We talk about training, we talk about gear, and we talk about the decisions involved in those processes a lot. What we don’t talk frequently enough about is the concept of “mission” as it applies to the civilian gun owner. I normally don’t like to use loan words from the military to apply to civilian contexts, but mission in this case works well for our purposes, because it’s a very broad term.
As a gun owner, I believe that your mission should drive the gun and gear purchases you make, as well as the training you attend. However, and this where it’s important, everyone’s mission is probably a bit different. For example, a mom that just got her concealed carry permit is going to have a different mission than a dedicated competition shooting who’s trying to make GM. Two different missions, two different mindsets.
That’s what it’s a difficult trap to judge other people’s gear/gun/training choices based on our own criteria. There are sadly very few objective criteria to go by in this industry, so unless someone is doing something obviously dangerous (carrying a Glock at the appendix position with no holster) or using gear that is clearly sub-par (like a SERPA) using my mission parameters to critique their choices is foolish and downright arrogant.
This is different from criticizing bad technique though; because the fundamentals of marksmanship are the same regardless of your mission. If you’re training for a long-range low-heat operators unit, the actual mechanics of shooting are the same as they are for Suzy Soccormom who keeps a Taurus Judge in the glove box of her Suburban.
I bring this up because we as gun owners are often far too quick to jump on each other for their gear/training decisions because we’re operating from our own personal biases. The mindset of “I’m smart, clued in, and I carry a 1911 so obviously everyone who is smart and clued in carries 1911s” is very pervasive and applies to gun types, training and competition. I fall prey to it all the time because my mission is competition shooting, so I think about guns, gear, and training in terms of what helps me perform better on match day.
Thanks to the internet, it’s even easier to get wrapped up in whatever little clique of the shooting community you’re interested in. You can prune your FB newsfeed so it only shows you posts from tactical instructors, hang out on tactical shooting forums, and attend tactical training classes. It’s very easy to never be forced out of your comfort zone, and when you don’t expose yourself to other viewpoints with an open mind you end up running around and being a generally disagreeable person. I have to emphasize the “with an open mind” bit, because I’ve seen plenty of people who claim to be trying to learn new viewpoints, when all they really want to do is argue with people and score rhetorical points to look cool for their internet buddies.
The point of this article is simple – keep an open mind about other shooter’s decisions. Their choices are not the same as yours, because they’re not being driven by the same mission. Some gear and certain techniques may be objectively bad or dangerous, but beyond that almost everything else is a mission-driven choice. Just because it’s not the same as yours doesn’t make it wrong.