In every profession there are varying degrees of people. I’ve been in this gunwriting gig long enough to learn it is no different. When I was a cop I ran into bad cops, good cops and exceptional cops. It was pretty easy to spot which way a cop was, for readers trying to get a handle on a gunwriter it may not be so easy.
A gunwriter type is hard to identify if sentence structure and punctuation are all you look at. This is because the final text you read has been worked by a number of editors before you see it. Sometimes it may or may not resemble what was submitted. You can’t really judge a gunwriter by the facts in the article unless they are rotinly wrong – everyone makes mistakes. Here’s my take on gunwriters – I’ll not name names.
Bad Gunwriter (BG) – As far as I’m concerned, BGs are the ones that make stuff up. BGs might shoot their groups and do all their chronograph testing with a computer. BGs also tend to tell you things are a certain way but provide no proof or supporting evidence. BGs typically have a poor disposition – you would never know that unless you met a BG. And, BGs are notorious for writing good things about guns that don’t work, to get on the good side of advertisers and editors. BGs are also reluctant to help anyone unless it directly benefits them. A lot of BGs are poor shots but always have an excuse. My wife calls BGs “jerks”. I got another name for them.
The good news is there are not a lot of BGs in this business.
Good Gunwriters (GG) – There are all sorts of folks writing about guns. Some grew up with a gun and may not be all that great of a writer. Some are exceptional writers but have limited firearms experience. Some are great with guns, know all about them and can write well too. GGs provide pertinent information about guns in a way that is easy to read. GGs back up their opinions and conclusions with supporting evidence in the form of tests or with a credible 3rd party. GGs avoid writing about guns and gear that don’t work and GGs work with manufacturers when they receive a product that might have a problem. (Gun manufacturers make mistakes too.) GGs are also strong supporters of the 2nd ammendment and GGs recognize it takes all kinds of gun owners, buying all kinds of magazines and guns to keep them working.
The good news is there are a lot of GGs in this business.
The exceptional gunwriter (EG) is the rarity. EGs may have a wide range of firearms knowledge or maybe just extensive knowledge about a select group of guns. Most importantly, EGs have a knack of providing very good information in an entertaining way and they know how to connect with their readers. EGs are also glad to help young gunwriters (YGs) learn the trade and break into the business because EGs are not afraid the YG will steal their work. When you meat an EG you will be treated with respect and not looked down upon.
The bad news is there are not a lot of EGs. The good news is that some of the GGs currently working have what it takes to become an EG with more time and more experience.
Me? I’m just your average gunwriter (AG). I’m sure I bounce around between the BG and EG groups and have probably been a BG at one time or another. I hope maybe someday I can be an EG because GG sounds like the name of an exotic dancer and I never liked a single BGs song. (If I did I would not admit it.) My mother-in-law thinks I’m a lazy-ass, no good bum that just goofs off with his hobby all the time. (I’m kinda proud of that.)
How do you know what kind of gunwriter you are reading? Well, I’ve mentioned some clues but maybe the easiest way to find out is to write them a letter or e-mail. If you get a response, that’s a good sign. If after you read it you feel like you have been scolded by your third grade teacher, well…remember what I said, there are jerks working in every job, even the ones that are elected positions. And even those jobs that there is only one of.