By guest contributor Joshua Gant
While online and looking for firearms information, more and more users are being bombarded with a new wave of “tacticool” firearms training websites or social media icons. More often than not, these users are decked out with the best ballistic helmets, high-end eye protection, and a customizable chest rig that would make any Tier 1 military unit envious.
A quick click of a website or tap of a video takes a user to a high-end wide open firearms range, where the shooting depicted is normally a blisteringly fast demonstration involving a shot group and on-target speed that rivals that of the world’s best shooters.
The industry has been divided for years in regards to everyday carry versus the tactics needed to compete and dominate inside the world of competition shooting. Both sides been bloodied each other, in the world of demonstrations or studies showing how each other’s method being superior in target acquisitions and shots on target. What happens when we take this new breed of shooters into the fold and look at the methods and tactics that make them tick?
To start, the new tacticool shooter has the latest in rapid holster technology or the advertiser’s proprietary system, normally being in a position on the hip or outside the waistband and absent of any covering garment. The demonstrator normally markets these videos to the everyday shooting enthusiast or defensive carrier.
With a large number of users still having to carry concealed or not walking around with their firearm in a Skeleton quick draw holder designed to be used in the upcoming US Olympics, the average shooter would not find their own casual Friday experience to be the same as the presenter.
Demonstrations of quick magazine changes, shooting to first aid transitions, and advanced use of “kits” are also areas that the average defensive carrier would find to be extremely useful if they were themselves outfitted with the best gear 5.11 has to offer.
Most of us, however, will find ourselves in the grocery store, browsing the aisles, leaving us lacking a brightly colored paintball smoke grenade or ballistic chest rig to work with.
Make no mistake—most of these new social media mavericks are very good shooters in real life and have put a lot of training and effort into what makes their videos fundamentally good. These shooters can just as easily operate with a covered firearm and run these same drills, so nothing should be taken away from their talent.
More often than not, however, they need viewers, and viewers don’t want to watch some boring video about the four phases of the draw. Even though a lot of users need that work, they want to watch something much more in line with a Hollywood shootout.
So what do these videos and presenters have to offer the training world? To put it bluntly—and contrary to what some think in the firearms community—they do have a lot to offer, but only to a specific type of consumer.
The everyday carrier might find the transition from long gun to sidearm to buddy carry video entertaining, but when they strip the high-level gear away and remove post-editing filters, the viewer can take away some very important skills.
Speed kills: Most videos show fast target transitions with accurate and expedient rounds being sent down range. The moral of this topic is speed kills. You can be the best shooter in the world, but if you are in a real-world circumstance where reaction time is more than just a few missed points on a score card, then clearing your holster and sending accurate shots should and must be your first priority.
Equipment matters: When you are watching that video and your eyes fixate on the coolest holster you have ever seen, your wallet opens and ordering begins. But before you hit checkout, you should think about a few things. Is the holster’s real-world application other than the quick draw motion created by the presenter? Training, practice, and effective muscle memory drills can make any reasonable holster perform well with a skilled user. The best holster in the world, without practice, won’t make you any faster than what you already are.
The second thing that needs to be looked at is simple—where are you going to use it? If it’s a thigh holster and you want it for range training, then this is a good purchase. But when I hear people say they ordered a duty holster with the intent of it being their concealed carry holster, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Normally after about a week or two, when the novelty wears off, the person who picked the level 3 duty holster for concealed carry transitions back to his original (less protruding) holster choice.
Life isn’t an Instagram video: The real world is full of good people who don’t want to do you harm. However, there are a select few who will do you or your family harm without any guilt or remorse. You don’t go to work on an open gun range, nor do you shop in full battle dress, so you need to ensure that you practice smooth and accurate everyday skills.
You should be able to clear your holster and get rounds on target in the condition that you are normally carrying in. If your firearm is tucked away under your shirt, then you need to ensure that you train to draw and use that weapon in that condition. If you carry an additional magazine and you don’t walk around every day with a chest rig, you should be training to work those magazines from the locations you carry them in daily.
Training to engage IR strobes on the top of your helmet to let circling planes know that you are a friendly target is great, but when is the last time you called for a reaper drone in the deli section waiting for your thin cuts? An “out there” example, I know, but I want to drive home the fact that regular daily self-defense is not statically going to be a Red Dawn event.
You can watch people like Instructor Zero, who displays a wide selection of fast shooting and moving videos mixed with drills that have a lot of real-world application, or you can check out some more down-to-earth training with Aaron Barruga over at Guerilla Approach or watch them on Panteao Productions.
Remember that your toolbox can always use a new tool, but your foundation needs to be strong. You can’t train for shooting on the move when you are still mastering the four phases of the draw. Your life is not a cut, scratch that, reshoot this type of world like your favorite YouTube shooting celebrity, so don’t beat yourself up when the perfect shot doesn’t happen every time. You are seeing a finished product, not the two hours of shooting it took to create that three-minute montage.
Take valuable lessons away from everything you watch, the tacticool guy included, because everyone has training value. But remember that sometimes just because a person is shooting and marks it training doesn’t mean it really is—sometimes it’s just entertainment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joshua Gant is an OpsLens contributor and is a current Law Enforcement Officer in conjunction with being an Executive Manager at a large Federal Security Contractor. Gant has served as a member of his department’s High Risk Warrant Service Unit and serves as an agency trainer in Defensive Tactics and Firearms. Gant is a graduate of multiple specialized schools, to include, Hostage Negotiations, the Detectives Academy, Response to Active Shooter, High Risk Tactical Entry, Public Information Officer and has attended multiple Instructor Development programs.