As my score of regular readers knows, I enjoy waxing ineloquently about the finer points of riflery. You know, lighter guns, external ballistics, ammo this and technical that. Such mundane topics are fine insofar as sleep aids go, but occasionally (about every April) I am compelled to delve into far more serious topics, such as developing one’s social-media shooting-expert credentials. Why? Because it has been well-established that whether filming a how-to clip or fighting for your life, looking and acting the part are just important as target discrimination, accuracy, bullet avoidance and similar skills that can be mastered by watching other social-media shooting experts. Conversely, it can take years to develop one’s all-important web “brand.” Thankfully, I can help you shortcut the process by explaining how to apply the concepts of Obscuration, Appearance and Ferocity (OAF), as understood within the firearms-branding industry. By sticking to the meticulously crafted OAF script, there is an outside chance you could become the next virtual shooting phenom.
This first step does not refer to the art of remaining effectively concealed on a two-way shooting range. Instead, I am referring to disguising what you are actually doing when filming a range video. The best way to not give away too many secrets is to never fully demonstrate the action which you are describing to your viewer(s). Whether covering a first-person-shooter game-inspired drill or drawing upon the best gunfight scenes Hollywood can deliver, never—under any circumstances—show real-time target impacts. It is far better to strike a perfect shooting pose (not a stance), flex any exposed muscles and shoot at targets out of frame. Be sure to dub in lots of obscure, 1980s hair-band music over the range audio whenever you get down to business. Then, cut to a pock-marked, concave semblance of a steel silhouette to verify your prowess.
This part of the package is critical to selling your wares. If current trends are any indication, looking like a grizzled veteran of endless combat is the only way to effectively impact someone watching a 2×3-inch screen. Forget the $110 cargo-pocket stretch pants, oversize ballistic smart watch and magazine-encrusted plate carrier. Instead, you should look like you just spent 120 days on Iwo Jima, lying in a volcanic-rock depression that was dug out with a mess spoon—but with better hair and manicured fingernails.
How can one achieve such a look without sacrificing hourly frappe-mocha-latte infusions? For starters, stop wearing sunscreen. Yesterday. Chain-smoking is out of vogue now, but an effectual alternative is to become a volunteer fireman—not the heroic first-responder type, but a re-enactor who shovels coal into a refurbished steam engine on weekends. Admittedly, this is still not the quickest way to achieve “the look.” A commonly used shortcut is to simply coat oneself in baby oil, kid-size T-shirt and all, and then roll around in an ash pile before taking the web feed live.
Another way to lend authenticity to your warrior persona is through accessorizing. Subdued equipment implies that you are scared, so go ahead and bling up your kit. If a chrome-plated accessory exists for your rifle, use it. Cover your gear with indecipherable morale patches and if you have a favorite gun or brand, get it tattooed on a prominently-exposed patch of skin. Be sure to choose wisely, because things get tricky if your bestie changes later. Also, employ leg holsters for any sidearm(s) you choose to carry. You can really make an impact by strapping a blaster to each leg, thus achieving the Old West lawman-cum-21st-century-warrior effect.
Next to having a fully charged camera battery and freshly applied guyliner, a scary demeanor is the most important component of crafting your “gundentity.” The first step is to never actually step at all, but to run everywhere. Moving up to the target line? Hustle. Heading back to the reload table to regale viewers with broken-nail and dirty-thumb stories? Sprint backward. Bailing out of the camera frame after partially demonstrating the wrong drill? Go scalded ape.
Next, yell everything. No one will believe that you are Sun Tzu if you impart words of wisdom with Gandhi-like calmness. Get 6 inches from the camera and bark out your every instruction like a tiny CrossFit instructor. You can be neither inspirational nor memorable unless you yell something each time the web feed goes live, so amp it up to remind everyone of your natural-born leadership qualities.
Lastly, always use a catch phrase. This is an area where most shooting-icon neophytes miss a golden opportunity by mumbling things like “OK, let’s head to the firing line” or “Shooter ready” prior to going hot. A signature catch phrase is far more effective and once developed, can be uttered at any time you begin a partial demonstration, adjust your shades, forget your lines or end a partial demonstration.
Unfortunately, pithy phrases like “Get Some!,” “Two Weeks to Flatten the Curve” and “Let’s Go Brandon” have all been taken. But there is good news: The Random Name Generating (RNG) systems normally used to create confusing wartime code-names, like operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Desert Sabre, also generate effective phraseology. Whether you rely on a web-based RNG app or know someone with access to a solid-state machine, you can have your very own saying in no time at all. The more specific one is with RNG inputs, the better the outputs. I gave this a try by typing “Make me an internet shooting superstar” and immediately received my three best options: “Teams!,” “Chicken Biscuit” and “Zipper Tickles.” I suspected that “Teams!” was already in use and, sure enough, a quick check confirmed that there are 127 pending copyright applications currently filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for that phrase. “Zipper Tickles” has none. Or rather, it had none.
This has been a lot to absorb for one installment, but hopefully you can digest it all before the next lesson: convincing others to refer to you to you by a former title, rank or position. In the meantime, if anyone has a painless and inexpensive remedy for removing an H&K XM8 tattoo from the small of one’s back (asking for a friend) please e-mail it to the editor.
Article by DEFINITELY NOT SI STAFF