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The "Best-Gear" Crutch  

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Diceman624
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11/06/2019 10:23 am  

In my study of US Military History, I see a definite theme within the American military that a better piece of kit will somehow compensate for a lack of skill.  Whether its a new weapon (JDAM), new airplane (F-35), or new cartridge (6.8 SPC), we're bombarded with the idea that some how a better thing and less training results in the same end result as a decent system that gets substantial training. Like a previous article said, you can't escape the work.  That's not to say the end results won't be inferior with the new thing, because there are situations where the older equipment is at a signficant disadvantage.  However, market presentation tends emphasize new is better, and some how more capable than old.  Moreover, it specifically tells us that we need "X" kit to solve "Y" problem, and that no combination of available kit can.

Because naturally, an LPVO or an IR laser will somehow make my 11 MOA trigger finger irrelevant . . . right.

Then, when it doesn't, we go search for the next piece promising to do what the last thing couldn't, when we failed to learn how to use the last thing properly in the first place.   I'm sure you read the article, I don't need to say more.  This pervasive idea is what I think of as the "Best-Gear" crutch, or how you won't be a good shooter unless you buy and wear every piece of gear used by some SWAT or SOF team that you secretly want to emulate, nevermind whether its practical for you to even use.  On the one hand, maybe an LPVO might make me a little better, but perhaps cutting my teeth on a 20-inch AR with A2-style sights may help me understand the ballistic profile or or a mil-spec "vanilla" trigger may improve my trigger press.  Its not the rig that matters; its the time under it that does.  Its also the context of use, because any new widget, used out of its paradigm, won't be a practical solution to the problem.

Am I guilty of this? Absolutely, but I also recognize there are things I'd like to do about it.  For example, I got the allure of the plate carrier and chest rig.  My time on an Army post taught me the gucci-factor of kitting out with all sorts of junk hanging on it.  I was issued it, therefore it must be sufficient, and I made it look like what everyone else had.  I never got a lot of time under it, and I made some critical errors (like removing the internal cumberbund, and putting all the weight on my upper body), but in my mind, I fit the image of everyone else.  What did I get for it (in conjunction with football and ejection seats)?  Sciatica and a jacked-up back because I never asked the question "Is this right for me?"  My recent conversion to a slick PC and a complete belt kit (ala British Army style) is a direct output of that lesson, and probably considered completely out of place today when compared to SOF-inspired rigs designed for riding in vehicles all day.  However, it puts the bulk of the load on my hips, not my back, and which is what I recognize now that I need.

New kit doesn't make up for knowing the kit you have, and I doubt any of us have the unlimited time and resources for every new thing the market throws at us.  As is the case for me with .40 S&W pistols, I go to war with what I have at the time, not want I want to have; I have .40S&W, so I better know how to use it.

Internet reputations may be one thing, but cold hard data is another.


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Matt
 Matt
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11/06/2019 8:28 pm  

Great observation and I totally agree.

I've tried to think of ways to phrase it over the years, but this is the general sequence of events I've noticed (especially in .gov/.mil circles):

Everyone gets accustomed to "the way it is," be it with a rifle or whatever. I'll use an iron-sighted rifle for this example. Everyone trains to the specific standard and achieves at least some minimal level of proficiency.

A new device comes out, like an RDS, that makes shooting the rifle accurately faster and easier. The idea is that if we take all of these people who already have a good amount of practice and experience with iron sights, then the RDS will make them faster and more effective. So we do that, and it works out.

Then the bean counters realize that we were pretty happy with the previous lower level of proficiency, so we could save dollars for pet projects by cutting back on the training dollars for range time and ammunition. The users fall back to the original level they had before, but with nicer toys.

Then the cycle continues.

So for every advancement in things that should make skilled practitioners perform even better, there's a commensurate reduction in time spent learning the foundational skills. So we just kind of maintain a baseline.

I liken it to all the safety gadgets they put in cars these days. With backup sensors, lane departure, radar-controlled cruise control, and all those fun things- I feel like the average driver has gotten worse at driving. Rather than maintaining their own focus and skills and using those safety features as additional support, they just let the safety features take over.

"Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery


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Diceman624
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11/06/2019 10:10 pm  
Posted by: The Marksman

A new device comes out, like an RDS, that makes shooting the rifle accurately faster and easier. The idea is that if we take all of these people who already have a good amount of practice and experience with iron sights, then the RDS will make them faster and more effective. So we do that, and it works out.

Then the bean counters realize that we were pretty happy with the previous lower level of proficiency, so we could save dollars for pet projects by cutting back on the training dollars for range time and ammunition. The users fall back to the original level they had before, but with nicer toys.

Then the cycle continues.

My experience has been similar, although for this example, I find it's more of the bean counters saying, "We can only afford to buy half of what you asked for, and we'll have to cut back on training time or ammunition to do so.  Also, we'll need to cancel the range renovation that was supposed to help you use the those tools to the full potential."

As a result, the aggregate proficiency level doesn't change, and no one bats an eye as long as units still meet deployment requirements.

The other argument I find goes something like, "Well, you'll be fighting as a combined arms team, so it doesn't matter that most of your riflemen only met the bare minimum qualification standard, and you only have half the optics your organizational tables say you should."

This post was modified 3 months ago 2 times by Diceman624

Internet reputations may be one thing, but cold hard data is another.


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Dunross
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13/06/2019 3:23 pm  

I think everyone should carry the best kit they can lay hands on that they know how to use.

Which is the problem isn't it?

Never enough training time, ammunition, facilities, etc.

It's certainly my problem.  Never enough money to buy the gear I want, but worse still never enough time to use it!  And at my point in life probably never will be because all of this stuff has to compete with other just as important priorities.

So, to me, what this means is do the best you can with what you've got.  As money/time/motivation improve then maybe I can better my situation.  If not, then at least be competent with what I've got.

No point in expending resources if I'm not using what I've already got up to its potential.

Chance favors the prepared mind.


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