I shoot photos at a lot of classes so I spend a lot of time really inspecting gear through the viewfinder. In the process of looking at everyone’s setup, I realize just how little folks know about actually setting it up. A few of my more savvy readers are rolling their eyes right now because they’ve seen it all and know exactly what i’m talking about and already have their kit squared away. However, everyone knows THAT GUY that comes to class wearing more MOLLE than HSGI produces in a year.
I am not one to tell anyone else about what gear they do or do not believe that they need for a given situation. That’s on you. But when the gear hinders your ability to train, is it worth it?
I will stress high quality gear every hour of every day, but that is because I train hard. I didn’t buy this stuff to sit in a closet. I try to use it at every possible opportunity so I can figure out what works and what doesn’t, what I like and what I don’t. But that doesn’t mean I go to a fundamentals based handgun class in a bump helmet and plates and a battle belt. I am there to work on fundamentals, not do high speed stuff.
Sometimes though, I WILL wear a battle belt because it is easier for me put on and off or wear for long periods.
So back to the point. I see a lot of guys and gals buying gear and wearing gear that hinders their performance. Plates are too heavy. All those pouches get in the way. SERPAs lock up. They strip off the offending piece of gear, throw it on the ground, call it a piece of shit, and say they wasted their money. I have differing opinions. People that buy cheaper gear for value’s sake are not necessarily making a bad purchase, especially if they just want to get the experience of wearing it while shooting. But the problem is usually NOT the gear, it is the ABILITY of the student to isolate their shooting fundamentals from the all the other shit in their environment. They blame the equipment for the fact they can’t perform a proper transition, rather than the fact that they just can’t perform a GOOD transition. It’s like a golfer blaming their $300 club for their slice. It ain’t the club, brother, it’s your inside-out path of your swing making the club face open at impact. Unf**k yourself.
We are quick to shit on gear makers like CONDOR or Uncle Mike’s because it is not the latest and greatest unobtanium infused nylon derivative breathable membrane fabric of the gods. Personally, I wouldn’t trust my life to what I consider inferior products, but for someone’s budget and training regimen, that might be plenty for what they need. Everyone’s mindset is different. And I’ve seen a lot of shooters, really GOOD shooters, able to use crappy old gear because their weapon manipulation skills are solid FIRST.
So at the end of the day, whatever it is you’re preparing for, spend your money on the training first and the peripheral gear a distant second.
Matt Stagliano is a photographer first, and firearms / outdoors enthusiast second. His work has appeared in countless magazines and online outlets such as RECOIL, SKILLSET, Guns & Ammo, Concealment, Breach Bang Clear, Ammoland, and others. He spends most of his time running Stonetree Creative, a full service portrait studio in Maine when he is not on assignment as Firelance Media. Learn more about Stonetree online or follow him on Instagram (@stonetreecreative). On Facebook here.