Shooting Teams Are The New Blue Angels, Part II

Let’s pick up from where we left off last time.

The Army’s Golden Knights parachute team has a YouTube Channel, and the most popular video on that channel has over 1.2 million views.

Not bad, until you realize that the most popular video on Hickok45’s channel has over 10 million views, and the most popular video on Jerry Miculek’s channel (a relative newcomer to YouTube) has over 2 million views, and it’s just him and his family cranking out the content, not the full weight and power of the United States Army.

All is not lost, however. Aside from the world-record stunts and two celebrity tandem jumps, the average views for a Golden Knights YouTube video is less than 40,000 views. However, the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) has more videos of over 40,000 views than the Golden Knights, and their content has consistently higher engagement as well.

So the people want to watch people using firearms on YouTube. The question is, who is going to give them content to watch?

Product Review: TacCom Quadload 8up

Advantages: Quick to set up, easy to use
Disadvantages:  Needs a little TLC to work with TekLok
Rating: 5 out of 5

When I first got into 3 gun, I avoided as much “gamer” gear as I could and competed in Tac Limited because I harbored the illusion that I could use it to improve how I ran my AR-15 and my home defense shotgun.

To quote a modern-day philosopher-king, “Yes on one and no on two”. I learned how to shoot an AR fairly well, but my shotgun reloads were slow, slow, slow. The fact is, when you game, game, and when you train, train. Using 3 Gun to learn how to run a defensive shotgun is one (small) step above using Call of Duty to train how to run a defensive shotgun.

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

So I’ve switched from loading three shells at a time from a California Competition Works shell holders to hold my spare shotshells to loading two at a time from TacCom 8up Quadloads. The Quadload holds 8 shells in two groups of four, making it usable for people like myself who dual-load and also for people who load four shells at a time. The TacCom Gear mounts onto either Blade-Tech Tekloks or Safariland ELS mounts and is easy to put together. One thing I did notice is that I need to leave off one screw on the bottom mount to allow it lock properly onto my belt (minor thing, but still…).

I’m still in process of getting them placed properly on my belt: Because I’m cross-eye dominant, finding the right combination of location and place for running long guns with my left hand and pistols with my right is a challenge, and I’m still working on the best way to sort out all my stuff on my belt.

TacCom 8up Quadload

Size-wise, the 8up takes up more space on the belt, (4.25″ vs. 2.75″), but it does hold two more shells than the caddy it’s replacing. The Quadload makes up for that extra space with speed, however. While I’m not at fast as a Miculek (yet), switching from one-at-a-time to two-up has made a big difference in my reload times. I did a quick test comparing how long it took to load six dummy shells with the Quadload versus the caddy, and the results were pretty conclusive.

Shotgun Caddy
1st try: 14 secs
2nd try: 13.6 secs
3rd try: 10.8 secs

Quadload
1st try: 8.9 secs
2nd try: 8.7 secs
3rd try: 7.9 secs

Even without much practice with the system, on average, the Quadload is over four seconds faster to reload six shells into a Mossberg 930.

Can that four seconds make a difference over the course of a 30+ round shotgun stage? You betcha.

What’s not showing in the numbers is the ease of use between the two loading systems. With the caddy, I was always fumbling around with the shells as I loaded them, and it always seemed like disaster and/or a bunch of dropped shells was lurking just over the horizon. With the Quadload, the shells slide into the tube quickly and without fumbling, leading to faster movement as I load and better stage times.

I still want to learn to run my home defense scattergun with more proficiency, but for now, I’m looking forward to getting this new ammo rig out onto a stage and putting it to the test in a match. Two thumbs up for the TacCom Quadload.

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?

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 rappel 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 Knights jump team they have now.

Win/win/win.

In order to prosper, 3 Gun needs to go back to its roots.

I watched the first episode of the new season of “3 Gun Nation” this month, and I was struck as to how pared-down and repetitive it’s become. The stages no longer feature awkward shooting positions, shotgun reloads or feats of athletic splendor: It’s pretty much a 25 yard sprint with one vaguely interesting target, the Death Star. I guess trading FNH for Armalite as a sponsor has a negative effect on what whiz-bang stages you can run. On the plus side, it looks like they’ve set things up to work on a 100 yd bay, and that’s a good thing, because not every range has a 300 yard rifle course.

3 Gun started out as the Soldier of Fortune match and it was very heavily influenced by tactical and military shooting of the day. Since then, 3 Gun has moved away from the “tactical” world (except for Trooper division) and evolved into more of a pure sporting event.
But does it need to be a pure sporting event in order to succeed? Let’s consider two of the more popular shooting shows in the last few years, Top Shot and Shooting Stars Stars Earn Stripes.

We all know about Top Shot: The show proved that personalities + athletic shooting prowess = $$$ and ratings, and it probably did more to unite shooters and non-shooters alike than any other show. It was FUN to watch, even if you weren’t a gun owner, and it launched the careers of at least a half-dozen participants on the show.

Stars Earn Stripes was a wholehearted, full-bore military training show, and it was on a major network. It was, in essence, “Battle of the Network Stars” with more firepower, and it was popular enough to get the usual crowd of anti-gunners in a tizzy and have it cancelled before it got a second season.

What if 3 Gun were more about the tactical and less about the gaming? More thoughts on that later.

Whining at the door, scratching to get in.

My Kel-Tec is getting repaired at the shop, so I have to wait to install all the new toys onto it.

I’m waiting on an ambi mag release and bolt catch from Troy so I can upgrade my competition AR to something that is truly ambidextrous (and then write a story about it for one of the biggest gunblogs out there).

My new CZ is still at CZ Custom, getting a new hammer, trigger and sights.

I do like the Taccom shotgun rig, though. I just need the time to go out and shoot a match with it.

I have all this new stuff, but I can’t play with it! So frustrating!

Five… Four… Three…

I finally figured out my Cerakote 3 Gun Color Scheme.

I’m going with something that’s a treasured memory from growing up in Canada, something that reflects my years living in Arizona, and something that echoes my lifelong interest in aviation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!!!!!!

The pistol: Thunderbird One

thunderbird-1-mb-2-2

The shotgun: Thunderbird Two

Thunderbird-2-M3-4

The rifle: Thunderbird Three

thunderbird-3-mb-4

The Thunderbirds was my favorite TV show as a kid, and the Thunderbird is a reoccurring theme in the Phoenix area where I lived for so long, and of course, let’s not forget the USAF Thunderbirds.

Now to get the darn things into production…

Good things come in threes

Ok, now that I’m cerakoting the new CZ, it’s got me thinking about doing my 3 AR and shotgun as well, but I need a theme. Allen was talking about doing an Avengers theme (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor), and no, a Father, Son, Holy Ghost thing is RIGHT out (there’s only so much tweaking of the noses of my faith I can handle), so your suggestions are appreciated: What color schemes are out there associated with the number three?