Writing this blog
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- It started small
- No stinky
- Best possible pictures
- Bully pulpit
- The dime
- Teach me to shoot
- That’s all, folks
This morning I took a nap after feeding the cats and having my own breakfast. As I slept, Edith came to me in a dream and said, “You should write about what it has been like to write this blog. I think a lot of your readers would like to know how you feel about it.”
When I woke up I thought, why not? I can’t test any airguns today, and maybe there are few things you guys would like to know about the eleven years this blog has been active. So, here goes.
It started small
The blog was Edith’s idea from the start. She told me what a web log was, and said instead of just writing a public diary, I could write articles about airguns — just like when we published The Airgun Letter. She told me I should try to limit the words to around 500, to make it possible to get out a blog 5 days a week.
I did try to limit the words in the beginning, which is why most of the early reports seem so short. But over time I realized that it was easier to just write what needed to be said and use as many words as it took. There have been reports that went over 3,000 words, and the average these days runs above 1,500 words. That may be too many for the smart phones and tablets people use, but I’m doing the best I can to keep them as short as possible.
I write in a stream of consciousness style and the words just pour out. As I write, I think about the questions people will ask about the technical things, and I try to include the explanations as I go. That’s why my writing seems so simplistic, and it’s also where all the words come from.
No more stinky
Early on, I learned an important lesson in writing. I was testing a certain breakbarrel I got from Umarex USA and it had a bad trigger. It was heavy and creepy. In most other ways I liked the rifle, but that trigger was bad and it pushed me over the edge. I called it “stinky” in my report and Edith and I had a long argument about that! But I was stubborn and prevailed. Or at least I did until the folks at Umarex read it! They took exception — not that I didn’t like the trigger, but because I called it stinky. It was exactly what Edith had told me, only now it was coming from other folks — a LOT of other folks. I resolved then and there to never use language like that again in my writing. I know a lot of people do write that way, but my writing has to appear professional.
Best possible pictures
In the Army we had manuals with pictures that were dark and without much detail. I hated them, because the captions talked about things you could not see in the pictures. The detail was probably there years ago, before someone copied the photo four times, but now all that showed was a black smudge. I resolved to do better.
I’m red-green colorblind, so sometimes my pictures of dark subjects come out with a golden cast that offends some folks. Edith and I went around and around about it but this was something I refused to compromise on. If the color was wrong but the detail was there, I was happy. I still am. So, sometimes my photos look odd.
After the blog was running for a few years I learned that it is read by airgun manufacturers around the world. I will be somewhere foreign, like at IWA (the European SHOT Show) in Nuremberg, and a guy from Russia will smile and quote one of my sayings, like Stupident! He then tells me the blog is read by eveyone in his shop.
Okay, if they are reading it, I resolved to give them something to read. So I went on a crusade against unreasonable velocities in spring rifles, poor triggers and breakbarrels that are too hard to cock. I made writers get honest about the groups they shot by showing my own groups next to something that gave some scale. My dime became known the world over.
This was another of Edith’s ideas. I used the dime for awhile, but then she noticed a lot of comments about it and suggested the story. It turned out to be one of the funniest pieces I’ve ever written. I still go back and read it from time to time.
Teach me to shoot
My latest crusade is the series titled Teach me to shoot, where a man is asked to teach a woman how to shoot. I’ve written other series like this, but this time I decided to add a romantic twist — just like might happen in real life. Well, I didn’t expect all you hard-bitten old airgunners to get interested in the romance! I thought perhaps women might pay attention to the story because it could be their own. Didn’t turn out like that, though. It’s all you oldtimers who are gathered round to discuss the latest Jack-and-Jill episode. The women who read it just seem to relate to the training. I’ve even have a couple off-line comments from women that said, “Yeah — that’s what it should be like!”
The more I do this, the more passionate I become for the subject. We shooters really have not made it easy for most women to learn to shoot. I think this will be my crusade for the rest of my life. We have to take women into account when we design guns, ammunition, and training. Let’s stop this macho madness theme and let shooting return to being a civilized sport!
That’s all, folks
In the words of Porky Pig, I have come to the end of my remrks. Once again, Edith has stepped in to save the day!