Guns & Ammo locks and loads

Spoiler alert! The headline for this blog expresses my sense of irony more than my enthusiasm over Guns & Ammo. I’m sure iPad users who love to shoot will enjoy this game because they can blast away with automatic weapons decked out with laser sights. On the other hand, they only get to shoot at targets, not deer and wild boar, and there’s no blood spatter whatsoever. So maybe not.

During my brief absence1, some intrepid and public-minded Texas state legislators came up with a brilliant plan to allow guns on college campuses. Since the few Democrats in the legislature who might be willing to tackle the gun lobby barely register in a vote count, it’s almost certain to pass.

Theoretically this will prevent crazed psycho killers from sneaking guns on campuses so that Texans won’t suffer from more shooting like the one on the University (which Texans know as The University) of Texas campus last September where the shooter managed to kill himself and no one else.

Since UT is now 0-2 in campus shootings (the more famous being Charles Whitman who shot 16 people from the campus tower in the sixties), legislators clearly recognized a need to take action. The need for student self-defense is even more urgent since the same legislators want to slash university budgets, which will include cutting back on public funded campus security.

It makes sense to me. A student suffering a psychotic breakdown so severe he or she is willing to stuff a backpack full of semi-automatic firearms will most certainly pause for thought when realizing all the other students are armed. The last thing they want to do is get shot to death when they go on a psychotic suicidal killing spree.

Think how much safer students and teachers will feel when a psychotic killer unloads his armory in their classroom and a dozen other students (most of them with minimal training and no experience shooting under pressure) empty their rounds in whatever direction they happen to be pointing in their panic.

It makes me want to give up retirement and return to teaching.

Carol posted her own negative feelings about the open campus for shooting bill on Facebook, and one of the first people to post comments on the wisdom of such legislation was my own son Bryan. According to Bryan (over more than a half-dozen comments) self-defense in the classroom in the cornerstone of America, second only to the joy of shooting burglars from your back yard. Furthermore, guns are no more likely to be used in crimes than cars or prescription drugs.

In the process, someone named Mark Drummond decided to go head-to-head with Bryan and the discussion soon degenerated into threats of physical harm and legal action.

While I can’t speak for Mr. Drummond, readers should know that Bryan was kidnapped by rednecks during the time his mother and I divorced, spirited away to a Michigan militia camp and hooked up to a machine that filled his brain with propaganda from the NRA, NASCAR and proto tea party doctrine. The poor kid didn’t stand a chance.

When he decided to join the Marines, I didn’t put my foot down like my father did when I decided I wanted to run away and join a rock band. My father’s resistance made me more determined to rebel, so I decided to support Bryan instead. He still joined the Marines and came back even more gung ho for guns than before.

All this is simply my long way of saying to the Texas Legislature: Way to go, guys. I feel so much safer.

Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people.

Which brings me to the iPad app these recent events inspired me to review. I’ve promised gun enthusiasts that I would review a gun app sooner or later, and I’m finally delivering. Guns & Ammo: Point of Impact looks like it would be a terrific gun app for people who like to release stress by shooting things.

Scratch your itchy inner trigger finger

I should begin with a disclaimer that readers should have figured out by now: I’m not a big fan of guns or shooting games. This may seem somewhat contrary since I love Plants v Zombies, but in that game the plants do the shooting and they shoot seeds, thorns and watermelons. To me the thought of shooting and reloading, shooting and reloading seems as redundant and mind numbing as other people feel at the prospect of reading the Principia Mathematica, Einstein’s theory of general relativity or early Wittgenstein.2

But this doesn’t mean I can’t be fair or objective when I review them. And as an application, Guns & Ammo shakes out fairly well.

Guns & Ammo is free, which is surprising for an app this well-developed. There are a couple of reasons for this. The app serves largely as a front end for advertising to promote Guns & Ammo magazine and the National Sports Shooting Foundation. You also need to acquire virtual cash to buy additional weapons and ammunition. Although the game description isn’t clear whether you buy or earn virtual cash, my experience with these games is that the order form will pop up sooner or later.

That being said, the game provides new players with enough initial cash to buy a couple of different guns, laser sights and scopes and several boxes of ammo. That should be enough to let you know whether or not you want to keep shooting, read a book or buy a real gun to take to class with you.

The game is divided into four stages. First you visit the gun store to buy one of the four pistols or two semi-automatic rifles, scopes and ammunition. With your new weapons in tow you proceed to the gun safety step where you unlock your weapon.

The gun store offers half a dozen different weapons and accessories as well as ammo. You can buy one of four handguns and two semi-automatic assault rifles. You can also buy custom targets including wildlife and aliens.

Click image to see full size

Once you have your arsenal in place you can proceed to the shooting stage. This is, needless to say, the heart of the game. You position the target at a challenging distance, release the safety and fire away. Depending on the size of the magazine you will need to reload every 10 to 19 rounds.

You can shoot outdoors or in an indoor gallery. There are only two ranges, so your options are limited, but the number of available guns should provide some variety.

Click image to see full size

Click image to see full size
Close-up targets are easy to hit, but things get tougher the farther the target is removed.

You can practice or shoot in competition to earn points and credits.

You aim the gun by tilting your iPad and lining the site over the target. This is tough to do because the iPad tends to shake in your hands the way a heavy gun might. I also noticed that the sight is off and I had to move the sight upward and to the left to hit the target.

I looked for a calibrations feature but couldn’t find one. I tried the laser sight and it worked a little better for targets at close range, but didn’t even register at the farthest distance.

Once you decide you like shooting weapons on the range you can go to the gun club and learn how to shoot with in app tutorials and even track down a gun club in your area where you can blast away with live rounds on real guns.

You can also go online from the fame to make friends who will shoot back at you. I mean, with you.

Click image to see full size

Guns & Ammo offers the usual safety tips that NRA members can point to when they want to prove gun owners are responsible and gun control advocates believe to be as effective as the safety labels on cigarette packs.

Just in case you choose to graduate to real guns, Guns & Ammo offers lots of safety tips to make sure no one loses life and limb because of your carelessness.

Click image to see full size

But will you love it?

I ask this question because I have relatives and ex-relatives by a previous marriage who would be hard pressed to choose between their guns and their family. One uncle used to keep his .357 magnum on the night stand with the safety off so he could reach it at any time in the night. I call that devotion.

If you like shooting apps this is pretty good. The interface is well-developed and the graphics incredibly well rendered for a free app. In fact they would be well-rendered for a paid app. I found the gun sights to be awkward but I don’t doubt that with a lot of practice players could hit center most of the time.

But here’s the thing. Most of the people I know who love shooting would rather shoot things that bleed and die than targets. Sure, they brush up their skills on paper targets, but nothing compares to the visceral thrill that accompanies unrequited blood lust.32 So even as I rate it fairly high for an app I would never use, I suspect real shooters would prefer something with more splatter and gore.

Jenny Manytoes rates Guns & Ammo: Point of Impact

Jenny wouldn’t. She’s on Bambi’s side, not the hunters or their guns. Bill Maher fans and other bleeding hearts probably won’t care for it no matter how well designed. On the other hand, a lot of iPad users who enjoy shooting will want something that moves and breathes when they shoot.

But the second amendment almost obliges us to at least carry a gun on our iPad, and as an app this is pretty good. I would rate it nap +.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

1…while I was slaving away over a presentation on metaphors in the New Testament that don’t inspire whining, the belief that American Christians have been scarred and victimized far more than African slaves and Native Americans and the desire to declare holy war on anyone who believes in the literal truth of science…back
2Not that readers particularly warm up to Wittgenstein’s later stuff either. He seems to be like James Joyce, referred to far more often than he’s actually read. back
3A blood lust that I sense whenever a Texas Legislator describes—in loving detail—the need for guns on campus.back

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
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