From Frequent Reader / Commenter preussenotto comes this thoughtful email:
I grew up in a very rural isolated area, we had TV but reception was spotty at best, and my parents (including the rest of my family) were very big on self-education so we had a lot of books around.
One of the great enjoyments of my yoot, however was the excitement of waiting for some periodical to come in the mail. It gave me something I genuinely looked forward to every month.
Fast forward to me as a University Student, I went to a ELGS and got persuaded to become a life member of the Wayne LaPierre family enrichment organization (to be fair this was pre WLP). [Note to Furrin Readers: he’s referring to the National Rifle Association.] As such I was entitled to receive the American Hunter or -Rifleman magazine monthly.
I chose AR because I’m more of a shooter than hunter, and the old lifetime joy of receiving a periodical once a month became a regular pleasure once again.
One of my favorite elements of AR though was their articles on historical firearms and their use/development/etc. Often they would also include some interesting artwork or old catalog entries, and needless to say I was far more interested in that, than judging bullet drop or whatever.
Last week I got my latest edition of AR, paged through it, and realized that since the advent of the Excellent work done by Forgotten Weapons, C&RSenal, and InRange, the historical stuff in AR, is just average at best.
I know American Rifleman has slipped in other areas too, but their historical stuff was still pretty good. Now it just seems like they’re providing someone else’s well-chewed gum.
And another excitement from days of yore has been replaced, to the point where the joy of discovery from a periodical, is just not there anymore.
Do you notice the same thing as you’ve gotten older? Has anyone else experienced it as well? In my mind its been replaced by something better, but seeing a childhood memory, not so much die, but rust out, is a sad realization.
The problem that you’ve outlined (very well) is that the NRA monthly mags are essentially vehicles for NRA editorials and (mostly) ad revenue — that’s how they can afford to print and ship them — and thus there’s never really been any incentive to make their mags competitive with other gun mags such as Guns&Ammo or Shooting Times. So they’ve always been kinda sub-par, content-wise.
And this was okay, until Teh Intarwebz came along, and the characters you mentioned above (and a host of others) started to provide a serious service to gun owners. Frankly, nowadays one could get by with just Othias & Mae and Ian McCollum (for older guns), Honest Outlaw (for pistol reviews), Ron Spomer (for rifles) and hickok45 (for shooting fun) — and I’ve barely scratched the surface. Compared to just those shows, very few magazines could measure up; their only advantage is in publishing things like ballistic tables and charts, which TV shows can’t get close to (although Chris at Lucky Gunner comes close).
I have to say, though, that I am of similar mind to preussenotto: almost my entire life was spent keenly anticipating my weekly / monthly magazine delivery — hell, I think I last purchased an actual paper mag subscription back in the late 1990s, and that was Britishland’s Country Life (actually, it was Connie’s subscription, a birthday present from me).
I think my last magazine sub expired in about 2008, and I don’t get any anymore, which now that I think of it, kinda sucks.
Here’s a little thought experiment for y’all: if you could choose three free paper magazine subscriptions — say, as birthday presents from friends & family — which would you like to get? (They don’t have to be gun magazines, of course.)
Responses in Comments or via email. Mine are below the fold.