*Guns, Gear, Training, Mindset*
By: Raider1
25 April, 2008

I've noticed here lately that we have been discussing a lot about guns and gear, some on training, and a little on mindset. So, when it all boils down, what is the most important?

In my opinion, it would be mindset first, training second, weapons third and gear dead last. Now why is that? Those who know me well know I love weapons, from simple knives to complex weapon systems; I have always been fascinated by them. And gear... yes, I admit it... I am a gear queer, from ancient Greek to modern Ballistic nylon, I am interested in it.

But when it all boils down, it is mindset first and foremost that is required, with training to supplement it. If you do not have the proper mindset when the chips are down, you will fail. And failure can be as simple as not passing class or as all consuming as costing you or your loved one their life. You have to decide that IF the situation occurs, you WILL perform to the best of your ability. Evade when applicable, engage only when it is required, don't be a hero, be a survivor. Mindset can be defined as having the will and intestinal fortitude to do what must be done.

Second is training. If you are trained and have practiced repeatedly, then when the adrenalin is flowing you will be able to perform without actively thinking about it, as it will be almost instinctual as you have developed habits from long hours of practice. I remember in Boot camp how difficult it was racking the bolt back during inspection arms while holding the pistol grip of my M16A2, now it is as easy as breathing. Hand a vet an M16 series rifle and he can still rack that bolt back for inspection arms without a problem. Be aware that training comes in two forms: quality and piss poor. Sometimes it takes a second pair of eyes to let you know if you have received quality training or piss poor. Just because Instructor A was in "Black Ops and is a Super Secret Squirrel Commando" doesn't mean he can teach you squat. Different people have different teaching and learning styles, you must find the style that works best for you.

Instructors come in many shapes/styles/flavors. Some are very "in your face" and try to make you work in the most stressful environment as possible, others are so laid back you would think they are just this side of a coma; some are a blend of the two. What may work well for one person may not work well for another. My best answer as to why to train is so you add another tool in your personal tool box. You may learn a new way that you didn't know about that allows you to operate easier and smoother. Like anything, get quality instruction!

Weapons - rifle, pistol and shotgun are what we mainly focus on here. For personal everyday use, we focus on handguns. The one thing we try to preach the most here is DO NOT CHEAP YOURSELF TO DEATH. What that means is, if you can't afford a quality handgun, hold off buying a cheap POS. Save up and get that quality weapon. Ask yourself this, "How much is my life, and the lives of my family, worth?" Not saying hold off to buy that Wilson CQB 1911A1 when a Springfield or like is available, what I am saying is to hold off buying that Hi-Point for now and get a good quality weapon when you can. And no one ever said you can't buy used. I bought my Kimber Custom Eclipse II for $700 or so and it only had about 50 rounds through it, and my first revolver was under $200 (a Dan Wesson .357magnum with 4in barrel).

Gear, what do I buy? It may take several purchases to find THE holster for your weapon that does everything you want it to. "But all it does is carry the weapon, Raider". Yes, it does, but does it carry it comfortably? Is it secure? Is it made of quality materials? Does it print when carried concealed? Is it going to fall apart if someone tries to grab it off your hip? These are just a few questions to consider when purchasing your weapon. For rifles and shotguns, a sling is important, think of a sling as a holster for your longarm. Load bearing gear, what do I need to get. US GI is fine, it is rugged and will hold up, but it is lacking in so many ways these days. Modern gear is lighter-weight, carries much more comfortably, is mission adaptable, and is not so cheap. But when your life is on the line, do you REALLY want to be thinking "Did that CHICOM manufacturer have a bad day and my mag pouch is going to rip open, or the straps going to pull through the tri-glides on my vest? Buy QUALITY, and be done with it.

CCW Observations

I have heard from some people over the years that they felt "empowered" when they got their CCW, and carried religiously for months afterwards, then they slacked off as it was uncomfortable or they couldn't carry where they were going. This makes no sense to me.

Common-sense Rules

#1) If you have your CCW, CARRY YOUR DANG GUN! That little piece of laminated paper isn't going to do you one iota of good if you need your weapon and it isn't with you.
#2) Carry a reload. If you run out of ammo, you are hosed. Malfunctions happen; wouldn't it be comforting to know that you have a back up plan if something happens to your piece's feed system?
#3) Carry a doggone light. And I don't mean just a keychain LED light. Carry a taclight, one that will pierce smoke or fog whereas an LED light only bounces back at you. I usually have an LED on my key chain and a taclight in my pocket.
#4) Have a plan. Know how and where you plan to go in the event you need to escape and evade.
#5) STAY ALERT! Situational Awareness doesn't end when you arrive at home or at your destination. Scan and observe your surroundings and LISTEN, you will be amazed at what you normally miss when you listen and don't just hear what is going on.
#6) Stay alive. Let someone else be the hero, your main goal is to remain alive and protect your loved ones. Refer to rules 4 & 5 above.

These are just a few random thoughts on some issues I have seen popping up here lately. I am in no way/shape/form some Spec-ops Ninja, just a regular guy who has seen a little bit of things in the past few years and noted some of what works and what doesn't. Just my opinions, take it for what it is worth.

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