Because I’m bad. I’m nation-wide.

One of the disappointments from my time at Lotus Gunworks was not being able to work on a chain-wide marketing strategy as was originally planned*. They have three stores, two with ranges and were, I believed, in a great position to expand beyond that into a nation-wide brand of high-end gun stores and, more importantly, gun ranges.

For a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. Pincus is coast-to-coast, and GunSite has FINALLY left Paulden, but there has yet to be anyone who has created a nation-wide shooting range experience. Gander Mountain is trying with the Gander Academy, and although guntry clubs are popping up all over the country, no one is trying to unify the experience and set expectations for service and features for high-end shooting ranges.


Someone is going to figure out that people with lots of money buy memberships in exclusive clubs like high-end shooting ranges and that money=mobility. People who move around a lot want to know that the service they get in the summer home in Ypsilanti will be there in winter home in Wiinter Haven. This (and increased purchasing power) is why chain restaurants tend to do better than local restaurants, because they tend to provide the same experience no matter the location. To borrow from another nationwide business chain, the best surprise is no surprise.

When it comes to the gun range experience, for shooters, every new range is potentially a new surprise. Someone’s going to take their gun range brand across the country, it’ll be interesting to see who it will be.

Yep, another musical reference in the title.

* That was the LEAST of my disappointments with that place, but we’ll table the rest of that discussion for later.

A Man In Full

I like the Sheriff’s thinking here. My goal for the past few years hasn’t been to become Todd Jarrett in my middle ages but to be competent with whatever gun is placed in front of me, and more than competent with my defensive firearms. It’s an on-going process and progress has been much slower than I wanted, but there has been progress. I’m fairly confident in my ability to defend my life and my loved one’s lives with my defensive pistol, to the point where I’m now concentrating on the more “gamer” elements of pistolcraft. Next up is taming the long-range game because that will help with 3Gun as well. I’ll never be as good as some (if not most) because I started too late and let the other cares of this world interfere with my goals, but I’m competent and confident.

Here’s hoping I never have to find out how competent I really am.

Current Every Day Carry, Part Two

Shield carry

Last week, prior to the massacre in Orlando, I changed up my non-office concealed carry gear. I went from carrying a full-size 9mm handgun back to carrying a sub-compact 9mm S&W Shield, and added in a small trauma/1st aid kit to my belt, under my shirt. I weighed the benefits of having double the ammo on me with the P07 versus having a tourniquet and some Quikclot on me, and came down in favor of medical supplies. I have good friends who are really smart who suggest at least 30 rounds are the minimum ammo load to carry these days, but the 8+1 (plus another eight) in the Shield should be enough to get me to my home or to my car, where more things are there for my use (including more first aid gear). Also, I’m just as confident with my ability to make the shot with the Shield as I am with the bigger P07. I’ve shot the Shield in competition and I’ve trained with it as well. I know it works, and I know what I can do with it.

I decided to carry a trauma kit on me because “near me” is not “with me”. I’ve had first aid kits near me for quite some time now, but I decided to carry one on me because the 3-5 minutes it would take to retrieve a tourniquet from my car is also about as long as it would take for me or a loved out to bleed out from a gunshot wound.

That’d suck.

To see how everything carried and how heavy it seemed, I carried all that gear on a walk in the hot Florida sun up and down the beach Saturday afternoon. Believe it or not, everything there concealed under an untucked white t-shirt, and I didn’t notice the weight all. More importantly, no one else noticed it, either. Mission accomplished.

Clockwise from lower left:

The Biggest Atrocity Would Be If We Learned Nothing From The Horror.

A few helpful links to help prevent another attack like the one in Orlando this weekend:

  • Like him or lump him, Gabe Suarez was ahead of the game on this sort of attack. Read and learn.
  • There’s a natural progression for the serious civilian who carries a gun that goes from realizing the need to carry a gun, then carrying a gun, then having the realization that if people shoot at you and your loved ones, you might get hit and and die so you want to be prepared to deal with that reality. Greg Ellifritz has a coupleof great links on emergency medical gear for people who don’t wear a badge and gun, go check them out.
  • The killer and his wife may have scouted Downtown Disney before the attack. This brings things home for me a bit: I was in Orlando last month on a family vacation While we didn’t go to Disney World this time, it’s on our list of things we want to visit soon. The theme park we did go to on that vacation had a bag search and wanded us with metal detectors, but despite that, I walked into the park with my Boker knife in my pocket. Takeaway from this: You are never as safe as the security guards say you are.
  • Oh, and I wrote stuff at Ricochet about this as well.

Long Range Day

One of the more sucky things about Southwest Florida is that the are no long-distance ranges here. Louland goes out only to 100 yards, Hansen tops out at 200 yards and while Altair can go out to a mile, unless you eat snakes, it’s off-limits on non-match days.

This does not make me happy. In Phoenix, Rio Salado and Phoenix Rod and Gun both went out to 500 yards, and Ben Avery topped out at an even thousand. In Missouri, I had the Owensville Gun Club pretty much all to myself whenever I wanted it, which went out to 600 yards.

In this part of Florida, though, there just aren’t the options to stretch it out, which means I have to drive 100+ miles up to Manatee Gun Club to get out to 1000 yards. There’s an upcoming Precision Rifle match at Altair next month, and I want to get decent DOPE on my long gun before the match.

Savage left handed

Back from the range (it’s Sunday evening as I type this) and I managed to get good, usable data out to 400 yards with the Savage until I packed it in for the day. The heat and the humidity were making for some brutal mirages which were obscuring the view in my spotting scope.

On the plus side, I did manage 1.25 MOA at 400 yards with Hornady Steel Match .308. I’m certain that’ll improve as I improve, and it will improve even more once I start working up a load for this gun.


Cheaper Than Derp.

Sumdood posts a good question in a gun forum on Facebook:

I have a question for the group. I carry a .45 that uses a single stack 8+1, my question is should I carry extra mags? And how many?

Of course you should carry a spare mag. Guns malfunction, and a good portion of the malfunctions with a modern semi-automatic pistol involve problems with the magazine. You should carry a spare mag and a flashlight and a knife and a phone (and maybe a lighter and some from of medkit) because stuff happens, and Murphy rules the universe.

But that’s not the answer he gets. Rather, he receives 30+ posts which repeat, in form or another, “You need three spare magazines on you at all times because you never know when you’ll need to shoot 31 terrorists in the face and you’ll need an extra round just to be sure!!!1!!”. (The other 30+ posts denigrate the 1911 and/or .45 as a defensive firearm option. Somethings never change…).

I’ve never shot a terrorist in the face (yet), but I have had to walk through a dark parking lot when a flashlight came in handy. I have shot my carry gun in a match and had it burp on me, and an extra mag came in handy when it did. I have needed a knife to open up packaging and the other useful things that knives do. I have had one of my sons need a bandage at a moment’s notice, so having a small medkit nearby is darn useful.

Life isn’t a video game with three dozen bad guys per level and power-ups and health packs scattered around everywhere. I carry things that will help me deal with what has happened and what’s likely to happen, along with just a teensy little bit of what’s unlikely to happen (but would be really, really bad if it did) as well. If I get into a situation where a pistol and a spare mag is not enough to get me to safety and/or a rifle or a shotgun, well, then it’s time to slap a colander on my face and go full Rockatansky.

The Soda Can Plan.

31cN0I7SsaLSpeaking of processes, let’s walk through the process of qualifying for a concealed carry permit in a classroom environment.

  1. You go to the classroom. Because most (if not all) concealed carry classes are led by people who learned to teach the NRA way and are located in areas where a negligent discharge would be a very, very bad thing, there is no ammo alllowed the classroom. Your gun will remain in its case, usually at the front of the room, until it’s time from the optional dry fire practice to work on grip.
  2. You learn about laws and stuff, and have some guidance on when you can and cannot legally shoot someone.
  3. If your instructor includes it in his/her curriculum, you go up to a table at the front of the room and, under your instructor’s watchful eye, you get a few seconds of instruction on grip, stance, breathing and trigger press (because NRA, that’s why). Maybe it’s with your unloaded gun, maybe it’s with the instructor’s blue gun.
  4. If needed for your permit, you go to the range, where you shoot X number of rounds to attain Y score (or not) at Z distance which proves you can shoot a gun. Yay you.

Question: At any time during this process did you actually try to carry a firearm on your person? There was a brief glimpse of what it’s like to hold a gun and shoot a gun, but was there anything about what it’s like to carry a gun?

Isn’t that the whole point of this exercise?

There are obvious safety reasons why instructors don’t want guns on hips of absolute newbies in the classroom, loaded or not, and I think those rules should stay in place because they work quite well. However, they also cut people off from the ultimate goal of a CCW class, which is not qualifying someone for a permit, but rather, getting them to carry a defensive sidearm. After all, what good is a permit* to do something if you don’t actually do it?

Just as an instructor uses blue guns to simulate holding a real gun in your hands, why not use a simulator to mimic carrying a gun around with you all the time?

At this point, trainers are going to scream “That’s insane, I can’t afford a dozen blue guns and holsters!,” and they’re right, it’s stupid to buy that amount of gear for this task. However, what we are simulating is the weight and awkwardness of carrying a gun, not the gun itself. Blue guns simulate how a gun feels in the hand, what’s needed, however, is something super-cheap and safe that simulates the weight of gun on your hip.

If you want to get people used to carrying a heavy weight on their hip, why not start with… having them carry around a heavy weight on their hip? A Glock 19 with a full load of ammo weighs about 29 ounces. A 16 ounce bottle of soda weighs a little under 18 ounces. Team that bottle of pop**  with one of these, and you have a completely safe way of introducing the added weight and inconvenience of carrying a gun on their hips for about the same price as a couple of boxes of ammo. When your students come into the classroom, hand them a soda (or a bottle of water) and a belt clip. Have them carry around the soda on their hip the entire class. Get them used to having something heavy on their waist for extended periods of time. For 99.9% of your students, this will be their first introduction into the reality of what it feels like to carry a gun all the time.

Why do this? Because people who carry their guns tend to see the need for more training on how to properly use their gun more than people who just get a piece of paper and ignore their guns, that’s why. If you want a revenue stream that goes beyond “turn’n’burn” CCW classes, you need to start thinking about ways to turn your students into lifelong learners who see you as a trusted source of information, not just someone who cashed the check for their CCW class.

* Save the discussion about permitting a human right for another time. We’re talking about the process as it is, not how it should be.
** For our northern and/or Canadian friends.

Process-Driven Instruction Is Not The Answer

Thinking more about this line from last week,

This is the concealed carry equivalent of finding God in a foxhole. Those people aren’t carrying a gun to protect themselves, they’re carrying a gun to calm themselves.

How many firearms trainers see teaching others to carry a defensive sidearm as process-driven versus how many see it as advocating for a lifestyle? Examples of the first are easy to find, they tend use phrases like “Through careful research, I have decided that a Glock 19 in an OWB Kydex holster is my optimal solution for concealed carry” and can argue, at length, about the benefits of 124 grain 9mm bullets versus 147 grain bullets (talk about yer angels dancing on the head of a pin…).

Examples of the second kind of instructor are harder to find. Kathy Jackson is one, so are Melody Lauer and Jeff Street. This type of trainer tends to look at firearms as a means to a destination, rather than the destination itself. They are also distinctly in the minority in the training community. This is a problem for the long-term growth of Gun Culture 2.0 because the people who are buying guns are buying them because of how a gun makes them feel, not necessarily what the gun actually does. Logic is not driving their decisions, passion is. Passion is good, because passion will keep you going long after logic has thrown in the towel, and trying to get new gun owners beyond the passion of wanting to “feel safe” into the world of “being safe” should be our goal, not overloading them with jargon and gear talk.

Four Guns.

So The Gun Show Podcast asks “What would you own if you lived somewhere that restricted you to owning four guns, period, your entire life?”. This isn’t a post-apocalyptic scenario, assume all the modern conviences of life still exist, it’s just life under a totaletarian government and/or Hillary.

Their suggestions are good (Glock 19, pump gun, AR-15, bolt gun), but I’d go slightly different in that I’d go for maximum flexibility of caliber and usage. My four:

Sig Sauer P320 – A gun designed for this very situation. Because the trigger group on the P320 is the serialized part, it is caliber and size neutral. Want a double-stack .45? You got it. Want a sub-compact 9mm? Done. Heck, I’d expect to see a .22 conversion kit come out soon for this gun as well.

Mossberg 500 – Because the tang-mounted safety is better for left-eye dominant shooters like me, I come down on the “Mossberg” side of the great 500 vs. 870 debate, and I chose this gun because you can swap out barrels and magazine tubes and make it just about anything you want it to.

AR-15 – Kind of a no-brainer. Anything from a .22 rifle to a 9mm carbine to a defensive rifle to a varmint gun to a .458 SOCOM thumper is possible with an AR15 lower and the right combination of accessories.

AR-10 – Scott’s choice of a Savage Model 10 because of barrel interchangability is a good one, but why not take it a step further and get an AR-10? A good piston gun is right up there in accuracy with bolt guns these days, and the AR-10 receiver can take .338 Federal if you want to go moose hunting or 6.5 Creedmoor if there’s something quite a long ways away that needs your attention.