Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tacticool Tuesday: How I learned to stop worrying and love my inner Geardo

I am an unabashed geardo.  Gear queer, gear whore, gear nerd, whatever you want to call it.  I wear that moniker like a badge.  I get my hands on a quality 500 Cordura with triple stitching and a clever mounting attachment and suddenly I am 8 years old with a mail in only limited edition Star Wars figure.  It makes me smile every time.  I wear quality gear because I know that good gear does not grant magical powers of strength or speed.  It will not make you fake it until you make it.  It is not a replacement for real, honest-to-God training.  It should be common knowledge that you generally get the results from the quality of what you pay for.  Sadly, I see a trend on certain forums that gear made for the airsoft/cosplay community is perfectly acceptable.   Or that you can take on the entire Chinese army and bring down large game with the .22 Marlin you bring out a couple of times a year for squirrels.  I am sure you have seen it.   Just like any other idea that people become completely invested in, telling folks anything different will likely crush their world.  I do not want to be the guy to curse that darkness.  For public record, please allow me to light a candle instead.

TheSorry, Bruh. I can’t hear you over how awesome this Rothco Ninja SWAT vest makes my butt look.”  Guy
From what I have seen, the people that extol the virtues of substandard gear are never people who have had to trust their lives to the equipment.  Curious, that.   This mindset is generally from people that are too ignorant of the harsh environment of what they are training for to know that the UTG vest with the cool cross draw holder will absolutely let them down.  Notice my word of ignorant and not stupid.  These are not stupid people but simply people who do not understand how hard you have to be on certain equipment.  Without a frame of reference brought on by experience (either through training or other life experience), they have lulled themselves into a false sense of security that just because they have SOMETHING that something is somehow enough.  It is a similar mentality from the person who takes their Mosin/M4gery/whatever out of the box once and thinks they have this whole defense thing in the bag. 
Cool guy widgets of whatever stripe are awesome if you have the money.  I do not put things like weapon mounted lights on weapons or helmet mounted night vision in the category of superfluous impedimenta.  Things that give you a huge margin of difference between people that do not have them are generally worth every damn penny.  Most things can be bought on secondary markets like Facebook private selling groups or internet auction sites for fractions of what they cost new.  Never pay full price for anything.  Peer reviews are a great way to filter out the garbage as is asking the question “why do I want this and do I really need it”.  Leave vanity for date night.

The “But the guy on the internet said I could take down a deer with this 10-22.” Guy
Deliberately not having enough or the correct equipment for a task is misconception can easily be remedied by the simple equation of having the right tool for the right job.  Can you take down a deer through the eye at 50 feet with an air rifle?  How should I know because I would never be crazy enough to trust my future food supply to a one-in-a-million shot?  Living things do not sit perfectly still generally.   Fun fact for those that doubt it, people move around a lot too if they know they are in danger.  Can you face a mutant biker gang with a HiPoint?  I suppose, but why would you want to?  This argument most always boils down to available cash.  I get it.  As a guy who has had a family and lived off of an Enlisted mans salary for pretty much his entire adult life, I really do get it.  Just like everything else in life, it all comes down to how much you want it. If you have the money to spend on takeout pizza but not enough to save up for something that will actually keep you and your family and your friends safe, I would ask that you think about the quality of life you and yours will have when the S hits the F and it really matters.  You are a leader to someone, whether you know it or not.  Don’t let them down with a false sense of security that you have enough gun.  And again, don’t pay full price for anything.

The “I have played play Call of Duty a lot for like, 10 years man, so that pretty much makes me a Spetznaz Super Sniper God. Or something.” Guy
Playing video games does not approximate any type of training. Ever. It may be good to give you ideas on how to clear a building or defend a compound.   Humans are a pretty crafty bunch when they really are trying to kill each other.  It is scary as shit to actively have people who want to kill you.   On that same note, In the past few years, the Army has had to initiate a service wide physical training program to assist Millennials in building up their atrophied bone structure because they were having too many hip and leg injuries.  Get off the couch.  That thing will get you killed quick.
Poor training habits, however frequent, is also a recipe for failure.  If you are using a computer you have probably seen by now videos from opportunists that try and capitalize on new shooters that want to train by are too ignorant to know what right training looks like. By providing newcomers with substandard to criminally dangerous training, they are building habits that are very difficult to fix assuming there is retaining.  We know who these people are and the community has been pretty good about giving them the derision that they deserve.  Good training is a lifelong event so get out when you can and do quality training from vetted trainers.  The best martial artists of whatever stripe out there, whether it is 3 gun, cowboy action shooting, precision rifle, or Greco-boxing-Krav-Ju-Sumo-whatever, are doing nothing but the fundamentals.  If you spend time to perfect the fundamentals you become both quicker and more accurate.  There will be time enough to learn the difference between the Judy Chop and the Ninjy Chop when the fundamentals are mastered.
When a carpenter reaches for his hammer, he knows that it is going to do what it needs to do. He is trained on it and knows its limitations.  It is not to be used for as task when a saw would do.  You do not expect the hammer to drive in a screw.  A hammer does the task of pounding flat objects.  If we all understand this then why is there always a clamor to use an inferior product in an inappropriate way for tasks whose failure would be life altering and expect anything other than failure? 
Get good gear. Get it out of the packaging.  Get trained on that gear.  Repeat as often as you still draw breath.


Anonymous said...

HAHAHA!!! Thanks SGT Matt!! Now this is some great reading I can really get into. I love that military perspective humor.

Sign Me, Neal Jensen

Anonymous said...

"the Army has had to initiate a service wide physical training program to assist Millennials in building up their atrophied bone structure"

This reminds me of a story my father, a WWII veteran, told about enlistees who routinely showed up from farms and factory jobs, accustomed to hard work, but so malnourished, the Army established nutritional guidelines to build up the recruits.
I guess history does repeat, in a way.
Stay safe

Mike in KY said...

Pace yourself, man. Don't get me wrong, Matthew; I'm loving your posts. I just fear at this rate you're going to burn out early. Having once had a (long gone) personal website and blog, I know it can take a lot of time away from your family if you let it.

Pace yourself. I want to read your stuff for a long time.

Also, if Mike sees this, I hope you're staying comfortable and being very proud of the new CO of Sipsey Street.

Anonymous said...

"Get good gear. Get it out of the packaging. Get trained on that gear."

Two things you will learn right off the bat at Appleseed:

1. Very few people show up shooting as well as they think they do.

2. That's a problem that is easily fixable.

By the time you leave after the last relay on Sunday evening, you will have learned plenty about your gear, yourself, and how to improve the shortcomings you probably didn't know you had.

But you have to get off the couch. You have to make some effort. You have to show up.

T. Paine said...

Excellent post. I never cease to be amused by the gear queers I run into at the rifle range. Last week I went out there was some guy there with all the bench rest crap (I think in the real world, we actually HOLD the weapon don't we?) and all manner of supporting tools, cleaning gear etc etc. We've all seen it. And then......there was another guy there with an old Enfield rifle. When he carried the rifle, he held it at port arms, used a shooting glove, exuded ex-military and made one hole groups at 50 meters with the iron sights. Gear does not equal capability, but can, if used properly, enhance it. The opposite is perhaps more true. If we don't master the basics, all the gear and bolt on crap in the world won't help.

Rusty Gunner said...

You don't use a hammer to drive a screw?? Damn. That explains why the garage leans.

Something you might want to put some thought into for future posts is advice on how to tell the difference between good gear and bad for us old farts who were of enlisting age during the Reagan administration and are still thinking in terms of Alice kit. There's a lot of crap out there, and a lot of bad information, but apart from "avoid Rothco" I'm not confident I could separate good from bad.

Anonymous said...

My wife was considering two similar looking items at a local store. She asked a clerk for some advice on which was better. The clerk told her the more expensive one was better. My wife asked her how she knew it was better and the clerk replied she knew it was better because it was more expensive.

If it were only so simple.

My dad told a story from a friend who was a combat photographer in Korea. It seems that he and the others trying to document the war were carrying along their expensive German made 35mm cameras. They also were in the habit of packing a less expensive Japanese camera as a backup. They noticed that while the expensive primary camera would sometimes give up due to shock, cold, mud and all that other war-in-real-life stuff, the less expensive backup just kept on ticking. Those less expensive backup cameras were Nikons, a brand no one outside of Japan had heard much about.

The moral of the story, if there is one, is that you need to take gear out and use it as it was meant to be used. Good gear, regardless of cost, will work when you need it to work more often than bad gear. After you find what works when you need it to work you can start evaluating stuff based on cost.

In the days of my misspent youth, I dabbled about with an NHRA D/MP class race car. I learned to avoid "trick of the week" stuff and focus my limited budget on what made the car go faster and lasted longer before coming unglued in a spectacular fashion regardless of the name on the box or what the guy in the next space over was running. Unless I saw that he was consistently going faster than I was of course. Then I paid more attention.

The situations we're talking about gearing up for involve higher stakes than a shiny trophy, some extra money in the budget, or bragging rights at the next meet. But that means we just need to apply the above principles of gear selection with an even more critical eye.

Dutchman6 said...

Expensive does not always mean better, I will agree. But the adage of "buy once, cry once" certainly applies.

Re: Rust Gnners comment as to which brands that you should get, it all depends on what you want to want to do. I would start with taking a look at what capability you realistically want to be able to accomplish and then research as to what works for you. This applies not just in the domain of the ballistic nylon but weapons, ammunition, fast cars, and anything else. The internet is definitely fertile ground for people to have all kinds of opinions as to what is the "best" solution for your problem. I have found articles over at Mason Dixon of use. Try https://masondixontactical.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/lightweight-modular-basic-load-options/ as a good start.

You gave the example of ALICE gear, so if you are looking specifically for rucks, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the ALICE pack system. I have a BDS ruck and a Blackhawk SOF ruck that both accept the frame and belt system. Both of which I have updated. Both packs are of different sizes and serve different purposes, Due to its size, the SOF ruck is also outfitted with a HSGI Alipad and it makes it very comfortable. It also makes a heavy bad heavier and that is certainly a consideration. If I had to pick another bag, I would probably go with a Eberlestock pack. Your mileage may vary, of course. Hope this helps. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Welcome Sgt. Matt, while we will miss your dad's under appreciated efforts, our prayers go out to him and yours. May Mikes final days be peaceful if not more than predicted.
Not all Rothco gear is equal as some has been approved and bears NATIC issued numbers. I am partial to their T-shirts and heavy green/silver thermal blankets as both have lasted for me through years of use.Can't speak about UGT as I have only a few small non essential items of theirs that have not been put to the test. As has been stated in many places let the buyer be aware. Mil Surplus is the way to go and can be had cheap at gun shows.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I'm going to share a personal story (don't worry, not really TMI personal, just 'explains something about me' personal). I was one time out with my family visiting my sister who had acquired one of them new-fangled (at the time) front-loading washers, and we decided to install the shelving for it in the nook where she wanted it. So we established that we would need to trim off an inch or so of the board that would form the body of the shelf, and I mentioned that it would be well for someone to drop by the hardware store (this was in a suburban area, such stores were within a mile or two) and get an inexpensive handsaw.

"But you could just make a saw!" Yes, we actually had this argument, and I had to become somewhat heated and through in developing my proposal that we simply buy a saw for a couple of bucks rather than spend time, effort, and some scrap metal making a very poor substitute by the application of pliers and screwdriver to whatever disposable metal was available (note, this particular sister was among the least likely to keep scrap metal). Yes, I could have just made a saw. Yes, my family members all knew this. No, I could not have made one as good as the cheapest saw-blade they could buy at the hardware store.

The decisive argument, which won the day, was that they needed to go out and buy food anyway, so they could pick up a saw at the same shopping complex while they were at it. Of course, I still had "I'll go buy it and you all can sit here looking at nothing being done" in reserve (didn't have a way to present that without sounding like I was displeased with their company, though...I frankly would have been if it had come to that). But even now, as then, I cannot rationally fathom why there was an argument. Yes, there may come a day when we need but cannot just buy (or find) a purpose-made handsaw. Yes, I can make a saw if it comes to that. But it was not that day!

Which is to say, I fully embrace the reasoning behind this argument in favor of being a "Geardo". I merely doubt anyone outside my family would agree that I am one.

Anonymous said...

Never substitute gear for skill. As always, check and test new gear.

Corvette said...

I agree good training is essential for success. For new rifle shooters I would suggest finding the nearest Appleseed shoot and sign up. You will get two days of field marksmanship training that is a solid foundation for follow on work. Steady hold factors in standing seated and prone, six steps to firing a shot and much more is taught and drilled over the two days. Learn what an MOA is and how to use it. And get a refresher course in our shared American heritage as Riflemen and Riflewomen.

Corvette Ohio SC Appleseed Project

LarryArnold said...

Chiu: Alternate decisive argument.

"Okay, I'll get busy making a saw instead of buying one at the store when you get busy making food instead of buying it at the store."

Chiu ChunLing said...

Hehehe...nice one, but I wanted a store-bought saw and store-bought food, and that argument might have got me neither. Some of the family members present were (and still are) into 'alternatively sourced' food, and you never want to invite them to show their skills unless you're really hungry.

Like the truism says, you must always choose the lesser of two weevils.