You've seen the top story in this wire. A major publisher of gun and shooting publications is shutting down. It caused me to look back and to consider what happened and what's happening now.
Many years ago, I read every gun magazine I could get my hands on. I knew of just a few when I was a kid, Guns and Ammo
was one of those. During the 1970s, I noticed Shooting Times
, Gun World
-- and then as the 1980s was looming in the near future, new magazines were showing up all the time. One of those that crowed in was Combat Handguns
. I think I had the first edition they ever ran and I was hooked.
Sure, some of the stuff seemed hokey even to a duffer like me. But I bought them off the rack, then subscribed to many of them.
I was engaged in a police career and got involved in firearms instruction. From there, I made contact with Massad Ayoob – this was about 1994. He was helpful in a project I was doing for the sheriff and, when he came in on an expert witness job I made it a point to call him. From there, I sponsored a class of his and helped with an article. He'd had me touch base with Bruce Cameron at Law & Order
Magazine, at the time a closed circulation publication.
After Bruce had spent time and effort trying to hammer me into a old-style news writer, Mas asked me if I was ready for "the big time." He had me call Harry Kane, Editor of Combat Handguns
and Harris Gun Annuals.
There was a lapse of time, then Harry had me working on projects. At first, it was "call when you have an idea." Eventually, it was "Hey, Rich, what's goin' on? Want to do something on (fill in the blank)?"
I always agreed. It's what I was there for.
After I retired, I knew I wanted to stay in the industry. I continued to write for Harry even after Jim Shepherd approved my idea of The Tactical Wire
. It wasn't long after that when Harry retired from Harris Outdoors Group.
Yesterday, I got word that Harris Publications, and all their properties including their "Tactical" group as it became known, was closing the doors.
It's the end of an era. I got my real start in the industry at Harris. Even after I moved on, I always "rooted for the home team" – that's what I considered H.O.G. and Tactical-Life. I met Stanley Harris a few times at parties he graciously gave, met Virginia Commander. I consider Shirley Steffen, Nino Bosaz, Linas Cernauskas, Mike Humphries, Karin Levine and the rest of the crew to be friends.
The company and the crew took me a long way. It's a debt that can't be repaid.
The group of writers in the stable included Massad Ayoob, Walt Rauch, Mike Boyle, Dave Spaulding, Matt Berger, Keith Pridgen, Bob Pilgrim, Paul Markel, Bill Bell, Ralph Mroz, Mike Detty and Rob Garrett – among many others.
Some of my work went into Combat Handguns
, a lot went to the various gun annuals, but the majority of the material went to Guns and Weapons for Law Enforcement
. I didn't think a lot of the title, but it became sort of a home for my work for a long time.
There are still gun magazines out there. I imagine some print pubs will be around for a while, but most of the audience has moved to viewing YouTube videos, chattering on internet forums and looking at some gun web logs. A lot of folks check their email for a daily dose of the news provided by our various services at the Outdoor Wire Digital Network.
Times change, the audience has changed – and it's gotten bigger. Just as I offer a sad farewell to Harris, I'm glad of the growing gun culture.
It's our reason to get out here every day to keep you posted.
-- Rich Grassi