Equipment vs. Skilll

Too many people focus on reducing group size or speeding up their shooting by purchasing gadgets and less by training.

The firearms industry is driven by the aftermarket, not necessarily the weapon manufacturers themselves. Through advertising, aftermarket manufacturers convince the average shooter that they “need” every trinket and gizmo to make themselves a better shooter. This seems to be a never ending battle I have with people, convincing them which is more important, the software or hardware.

A fast shooter is fast not because of his equipment which SO SO SO many people can’t grasp. A person isn’t a good shot because of the rifle he/she holds, the rifle is accurate because of the person holding it. I’ve used this analogy before, that you cannot purchase muscle memory and no matter how many things you bolt onto your gun the shot timer will not reflect large improvements without rounds sent down range. You can’t rent experience, or borrow the needed skill to make a difficult shot, make it through an actual gunfight or life threatening situation. Those reflexes and abilities are earned on the range, and too many people focus on the tool and not the skill to use it.

A mechanic isn’t the person with the shiniest Snap On tool box and fanciest tools, he has built up years of experience that helps him do his job efficiently and right the first time. I get asked a lot about what drills I would recommend to become a better shot with a precision rifle. I would venture to say, most good instructors can get new students the same or better results and smaller groups in an afternoon with a iron sighted 22lr or scoped 22lr at 50 yards than a .308, 6.5 Creedmor or equivalent. The same can be said of a carbine with iron sights or a standard Glock 9mm without all the work everyone thinks they absolutely need to put into it.

Now am I saying that these things, additions, technology doesn’t help in some aspect? No I am not. I would venture to ask, do most people even know the reason they put all the Pic rail attachment items, or modifications on their gun? Other than that they saw their favorite Youtube, high speed instructor using it that way? Each person brings different dimensions, hand sizes, eye dominance, previous injuries to the table that will lead to changes in body position, grip, what gun is comfortable, trigger finger placement, what sight someone prefers, shape of trigger, stock they put on a gun, or any million other modifications you can make to your personal firearm.

Have a good reason and know why each modification is for you and why, it will only help to make you a better shooter and have a much better understanding of your shooting style and skill level. I challenge anyone to start basic, shoot till your fingers bleed, and then shoot some more. Burn some barrels out, get your hands on as many different options as possible for everything before deciding that just because instructor X uses it that way it’s the way for you.

This entry was posted in Training, Weapon Modifications by Joe. Bookmark the permalink.

About Joe

Joe currently serves active duty with 10 years in Special Operations with deployments to Iraq, Afghan and Pacific Theaters. His qualifications include Sniper, Breacher, Post Certified Pistol instructor, MACTAC Instructor, Range Officer, and Master Training Specialist. Joe has two years as a military small arms instructor teaching marksmanship and tactics. He actively works with southern California local SWAT units as a consultant and also shoots competitive tactical long range competitions when he has time off of work. In addition, Joe is deeply involved with the tactical long range industry actively consulting with many industry leaders.

11 thoughts on “Equipment vs. Skilll

  1. Shooting, golf, baseball, name the high skill endeavor (I know, there are those who will flay me open for the golf nod.) and there are those who want to buy their skill. Buying a new bat, red dot, laser, driver, etc….is easier than putting in the TIME. You can usually tell the, “skill builder” as I call them. They’re the ones putting in time, working hard, and pushing the fundamentals, not just buying new stuff.

  2. Solid points, too many people get all “tacticool” trying to mimic operators, or famous cool guy instructors and cant shoot minute of barn door. Or they brag that their rifle is sub-MOA yet cant put a 5 shot group in one string that is sub-MOA on paper.

    I think it goes hand in hand, good equipment plus good training equals good results and rounds on target. I hate watching guys bang away rounds on the 25 meter line at static targets and think they are training. Or the guy who buys an Elcan Spectre that cant even zero it, or the guy who has all super cool guy gear and cant execute an emergency reload drill. We have all seen it.

    The mall ninja and internet commando seems to be the trend right now in shooting, hopefully it will pass. Solid points.

  3. I agree with everything said here, including comments I’ve seen so far, except the disparaging of people “banging away on the 25 yard line”.

    Not everyone has access to a range that will let you run from spot to spot, do high speed rapid fire drills, shoot in odd positions, engage multiple targets, or other “tactical” training. At the end of the day which guy do you want backing YOU up (or which do you think is better): the guy that puts 25 or 50 rounds a month down range in “tactical” drills, and maybe fires 500 – 1000 rounds once every 2 – 3 years in a “combat” or “tactical” trading class, or the guy who puts 50 – 100 rounds of ammo down range at the 25 yard line, timed or slow fire, every week for that same 2 – 3 years? One guy practiced all the “tactical” stuff and fired 2800 rounds (tops). The other fired around 15,600 rounds – over 5 times the trigger time.

    • What I meant by my comment about guys “banging away at the 25 yard line” is that all to often these shooters I am referencing are not aiming, just burning rounds for minimal training value. I see it a lot. If you only have access to a short range, practice accuracy drills, bill drill, you can even do a modified el presidente on a single target. But standing 25 yards away and just pumping rounds into a target as fast as you can pull the trigger isn’t training.

  4. Since the beginning of time, it has been the indian not the arrow. However, it is also likely that since the time of the first arrows, indians have been preoccupied with making a better arrow.

  5. One counterpoint to buying skill through gear, is buying experience through training which leads to skill often with less money than chasing better gear. Every time I talk to a new shooter that buys a 2k plus 1911 and can’t shoot I recommend they sell it buy a Glock 19 2k of ammo, mags, holsters and a class from a reputable school.

  6. Agree completely, although some tools/equipment can actually speed up the process of gaining experience by reducing time and energy spent on mundane tasks between trigger pulls.

      • One example that comes to mind is people that use lasers on their rails while dry firing for the purpose of making sure their aim stays steady during trigger pull.

  7. that may assist but is not necessarily required. putting a shell casing on top of your rail can accomplish something similar to see if you flinch or jerk. While helpful I would rather see people train then wait to train until they have the fanciest gear on the market. I see a lot of posts on the popular message boards about people not training because they are waiting for some upgrade, scope, red dot, grip, muzzle brake, etc they want to put on before they send some rounds down range. I say shoot until your parts are there and then shoot some more.

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