This topic may seem a little controversial, but there are a lot of people in the gun world who appear to care more about their gear than their training. And that is a huge mistake.
TWO TYPE OF SHOOTERS
In my experience there are two types of shooters. Not saying one is a better shooter than the other, its just one type tends to focus inward instead of outward.
The Collector - Collectors are knowledgeable, even more so than the second type many times, and usually have either a wide assortment of guns or customize their guns in ways that add little to no value to the skills an accurate shooter must possess.
When Marines train, they first learn to master iron sights. They do this because red dots fail. The good ones have Quick Disconnect mounts; they’re not called “Quick Connectors”. High tech optics are considered an add-on, they aren’t necessary.
Compensators/brakes, flashy and colorful 3rd party replacements, none of which make you an accurate shooter. Do I accessorize my guns with add-ons? Yes! But they all have a practical purpose and don’t distract me from my already refined, core skills.
Don’t get caught in the constant upgrade cycle. If you love to shoot, just train and practice, otherwise it’s going to soak-up every spare dollar you earn. I would rather spend my money on bullets and training.
The Protector - John Lovell did a video on this subject. He didn’t disparage the Collector, and we feel the same. If that is your choice have at it! But the Protector is a shooter who’s first goal is to protect his or herself and their family. Protectors make sound decisions on their equipment, and focus on their effectiveness as a shooter first (internal) before their equipment (external).
The Protector has a good balance between their investment into tangible equipment like guns, disposable supplies like ammo & targets, and training. As a novice Protector, all you need is a single pistol to carry, shoot at the range, and protect your home. Can you do that to the best of your abilities? If so you can move to the next level.
Experienced Protectors understand that their gun is simply a tool to accomplish the end goal. Lovell compares a pistol to a hammer here, do you really need a different hammer if all you are doing is pounding nails?
Well in some cases yes! You do! Here are three fundamental upgrades we feel are necessary once you are ready to upgrade your skills, not your gear.
Range Gun - Many people start-out their practice with a carry gun. Unfortunately carry guns are usually small and painful to shoot hundred of rounds at a range. After all you won’t be shooting hundreds of rounds in a live defense situation. Of course train with your carry gun, but eventually you will likely want something more practical.
We recommend a full-size gun for the range, especially when practicing your trigger discipline, shooting distance, or learning a new skill that will require hundreds of rounds to master. Buy the full size version of your carry gun if you you prefer. You won’t regret the investment.
Tactical Belt - When you are ready to take your training to the next level, you will need a tactical belt. Not an EDC or Battle belt (see So Many Belts, which to choose and Why do I need a Tactical Belt), but one that has an OWB holster and a few basic attachments. This way all of your gear - including basic medical - is on your hip during your training. The cost is minimal versus how it constrains your training if you don’t have one.
Sure you can carry mags and medical in your pockets. But you won’t be able to learn reload efficiency without one unless you limit yourself to just concealed carry. If you were clearing your home or property at night, would you prefer to have your spare mags in your pockets?
Training - Some people start and end their training with a Concealed Carry class. At least they took one. But the true Protector won’t stop there. Granted, classes are expensive and sometimes you have to travel. Fact is, it may take you years to achieve the level of skill you desire. That’s OK. Every day you spend practicing, saving, and planning your path is a step forward.
What we find most interesting with training is what we learn from even the most basic courses. Different teachers have sometimes very different perspectives. And just one of them may help move your practice light years ahead. I have taken Pistol 1 and 2 at least 2-4 times in just the last 5 years alone, from three different instructors. This over a lifetime of shooting. Never stop training!
Here are the most common training classes we tend to see shooters achieve substantial progress:
Pistol (or Shotgun or AR) 1 & 2 - Sometimes called Combat or Defensive Pistol. Look for full 1-2 day classes. These cement basic skills and techniques into your practice
Concealed Carry 2 - This class should go way beyond the basic concealed carry certification
Low Light / No Light - Usually these are 1 full day classes. Training in the dark is a game changer. Prepare to be humbled