Shop At Amazon. Support The NRA.

If you’re like me (and I know I am), you shop at Amazon.com. A lot. However, Amazon.com also has a charitable side, smile.amazon.com, where they kick back a portion of the sale to the charity of your choice, at no cost to you.

And the NRA Foundation is one of those charities.

To add The NRA Foundation as your charity, sign in at https://smile.amazon.com/

If you already have an Amazon account you can add AmazonSmile right on top. No new registration required. Once logged in:

  1. Click on Your Account to the right of the search bar.
  2. Under Settings category: Select Change Your Charity
  3. Search for “The NRA Foundation, Inc.”
  4. Click Select next to The NRA Foundation, Inc.
  5. Then continue shopping as usual.

Contributions are submitted back to the Foundation through quarterly payments to the Foundation general contribution fund.

And BTW, yes, this works with Amazon Affiliate links as well. Win-Win-Win.

Still got the shutter bug.

Even though it’s been at least a dozen years since I tripped the the shutter for a living (and five years since my last big gig), I can still pull out a good shot or two when needed.

Did a day’s worth of shooting for the day job over the weekend, and I’m pretty happy with the results.

Naples Gun Range VIP shooting range in Florida The Alamo by Lotus Gunworks Womens shooting instruction in Naples

Gear for the shoot, if you must know, was this cheap-o Chinese lighting kit, a flex reflector and my old D70.

Oh, and gaffer’s tape, foam core and a-clamps, because let’s face it, when you get right down to it, those are more important than the camera.

No, really.

Things might have gone a bit smoother on the shoot if I had access to my old reliable Speedotrons, but hey, time (and gear) marches on. Besides, I picked up the entire new system for the price of one flash head from my old lighting kit. Granted, I now have four 200w/s monoblocks instead of 9600w/s worth of lights that can (and have) lit up a basketball arena, but what I have works for me, and that’s the way I like it.

All In The Family

If you’re a member of a shooting club, eventually you’re going to run into shooting-club politics. The bullseye people think the practical shooters are a bunch of unsafe yahoos, the F-Class shooters want the long range on the same day that the 3 Gunners want it, and NOBODY can figure out those freaks that shoot smallbore silhouette.

One of the shooters last week wore a “SW Florida Marksman of the Year 2014″ t-shirt to the match. Now I have no idea how he got that shirt, but it got me thinking: What if clubs held a “Top Shot” competition of sorts that put shooters of all the disciplines at the club against each other? What if the bullseye guys had to (gasp!) move with a gun in their hands? What if the 3 Gunners did some 5 stand? What if the precision rifle shooters shot silhouette?

The divisions themselves would supply all the firearms for their stages and the points would be equally weighted between each so you’d have to put in a good showing at everything to be crowned “King of the Hill”, (and it would work better if there were cash and prizes on the line), but I’m thinking it would be a way to get people out on the range and trying new stuff.

The CMP Reloads

Interesting development here.

The CMP Pistol Program features what can be called “classical bulls-eye pistol shooting.” This is an especially challenging and difficult form of target competition that is now more than 110 years old. This traditional pistol discipline preserves the practice of shooting pistols like they were originally designed to be used. It emphasizes precision pistol marksmanship done in the standing position while holding the pistol with one extended arm. Difficult targets with graduated scoring rings place great emphasis on precision marksmanship skills. CMP pistol shooting is done with pistols that evolved from as-issued service pistols and retain non-optical sights. The 2015 rule changes represent a major CMP effort not just to preserve, but also to advance classical bulls-eye pistol shooting in the USA.

The CMP Rules Committee and Board of Directors have now approved 2015 pistol rules changes that provide for 1) allowing pistols with additional, popular match conditioning modifications, 2) broadening CMP Service Pistol Rules to permit the use of a wider variety of service-type pistols, 3) the establishment of a detailed list of “approved service pistols,” 3) the limited expansion of permitted ammunition, 4) the creation of a new Distinguished .22 Rimfire Pistol Badge and EIC program, 5) the adoption of minimum credit scores for earning EIC points and 6) an increase in the number of EIC matches that competitors can shoot.

Translation: We’re tired of getting our @ss handed to us by the practical shooting community.

Make An Asset Of Yourself, Then Get A Sponsorship.

Tam said something interesting on her blog about last week’s post,

“Grab a random gun store customer and ask them to name five competitive shooters and they’ll say “Jerry Miculek and…’ Some might name Rob Leatham or Julie G., too, but unless they actually compete themselves, that’ll be the extent of it.”

There’s a reason for this. Jerry, aside from being a HECK of a shooter, has really ramped up his social media game in the past few years, thanks in no small part to his new son-in-law. From Reddit AMA’s to Youtube to teh Facebook, Jerry has both a good message (he shoots darn well) and is a good messenger.

I’ve had the priviledge of frequently RO’ing two of the bigger matches in practical shooting, the USPSA Area 2 Championship and the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun. I’ve had just about every major shooter in the US go through my stages, and I can tell you FOR CERTAIN that Jerry and his family are always the first ones downrange taping targets and resetting steel, and they’re always open to talk with the other people on the range after they’ve shot their stages.

This stands in marked contrast to many, many other “professional” shooters, including people whose sole job it is to shoot guns for a living. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a Super Squad on my stage that stands around in-between shooters, laughing and talking amongst themselves, leaving the resetting of the stage to the RO’s and bolting from the range the minute their day is over.

This sort of thing projects a positive image for their sponsors…. how?

As a marketing weasel-type who might (might) be in the position to throw a few shekels back to the shooting community in a half-dozen years or so, here’s what I’d look for in a sponsored shooter:

  1. Be An Effective Messenger. Send in a 1 minute phone video of why you like my product. This lets me see that you can stand up and talk to people about my stuff.
  2. Demographic Appeal. No, this is NOT a code for “have boobs”, but let’s face it, the nature of the shooting sports is changing along with the nature of America’s citizens. If you can’t effectively tell a thirty-something professional in the city about my products, I don’t want to hear from you.
  3. Show Your Work. Have 10,000 Twitter followers, 5,000 Facebook fans or an Instagram account full of cool pictures? Let’s talk. Don’t even have your own Facebook page? Keep walking.
  4. Make It A Two Way Street. I’m giving you money and ammo. You give me content and match results. What’s so hard to understand about that?
  5. Good Content Includes Good Match Results. People will listen to an expert, and expert shooters tend to win matches, but an expert who can’t talk to my customers is useless to me.

Seems easy, doesn’t it. So why do so few sponsored shooters (and sponsors as well) do this on a regular basis?

We Have Met The Enemy, And They Is Us.

So there was a dust-up over the weekend between a popular online forum devoted to practical shooting and a professional firearms marketer resulting in the forum getting deleted and a bumper crop of butthurt.

And professional practical shooters wonder why they’re not getting the same money that professional bass fishermen do.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: The VAST majority of sponsored shooters are lousy spokespeople for their sponsors. The VAST majority of them think they’re getting paid to wear a jersey at a match, and that’s it, which shows off the sponsor’s products at a location uniquely unsuitable to buy the sponsor’s product, and that’s all that’s required of them in return for the sponsor’s support.

This is, of course, insane.

Aside from the fact that tieing the ROI of wearing a jersey to a match is pretty much impossible: All that wearing a shirt does is show off the sponsor’s product to a very select, very “inside baseball” clientele. This is ok if you’re selling, say, speed loaders or holsters for Open class, but if you want to sell CCW gear or self-defense ammo, it’s insane.

The bottom line is, if your sponsored shooter can’t regularly write a blog post, do a YouTube video or post to Instagram, their audience is limited to people like them, and your money is being spent preaching to the choir. Get a shooter that can talk about your product to people outside of a shooting match, and you’ll get customers, not an ego boost.

Update: I should say that I don’t think EITHER party in this matter has the high ground. Part of being a marketing professional in today’s world is understanding what the Streisand Effect is and how it may affect your clients, and part of being a professional shooter is acting professional, at a match or elsewhere.

SHOT Shot 2015 Is A Wrap.

And I’m utterly and completely spent. The difference between going to SHOT to write about SHOT and going to SHOT to do business is the difference between watching a marathon and being in a marathon.

Some highlights.

Sig Sauer Range Day was definitely a highlight, and shooting SBR versions of the MPX and 716 7.62mm were definitely highlights. Also, the more I shoot the P320, the more I like it, and I liked it a LOT when it was rolled out last year.

While we’re on SIG, they are definitely on a roll right now. While Glock introduced red-dot slides, Springfield introduced the XDM-2 and Smith and Wesson introduced, um, errr, well, not really anything, SIG has moved on to optics, with top-notch glass created by team members originally from Leupold and silencers created by the mad geniuses who built everything of interest at AAC.

Because silencers are cool.

Bits and pieces of other cool things:

A Ceratoked 1911. I don’t know whether to load ammo into this, or preflight it for takeoff.

IMG_3810

The Fostech Origin 12. Maybe the ultimate in Saiga-style shotguns. Want one SO badly.

fostech

Speaking of nice things, Korth firearms impressed everyone with their Sky Marshall revolver (and it is VERY impressive), but their 1911’s are INSANE. From the frame down, they’re a 1911, but the slide and barrel use an HK roller-locking system to create a gun like none other.

korth

And now on to something not quite as nice. The Taurus Curve is not all that bad: There is a “peep sight” in the crosshairs that does allow you something like a sight picture, and the trigger is the best of any striker/DAO .380 I’ve tried. I wouldn’t carry one without a holster, but it stacks up well against the LCP, P3AT and other such guns.

curve_1

And to fly RAPIDLY down to bottom of the barrel, oh Sarsilmaz, you so funny. Last year, it was designing a gun for six-fingered women, and this year, well, see for yourself.

Fail

Marketing guns to women: You’re doing it wrong.