Priorities: Good tools or a willingness to show up and fight?

Gear vs. Training, Equipment vs. Mindset - some thoughts from Bill Blowers of Tap Rack Tactical after SHOT Show 2019
| February 5, 2019
Categories: Op-Eds

What is the priority – the best equipment or a willingness to show up, use what’s available, and fight? Hardware vs. software isn’t a new topic of conversation, but Bill Blowers of Tap-Rack Tactical recently made some great points specifically in the context of recent events.

Work Priorities: Skill, Mindset, Physical Fitness, Preparation, Training, Equipment..?

Bill Blowers

Back from SHOT and back to normal. I guess. While at SHOT I had a lot of conversations with different dudes. I went to dinner with friends on both nights I was there and it was great to catch up. I did some PT both mornings I was there, hit the meetings I was supposed to hit, looked at some gear, BSed with dudes and looked at the social media since it’s a good way to get multiple eyes looking at pertinent stuff without legging it everywhere.

Interesting, I’ll go check it out type of thing.

At any rate, one of my friends threw up an IG/FB post that said something to the effect of “70K at SHOT, and nobody is in the gym? It seems we are missing an important first step.” This was accompanied by a picture of an empty hotel gym. Got me thinking a bit. I was having a conversation with another friend, we were just gabbing about training and shit. He brought up the point that very few of the booths were training oriented. Almost all of SHOT is dedicated to the stuff, not the using of the stuff. Granted it’s a trade show, but it got me thinking again.

So now I think back to right before SHOT and the SAS dude* who said “Fuck it” and threw on his gear and moved toward the sounds of guns. I rolled my eyes numerous times on comments about how his PC was too low, his leg strap was gonna bind him up, his groin flap would slow him down, the balaclava is dumb, and so forth and so on. I don’t actually know any of the dudes that wrote those comments, they may be the hardest Mo’fos in the valley. But my guess is that if I had to choose someone to ride the river with, and my choice was SAS guy or one of his critics, I would without hesitation choose SAS guy. This is in spite of all his gear faux pas.

SAS soldier in Nairobi Kenya responding to Al-Shabaab attack


*He’s referring here to the British SOF soldier who threw his kit on and took part in the response to the al-Shabaab attack in Nairobi, Kenya. Images of the man and his equipment sparked some astonishingly moronic commentary from self-proclaimed experts on social media. 

As I was packing and prepping, one of my old teammates ends up in a FB convo where dudes are discussing who is going to SHOT and shit like that. My mate responds that he is not going and types in, “Enjoy all the fat, mouth-breathing never-was mother fuckers.”

Before you get all indignant and upset and sad or whatever, just like that SAS guy, this dude’s resume is legit. And while he certainly takes care of his gear and equipment, and keeps his ear to the ground about new shit, it’s not to make a post about it. It is to ensure that he is up to speed on anything that will make him more efficient, competent and lethal. He simply doesn’t give two shits what you think of his stuff.

He only cares what he thinks of his stuff, for the purpose intended. And that’s it.

Back to SHOT and my dinners. On both nights I was privileged to break bread with men that have been there and done that. Critical thinkers who can have a thoughtful discussion about tactics, techniques, and procedures. On my flight home it dawned on me that during both of those meals, there was little to no discussion about gear or equipment.

The conversations were focused on what matters, being ready for the fight, TTP’s, and training. If gear was mentioned, it was in the context of making the fighting man more efficient or not, what does it bring to the skillsets that matter. Nothing? Well then, the hell with it.

So what is my point? My point is that if you are focused on the gear, it is the last thing required to do some good. I have often said I could absolutely do the SWAT job with an 870 and a revolver. Hell, better men than me were doing it with those tools long before I ever joined. A poorly trained group with all the latest and greatest dookie would get slaughtered by the exceptionally trained group with less. An exception might be NVG, but the trained group only needs to get one of the gear queers, then battlefield pickup rules apply. Make no mistake, the advancements in gear have made the fighting man’s job far easier. We are lucky to have good Americans working on innovations that are unsurpassed when it comes to force protection and lethality. I love good gear and the people who make it.

Gear vs. Training, Equipment vs. Mindset - some thoughts from Bill Blowers of Tap Rack Tactical after SHOT Show 2019

There’s something important to remember here. No one here at Breach-Bang-Clear believes good gear isn’t important, or that it can be a vital force multiplier…some of our guys were first doing work when remote-switch WMLs replaced Model 300 mounts and looked forward to flipping through the latest US Cav catalog while brand new episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street and NYPD Blue were on. We’re well aware of the significance of good equipment.  That said, as Blowers points out, “[Gear is the]…last thing required to do some good. I have often said I could absolutely do the SWAT job with an 870 and a revolver. Hell, better men than me were doing it with those tools long before I ever joined…”

But perspective is important. First and foremost I need men who are willing to get after it. No matter the odds or outcome, they will do their job and fulfill their task and purpose. Secondly, I need men who take their training seriously. That includes being physically ready to carry that gear wherever it is required or stuff a bitch through some sheetrock and leave a cartoon cutout shape behind. It is a high level of performance with their own weapons, and anything that might be lying around. It is flawless execution of whatever TTP’s your team has selected.

News flash – they all have ups and downs fellas, don’t get wrapped around the axle. Execute YOUR plan to perfection. And last, they need quality gear that will work in their given environment.

While there is a SHOT Show, there is no “PT, Training, Mindset Show.” If there was, I wonder how many would show up? My guess is very few, because they would be busy making FB posts about how the guys that are actually at THAT show, are still using Gen 1 RMR. Noobs…

Gear vs. Training, Equipment vs. Mindset - some thoughts from Bill Blowers of Tap Rack Tactical after SHOT Show 2019

Sometimes I wonder who the fuck I am to believe I should be teaching fighting men anything?  I have been fortunate in my career to be surrounded by dudes who took it seriously, who demanded excellence, and who cared more about their mates success and well being than they did their own.  I want to be like those men. And all those men were teachers to me. So I think that sharing experience and knowledge is a mandate, just like those before me did. 


Looking to do some training with Blowers? A list of classes is available on the Tap-Rack Tactical website. You can find specific course opportunities on the Upcoming Courses page, where you’ll see LE-only classes as well as the open ones (like his next pistol course, scheduled for March in Mooresboro, NC).

Connect on Facebook (/taprack.tactical/), or follow on Instagram, @tapracktactical.

Oh, you might also subscribe to the Tap-Rack Tactical YouTube channel too.

Tap-Rack Tactical


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  1. Grant

    I tend to agree with everything said here. I am far and away the “gun guy” in my circles. The one getting texts, DMs etc. about which gun they should get or which optic is best. I don’t mind helping out within the parameters of my knowledge, training and experience because I’d rather they ask me than a bunch of mouth breathers on Arfcom or Glocktalk because If I don’t know the answer, I definitely know someone who does. That all being said, I absolutely HATE talking about guns or gear with most people. It’s not my thing. Frankly, I don’t care. Most people see guns and gear as the end, but I see them as the means to one. I like good shit, I buy good shit. I spend more than most on gear because I buy once cry once and then forget about it because I’m using it. But I don’t like talking about it, especially with people arguing about R.I.P Ammo or the new Taurus that’s “Just as good as” *insert name here*. Everyone wants to talk guns or toys but when I bring up an upcoming class all I get is crickets. Sorry, but the $200 MDFI Class or the UNTHINKABLE Seminar by William April will do far more to square you away than any gun forum or Glock upgrade. Everyone asks me about gear, seldom does anyone ask about training or WHY I even have what I have. There’s I reason I have ABC and it’s to do XYZ. All people see is ABC and no context behind it.

  2. Andy

    You make some valid and relevant points. Some are the same points I have tried to make on some gun blogs comments but get shouted down by the “experts”. Comments such as, “Why do carry that, don’t you know any better?”, etc. etc. Bottom line, like your friend, what or when I carry is of no concern of anyone but me. I am no longer in the dress-right-dress world of the Army so I can do what I want and not what and not what some jack wagon CSM or MG thinks looks good. In other words, I give less than damn about what some blog keyboard d-bag or anyone else thinks of me, my equipment, or my bullet launcher of choice. It is mine and mine alone.


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