastic Pistol Program and other efforts out there to replenish the ranks of shooters in practical pistol. There are millions and millions of young people out there running around with (virtual) guns in their hands every day: It’d be nice to get just a few of them off of the couch and out to the range.

One year ago today

Remington announced a trade-in program for owners of the “troubled” R51 pistol.

Anyone who purchased an R51 may return it and receive a new R51 pistol, along with two additional magazines and a custom Pelican case, by calling Remington at (800) 243-9700. You will be asked to provide your name, address, telephone number, and the serial number of your pistol.

There’s been pretty jack and/or squat from Remington about the R51 since that update.I like the R51 because it’s one of the very few semi-auto’s out there that isn’t a blowback action or delayed-action gun, and a little competition improves the gene pool, but you can’t get in the game unless you’re actually in the game. I understand that Remington has gone through some drastic changes since then, but c’mon, throw us a frickin’ bone here.

 

Are we living in a golden age of firearms training?

In a word, yes, yes we are.

Firearms instruction and training really has evolved. The days are long past when someone handed you a gun and told you to go out back and teach yourself to shoot. Today we have a gun to fit each person, each purpose, and each budget. We are entering the golden age of firearms instruction that is equally wide and deep.

Instructors today know their material in depth. They take continuing education courses and most instructors have sampled a number of different training schools before they instruct. This pays real dividends for the student. First, today’s instructors have standards of professional practice to safely run a range. Second, today’s instructors have a well stocked bag of tricks. This is invaluable when the first training method doesn’t connect with the student. What works for you might not work for me. Instructors need several approaches to teach the same skill.

Lots and lots of great insights in that article, so please read the whole thing. And I especially love this little bit at the end.

Take a new shooter to the range.. and take a class with them.

Yep. And also, take them to a match as well. H/T Phil Wong of Gator Farm Tactical.

71.5 Million People Are The Market

Now, what are we going to do to reach them?

In 2013, it was estimated that approximately 71,500,000 people worldwide watched competitive gaming. The increasing availability of online streaming media platforms, particularly Twitch.tv, has become central to the growth and promotion of eSports competitions. Demographically, Major League Gaming has reported viewership that is approximately 85% male and 15% female, with 60% of viewers between the ages of 18 and 34.

That is seventy one and a half MILLION people who play video games and sit and watch other people play video games, . What if 10% of them shot? What if 1% of them shot practical pistol? Are we even capable of thinking what 70,000+ new, excited, MOTIVATED new shooters would do to USPSA/IDPA/3 Gun?

What’s your experience?

We’re in a post-scarity world when it comes to firearms: The panic-buying of the last seven years is over, so now people are looking to DO something with all those guns.

This is why I now work at a gun range versus working in a gun store. Duh.

In Gun Culture 1.0, doing something with a gun meant going out into the outdoors in pursuit of the best day of your life: You hiked through the beauty of the outdoors, spotted one of God’s magnificent creatures, and blasted it to smithereens.

Mission accomplished. Food is on the table, a trophy is on the wall, and a good time was had by all.

However, things are not the same for Gun Culture 2.0, because our best-case scenario is… nothing happens. Our training and situational awareness worked, and we didn’t go to dumb places to do dumb things with dumb people. If hunting is preparing for the best day of your life, Gun Culture 2.0 is about preparing for the WORST day of your life.

Practical shooting is somewhat similar, because as Steve Anderson says, the sport is speed-biased and negatively charged. The best, the absolute best we can do on a stage is NOT screw up our stage plan with a brain fart or a gun malfunction. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t scream “The human drama of athletic competition” to me.

This is even more of a problem for tv shows and magazines about Gun Culture 2.0, because there’s not a lot of excitement to be had talking about stuff that didn’t happen: After all, when a baseball game gets rained out, they show reruns of “Good Times”, not shots of a rainy ballpark.

So what DOES happen in Gun Culture 2.0 that is worth celebrating and enjoying and sharing? Good times on the range? Learning something new in a class? Something I’m missing?

Well now THIS was unexpected.

I’ve always assumed that Sig had the inside track on the new handgun contract for the military, because what the military says it wants looks and sounds a lot like a P320, with an added safety.

But now there’s a couple of new entrants from companies not exactly known for being the sort of company that leaps to mind when I think “defense contractor”

First is Kriss, who are entering the fray with a variant of the CZ75 Sphinx.

Tim Seargeant, Kriss’s Marketing Manager confirmed that the Swiss-based group will be submitting a variant of the Sphinx SDP. The SDP line of pistols includes subcompact, compact, and standard-frame double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistols with an ambidextrous decocker, based on the CZ-75.

A CZ75 clone as the army’s service pistol? Be still, my fainting heart!

And say “Hello” to Mr. Curveball from out of left field.

STI Detonics Army

Looking roughly like a 1911, the STX uses a drop-in striker box system that can be easily swapped out with other trigger packs, is caliber agnostic, uses a truly modular frame and grip that enables either a long or a short grip to be installed, has felt recoil up to 40% less than comparable designs, and is perhaps the only contender that exceeds the MHS spec for fitting various hand sizes.

STI makes accurate guns. Detonics makes innovative guns that push the boundaries in interesting ways. Neither of them is really known for making rock-solid, reliable guns that just work day in, day out, but dang, that is an interesting gun.

Either way, it looks like my dream of a Universal Pistol Platform is getting a little bit closer…

Lessons from Chattanooga

We may poo-poo the idea of “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” tragedies like the jihad in Tennessee, but I’d rather learn from these incidents than pretend they don’t exist or hope and pray they don’t happen to me or my loved ones.

Number One:
The shooter in this latest incident was a Kuwaiti who didn’t exactly come from an impoverished background.

Terrorist house

Lesson to be learned here: Just because you live in a “nice” neighborhood doesn’t mean you’re safe from jihad. Naples, where I live, is nothing if not wall-to-wall “nice” neighborhoods, and we’re DARN close to Cuba as well. If you think you’re safe because you’re not in the military, you’re dead wrong. Jihadis have shot up schools, shopping malls, churches, airports and hotels; they’re going to have issues shooting up your favorite Mexican restaurant.

Number Two:
Carry as much firepower as you can, all the time. I’m carrying my CZ P07 off-work as of 5pm on Thursday, rather than the Shield I’ve been carrying. 9 rounds of ammo is good. 16 rounds is better, and another 16 in a spare mag on my belt, (with an AR in the trunk), is even more better. If you can’t carry at work, have a flashlight, a first aid kit and an escape plan.

Number Three: 
Carry more than a gun. I’ve got my tactical man-purse with me pretty much all the time now, and it has the things I need to deal with a day’s worth of what life might throw at me. If that’s too much for you, carry the four things you should have besides your gun and some means of mitigating the effects of a gunshot wound to yourself or others, and know how to use your gear.

To be honest, I’d much prefer to not worry about such things. It’s sad that we must consider terrorism on our home soil as a very real thing, but the consequences of not considering it are even sadder.

3 Gun teams are the new Blue Angels.

Or rather, they should be.

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: Video games are driving an interest in gun sales. What video games are NOT doing is driving an interesting in competitive shooting, and that’s hurting the sport.

Why not make 3 Gun more like Call Of Battlefield Honor, or whatever the kids are playing these days? I can say from personal experience that some of the most enjoyable three stages I shot were ones that had a heavy military influence. Hanging from a repel harness or moving through the fuselage of a helicopter is FUN, so it follows then that it’s easier to show how much fun it is on TV if the experience itself is fun.

These days, recruiting centers use posters of Tier One operators decked out in full battle rattle as much as they do shots of their their formation flying teams and pictures of strapping young men in dress uniforms. Maybe it’s time for a shooting competition that appeals to the people who join the military because of the desire to be a “elite operator” that lurks within the hearts of every teenage video game player.

What if 3 Gun Nation ditched the Armalite sponsorship and went after the AMU as a sponsor? A 12 episode series with stages based on videos games would cost WAY less than just one Blue Angels performance and it’d show off the capabilities of today’s warriors much more than a bunch of smoke trails in the sky would, plus it would give the Army a seat at the Blue Angels / Thunderbirds PR table way beyond the Golden Eagles jump team they have now.

Win/win/win.