The firearms industry is a gear driven industry. To argue otherwise, just a few months after SHOT show, would be ludicrous. If it weren’t, SHOT show would be about training, and not about the latest and greatest gadgets in the industry. At its heart, I think that is okay, I like cool gear just as much as the next guy. Where I think we get lost a little is in trying to buy incremental performance increases at considerable expense. There is nothing wrong with buying performance, I am a performance driven shooter, I like to shoot straighter and go faster. If there is something out there that can help me do that, I am all about it, maybe. We have to understand the concept of return on investment. A lot of products are introduced that promise to make us faster, aid in our ability to be more accurate, etc. The question that needs to be asked though is not what does a certain gadget do, but how much does it do it. I think that more often than not, this question doesn’t get asked. If I put a comp on my gun, we all know what a comp is supposed to do, and we will say that it actually does that and makes the gun shoot flatter, but how does that translate to my shooting performance? Are my splits shorter while maintaining the same accuracy standard, if they are, how much? How much is what often times I think is missing. Without quantifying the performance gain, we can’t really say if the resources I have invested in this new whizzbang gadget is really giving me a good return.
This whole thought process has been swirling around in my head for a long time with regard to training, and using performance tracking to evaluate the efficiency of my training and the associated resource input. Getting more for less is always better because it either saves me resources I can allocate somewhere else, or it allows there to be greater growth for the same resource input. It was not a stretch to apply that same thought process to performance oriented accessories. Take for example the ATEi Roland Special (which is what started this whole thing anyway). It cost $2,300 from ATEi. I would be willing to bet that most anyone who picks up a RS style handgun with a good MRDS, a comp, stippling, and some trigger work, will see a bump in performance. But that is not what we are talking about, we want to answer the how much question. In order to answer that question, we have to quantify the performance gain. Once that is done, we have to measure that performance gain against other uses for those resources. In the case of the Roland Special, ammunition cost. How much ammunition can $2,300 get, and how much performance can I gain by using that ammunition in well designed and focused practiced?
We can apply this same concept to training, meaning courses that we go and take with an instructor. In the initial journey of building skill, training is important. We cannot properly practice that which we do not understand, or cannot execute correctly. Training with a good instructor should give us the foundation we need. However, there comes a point where practice becomes more important than training. We have to start building something on that foundation. I can spend another $1,000 on a course fee, ammo, and travel, or I can spend $1,000 on just ammunition and hit the range for some good practice. Which one will get me further? I will be honest, I have been to classes that afterwards I thought had a poor ROI. I could have accomplished more by using the resources I used in the class to hit the range solo and really put in some quality practice. Notice I am not saying going out to the range and burning through mags of ammo running senseless drills. That sort of practice is just as much a waste, and is not what quality practice is. Quality practice includes very precise attention to detail both in regard to quality of reps, and drill choices. It requires pre-planning, execution of the plan, and a “debrief” phase afterwards evaluating the practice session and where to go next.
All of that to say this. Assuming we are all working with finite resources, we need to understand what something actually cost, and then measure that cost against other options to know if it is really worthwhile. In a gear driven industry, or even a training driven industry, that can be difficult to do and in my experience is rarely communicated to the consumer.