Here we all sit, with instant access to the highest volume of information in human history. In what used to take a physical trip to the library, photocopying references and reviewing microfiche records, almost everyone can “research” a topic at length using a mobile device. Not only that, we are bombarded with information we didn’t necessarily request – from advertising on blogs (TFB of course is included) to suggested pages on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.
Problems arise however when research reveals that companies claim’s about their guns, gear and training is the best available, without a clear way to verify their statements. What may seem to be neutral reviews by gun personalities may be infact cleverly disguised paid sponsorships. I know that these relationships exist between manufacturers and social media “reviewers”, but will refrain from pointing fingers or making specific accusations.
All of this makes me appreciate my place here at TFB. No, we certainly aren’t perfect, but we strive to remain as unbiased as possible (no one in this world is completely neutral). In my reviews I make a point remind our readers that I am not a superhero gunslinger who has dominated land, sea and sky several times over. I am a “normal” shooter with a variety of real world experiences that may give you a balanced take on guns and gear. Balanced as humanly possible, that is.
Firearms training is a whole world onto itself, however. With physical firearms and gear, there is a tangible item that can be used by hundreds of others to compare one review from another. With training, we are stuck with opinions from shooters who may or may not have the ability to accurately portray the efficacy of a particular training course.
I have been through my share of academies and private courses with experiences that have run the gamut. ‘Holy Sh*t’ moments on both sides of the spectrum. All were great learning experiences in some shape or form. I’m grateful to my friend EB who introduced me to Pat Rogers about 15 years ago – without his guidance I may have never had my eyes opened to actual training. But, without recommendations from trusted friends, where do people turn for reliable and worthwhile training courses?
Which paves a direct path to social media – the virtual ‘Star Wars bar’ of gun heros and villains. On the one hand, I use social media sites for lot of my research for news and product releases for stories that end up here at TFB. On the other hand, I have seen wild claims and questionable marketing techniques used by both corporations and ‘one man shows’.
Take firearms personalities, for example. Much like Hollywood stars, why do we hold their opinions higher than others when it comes to any type of recommendation? Is it because they are former operators or do they have a cult like status based on internet flare and showmanship.
Like in all facets of business, and life for that matter, many times the loudest speakers get noticed the most. And social media gives access to those monologues by billions world wide.
But is what we are looking at reality? Some companies and individuals are focused on bringing you honest opinions and reliable products. Others are (allegedly) only in the game to separate you from your money and can’t even hold a gun, let alone advocate for their responsible use.
(The above information was taken directly from Instagram and has not been verified for authenticity.)
Beyond sales, in my opinion, I think we are seeing a blurring of the lines between actual products and training and pure entertainment. Again, this is nothing new to the gun world, but social media has given us instant access to “techniques used by professionals” and “tier 1 gear” that it is getting harder for the average “gunsumer” to tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
Do we trust competition-style shooters to train our law enforcement and military members techniques they will replicate in the field? Do these styles keep good guys safer or create dangerous scars that can result in people getting hurt or killed. I don’t know the answer, I’m legitimately asking.
Some of these well known and highly followed personalities are up front and honest about their past experiences and training. Willing to take criticism and advice from seemingly more veteran instructors, they will be humble and call out their own mistakes.
But how are we expected to discern fictional entertainment from fact? Who hands out unbiased credentials to manufacturers and trainers for firearms consumers that can be used to make better decisions?
More and more I’m coming across posts on social media with thousands of likes that appear (to me) to be really bad ideas. Ideas that could get people hurt or killed. But do we point the finger at the compainies/trainers/reviewers for using entertainment to move product? Or ourselves because we are losing the ability to apply critical thinking when it it comes to certain marketing techniques. I honestly have no idea.
I started writing this post after scrolling through Instagram looking for ideas and finding high quality photos of $2,500 custom Glock pistols next to chocolate donuts, grenades next to five shot revolvers and half naked women shooting beltfed machineguns. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind pics of half naked women, but I can’t find the link between them and full auto fire. And I looked really hard.
Next time we will dig in to the “gun bunny” marketing techniques and why they are so effective, (Hint, it has to do with half naked women holding guns).
Interested in seeing some legitimate head-shaking material or just want a good laugh? Give these guys a follow: