A shooter’s performance in competition or combat can be broken down into two big categories: internal things (mindset, training, skill, and confidence), and external things (what gun, caliber, etc.). There are a lot of stupid arguments on the internet about which is more important.
And they’re stupid precisely because they’re very difficult to tease apart.
Clearly, internal factors are super important. If Jerry Miculek and I were in a shooting match together, and for some bizarre reason Jerry had a box-stock Hi-Point, Jerry would still outshoot me. Wouldn’t matter which gun or how many mods I put in it. Jerry is that much better than me.
That said, while Jerry could beat me with Hi-Point, he doesn’t shoot one at matches. For one thing, they don’t sponsor him. Smith and Wesson does. So he’s shooting out a super tricked out Smith and Wesson. Set up just the way he likes. See, he’s competing with a lot of other hardcore guys like Max Michel, K.C. Eusebio, and Rob Leatham, who are also very skilled and have tricked out guns. They’ve got guns set up the way they like to maximize their skillset. Lighter triggers are easier to shoot well for example. So the hardcore guys have hardcore equipment.
Let’s look at another case. The infamous 1986 Miami shootout, between two criminals and a number of FBI agents. The guy who had the most combat experience and the most will to win, Platt,1 also came with the most gun. He had a Ruger Mini-14 chambered in .223, plus two revolvers chambered in .357 Magnum. Once again, skill and equipment go hand in hand.
The dangers of equipment is the thinking that you can buy skill. You can’t. Good equipment will mean you can use your skill to the best of your abilities. Focusing on one kind of equipment will let you have some constants to make developing skills easier. Always chasing the next best thing isn’t the best plan. There’s quite a bit of maturity in knowing when to stick and when to jump. For example, in most applications, the difference between a revolver and a semiauto is very significant. The difference between semiautos is much less so.
So some basic “good enough” satisficing will help you in the short term. You can save the optimization for later once you know what you like in a gun. Or once you have a big company like Smith & Wesson paying for your stuff.
- One of the criminals. He was a Ranger in Vietnam. Note that better equipment and mindset weren’t enough to prevail. C’est la vie. In this case, it’s a good thing. ↩