Pick up any gun magazine and you’ll see the marketing scheme that, unfortunately, has become the industry standard.
There’s a burly dude with lots of tats and a tactical beard wearing a plate carrier, helmet, battle belt, $300 sunglasses, comms, high-speed tactical clothing, NVGs unavailable to civilian shooters, IR lasers, a suppressor, several knives — usually at least one a BFK — and maybe even a grenade or two.
The ad usually says something about a “mission” or “danger” or “when lives matter,” and it points out that only the strong will survive — and the strong, I assume, are those with enough money to buy their particular product.
This is how we’re marketing guns and accessories nowadays: You too can be an operator as long as you buy this.
This operatoritis has permeated all aspects of our gun community, and it’s given rise to some dangerous trends.
It’s placed guns and gear above all else — even training.
Guns and gear won’t save you during a gunfight — regardless of their cool factor — unless you know how to use them.
Training is far more important than stuff and, unfortunately, operatoritis has already hit the training world hard.
Gone are many of the advanced courses that previously honed mastery of the shooting fundamentals, and then took them to the next level. There’s still some around, but not nearly as many as there were before.
They’ve been replaced by circuses where students run-and-gun for a weekend — just like real operators — even though many of the drills are questionable at best.
Many of these “operator” classes are designed for one thing — entertainment.
Of course there are exceptions, but nowadays, many instructors strive only to keep their students entertained and happy. The happier the student, the more likely they are to recommend the course to their friends. The more recommendations …
The students don’t learn mastery of the fundamentals — the bedrock of tactical shooting — even though they’ve paid thousands for their high-speed, testosterone-fueled weekends.
There are far too many tactical shooters who simply cannot shoot — period. But with all their high-speed guns, gadgets and gear, they look like they’re ready to start breaching doors at the Fat Boy King’s palace in Pyongyang.
I’m the first to admit that running and gunning is fun — damn fun. And I too wish I could afford tactical pants that cost as much as a car payment, custom knives that cost as must as the car, or plate carriers capable of stopping cannon rounds.
But the truth is, I would rather spend my hard-earned dollars on real-world training, instead of on stuff I don’t need or playing army on the weekend.
Besides, I cannot fathom a scenario where I’ll be facing a threat while armed with all my tactical gear: AK, handgun, spare mags and body armor. If I’m wrong about this, trust me, no one will be happier than me.
There is a cure for this operatoritis — acceptance.
I’ve accepted that I’m a civilian shooter. I’ve accepted the fact that the threats I’m likely to encounter probably won’t include the North Korean Army’s Special Purpose Forces. They’ll be either a mugger at an ATM machine or a confused home-invader who got the wrong address.
I’m going to spend my time and my money mastering the fundamentals, and training with the tools I’ll likely have during a gunfight: a pistol if I’m out or an AK if I’m home.
While I get to run-and-gun occasionally — still one of the funnest parts of this job — the instructors I go to use drills that reinforce the fundamentals, not as a mechanism to entertain their students.
For me, when I’m in danger — when lives truly matter — my mission will be to win the gunfight without the latest and greatest do-dads.
Instead, I’ll rely upon my training.
It’s worked before, and it’s something you can never forget at home.