Based on my limited experience with the suckers, I’ve found that if it’s properly co-witnessed with the iron sights, a red dot is essentially just a really big, easily viewable fiber optic front sight. The body index skills you already have and the sight alignment skills you already know will work in 95% of the situations you’ll face. Red dots shine (pun intended) when there’s a 30 yard shot or longer to be made, then they really, really help. They’re not a magic wand that allows you to make a shot anywhere, anytime, but they definitely make your pistol perform just a little bit better at a time when you may need it the most.
Stephen King asks three questions which provide us with an interesting peek into the mind of an anti-gun activist, (via Kathy Jackson).
“I guess the question is, how paranoid do you want to be? How many guns does it take to make you feel safe? And how do you simultaneously keep them loaded and close at hand, but still out of reach of your inquisitive children or grandchildren?”
Let’s address those three questions individually.
“How paranoid do you want to be?”
This question assumes that deciding to be your own first responder is a paranoid act, as if having a fire extinguisher means you’re convinced there’s an arsonist on the loose or having a first aid kit means you’re surrounded by clumsy oafs who constantly injure themselves.
Actually, as I have two young sons, that last sentence is, in truth, correct …
It’s not a question of being paranoid, because paranoia is by definition based on unreasonable fears, and wanting to defend your loved ones from harm is an entirely reasonable desire that inhabits the entire animal kingdom. Every critter in the forest defends what’s important to them, why should mankind be any different?
It’s important to note here that acknowledging the existence of tigers in the forest does not detract from the beauty of the forest itself. I don’t consider my life as an armed individual to be any less rewarding or fulfilling than my unarmed life. If anything, I feel more empowered because I know for certain I can effectively deal with whatever life can throw at me.
It’s not paranoia that drives me, Mr. King, it’s empowerment.
How many guns does it take to make you feel safe?
That one’s easy: How many guns? However many it takes to stop a threat to myself or my loved ones. The actual number of guns involved will vary from time to time and from person to person. For me, that number is four: A gun on my person, a gun near me when I’m outside of the house that is more powerful than the gun on my person, a gun near me in the home, and a gun in my home that is more powerful than the other home gun.
How do you simultaneously keep them loaded and close at hand, but still out of reach of your inquisitive children or grandchildren?
There are two ways I accomplish the first part of that question. The first way is to keep a gun on my person wherever and whenever I can, including when I’m relaxing around the house. If the safest and quickest way to store a gun when I’m outside the house is on my person, it makes sense that the safest and easiest way to store a gun inside the house is also on my person.
Secondly, I am a BIG proponent of the easy-access gun safe for home defense pistols. We did a simple test over at Teamgunblogger that showed that getting a gun out of a safe was just as easy and just as fast as finding one in your sock drawer, so I’m pretty confident in both the security of my guns and the security of my house.
To answer the second part of that question, I deal with the inquisitive nature of children in my life by reducing the allure of guns. If guns are commonplace and a part of your everyday life, they aren’t as a unusual or seen as the “forbidden fruit”. My kids know (and practice) the guidelines laid down in the NRA’s “Eddie The Eagle” program, and I whole-hearted recommend it as a starting point for teaching gun safety to children.
Mr. King’s questions are valid and right, from his point of view. It’s a point of view that is not shared by millions and millions of other people, but it is nevertheless a point of view that is commonplace and, in some ways, informative, because it shows the underlying fears that anti-gun activists have. They KNOW the world is “unsafe”, they just can’t put their finger on “why”, so they blame the instruments of violence rather than the instigators of violence. It’s a beguiling intellectual shortcut to solving the problem of violence, but it’s a shortcut that leads to a dead-end: Even if you reduce the instruments of violence down to man’s most basic tools, the knife and blunt instrument, the violence still remains.
The problem isn’t what’s in a man’s hand, the problem is in his heart. Banning or restricting what man can use to defend lives will never, ever change his heart.
This is from my friend Robert, who’s smarter than me.
“Saving your spouse or children from the worst day of their lives is nothing to be ashamed of. Why then, do people call the day they need to use their gun defensively as ‘worst day of their lives’. Saving your life or the lives of your spouse or children should not be the worst day you’ve ever had, when compared to the other options. It’s not the ‘worst day of my life’, it’s ‘the best thing I’ve ever done for my family’.”
… and right after I published that last post, I found out that Facebook turned down an ad for the range because it had icky, icky guns in it.
We can b!tch at length about the stupidity of their policy on this sort of thing, but it’s the water we swim in, so our choices are sink or swim.
Me? I’m the swimming type, so now I have to come up with a related non-firearm microsite to use for Facebook ads, and that means personal protection / defensive training.
All that crap I spewing these last few days? I now have to do it.
Sigh. This was SO much easier when I was on the outside of the monkey cage, looking in.
Wrapping up this dead horse (how’s THAT for a mixed metaphor?), what would a marketing campaign for firearms training that focuses on the positive actually look like?
Well, something like the life insurance industry, to be frank. Which is, after all, what we are actually selling (just without the actuarial tables and polyester sports coats). We are selling something that helps our customers and their loved ones lead longer, happier, more fulfilling lives. As firearms/self-defense trainers, we are not selling people the secrets that Tier √-1 Operators use to kill bad guys overseas, (unless that’s our actual market) we are selling people the idea that they will live a better, longer, more secure, less fearful life if they take our class.
Kathy Jackson gets this: The metaphor she uses is swimming lessons, and it’s a very, very good one. But swimming lessons aren’t sold because people are afraid of water or to help people survive a boat crash, they’re sold because people want to have more fun in the water with their friends.
People tend to want to do fun things, (that’s why Disneyland was invented), and they tend to NOT want to do the “responsible” things like taking cod liver oil or filling out tax forms. Anything we can do to take firearms training out from underneath cod liver oil and into the realm of fun (while still safely teaching them what they need to know/do) will increase the market for firearms and firearms training.
Thinking more about yesterday’s post, maybe we in the training community aren’t selling products for the people in our classrooms, maybe we’re selling to the people who AREN’T in our classrooms.
What if life insurance was sold on the idea that there is cancer, traffic accidents, meteor strikes, whatever, so in order to be safe, you need to buy life insurance? Nobody would buy it, because we don’t buy life insurance for ourselves, we buy it for our beneficiaries.
Ditto with self-protection training and guns.
The closest I’ve seen any firearms company come to approaching this basic fact of WHY Gun Culture 2.0 buys guns is this ad for Daniel Defense.
Positive. Open. Friendly. The message of “Guns are what I use to defend the people I love the most” comes through loud and clear, a message that relates very strongly with me.
I wonder if it’s just me, or is this a message that we’re not sending out to our customers?
Update: A commenter on Facebook suggested that because the Daniel Defense ad was shut out of the Super Bowl, it was a failure.
I contend, it was never MEANT to air during the Super Bowl. The point of the ad was to mainstream the ownership of AR-15’s, and because the shutout became the story, this ad played for free on darn near every entire libertarian/conservative new media and old media outlet in existence. Daniel Defense was able to advertise to their target market and get Super Bowl-level exposure without having to pay Super Bowl-level ad prices.
… is to re-write the following paragraph to describe an experience that is fun, exciting and reflects a positive outlook on the world around you. To make things easier for you, I’ve bolded all the positive words and italicized all the negative one.
“AGAINST ALL ODDS: A class that takes defensive handgun skills beyond the basics and into the practical. During this action-packed weekend, you’ll learn to defend yourself even if you’re knocked off your feet and even if someone tries to take your gun away from you. You’ll also learn secrets of drawing the gun in difficult circumstances, such as when you’re curled up in a tight space or lying flat on your back. ”
Based on that pitch, what is the product that the consumer is buying? Is it competence, independence, self reliance, or an hours-long wrestling match culminating in a nasty and scary trip inside a criminal’s mind?
Now first off, let me apologize profusely to Kathy Jackson, the trainer whose class that is, because she “gets it” and is a first-rate, top-notch A-Number-One trainer who I’d take a class with anytime, anywhere. And also, I know *I* write pretty similar things, because that’s how I also see the world.
That’s pretty typical of how firearms training classes are described, because the people who are doing the description write the classes for themselves and people like them. I’m guilty as hell as well (I *swear* I am not picking on you, Kathy! ), because we all write from our experience, and our experience (and situational awareness) tells us the world is a nasty place, because, well, it is. So what then? Is the customer is supposed to throw money at the trainer to get the negativity to stop? Not that great of a marketing pitch, IMO.
Most people don’t think like firearms trainers think, or else concealed carry rates would be at 90%, not less than 10%. So when firearms trainers try to market any advanced practical training, right off the bat, we’re marketing to a small percentage of a small percentage of the population. We (and I count myself is as well, as I’m marketing the training classes for the range as I type this) are a niche market of a niche market.
So the question is, do you market to the niche of a niche, or to the other 90%? If it’s to the niche, expect results that match your audience size. If it’s to the other 90%, why use niche language and a niche mindset?
Something to think about.
This is why people read Brian Enos, for little tidbits of information like this.
But no matter how you do it, the most important thing is that there is no lateral gun movement. You want your body pivoting into your holster and you want to have the gun lifting straight up out of the holster and then going on a straight line to the target. Your hip is just essentially pivoting around that straight line. The gun is always moving in a straight line to the target.
I’ve shot my share of El Prez’s, and I never once thought of the drill in that way. That tip is so simple and so logical, and now that I think about it, so bloody obvious. I’m finding that “Beyond Fundamentals” doesn’t have that “One Weird Trick To Becoming A Better USPSA Shooter” moment, but rather it contains a treasure troves of little nuggets that combine to form one big ol’ shining gold bar of practical shooting wisdom.
Now that I’ve (mostly) cured my trigger jerk, I can start to work on the jerk behind the trigger, and that’s where this book is really helping me see what’s next, where I have to go to get better and what my ultimate goal really is.
I’m not in it to win matches, because as others who do so are finding out, such things are a vain pursuit that is ultimately self-defeating because, as the cliché goes, you can’t win them all.
Clichés don’t get to become clichés unless they’re true.
Rather, I’m defining my goal in terms of what I can do at any given moment, at any given match and look for a consistency in my scores. And yes, I do have a “winning” goal in mind: I’d like to place 1st in “A” Class Production in a major match (Area championship or the like) before the ol’ bod gives out and my skills decline.
Quest for A Class, here I come.
“I’ve often privately thought that no matter how selfish it might feel to spend money on good training, it’s probably even more selfish to carry a gun *without* good training.”