Anybody who remembers my old blog remembers my tirades about how gun marketing, especially in-store merchandising, just sucks. Most gun stores group their products inside their showcases by brands. All the Glocks in one glass case, all the Springfields in another, and in a case off itself, for the true connoisseur, the CZs. This is fine, for people who shop by brand names. It’s also great for the stores, because they can easily match their inventory to what’s on the shelves.
But is that how people shop for guns, by brand name? Possibly, especially for the advanced amateur. For the first time gun owner, though, they have no friggin’ clue what they want, so to wqlk into a store and get shown about a bunch of products with no context about why they might be right for them (or not) is an intimidating experience.
I keep going back to the Apple Store metaphor because not only does it work, it’s about the only thing that’s working well in retail right now. The first Apple stores didn’t shove a lot of model numbers and sizes down your throat as you walked in the door. Rather, the stores were organized around aspects of their customer’s lives: Home, Office, Music and Movies. Apple made their stores fit their customer’s lifestyles rather than the other way around. Seems so simple when you think about it, but there are literally zero people doing that in retail firearms right now.
And it’s not just firearms retail, either. Firearms training suffers the same problem as well. We forget just how little our students actually know about guns, and how advanced we actually are. This is brought home to me every time I go to a public range. I watch the shooters to the right and left of me struggle to hit paper at the same time that I’m punching one-hole groups at the same distance they’re shooting. Drills, even simple drills with standards like a three second Mozambique seem like miracles to a beginning student who struggles to insert rounds facing the right way into a mag.
Beginning students need the Four Rules. They need basic gun handling. Most of all, they need to de-mystify their guns, and understand what it can and cannot do. We talk about how new gun owners treat their guns like a talisman of self-protection, relying on the warm and fuzzy feeling of mere ownership rather than the secure confidence of competency. People opt for the talisman option in part because they are are in awe of what a gun can do, when in reality, a gun can’t do anything without a competent user. As a firearms trainer, you may be working on perfecting a sub-second draw from concealment to that clean Air Marshall Drill. That’s fine, but understand your students aren’t looking for perfection, they’re looking for competency. Make sure you are teaching at their level.