Gear Review Requests

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https://www.facebook.com/notes/raven-concealment-systems/so-you-want-to-be-a-gear-review-blogger-eh/604668529582182/

http://soldiersystems.net/2013/12/30/ask-ssd-should-i-send-gear-to-this-blogger/#comments

Soldier Systems Daily posted an outstanding article today aimed at gear companies who get approached by bloggers wanting free gear. Since they get 20-30 requests for free gear from bloggers each week, use their list of advice for anyone that wants to review gear:

1) Gear blogs are neat, but the old “10 pictures and 5 paragraphs” format that a lot of guys still do is largely being supplanted by videos. Consumers still read text and image blogs, but video reviews result in a much higher conversion rate to sales. Since that conversion rate is what we manufacturers are looking for, you’re more likely to get product from us if you do video. Videos are also much more likely to get shared by the manufacturer via their social media program (like Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail newsletters) because that’s what consumers are most likely to click on. Hell, if I really wanted people to see this, I should have shot this note as a video rather than typing it!

2) Don’t hit me up out of the blue with your hand out for free stuff. Buy product from companies and do reviews first. A blogger who e-mails me cold and asks for something will likely get nothing, while a guy who sends me links to four other reviews he has already done on products of mine is likely to get a big box of goodies. On the other end of that, when you get free gear for reviews, it is a major faux pas to sell that gear online when you’re done with it. If you were given something and no longer need it, the proper course of action is to give it to someone who needs it, or donate it to a charity auction or raffle that supports a worthy gun/gear related cause. I’m not sending you free product so you can stock your own personal for-profit tactical gear store. Pay it forward.

3) Actually know what your viewership/readership is. Be able to articulate the particulars of your audience to me. BE HONEST about these stats; I’m going to check you out before I send anything. If you don’t know this stuff, you’re unlikely to get support from RCS.

4) I’m not necessarily looking for the guy who has a billion subscribers to his YouTube channel. What I want is someone who makes videos that don’t suck. Keep them SHORT. Almost everyone (including some of my friends who are big-time video bloggers) make videos that are waaaaaaay too long, which means people skim them, at best. When someone sends me a link to a 10+ minute “review” video, I won’t even skim it. Never make a video longer than four minutes; 90-180 seconds is optimal. If you can’t buffer it on your smart phone and watch it in the time it takes to roll through a McDonalds drive through, most people won’t bother trying to watch it. One of the best examples of a video done right is this one that Stephen Pineau made about the VG2.

5) Make sure you read the product instructions and relay correct product specs and information in your blog. It also doesn’t hurt to approach the company whose gear you are reviewing and ask them to check for any technical errors. Bloggers that screw up these little details are far less likely to get product support from manufacturers on future blogs or videos.

6) Cultivate a relationship with companies; don’t just chase after the latest new gadget. The guys who I send samples of our new products before they hit the shelves are the ones who have a proven track record and who stay in touch with us on a regular basis. They do follow up blogs on gear from us they have already reviewed. If the only time I hear from you is when I launch a new product, you’re probably not going to get what you’re seeking.

7) I like helping new bloggers get traction, because more successful bloggers means more exposure for RCS. But the surest way to get shut out is to do a bunch of posturing about what a big deal your YouTube channel or blog is. Be honest about being small; don’t try to use smoke and mirrors to dazzle me.

8) Seriously, keep your wife/girlfriend OUT of your videos. If your content is so anemic that you have to put Daisy Dukes on your girl and have her fumble awkwardly with a pistol on camera, you’re in the wrong line of work. It’s a gimmick, like having a a stripper working your trade show booth. Frankly, it distracts people from the product, and it makes you look unprofessional. When you look unprofessional, you don’t get product support.

9) Be knowledgeable. You don’t have to have a background in military or law enforcement work, but you DO need to know about the product you’re reviewing, as well as comparable and/or competing products. The best product reviews are the ones that not only tell the features of the product, but also help the consumer understand how the product works in conjuction with other firearms or gear that they also use.

10) This industry is a small one, and the companies talk to each other. If you conduct yourself professionally and create quality review content, you’ll find that doors open very easily to you. Free gear will flow like water. However, if you get a reputation as being a guy who shakes everyone down for free gear and then doesn’t deliver, or you get caught selling things you were sent as demo items, you’ll find yourself black listed pretty quickly.

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Classification and Divisions

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Attendance fall off at organized shooting events is the biggest problem facing advancing gun owner skill and improving the perception of gun ownership by the general public. Ignorant gun owners scoff about not caring what their non-gun owning neighbors think while ignoring the fact that pro-gun initiatives would be much easier if those neighbors had a reason to hold a positive opinion on it.

As it stands today, only 2% of the card-carrying NRA membership has never attended a NRA Sanctioned or Approved event. Back in the early 1960s, this was over 30%. Worse, the raw number has declined from a high of about 130,000 participants to around 95,000 today.

Part of that attendance fall off is shooters deciding to take up a different discipline. Camp Perry attendance peaked in the early 1960s and that was when rifle shooters could only choose between High Power or Smallbore and Pistol was Bullseye (or perhaps PPC if you were a cop.) I know some shooters in traditional disciplines don’t like the new options but I’d rather have gun owners participating in something that appeals to them than not at all.

Equipment isn’t the biggest factor concerning score but it is a factor. I’d address this by expanding the Classification system and equipment Divisions. Five or six skill groups for all shooters isn’t broad enough. High school sports have more than this and that doesn’t take Little League/Pop Warner/Pee Wee leagues, Junior Varsity, and other local leagues into account. College, semi-pro, and pro are entirely different groups with their own strata.

A competitive shooter “disadvantaged” by equipment but consistently capable of shooting a given score is at no real disadvantage when assessed in a peer group of people consistently shooting similar scores regardless of the reason why.

Add to this recognition of different equipment. As an example, USPSA has about six recognized divisions (it might be more by the time I finish this email) and it makes for a diverse group of options where almost any handgun can find a competitive role.

To keep some sanity and avoiding a “trophies for everyone!” issue, I’d only recognize a given division or classification if there is at least a minimum number of participants (say, about 6 or more for local matches) so there is a sort of mini match inside the match that is competitive for each group.

FWIW, but experience indicates the NRA doesn’t seem terribly interested in furthering their shooting sports by increasing participation. Their own membership base is a 98% no-show

Competitive Shooter Wins Fight

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Not an isolated incident. I’m convinced the only reason we don’t see more reports like this is it requires a low percentage event to meet with a low (but top) percentage of the gun owning public.

https://citizentv.co.ke/news/inayat-kassam-meet-the-52-year-old-hero-who-saved-lives-at-westgate-and-14-riverside-227173/

Inayat Kassam: Meet the 52-year-old hero who saved lives at Westgate and 14 Riverside
In a previous exclusive interview with Citizen TV, Mr. Kassam said he was at a shooting competition when his phone rang and when he answered, “the caller said, ‘Shots fired. We’re scared.’”

Mr. Kassam got into his car with fellow licensed firearm user – Peter Bonde – and off they sped towards Westgate Mall where they exchanged fire with criminals, fought side-by-side with Kenyan law enforcement, and led hundred of Kenyans trapped inside the mall to safety.

See also:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/ipsc-shooter-wins-fight/

Chuck Pressburg

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SGM(R) Chuck Pressburg of Presscheck Consulting discusses training.

The subject of bullseye-style shooting vs. combat shooting (not the sport, the actual disciplines) are on another instructor’s FB page and since I took the time to address the shooter’s question on a response to a sub-thread that wouldn’t be seen by many, I thought I should repost my thoughts here.

If you can’t execute near-perfect under perfect conditions, everything starts to deteriorate rapidly from there…

Combat shooting is a complex math game where you are stacking tolerances of maximum spreads of human, weapon, and ammo in real time against the acceptable impact zone, what’s in front and beyond it and usually while both you and the impact zone as well as potential itermediate barriers are all in movement.

An acceptable “firing solution” occurs when you believe that you can place the bullet close enough to where you want it to land and make the decision to ignite the primer.

Fundamentals don’t change, How much emphasis we put on any single fundamental changes rapidly as we attempt to get a proper firing solution.

For shooting students exhibiting significant inability to exercise any fundamentals, an isolation of flaws and focus on improving them individually should take place. In the DOD we used the “crawl, walk, run” method of teaching and training.

Basic trigger press drills and sight diagnostics are FOUNDATIONAL in nature, but are crawl-level events. The only time they should be brought up with a “grown” professional is when their shooting foundation was built out of sand and they shoot like dog crap.

So shooting is hitting what you want and “bullseye-style” shooting (shooting bulls at distance) is the perfect execution of these fundamentals.

Combat shooting is like being a Doolittle Raider on the deck of the USS Hornet and someone is ordering you to strip critical items off your plane to be light enough to take off.

“What you do mean I have to dump my tail guns” (perfect sight picture)?! I NEED THOSE”!

“Look son, you’re gonna dump that weight (accept flash sight pictures at closer distances) if you want to make it off this flight deck”! (Shoot fast)

So combat shooting isn’t a different technique as much as it is the process of sacrifing perfection in real time in order to achieve an acceptable outcome sooner. Here’s the secret that nobody will tell you: 99.9% of people choose poorly and sacrifice too many of those fundamentals when fear of death is upon them.

Gripping the ever-living crap out of your blaster and hammering your trigger as fast as you humanly can, WILL work (I do it all the time), HOWEVER it will only work for certain firing solutions, and if you don’t read the cues that you need to ratchet things back and apply more of your fundamentals, then you are spraying. That cue will NORMALLY come from your dot or front sight post. It is nearly impossible for your dot to stay on target and your bullet to miss…that angry bee moved within (or completely out of) the glass before the gun went bang. Did you see it? Did you try to fix it, or did you run with it?

In my handgun classes I call my shots even if they land INSIDE the black from 25 yards in front of my students and its not magic, its EASY. I just ask myself a simple question, where was my sight/dot when the gun went bang?

Krag-Jørgensen History

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The Rifle That Help Make America a Superpower

Nice article in National Interest about a classic Norwegian-designed American issue rifle.

Krags are still used in the Norwegian practical rifle competitive shooting event called Stangskyting (Stang shooting, named after Colonel Georg Stang) Competitors in that sport also developed speed loaders as well.

Guns are Weapons

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Matt at The Everyday Marksman posits that firearm use is a martial art and there is nothing wrong with that. His take on this is spot on. Tip-toeing around the fact that firearms are weapons (insisting on euphemisms such as “Modern Sporting Rifle” as an example) does no good as it implies there is something wrong with skillful weaponcraft and citizens owning personal weapons. The vast majority of humans can learn to use them without harm.

I take the stance that most games and sports involving a ball/disk/puck/dart/etc. are a form of marksmanship as they involve launching an object into a designated scoring area for points. An ability to do that with greater precision, from further distance, and/or faster than others is always an advantage.

As mentioned in the article, a number of these games have direct martial roots. Even Track and Field was created as a military exercise. Consider the Hoplitodromos.

The Martial Art of Marksmanship: It’s Not Bullshido
https://www.everydaymarksman.co/mindset/marksmanship-martial-art/

Cognitive differences between competition and application of deadly force

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All great points, but the vast majority of firearm users (military, law enforcement, or civilians carrying concealed) are not being hampered because they’re spending too much time getting too good at improving their match scores.

This applies to already-skilled tactically minded shooters (I’m confident SGM(R) Pressburg’s students are an example) that are a second-ish off pace on a speed shoot or drill compared to a gamer.

This does not apply to folks that can’t keep up with Level 2 (C class, Sharpshooter, etc.) participants “because tactical.”

Getting good at anything begins by learning the most introductory basics. Getting good with firearms must start by improving on those things that will be universally beneficial to all applications in all situations always. Call them fundamentals or call it developing a shot process, the idea is the same. This is the part most humans fail to address as well as they could. Increasing improvement also increases the amount of diminishing return. Getting “better” must get more specific. The shot process has to become more refined and works for a decreasing range of contexts.

In competition terms, I’d peg this at around a Level 3-4 classification. Given a reasonably relevant discipline, this would be an NRA or IDPA Expert, USPSA B class, CMP competitor with some leg points, or something similar. Prior to this point, all improvement was very general and readily translated to any other use, however, now they’re at a point where improvement is beginning to demand shooting in the specific context of the game and may not translate to other contexts.

We can argue where this point (or area…) of diminishing return begins (feel free to comment below!) but the important idea is that it does exist. Just don’t confuse that fact as being an excuse to avoiding the general improvement that a lesser-skilled shooter (which is most humans) would benefit from.

My point is that we want to avoid very avoidable incidents like this:


https://www.personaldefenseworld.com/2019/02/re-holstering-range-shooting/

I’ve witnessed plenty of similar sloppy gun handling done by military personnel that had to be corrected (thankfully, done prior to live fire.) I have never witnessed anything like this done by folks that had participated in more than one or two matches.

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