This article begins in 2012, when I joined m4carbine.net. It seemed to me to be a gathering of solid people giving out solid advice, so I started reading. From what I have heard since, I really missed out on the heyday of M4C, just like I missed Lightfighter but I digress. The threads were still there and I did, and still do, learn much from what is written over there.
On many occasions, a newer member would post about purchasing “my first AR,” and was looking for advice on what to buy for it. The answer, it seemed, was like a broken record: “get some training, and get some ammo.” In principle I understood, but I too began to be slightly annoyed at the repetition. “I get it,” I would think, “you are all burning it down with rifles, and you want this guy learning his stuff before buying the gadgets.” Then I started working on a gun range, later becoming the facility manager. My eyes were opened, the clouds parted, and the angels sang! The reasons for this oft-repeated phrase became crystal clear.
I now want to explain this “get some training, get some ammo” mindset, at least from my perspective.
I am not exactly sure of the reason, but some things have become so much ingrained as part of being a ‘man’ that many guys feel like they were born with an inherent expertise on the subject. Guns and cars come to mind immediately. I get it; the fact that your current skill level is insufficient is not the best thought to have, and requires us to be honest about ourselves. When someone is underwhelmed by performance, it is natural to want to find a solution, and the quick solution is the easy way out, especially when that solution unloads any blame for lack of performance off of yourself and onto the gear.
It’s too bad seeing rifles that were gang-banged by Tapco, UTG, and Mako (while the gun bouncer Cheaper than Dirt watched over his folded arms and white wife beater). What is worse is seeing the same traits of the owners behind those rifles (or sometimes in front of them, as their buddy was muzzling them). Because all additional money had been spent on these accessories, a real opportunity cost had been paid; many have little to no knowledge base on the safe use, efficient manipulation, or practical application of the rifle they just purchased.
May I be so bold as to make some suggestions:
-if you can’t easily zero your current sighting system (even if it’s irons only for now), try investing in some knowledge before buying additional sighting systems that you may or may not end up even wanting or needing.
-If you don’t understand how to use, and the rationale behind the use, of a weapon-mounted visible laser, perhaps you should resist that N.C. Star laser impulse buy (with included coil cord pressure pad, of course) and use the money for a class.
-If you have never learned the proper grip and stance when using a rifle, perhaps look into having someone teach you that before buying adjustable gas blocks, muzzle brakes or compensators, or fancy buffers/springs to solve a problem that can largely be addressed with proper technique.
I want to make it clear that if you are just wanting to bolt on a bunch of stuff to a rifle because of the perceived ‘cool’ factor, or you are wanting to collect all the likes on the latest social media app–cool, rock on. If tactical dress up is you game-dude go play to your heart’s content. However, you cannot do that, and at the same time trick yourself into believing that you are preparing for serious self-defense. In my experience, and mine only, I have been much more satisfied shooting a basic gun properly, after going to learn from top notch instructors, than I had been in the past, with cooler gadgets and little knowledge and no formal training. On many occasions I have sold guns to fund a trip to a class, and to date I have not had a single regret about any of those sales. In other words: Instead of spending so much money on hardware, we should instead make it a priority to invest in ourselves, an investment that brings highly desirable returns.