Today many are trying to find as I did how to monetize a brand new medium. How do you make your hobby a sustainable income stream? How do you justify the hours spent creating content for the bean counters in your life?
First a disclaimer; if you are doing this as a hobby or altruistic goals to spread the truth about the US Constitution and gun rights then you don’t have to monetize. There is nothing wrong with that. I started off that way. I found out that I needed to monetize to operate.
Before you seek to make money you need to provide good content for a while.
Like the pro athletes of yesterday that ran miles, suffered concussions, broken bones and made millions less than the stars of today; I am in that group.
Over the past twelve years I have tried and did a number of things to pay for the bandwidth, hosting, hardware and software use to podcast.
One of the things I have to do better is to promote the people that have supported me. I plan to do that better in 2019.
There is an art to promotion, marketing and selling that is not offensive to your audience. Nobody likes being sold to nonstop. We are almost used to it but we don’t like it.
For the business owners that may be interested in sponsoring my work in the future here is a snapshot of my statistics for my podcast.
I also have an customized app that could be co-branded. It has had over 8K downloads.
For my fellow content creators here are a few tips.
As an entrepreneur in the 2A community that has tried a little of everything to be successful I want to share what I found what works in almost every business.
Here are five ways I know a content creator can make money. It is easier to write than to achieve.
The gun world is pretty cool. The people are interesting. I’ve been a part of it since 1986.
The subject of gun control is evergreen. The topic is political. There is money to be made and unfortunately wasted. Organizations exploit the hell out of it. We fall for the shenanigans like clockwork.
My first advice to the new business owner is to find a niche. The riches are in the niches.
Know that there are hundreds of instructors coming up and going out. The ones that stick around, have identified their target audience, and with rifle precision have gone after them. The shotgun approach or just hanging out your “shingle” and waiting for customers doesn’t work well.
Like my grandma used to say, “if you chase two rabbits, you’ll get none.”
To fill a scheduled class for example, all of your clients should be the same. This is not in looks but in what they want from the course. Some can’t be there for one thing and the other for something else. You have to know what they want and give it to them.
One of your challenges is going to be that your perspective clients don’t know actually what they want. Part of your process has to be to change that. You have to prequalify them.
That way you ain’t wasting your time.
As an instructor you have to keep learning yourself. Don’t be satisfied with just the NRA instructor certification. The NRA did an amazing job marketing their standard but it isn’t the end all.
You will also need to know marketing, basic business, adult learning techniques, and some crisis management. After every shooting, you have the opportunity for a televised or radio interview. You have to learn how to present yourself in a way that you want and not what the media wants. It’s a skill.
You have to be able to critical of yourself and teaching style so you can determine what market is best for you. Believe it or not, everyone is not going to like you. (I know hard to believe isn’t it?) You might be a great fit though for an all-female class, or not. You might work better with law enforcement, or not.
There’s a lot more but I’ll share the rest later.
Rev. Kenn Blanchard has been a firearms instructor since 1986. He has traveled abroad armed in over thirteen countries protecting diplomats and VIPs. He has trained with the USMC, Navy, US Army, IDF, US State Dept., FLETC and others. He created African American Arms & Instruction, Inc. training security guards, police officers and civilians in first aid, CPR and firearms use. He became a gun rights activist in 1991 and helped five states get concealed carry reform. He is respected in the firearms industry. He created blackmanwithagun.com in 1999. He is the author of Black Man With A Gun: Reloaded and created the podcast in 2007 that now has reached over 2.1 million downloads.
Not that long ago, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concluded that bump-fire stocks, “slide-fire” devices were merely a gun accessory or firearm part, not subject to federal regulation. After an evil person murders 58 people and injures 851; the gun accessory is used as a scapegoat.
Law abiding gun owners are often the scapegoat. Am I the only one that dislikes being accused of things I don’t or didn’t do?
I speak about this, the origin of the Scapegoat, and who the real demon is in this story on this weeks episode of the Black Man With A Gun Show Podcast. The show is now in its 12th year and has had over 2.1 million downloads.
Here’s a comment from one of my friends.
Why every single American should be up in arms over the bump stock ban…
Forget for a moment that we’re talking about a piece of plastic that is a gimmick. Let’s look at how this ban was put in place.
No law was passed. No law was broken. The item was legal to purchase. Illegally, DOJ, with the stroke of a pen, outlawed these items. BUT HOW?
Congress was not involved. There was no law passed outlawing these items. Such a law wouldn’t be able to get through Congress. So, DOJ violated the law in quite a number of ways to do it. They declared it a machine gun and subject to prohibition.
The term “machine gun” is very precisely defined in Federal Code…
The term “machinegun” means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.
The key point here is “by a single function of the trigger”.
ATF prior to DOJ stepping in correctly identified the bump stock as a non firearm accessory in compliance with the definition of a machine gun according to Federal Code.
DOJ arbitrarily changed the definition, illegally, for their purposes. Only Congress has the power to make such a change. DOJ does not. The President does not.
So, we have a situation now where a lawfully purchased item is declared illegal, through illegal means. This creates quite the Constitutional Crisis.
If this is allowed to stand. There is no single area of Federal Code that cannot be modified at will by any agency and they can do it without the consent of Congress.
This ladies and gentlemen is the very definition of tyranny. This is NOT how our Republic operates.
On top of this, they are demanding the surrender or destruction of these devices without due compensation to the owners. Again, this is illegal AND Unconstitutional.
We as Americans have a choice. We comply, we bend the knee, and surrender our Freedoms… We do this, on bump stocks and the door is permanently open for future abuses by DOJ and other agencies.
Or, we resist. Do not comply. We fight it tooth and nail. We refuse to accept their narrative. We tell them NO. We back it by force of arms if necessary.
There is risk in the latter option, there is tyranny in the former. Pick one. You have no other choices. We have been far to tolerant of this out of control Government for far to long.
Our representation in Congress and the Presidency have for far to long taken our Rights and Liberties for granted. They have used our Freedoms as bargaining chips for their political gain.
If what they have done now is allowed to stand, they can ban anything they want. Guns, knives, cars, sexual preference, gay marriage, whatever, simply by deeming it so without Congress.
Congress should be up in arms over this. They have just been made completely moot. Their status in Government no longer matters. Yet, they sit quietly by and watch.
It is now up to the Citizens to do what is right.
I am publicly calling for the President to rescind this stupid edict and for DOJ to stop operating outside of it’s legal boundaries. I am calling on all Americans to fight this, whether you are pro gun, anti gun, or whatever. Allowing this to stand will do harm to all of us. There is a Constitutional process to be followed and it has NOT been followed in this instance. The ban is illegal and Unconstitutional. DO NOT COMPLY. FIGHT!
Last week we hit the 600 mark on podcast. I started in the winter of 2006 and have learned a lot about myself, the world and the gun community as a result.
The podcast ties together the friends, instructors, activist, and gun owners I have met since 1991.
I use the show to not only talk about guns, products and politics but to encourage, inspire and entertain this group of patriots, great citizens, and family members using the power of podcasting.
Gun rights activist, firearms instructor, humanitarian and patriot, Rev. Kenn Blanchard is raising money to travel this Spring to meet you, his friends.
This design will be made into a high quality, PVC key chains to sell as mementos to reaching 600 episodes on the Black Man with A Gun Show podcast and being a leader in the grassroots gun community since 1991.
This week on the podcast, Kenn interviews John Pierce, Esq. a longtime friend, gun rights activist and now attorney that is strong in support of the Second Amendment for his clients.
This Virginia based lawyer peels the legal “onion” of how to restore your gun rights if you have a felony. He answers the questions about what to do if you have a history in another state and are trying to clear your name so that you can exercise your right to self-defense. I am trying to keep you out of jail.
If you are going through a ugly divorce, involved in a domestic violence case, use a firearm at work, John also breaks down some stuff you should know about the Lautenberg Amendment.
How to defend yourself against false allegations.
Suicide awareness week is approaching and Michael and I talk about the signs that someone is considering it.
CP Time – Colored People’s Time is also discussed.
This week Michael and I talk about concealed carrying your firearm every day.When and where to carry is a little like walking around naked.Some places its comfortable, and other times its inappropriate, offense and even illegal.Mike says you need:
Insurance (we suggest the United States Concealed Carry Association https://uscca.blackmanwithagun.com )
If you want to see a movie that does everything wrong, check out this 1976 classic film. Silencers on revolvers, pump shotguns that shoot 3x before reloading and more. All the things that feed the ignorance and fear of anti-rights folks and those that fear guns.
Welcome to all new listeners. thanks for being a part of my family.I look forward to talking with you in the future.Join us online on our Facebook page @facebook.com/blackmanwithagun1
And for some reason I had a little Georgia on my Mind. I share a little history of gun laws in Georgia. The past wasn’t pretty and usually isn’t but we have two great groups now in the Peach State. Check out NAAGA.co aka the National African American Gun Association and GeorgiaCarry.org that is doing great things. I had a chance to present there and it was phenomenal.
I am a fan of https://Crossbreedholsters.com and they support this podcast. Please reciprocate if you are looking for leather belts, holsters and magazine wear.
Mike mentioned three holster companies he likes – one of which was JM4 Tactical.
Tips Feature:Effective ways to train on a budget
Maryland Gun Owners please join and support: https://www.marylandshallissue.org
I realized this week that having a co-host can be a benefit. Michael has helped me in times when I was frustrated with politics of gun rights. His being new and still excited to the movement is sometimes contagious.
I have started a fiction series about a blues playing werewolf named Solomon Love.It’s different than my pro-gun, 2A stuff you know about.I am hoping you will check out my books.I am working on the third now, the first two are available on Amazon and Kindle.Do me a favor and buy them, review them and support this facet of my life.
I think a lot of what is put out about 3D Blueprinting guns is bovine excrement (BS). I admit that some of the reports are true, but I don’t believe the hype is warranted. It doesn’t represent freedom. It doesn’t present a clear and present danger. It is just another “thing.”
I say this because I see the folks that are benefiting from the attention. This thing has been around since 2013 and is coming from what looks like to me a guy loving the attention with his ugly plastic gun called the Liberator. Which looks a little like the real metal pistol (FP-45 Liberator manufactured by the US military during World War II for use by resistance forces in occupied territories. Comparatively, a zip gun from the streets is more dangerous than this 3D printed gun)
So what happened?
Cody Wilson, of Defense Distributed, came under fire after uploading code for the world’s first 3D printable firearm, a plastic single-shot pistol also called “The Liberator.” It’s now out there for all.
As a responsible gun owner and lifetime activist, I know that except for gaining attention, and giving ammunition to politicians that will milk this thing for all they can— it’s a non-issue.
In 1982, when Gaston Glock put out his 17th version of his safe action pistol made of 33 parts, in polymer and steel, called the Glock 17, folks said the same thing about “plastic guns.” It even made a mention in the first Die Hard movie. The myth of the plastic gun is that it will be able to go undetected. The truth is that bullets if nothing else are metallic. The quality of gun that can be made with a 3D printer would not be economical, practical, or safe. But that doesn’t stop anyone from hyping this thing.
What is 3D Printing really?
3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D-printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process, an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.
It starts with making a virtual design of the object that is to be created. This virtual design is made in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file using a 3D-modeling program (for the creation of a totally new object) or with the use of a 3D scanner (to copy an existing object). A 3D scanner makes a 3D digital copy of an object.
According to the news, Cody Wilson is suing the U.S. State Department for his constitutional right to 3D print guns. In May 2013, the federal government demanded that Wilson take down the instructions. They claimed that Wilson and his company Defense Distributed were exporting secret military hardware for anyone to take, which violates the International Traffic in Arms Regulations or ITAR.
However, Wilson believes that 3D-printed guns should be protected by not only the Second Amendment but the First as well. Technically all he created was a digital how-to guide, which is free speech, he says.
Wilson’s lawyers told the New York Times that the case was supposed to be settled two months after the State Department ordered the instructions removed. But after two years without a ruling, Wilson is counter-suing for having his speech restricted. As the Times noted, Wilson thinks his effort drew particular scrutiny because it happened shortly after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012.
One of the things I learned after this podcast episode is that all of Cody’s files are already in the public and that 3D printing is not only polymers but you can also do it in metals like even titanium.
It’s not good for our community to side with this crap. It’s not a threat. It is feeding the attention whores on both sides of the argument. Politicians are using this to scare people and galvanize their campaigns.
Don’t be fooled by the threat of a 3D printed gun. A 3D printer can cost around $2500. Any gun printed can be detected by TSA and almost all x-ray machines.
Criminals are not going to all that trouble, since the guns themselves tend to disintegrate quickly and traditional firearms are easier to come by.
Unlike traditional firearms that can fire thousands of rounds in a lifetime, these polymer ones usually hold a bullet or two and then must be manually loaded afterward. And they’re not usually very accurate.
3D printers can make parts for guns to make them un-serialized aka “ghost guns” but the BATFE is well aware of all of that. A ghost gun is a firearm without a serial number. To the uninitiated it sounds like the stuff movies are made of. It’s not. In the US, under Federal law, it is legal to make a firearm for your own use. It has to be a firearm that is not regulated under NFA. That means it can’t be fully automatic, a short barrel shotgun, a short barrel rifle, or a disguised gun of some sort.
The premise, however, is great for political grandstanding. Case in point, there is a state attorney that is also suing the Trump administration for making the settlement with the guy that started this whole thing out of Texas. In addition, their lawsuit asks for a nationwide temporary restraining order that’ll prevent him from uploading the gun design files online.
Last week, attorney’s general from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the city of Los Angeles also threatened legal action in an effort to ban access to the guys’ website in their local jurisdictions.
My point is; 3D gun printing is here and possible but this is not a bell we should be ringing in celebration of freedom. Don’t give the anti-freedom people a rope to hang us with using the support of the ignorant.
This video is pretty snazzy. And makes some points that I agree with and disagree with.
What do you think?
This week on the Black Man With A Gun Show Podcast ends a month long break I took to reassess and reflect on my success and failures of blogging and podcasting. I attended the Podcast Movement and hobnobbed with successful podcasters and Content Creators. I got a chance to remember why I do this thing that my wife still doesn’t understand called “podcasting.” She is not alone though.
I plan to be more purposeful with the show. It even starts with a new tag line, which is “The Responsible Gun Owners Podcast.” I have decided to “stay in my lane,” and be the common sense guy. That alone ought to ruffle feathers the way things are now.
Last week, I married a couple of great people under the Speak Life Church banner at Duke University Chapel but before going to Podcast Movement. Michael J. Woodland reviews the Break Thru Clean product for us.
I’ve reviewed firearms, food, gun parts, airguns, and clothing, but this is the first social media service I have ever had the opportunity to test drive. This is an extremely positive review of a service I used from SocialNetworkElite.com to increase my Instagram (IG) numbers. Everybody doesn’t use IG but if you do and don’t have a network television show, or a staff of folks helping you, I got a recommendation for you.
I didn’t know what to expect when the CEO, Justin H., of this new company hit me up. He gave me 30 days to kick the tires of this thing. I was leery. I didn’t want “bots” or fake accounts. The process was easy. The growth was organic. It didn’t happen over night but once it began it was constant. I am glad I agreed to be a “test dummy” on this thing. The results are in. I hit my thirty-day mark in a couple of days from now.
At the time of this post, I kept over 600 new followers. I had more but I am persnickety. I un-followed some folks, that didn’t share my view of things. You get to decide. This service works folks! According to IG, my profile has been visited 813 times in the last seven days.
If you truly want to organically increase your instagram follower numbers, visit social network elite now.
I’m going to Podcast Movement in Philadelphia, PA. It’s a big deal if you are into podcasting, and creating content for others online. http://podcastmovement.com
Podcast movement 2018 is THE ultimate gathering spot for anyone interested in or involved with podcasting and the podcast industry.
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown in historical Downtown Philly Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in their choice of over 80 breakout sessions and panels, including the Technical Track, Creations Track, Marketing Track, and an Industry Track.
The goal of Podcast Movement is to bring together and educate active and aspiring podcasters, and to grow the podcast community and industry as a whole. We do this through educational and informative breakout sessions and panels spread across six tracks, enlightening and encouraging keynote presentations, and fun networking events and parties. With over 3,000 attendees joining us over the last five years from nearly 30 different countries (and growing), we are excited to continue the mission of Podcast Movement for many years to come.
The Podcast Movement is for anyone currently involved with, or looking to get into, podcasting and the podcast industry. With over 300 speakers and panelists participating in over 100 different sessions for three full days’ worth of sessions and activities for active and aspiring podcasters.
They will be providing basic technical sessions regarding equipment, software, and editing, to learning the best way to craft a story. If you’re experienced, they know even the greats recognize things they need to improve on, so they’re bringing in the best podcasters and industry professionals to help you take things up a notch. And if you’re looking to refine your production, or looking for new ways to monetize, they’ll have dozens of sessions.
For those who have been doing this awhile like me, the Podcast Movement evolution will feature a large selection of sessions and panels geared towards “behind the scenes teams” with industry professionals. The most successful networks, ad sellers and buyers, statistic providers, and everything in between will be sharing what has been working (and what hasn’t) in the past year, and what they are doing for the future.
My goals are simple. I…
hope to gain (1) new friend.
hope to see old friends.
hope to learn (3) new things, including strategies, techniques and best practices of producing, editing, and sharing content.
hope to make a great first impression with someone who can help me go to the next level of my journey.
It’s going to be nice to be around people that understand what an RSS feed, wave file, royalty free music, downloads, uploads, Heil PR40, Mixer, blubrry, and libsyn are.
I hope to encourage someone else on their journey. If there is anything you want me to pick up, learn or share with you let me know.
I will be presenting a five minute briefing, Monday evening called Ignite with nine other folks chosen to “spark” ideas, enthusiasm, etc. Pray for me to succeed.
When we think about it, we all intuitively know that we learn way better with classes. They offer accountability, expert knowledge, structure, and feedback. The independence of self-teaching is enticing, especially with prolific online resources a click away, but idiosyncrasies sneak in every time, and people will learn more slowly with the result of incomplete knowledge or skills.
So why on Earth are people opting out of gun training classes?
At a time when guns are in the hot seat politically and vilified by the media more severely by the day, it seems more important than ever to know your stuff inside and out as a gun owner. Whether it’s the thrill of making that shot at a distanceyou never knew you could in competition or out hunting, or that unbeatable feeling of knowing what to do in an emergency (and how not to cause emergencies), there’s a lot to gain from learning shooting, not just teaching yourself.
Let’s look at it from the perspective of a brand new gun owner:
My dad taught me how to shoot when I was twelve!
We can first acknowledge that large portions of new firearms owners aren’t entirely new to firearms. They’ll be young people who were finally old enough to buy their own gun, able to save up for one, or ready to pursue EDC in their own lives. They’ll be the ones looking into classes thinking they’re too basic, or looking at the types of people who are buying guns for the first time due to fear, who are practically holding them like dirty diapers. The “some experience” types of should-be students got informal training from their parents on weekend visits to the range, hunting trips, or even working with their parents on gun maintenance. Maybe they have a healthy respect of gun safety because their dad was the very model of a modern major concealed-carry permit holder… but, then again, did they ever get dedicated, piece-by-piece instructional time? Probably not.
Guns are magic bullets that make you feel safer once you own one!
A large percentage of the population uses the words “feel” and “safe” in the same sentence regularly, illustrating the first problem facing a new gun owner who needs to get to a few classes. The new gun owner now has the toolto feel safe and doesn’t consider the practical skills required for that tool to actually create a safe environmentwith the everyday care and keeping of firearms, let alone when they need to use them. Leading to…
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Even if the new gun owner has studied safe gun ownership practicesand their new weapon, and even gone to the range a few times to practice, they might not know that they should practice with their holster, or secondary defensive skills (hey, bullets aren’t infinite except in Hollywood), or managing an emergency situation as a lay first responder. It’s not to discredit new gun owners, but it’s a simple fact of life that one “skill” actually involves about a thousand smaller ones. The trick is to push through the “hot button topic firewall” to get people to think carefully about the act of using their gun in real life, not just having it and occasionally visiting the range.
“First day of school” Anxiety
In this case, the anxiety breaks down into two main parts:
1. Finding a trustworthy class
We here in the gun community could be doing a better job making our own work legible to novice readers and buyers. Anybody researching a gun they might want to buy will also have to look up tons of jargon, abbreviations, and extremely technical writing.
After they’ve waded through that, it’s understandable how they might have diminished patience for finding a trustworthy first timer class. Ranges do not look like yoga studios or gyms, all windows and open space and smoothies. The first time someone goes, they’ll feel a bit like they’re entering a lair or a bunker. The staff is armed (smart for business, unsettling for those who aren’t used to it), the range, though well-kept, is concrete and drab at best, and it is very clearly a “tactical zone,” with lots of strict rules, standard precautions, and a somewhat intimidating atmosphere.
Besides the struggle of just getting to a place to practice with a weapon, someone who wants to take a class will have to try to sort out the reputable programs from the scams. From the seemingly reputable programs, they then have to decipher which classes have enough qualified instructors and holistic curriculums. You could see where it might start to read like Greek to the novice shooter.
2. Being the little fish
If they can push through and get to a class, the new gun owner is sure to meet at least one much more experienced gun owner, their instructor. As someone who just purchased a firearm, the student is probably still working on the “not all guns are bad” concept, especially in the context of armed, experienced shooters in the same room as them, ready to talk guns.
On top of that, newcomers to any hobby seem to think they’re starting from a lower baseline than the rest of their class (exception: the “my dad taught me how to shoot when I was twelve!” guy). They’re going to feel like they’re not prepared for even the first day, that they can’t ask questions because they should know the answer and that their classmates are way ahead of them in training.
We’ve all seen these classes and know it’s not true, but you can’t blame them for feeling that way, especially when deliberately entering into a taboo-status skill.
In every excuse or rationalization for not taking a gun training class as a new gun owner, we see those little endearing but infuriating quirks of the American personality: the cocky, the stick-in-the-mud, the no-patience. Finally, we see that, on average, America is still just a little bit delusional about gun ownership.
As experienced shooters and competent, responsible owners, now is a fantastic time to modernize our blogs, training course sites, and other media, to make it inviting for the people who most need to read what’s on there.
We also need to recognize that we’ve gone Deep Technical for a long time and that we can’t expect non-shooters to meet us there. While the US is fighting over gun control and flinging their misinformation all over the place, we’ve shown that we can do a lot better engaging people on an educational path rather than in a political debate and climate that isn’t going to make anybody safer or smarter.
A look back over the past 25 years as a gun rights activist and a company I started called African American Arms & Instruction, Inc. (A3i).
Michael reviews some tactical pants.
Shoot don’t Shoot scenario.
How long have you been my friend?
Did we meet in person when I started training security guards in 1987? Did we meet at the Radio One Black family reunion on the mall in Washington, DC back in 1992? We introduced the NRA’s Eddie Eagle to the city and sold out of brochures and stuff. Did we meet in Baltimore City when I gave a safety talk and show and tell in the park at a daycare center and to the cub scouts?
Thank you for following this podcast and blog. You are the reason I do this. You have been the positive result from hours of time and thousands of dollars spent. It’s been quite a journey with you. We’ve met at NRA annual meetings, at Gun Rights Policy Conferences, SHOT show, on the range, on the radio, and now on social media. Some folks have actually seen me preaching at the church in Washington, DC. You have seen me on stage. Where you at the NRA Annual meeting when Marion Hammer, Tanya Metaska and Charlton Heston gave me a civil rights award?
Did we meet at the state house in Richmond, VA with the testimony for the change of concealed carry laws? Did we meet in Austin, Texas when I was on the hot seat with Attorney Royce West? Did you hear me in South Carolina lobbying that councilmen that was also a Baptist preacher? Do you remember when I spoke in Lansing, Michigan to reform concealed carry laws? Do you remember the bunch of time in Annapolis, Maryland when we tried our best to change the minds of the backwards thinking politicians there? Remember that time, the Brady Campaign pimped the mothers of gang violence in? Were we on the steps of Madison, Wisconsin as the snowflakes fell. The Law Enforcement Alliance of America was big back then.
Do you remember when your friend and brother from another mother was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Washington Business Journal? Did you see Larry Elders, “Michael and Me ” back in 2004? You should go on Amazon.com and see if it is there. I was hyped on that one. If you are from South Africa, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, or Papua New Guinea did we connect after Miriam Margolyes had me on her documentary the BBC’s “Dickens in America; My American Journey” (2004).
Do you remember when I was on TV-One’s, “Sharp Talk with Rev. Al Sharpton” (2007) defending the right to keep and bear arms nationally? That was unreal.
This is all before social media really. For most folks though, I think you found me on the podcast. The Urban Shooter that I started in 2007. Was that it?
Did we meet in 2014 when I shared a stage with the now president of the United States in Albany, NY? Did we meet when I spoke in Atlanta, GA for the Georgia Gun owners or in Phoenix, AZ for AZCDL.org.
I have been there, tried this and that, and failed at more things that you can shake a stick at. I had a cool outdoor internet radio show called Blanchard Outdoors that was doing good till we got comfortable. I’ll share that story offline when we meet if you remember to ask me. It has been in an incredible ride.
How did it start?
After four years of qualifying truck drivers, polygraphers, field agents, and police officers for the CIA, for armed duty I had learned more about firearms than anyone in my family. We were hunters and fisherman but owning a firearm for self-defense, carrying one legally concealed, traveling, storing, and using one defensively was not even discussed. When I was moved to work with covert operators, analyst and foreign agents, my life changed. I started to learn what is referred to as “tradecraft.” I found out that I was a knuckle dragger among my Ivy-league peers that would be traveling to the exotic places that I had only seen in James Bond movies. The strange thing was that these folks had little street knowledge and they would be going to the mean streets of capital cities around the world. They couldn’t make it in Newark but they were going to Nepal. They couldn’t survive in LA but were on their way to La Paz.
Having spent a few years in the Marines Embassy program abroad, I started to put some of my past experiences together with what these new students might need versus what they were being taught. My initiative was appreciated and ego stroked. I became a trainer of folks going to hostile environments more often and started traveling to our range facility so much I thought they were going to make me a permanent member of the place. It was something I wanted actually. It was too early for that. That position came later and was awarded to someone else.
I created a few programs that are still in use in the government. Feeling used and unappreciated I thought about what it would be like to create a firearm safety business to train law enforcement, security and ordinary citizens in concealed carry, home safety and do what hasn’t been done to prevent accidents in the homes of urban Americans.
This was 1990. MC Hammer is on the radio .
It was before George Foreman was selling grills. He is still boxing and knocks out a guy named Cooney. The Major of Washington DC is arrested in drug sting. Nelson Mandela is freed after 27 years of imprisonment in South Africa. Mike Tyson is knocked out. And I was sent overseas to protect a family from a guerilla army.
When I returned I was given additional training and decided to change my line of work. It was in 1991 that I created African American Arms & Instruction, Inc. I pitched the idea to three of my friends on the way back from training one afternoon and two of the three decided to start it. We didn’t have a template, or a good business plan. We didn’t have a business or marketing background. This was before the internet was a staple in every household and cell phone. It was before Facebook, Instagram and Linked-in.
Starting at ranges around the Maryland and Northern Virginia area I learned that gun control had taken a toll on my potential audience. The only ones that wanted my services were single mothers of black boys wanting “a man” to teach them and their boys responsible gun ownership, two parent households of black nationalists, followers of Garvey, the Nation of Islam, and those of the anarchist mindset. Security officers looking to get re-qualified for armed duty after failing their shooting days at the range, just wanted to pay me for my signature. They didn’t want to learn officer survival, safety or a better way to shoot and qualify. They were used to paying their “instructors” to certify them.
I had major problems with all of it. I was American by birth. My ancestors were enslaved in this land. I was free. I have served my country and was still serving it. I am nobody’s victim. I have been wronged in my lifetime. I have faced racism. I have been in presence of racist black, white and yellow and brown. I know the real thing. I don’t blame anyone for the color of their skin but will judge them on the content of their character. I have a problem with apathy, willful ignorance, and hate. I threw everything into making my business grow as I could in the early nineties. I did it to the point of bankruptcy. I learned the character of my new wife at the time. She was willing to stick by me, though I didn’t deserve it.
I was about to give up, when I found out that the NRA was having a board of directors meeting in a nearby hotel in Arlington, VA. I thought I’d crash the party and see what the good old boys are doing. In my mind, they would be holding Pabst blue ribbon beers, talking to congressmen, dressed in bib overalls, blue jeans, and orange hunting outfits. I didn’t know anything about the NRA in 1991. The CIA had shielded me from them whenever we trained. If a class was sponsored by one of their trainers or one of our guys had attended the train the trainer program, the political view point of the NRA was always given with a disclaimer. I didn’t know what my political view point was at that time. I was a hammer of the US Government and I didn’t care who was in office.
When I entered the ballroom, I soon found out three things. The first was that I was the only person in the room with a tuxedo or dark suit. The second was the only other black guy in the room was Roy Innis, not counting the wait staff. He nodded to me but didn’t approach me. The third thing I realized was that I had stereotyped the NRA and had made the same “you guys like to dance, eat watermelon, love fired chicken and drink grape Kool-aid,” kinda thing.
Three old white guys in tuxedos came over, introduced themselves and ignited my passion for history, and gun rights activism. They cautioned me to avoid the media in the room, so that I wouldn’t come off looking like a “Bubba.” They piqued my interest in history by quoting bits of history I had never heard. I was a proud, intelligent black man, how are you going to tell me about parts of black history that I don’t know?
I couldn’t wait to ask my elders, and do my own research. When I found out that they were right, I was ashamed and glad at the same time. What else have I been wrong about in life? It was an awakening to me. I became self-actualized. Slowly through the next few years of speaking engagements, travel, study, and being in the company of state and federal law makers I changed.
Abraham Maslow has a pyramid of Self Actualization I learned in Psychology 101. I actually figured what that was when I became self-actualized. I started to be ok with knowing that I didn’t know everything. I started to accept myself as I was. I stopped chasing influencers and live day by day. I took on the name of my website and although it could be a shocking name, I was not into that. I am just unconventional. I begin to grow as an adult. I started to take responsibility for how I thought, and what I thought. I started to feel blessed. I was grateful for everything I had. I realized that everything was small in the scheme of things. And I was not going to sweat it. I started a path to love everyone regardless until they showed me a reason not to.
Trying to get on the radio full time as a firearms instructor failed but did get me on monthly as a topic for a well-known urban radio personality to talk gun rights. I learned that the Second Amendment was an evergreen topic in politics. I learned that gun rights advocacy is a cause and not a career. I learned that politics is a self-serving game not a government activity to help someone.
I learned that almost everything involving people can be boiled down to an algebraic formula. You can persuade and manipulate people to do almost anything you want to. And if you expose the lie to them, and tell them they are free, they will rebel and get mad at you for lifting the veil from their face. They don’t want the truth. It’s like that old cigarette commercial for Tareytown “Some would rather fight than switch.”
They cling to hate, socialism, racism, slave mentality, victimology, false prophets, and group think.
In 1992, I started a gun club named after the Tenth Cavalry Army unit aka the Buffalo Soldiers. It was a good premise. I learned a lot about people in the gun community. I learned about the power of numbers and marketing. When I had almost a hundred black people going to the range once a month, it gave me clout I wasn’t ready for. Ranges started to think every black person at the range was a member of our group. I became a local hit. Gun clubs nationally started asking me how to get more people of color into their groups, in order to save them from being ostracized by the community and extinction. I had the opportunity to exploit and I refused. The club was the first group to visit the new NRA building and range facility in Fairfax.
A3i took a bunch of photos but we didn’t last that long as a group. By the time, I got a business loan to open a training office near a local Maryland range I was on my own.
It lasted a year before going under. As it did, the NRA, the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, American Shooting Sports Foundation, CATO Institute and the Second Amendment Foundation found me. I traveled the country. I ate asparagus, sautéed spinach, and porterhouse steak for the first time in my life. I learned what lobbyist do. I saw what lobbyist see.
In 1999, a friend of mine, invested in me and help me build my first website to launch my book. AOL 1.0 was still working by baud modem attached to your phone line. Only big corporations had websites. When Y2K hit, my site was bigger than the NRA’s. I took the opportunity to hold prepping classes we would call today. I had several elder members of the Tenth Calvary that knew how to grow, can and prepare food for the apocalypse. Thank God it didn’t come but we had some good learning sessions.
I started writing my book, Black Man With A Gun that is no longer in print when I was working as a sexton in a church where I later received the Call to ministry in. I thought that was going to be it for the Black Man With A Gun, but it is not. I even got in trouble there a few times.
I was close to the end of my career in the government and was failing to get promoted because (1) I was rebellious, (2) was told they had seen me on TV, print magazine and wouldn’t be here much longer (3) I don’t even know what the last one could be, accept I thought they we retrying to get rid of me permanently a few times, but I am protected by the Blood of Jesus.
When my cousin, got a signing bonus to go from the Buffalo Bills to Chicago Bears, he loaned me some money to publish my book, and relaunch my business. I was so much in debt at the time, it was a nightmare. Another fail for your friend and brother. I was now known around the country as “that black guy into guns.” But it didn’t move the needle for me.
African centric book stores refused to sell my book, saying they don’t want to promote violence. This is the same bookstore with books written by pimps, hitmen, and drug dealers. Oprahs’ people sent me an inquiry note, reviewed my book and then six months later said it was not something they wanted to promote.
The gun club started to grow and chapters grew in New Jersey, Baltimore and Chicago but I was not into the attention I was getting. I even got some correspondence from South Africa. They were looking for a leader to spark the cause. And that even happened here. I was still an employee of the US Government. I fully knew about organized domestic terrorism and the groups looked like. I also knew that I had a very high government clearance I didn’t want to lose.
I thought about and was approached to run for governor under the Libertarian ticket while I was still a government employee, so I declined. It was nice to be asked though.
Since then we have been just bee bopping around. I’ve started a few new podcast. Taking my ministry online with Speak Life.
You got to pay to play on several things.
• I tried buying a range once.
• I tried getting on a radio station.
• I ran for public office once.