If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you have violence in mind. Statistically speaking, you likely haven’t had to experience life ending violence unless you’ve served in the military or a rough neighborhood. And again statistically speaking, most of the people reading this have had some experience with violence on some level, even if only a bloody nose. The first time you get punched in the face is an eye opener (sometimes closer). It makes you realize that you can’t control all of the variables in life, and that the universe doesn’t care about right and wrong, only who is left.
For some, this is a wake up call that is quickly forgotten, and people move on with their lives. For others, it changes them fundamentally as a person, and starts them on a journey that truly helps them appreciate life and times of peace. One of the things that I’ve noticed during all of my training, teaching, and living with both the tactical and survival mindsets is that most people out there follow trends, and though they (we) may mock the people that don’t take personal responsibility for their own safety and preparedness, we tend to follow trends just as easily and strongly as anyone else. I like to call them “Gucci Warriors,” but they have been known by many names. They are always the ones with the newest gear on the block. Their gear is always the cleanest, barely used stuff in any group. When they see someone with something they haven’t seen before, the next time you see them they have that item or something “better” in their eyes.
But this is not about them, this is about you; more importantly this is about how to properly train, prepare, and gear up with goals in mind. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should play to the beat of their own drum. But the problem I see with many is that they spend too much money on gear and not enough time actually working through a given problem, never really training to failure. Training is great, but if you don’t push yourself to failure you’re setting yourself up for just that.
Far too often in our society is failure looked at in a negative context, in that failure is “not an option” or that failure indicates ineptitude. This quite simply is a logical fallacy. The best of the best in any given field all have one thing in common: they have failed more times than most have ever tried. Failure is a familiar friend, one that stays with them by their side throughout their journey, and is actually leading them on their way. In the various training courses I teach, I use failure as one of my most important learning tools. At first most people (especially children) become dismayed and even defeated by the failures to learn the objective, but once I explain why it’s important that they accept the failure and move on, they begin to learn faster.
“Why didn’t this work the way I intended?” That should be the first question that pops into your mind when a failure occurs. Study every aspect of what happened, and pick apart what you did right, and perhaps more importantly what you did wrong. The thing is, all the gear in the world means nothing if you don’t know how to use it. Using your gear in ideal settings is great, but Murphy is always standing right behind you, waiting to throw a wrench at you. And as we all know, when it’s time to get to work, nothing is ever ideal. Sitting in a stationary shooting lane practicing your accuracy every week is great, but realistically all you’re doing is setting yourself up for failure; especially since you’re building unearned confidence with your skills that simply won’t cut it when the shells start flying.
A while back I was talking with a few people about guns and how effective each one is. The biggest thing everyone was focused on was the type of gun or if it had a suppressor on it or not, or if it was NFA. When I pressed them on training experience, most stated they didn’t think they needed it as they hit the range a few times a month or compete in target shooting (mostly static, some dynamic). A few weeks later, I met up with them and we all tried each others setups out. What really struck me was how each person was trying to one-up each other with how much money they had invested in gear and guns, or how many rounds of ammo they had. Eventually it became my turn to get on the trigger.
With the exception of one person out of a group of five, I was more accurate shooting their gun than they were. And it pissed them off. Two of them had proudly proclaimed they had over $30,000 worth of guns and accessories, but yet couldn’t out shoot me on any gun. The worst part about this is I’m not even a great shot by my standards, I just know the basic fundamentals of marksmanship. To top it off, only one of them actually had any trauma kit on them or in the car.
Time and time again I come across people that have tons of money dumped into their gear and guns, and yet never give a real effort into thinking about the intended purpose, use, or manipulation of any of it. Something as simple as what type of sling to use, and how its positioned never crosses their mind. All they know is they saw some famous trigger puller using it and that must mean it’s the best. And for that person they saw, it might be the best- for that situation and their experience set.
Gear in general (that is to say guns, knives, carriers, armor, bags, ect) should never be a static plan. When choosing your gear, identify what your objectives are. When I go to the range, there is almost always someone there all tac’ed out with for carrier and armor, some high speed helmet, ridiculous glasses, and foot gear that they likely only wear when at the range. And they do this every – single – time, thinking that this is getting them somewhere. These are the same people that still tea-cup hold a pistol, or carry in the small of their back. And of course, they have very little, if any professional training.
All of your gear should not only have a purpose, it should have many of them. When you finally settle on what’s best for you, it’s time to put it through its paces. You can’t just stand still and run accuracy and speed drills, you have to get out and burn some calories. How does your setup work while you are running? How about kneeling? Does it maintain mobility or accessibility in a vehicle? What’s going to happen if it gets dirty, or rocks in it? Have you tried manipulating it under pressure or exhaustion? How do you function running that setup in different temperatures (winter vs. summer) or weather (sunny, snowy, rainy) These are all important aspects of any load out.
A great example of this is hiking. Most people new to hiking learn an important lesson very quickly, gear is great but weight is not. After a few camping trips, gear tends to either get smaller, or disappear altogether as people realize that your skill base is more important than your tool box. Another lesson that is quickly learned is planning your pack up, and weight distribution. Having too much weight too high, and you will have your hiking party laughing up a storm as you go head over feet down a hill. Packing important items you need more frequently or quickly at the bottom of your pack also presents a few lessons to be learned.
The lesson to be learned here is a simple one: push your skill sets and your gear to the limits, and learn from them before you need them to save your life. Take video of your drills, identify weaknesses or failures, and correct as needed. Don’t be a Gucci-range queen, get out there and get dirty.
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