Monday, August 17, 2009

Revisionist History

One of the reasons I stopped pursuing history, first as a major, then as a double major, at my major state university, is because of so called "history" professors. For those who are not familiar with the current trend in history, it is tendency to blame and alienate all persons in history who might, by a previous generation, been considered heroes. This trend began in the early '90s and continues through today, common themes are biographies and histories written about great American Heroes. That includes Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin. Other great themes are the demonization of democracy the demonization of anyone who "conquested" among other things.

History, is supposed to be written based on the analyziation of primary and secondary sources and this is where the problem comes from, secondary sources. In Anthropology (my now chosen field), some would call us "revisionist", but the reality is anthropologists typically only examine and consider primary sources when discussing their work. Yes, we might consult secondary sources and histories, but our goal is to examine the culture as closely as possible, via primary sources and evidence, you know like archaeological evidence, diaries from people who were THERE. And at that we are looking for a different set of evidence anyway, because we are looking at what people did, versus what people thought.

I bring this subject up, because of a comment I read elsewhere by a history professor, "I teach US history. One lecture includes the settlement/conquest/theft/acquisition of Texas. For the beginning of that portion of the lecture, I found a nice shot of a Texas longhorn for my PowerPoint." And that folks, is revisionist history, being taught be an activist professor.

I take true offense to the thought that Texas was "stolen". Someone could argue that Texas was taken from the native people who lived here, by the Spanish and other settlers, but I disagree. And that's because if you took the time to learn about the natives who lived here, before the settlers, you would discover that they "stole" the land from whoever lived here before. It's a cyclic thing, the changing hands of land and in my anthropologists/historian/academic mind, the land was settled by a new people and other people fought and died for it. They were noble and in that regard, maybe yes there should have been more attempts to settle peaceable among the natives as opposed to force them into missions, but everyone made their own choices. You cannot say that settlers "stole" Texas. Furthermore, you cannot imply that Texas was stolen from the Spanish, a War of Independence was fought. To imply that it was stolen, is to imply that the United States was stolen from Great Britain. It's simply being callous in the way you say things, it ignores all of the reasons why a War of Independence was fought and it diminishes those who fought it.

Now, onto the "longhorn" thing as part of the slide for Powerpoint. Let's talk STEREOTYPES among Academics for a reason. I have long thought that academics were supposed to be, educated, relatively free of bias, and capable of objectively considering multiple sides of an argument. I now know, after years within the higher education system, that this is simply untrue. Many academics rank as among the biased, self-centered, and wholly childish people, that I know. The stereotyping of Texas, via a Longhorn, is another thing that really gets me going. I'm a Texan, yes I own a gun, no I don't own a horse or a ranch, nor do I consider people of another color to be 3/5ths the man I am. I do not consider a longhorn to be by state emblem, the thought is just insulting. That somewhere, someone is being taught revisionist history, by someone who doesn't even understand the depth and complexity of my home state, illustrated by their inability to select an icon that represents us better than a longhorn. I might suggest the Alamo, but then that would require the discussion and understanding of the Texas War of Independence. In turn, I might suggest the six flags that have flown over Texas in an attempt to understand the diverse origin of the current residents of the state, I would probably throw in the discussion of the folks who still make up a portion of the state that did not even have a flag to fly. Maybe you could use pictures from around the state so that you can illustrate its great environment and diverse wildlife as well as populace. Another choice, might be the Lone Star, and discuss why this is an important symbol for Texans, because they remember learning and studying about Texas as a country, too.

But all of those things might be a bit tough for someone who doesn't understand the culture, the people, and the life here. So perhaps, and this is my genuine opinion, you could cut that portion of your lecture out, until you take the time to LEARN, like a good academic, about our society and history here. Maybe STUDY it and understand what I, an honest Texan, am so angry about. When you can objectively consider and not trivialize the history of Texas, then maybe you can teach your lecture again. I'm not saying that everything in Texas history has been "great", but it is worth studying and understanding in depth, then we can discuss and interpret what happened and even discuss our opinions about the subject. But I would prefer it, if you understood multiple versions of what really happened and actually did the job of reading and studying the primary sources in Texas's rich 500 year history, as we know it today. Then we'll talk...until then, pick a better fucking emblem than the Longhorn. ALSO, don't use the image of my state to cover up his testicles, way to subtly imply that Texas is only good for covering up bull balls.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Customer Service

With any retail/sales business, customer service is the key to staying in business. I admittedly, did not learn about CS in a retail environment, but in a service/construction industry. Before moving to go away to school and thus joining the retail world, I spent 5 years helping my father run his HVAC contracting business in Dallas. Since, I was home schooled, I had time during the day to work and study in the evening. With a more rigorous schedule you can get a lot done. Anyway, I learned about CS from my father, who has been a contractor, dealing with customers day in and day out for 50+ years now.

I make it a point to take care of all my customers. I'm reasonable and honest, which are key components to dealing with anyone on a retail level. I'm straight forward and prefer to give the simplest answer possible. Sometimes, there is a need for a complicated explanation to a question, but as a teacher, I do what I can. I have very many, very happy, customers.

With all of that said, there are two things that gripe me about CS. First and foremost, the customer is NOT always right. As a customer, I have been wrong, but I'm not dishonest. Dishonest customers are the worst, it brings out the very worst in me as a salesman. If you're going to be dishonest with me, then I will simply do my best to eliminate you as a customer. We at the BBOD do NOT want your business if you are dishonest. Nothing is worse than a customer who lies, then accuses you of lying and attacks you on your principles. Since I consider myself to highly principled, honest, and loyal, I find those attacks to be down right insulting. Second, there is never any reason to attack your sales person. Verbally assaulting or attacking your salesman, because someone else bought all the .45 ACP is not only unacceptable, it is childish. As an adult who is 21+ years of age, act like it, or get out of my store.

On another, unrelated note, I apologize for the lack of posting. I have two posts in the making, the second part of my Bargain Gun series, and another series coming forward after that. That series will be a two parter on tips and tricks for gun salesmen and gun buyers. After that, the blog will probably drift from the hot and heavy BBOD action to discuss the upcoming hunting season, shooting tactics, and shooting in general. Look in the future for a few more random posts as well, that may or may not be related to the BBOD.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Bargain Guns...

I can't think of the number of times I have been asked, "What's the best deal you've got on a gun?". I can never answer the question directly, it always has to be answered with a question. The best deal we have at the BBOD, depends entirely upon the deal and weapon you're looking for. Handguns, rifles, and shotguns are all available in a variety of shapes and sizes for a variety of dollars. The best deal for me, isn't necessarily the best deal for you. None the less, I do have some stand by "bargains" in the gun world, that I have had good success with and like to recommend.

Let me start by saying, a "bargain" gun, should not be a compromise of price and reliability. A firearm that you may have to use to defend your life or the lives of someone you love, is not a compromise. So, from the outset, buy the very best you can afford and if you can't afford it, then buy used. That's for those defensive firearms that are out there. For sporting guns, price and reliability are often traded. I don't want a lack of reliability in any of my weapons, personally, so I never compromise on that side of the equation. Paying a premium almost inevitably means you will receive a premium quality product, just do it, it just makes sense.

Handguns, there are many handguns in the world, as I mentioned in a previous post I have around 105 models in my case. We range in price from around $150 to $1100+. I'd say average price is around $500. For $500 you can purchase a real bargain of a gun, a Springfield XD, a Smith and Wesson M&P, Glocks, Berettas, and the Sig SP2022 are all in this range. For centerfire handguns your best selection is in the $500+ range.

For true bargains in these guns, my favorite recommendations are the M&P in all calibers, and the XD in all calibers. With the M&P you have some nice features, the interchangable backstraps, the grip angle that fits quite a few hands, and the steel Novak three dot sights (unfortunately, not night sights), as well as the Melonite finish on a stainless steel slide. It's a great deal at a good price, but it does have its own compromises, for that most part that is the general complaint of a vague trigger reset and the cost of spare magazines. For the casual buyer and shooter, I still feel it is the best bang for the buck. More serious shooters tend to pick the higher end of the price range anyway. The XD has also great features, the additional grip safety puts a lot of customers at ease, the grip angle that is very ergonomic and the excellent three dot sights. Unfortunately, the XD too has a bit of a trade off in the world, as it suffers from a high bore axis that really does increase muzzle flip and make the gun a bit harder to control, especially in the bigger calibers.

Some ask for bargains in the less than $500 category. I'm here to tell you folks...there really aren't very many. The Ruger P-series firearms still run in the <$400 range and the Bersa Firearms are also in that range. Both series are excellent firearms for the money. I have personally owned a Ruger P95 for so long I can't remember now. In that time, it has fired in excess of 10,000 rounds (I lost count a long time ago, I suspect it is closer to 20k these days). I've had a single stoppage in that time, last year, which prompted the replacement of the recoil and magazine springs (for the first time, Ruger recommends every 5k rounds). Since then, the gun has fired another 1000+ rounds without a single hitch. The trade off in terms of extreme reliability is unfortunately, the size of the firearm, it's big. However, it does have very usable three dot sights, and due to the size and weight is a pussy cat to shoot, even with hot +P loads. The Bersa series of guns built in Argentina, are also excellent guns for the money. The Thunder .380 has an excellent reputation for reliabilty and function, the only down side, in my opinion at least, is the push up Walther-type safety, and the current lack of .380 ammunition on the market.

Bargain rifles do exist. But the budget, the features, and the type of rifle are all critically important for a bargain. In center fire, non-semi-automatic, rifles the choices are clear. The greatest bargains in bolt actions are the synthetic stocked Weatherby Vanguards (running <$400), the synthetic stocked Savage 1xx series (often found new in the <$500 category and used in the $300-$400 range), and the Marlin XL7/XS7 series of rifles in the <$300 category. All these rifles tend to show at least MOA accuracy at 100 yards with decent glass and shooter. The Marlin XS7 series and the Savage rifles have adjustable trigger systems for fine tuning the feel and pressure to operate the bang switch. All the Weatherby's come with a test target, showing what most of the rifles are capable, many of them are sub-MOA and capable of less.

In the lever action world, the Marlin 336 reigns supreme, with Hornady's LeveRevolution ammo, my personal 336 is capable of sub-moa at 100 yards. The trade is the weight of the 336, being nearly three pounds heavier than the now defunct Winchester '94. However, the new contender is out and about these days, the Mossberg 464 lever action, it has a lighter weight than the Marlin, because it essentially used a Winchester '94 style action. However, it has the added feature of having a "semi-solid" top to the receiver as I like to call it. Essentially, it has two areas fore and aft of the ejection port that are solid steel and drilled and tapped for a scope mount. Meaning that you can scope your 464 much easier than you can your Winchester '94. I believe that Mossberg is thinking it is the best of both worlds, and I've sold a few and most people agree with that sentiment. If you are a reloader or don't mind shelling out the big bucks, the Marlins in .308 and .338 Marlin Express are worth the price of admissions. The .308MX is nearly a ballistic mirror of the .308 Winchester round and the .338MX mimics the old American deer hunter standby the .30-06.

For you non-repeating types out there. Harrington and Richardson, and Thompson/Contender have you covered. Pick a caliber, pick a rifle. H&Rs are the best bargin in centerfire rifles for those on a tight <$250 budget. T/Cs are out there for those of us who just can't leave well enough alone when it comes to calibers and customization.

I will address bargain shotguns and rimfires in a later post.

Remember, buy once, cry once, but enjoy it always.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

There are only four rules...

And you are probably breaking at least two of them at any given time, well, the universal customer "you".

1) The Firearm is always loaded
2) Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire
3) Never aim at anything you do not wish to destroy
4) Know your target and what's behind it.

Once you have slung some steel and polymer across glass, you start to realize that more then half the people you show firearms to will point them at you and in your general direction within moments. If a person watches you clear a firearm, they will promptly point it at you and line up the sights or the worse alternative they will point it at the other customers. My quick and prompt response is, "Please point it this way." And motion towards myself, as the wall behind me is reinforced concrete wall with 60+ yards of open space behind it.

However, when I say, "Point it this way" That doesn't mean, point it at ME. Nothing will keep you on your toes like having someone point a 12-gauge shotgun at you and cycle the action. Now I know how all those poor innocent circles feel at the gun range.

The worst offenders are the know-it-all customers and those who "have been around firearms all my life". Yea, so have I and I know I'm guilty of breaking the rules at some point in time. With that said, just because "the gun is unloaded" means that you can wave it around and point at anything you like. Stop pointing it at people, what if that was your daughter or son? Would you want someone to point a firearm at them? Then there is the guy who, unintentionally, but does this none-the-less, sweeps his baby son/daughter in the shopping cart with the muzzle when he does his pretend quick draw. I hope you aren't doing that at home with a loaded gun, but unfortunately I'm afraid you might be.

I will give you an instance today that really had me riled. This afternoon a gentleman, who "I've been around guns all my life." was waving a new Ruger LCR all over the place and at one point ended up with the muzzle in the direction of a baby girl who was all of about 2. It was over then, I promptly asked the customer to return the firearm. That's when I got "the lip",

"What's the problem?"
"Sir, I've asked you three times to keep the muzzle pointed this way. I've had enough you've now pointed it at that little girl, with your carelessness."
"It's unloaded! Besides, I've been around guns my whole life."
~At this point the customer makes a wide waving motion, revolver still in hand, sweeping three coworkers, me, and another customer!~
"You just pointed that gun at five people sir, please hand it back to me."

The customer, turning and realizing that he was then pointing a gun at another man, promptly handed it over and walked out embarrassed, and he should have. I'm sure the corporate masters of the BBOD are not happy with me, for failing to sell a gun, but maybe in the future this gentleman will think twice before waving a gun around.

Perhaps, or perhaps the curse of the rose colored glass will strike again...


Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Squirrel

If you have ever worked retail, then you have been a victim of the squirrel. The squirrel is not an elusive creature, nor is it particularly desirable. Just like the fuzzy tailed tree rats who plague the trees around your home, and your gutters, your trash bins, your bird feeders, etc. A retail squirrel should be considered a pest, in the extreme.

The squirrel term was first given to me by a coworker after a particularly frustrating experience. I had been working at the Big Box 'O Discounts (BBOD) for a few months at this point. After a gentleman had wandered into my department and asked to see essentially every handgun in my case (at last count, that was 105 models), he then moved on to the long guns (that count is 185 models), then all the optics in our department (I don't even know how many). Needless to say, I spent a considerable amount of time answering the typical squirrel questions, "What caliber is this? Double action, single action, safe action? Why don't they have a Glock with a safety?" Followed by, "Which calibers do you have this in? Can you get .257 Fireball Magnum Mousegun?" Finally, "Wait, 3 by 9? You're talking about magnification?! Well hell, why don't I just get a 10 size binoculars? Why is this Leupold scope $400, instead of $100." I spent a considerable amount of time patiently answering these questions and more, before I wanted to lean across the counter and slam my squirrel's head into it. And then came the kicker, the true show of how much a pest the squirrel is...

After wasting an hour and a half of my time, asking dozens of pointless and moronic questions, just about the time I am fed up and about to scream. The squirrel who, thankfully, your livelihood is not dependent upon, states, "Well, I've got to be somewhere. I'll come back later and make a decision." And leaves. Leaving you, realizing that you answered a hundred or more moronic questions for no sale. That, folks is the true sign of the squirrel.

Just like its wildlife counterpart the retail squirrel comes in, takes you little nuggets of information, stashes them away to rot, and then goes off to pillage a bird feeder for an easier time. It is the squirrel who goes and gets a friend to find him a gun, to save five bucks, but is not ashamed to waste your time. After all, he is the customer, right?

Right. So, as a warning, Please Do Not Feed the Squirrels.


About the Blog

After several aborted attempts at blogging, I've decided to go whole hog in this venture. So a quick discussion of the theme of this blog. As the title alludes to, it has to do with mainly the antics and adventures of slinging guns across a glass counter for money. The blog also more generally applies to shooting, writing, and other things of interest. I tend to limit my political discourse to issues concerning the 2nd Amendment and 1st Amendment. And for anyone interested, I consider myself an independent who believes in mostly Libertarian ideologies, but I don't identify myself as anything. As a note: Commenting is on with moderation, I probably won't see fit to edit, unless I feel it needs it. Furthermore, don't bother starting a political debate in my comment section, I will ignore you and ban further comments.

About the author:

I am a retail sales clerk, a scientist, and a quasi-acceptable writer. I work for Big Box O' Discounts Retail. All names have been changed to protect the guilty.