One of my dreams is to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail. This trail about 2200 miles long running from Georgia to Maine, and takes several months to hike in its entirety. I have watched documentaries, read stories, looked at maps, etc. to get a feel for the experience. In my studies, I learned of a little shop at the top of a hill close to the southern trail head. A hiker would likely get to this shop within a couple of days. It is full of all kinds of random things, off the wall trinkets, obscure and expensive gadgets, and hiking equipment. It also is well stocked with the essential hiking equipment.
This store sells the essentials, and buys the excess. Hikers very quickly learn what is important. Every ounce matters in the pack. Those who pack in unnecessary gear for an extended hike may be well-funded, but lack experience/knowledge. They learn quickly just how important knowledge is, and are willing to sacrifice equipment once they understand what they are doing.
We can circumvent the vast majority of this difficult and possibly costly learning curve by doing some homework, and learning from the pros how to do it right. This approach carries over to pretty much every aspect of our lives. Let’s take a look at how this applies to our personal safety.
Every now and again I have a student come in with a brand new $1000+ dollar handgun that has never been shot, because they have never shot a hand gun… They have the equipment, but no understanding of how the thing works, essentially rendering it a really nice paper weight (but, they came to learn!). On the other hand, I have had students come in with grandpa’s old revolver that has seen better days. And yet, they perform very well! They have trained, learned, and bothered to gain the knowledge necessary to get the best from any tool available.
There is an old song that goes by the name of “Touch of the Master’s Hand“. It says that even though something may appear worthless, in the right hands, it is priceless. This puts focus on knowledge and capability as opposed to gear and equipment. Some of the most capable “operators” I know use quality equipment, train with it extensively, and place knowledgeable above all else.
What knowledge is most valuable? A few key topics come to mind: Tactics, Weapons manipulation, Human functionality, and Your own limits.
- Tactics: We must know how to move, where, and when with purpose and intent.
- Weapons Manipulation: If you don’t know how to handle your weapon proficiently under stress, you better get there!
- Human Functionality: We need to know how our body acts under stress, as well as how a threat’s body reacts to injury and other input.
- Our own limits: You cannot do what you cannot do. There are some physical limitations. Can you honestly say that you can take a head shot into a moving threat through an active and dynamic crowd in a mall? I can’t. I know that, if you are being honest you can’t either, not without hitting a bystander. That is just reality…
I am not saying you cannot have nice gear, far from it! We should invest in quality gear. However, consider getting a $800 gun and spend $1200 on training, as opposed to $2000 gun with no training. If you can do both $2k on a gun, and train, more power to you! Most of us however, must settle for good quality consumer grade tools and train, and train… and train some more.
Never feel like you need to compete with other people’s gear, more on that here. What they have may not work for you, shoot, it may not work at all! Sometimes I see some “tactical” gear and cringe due to its disastrous potential! Gear does not equal good. A 10 lb rifle may look cool, but is all but worthless when clearing rooms. Your goals and priorities must be weighed, measured, and considered when creating a strategy for your safety. Seek professional help if necessary, but please learn!
What can we learn?
- What is more valuable, gear or knowledge? Without gear, knowledge is worthless, without knowledge, gear is.
- Gear is not always good, nor is it always helpful.
- Equipment can be good, but be selective.
- Avoid becoming obsessed with equipment
- Spend time and resources on training!
- Knowledge will cost more time than anything else, it is worth the investment!
- Knowledge is power!!