Setting Priorities

I recently posted a picture of an airsoft training carbine on JTT’s Instagram account. The carbine has an extended rail (as most of my carbines do) with a rail-mounted front sight placed several slots behind my white light which is out near the end of the rail. The picture was shared by one of the manufacturers represented in the carbine and a comment was made by a Facebook user that my sights were “way too far back”. He was concerned about the sight radius of my back up iron sights… which reminded me of a post that I have been intending to write for a while.

The offending picture...

The offending picture…

Priorities are in important in life and they are important in gear and techniques. The above is just one example of dogma getting in the way of what works due to a lack of understanding priorities. Priorities dictate that I am far more likely to use my light than my back up iron sights. Since that is the case, doesn’t it make sense to have as much room behind the light as is needed to operate it without adjusting my grip especially since the sights will still be functional even if they are mounted back a few inches? If you are so wrapped up in achieving maximum sight radius on your back up iron sights that it reduces the effectiveness of your light or your grip, your priorities are out of whack.

That is just one example out of many that are easy to spot if you take a moment to think. Why do so many “survivalist” types train the same way as the police and military when it comes to reloads. It seems to me that someone with a long term survival mindset and no resupply organization behind them should be training to retain magazines (at least some of the time).

Why do people still refuse to use weapon lights? Perhaps they have prioritized the possibility that the light might draw fire over shooting dark, unidentified shapes in the night. I suspect many have learned the same safety rules as I have and yet, they conveniently throw out Rule 4 when it comes to weapon lights.

Why do so many shooters emphasize shooting courses and turn up their noses at combatives and first aid training? I suspect most people are more likely to need to know how to use a pressure bandage or throw a punch than to need to draw their handgun in anger over the course of their lives.

The answer to the above questions and many, many more like them is a lack of understanding of priorities. Setting priorities is just another way of letting your mission drive your gear and training decisions. You can’t make those kind of decisions without information so take some professional training, spend some time on the range, challenge what you know, and start setting some priorities.

20 Responses to Setting Priorities

  1. Another Matt December 10, 2014 at 11:17 #


  2. Patrick December 10, 2014 at 13:02 #

    Very well said.

  3. Xanderbach December 10, 2014 at 13:32 #

    I never understood the need for “tactical reloads” myself. Hell, when I was in actual combat would only reload from behind cover, and even with a full resupply chain behind me RETAIN THE MAGAZINE. Never see a Costa grip in Iraq. Never seen “tactical reloads” as anything but the guys fooling around at the base. If what you have works for you and is comfy- Do it!

  4. Davíd December 10, 2014 at 13:36 #

    Well written. My only point of contention; I was trained to retain magazines in the military and we currently train to retain them in my police department.

  5. publiu5 December 10, 2014 at 15:59 #

    This would have been a good place to reference your old article on moving the front irons back…

    We each have different priorities; some people’s priorities are more correct than others; and some differences just don’t matter as they’re personal preferences. I personally dig a side mounted light offset upwards that is side by side with my front BUIS on an extended rail. It gives me the light and sight right where I like them. Forget the douchebag on FB.

    • Matt December 10, 2014 at 16:48 #

      I hear you Publiu5. The entire scenario changes if you use an offset light but that was just an example that reminded me to write this article.

  6. Mike mike December 10, 2014 at 16:36 #

    Good point. I have begun to question even having buis considering the bomb proof nature of a t1. Has anyone actually ever had a t 1 go down in a situation where the flipped up their buis. Never heard of it.

    • Matt December 10, 2014 at 16:46 #

      Mike mike,

      While I am not sure I am ready to throw out my back up iron sights, I have personally seen a handful of iron sights dissabled but I have never seen an Aimpoint go down and I have spoken with people “in the know” who mirror that experience. That said, every one of my carbines except for one have back up sights and the one that doesn’t is just waiting for me to mount them.

    • jmkcolorado December 10, 2014 at 16:53 #

      T1’s run on batteries. Batteries die.

      My Aimpoint Pro faded out on me right in the middle of a competition string of fire; high noon and the dot faded so much I couldn’t see it any longer.
      At least I have fixed irons – didn’t even need to change position to keep right on shooting. Score ended up lower than it would’ve been, but I was still able to finish the string.

      So much for 3 years battery life…

      • sianmink December 11, 2014 at 12:47 #

        Might make you consider dropping in a fresh $6 battery before blowing through a couple hundred dollars in ammo in a competition.

  7. jmkcolorado December 10, 2014 at 16:55 #

    What’s the airsoft rifle you have?

    Like/agree with this article. Thank you.

    • Matt December 10, 2014 at 17:00 #

      That is a PTS AEG with their licensed Centurion Arms CMR rail. I picked it up from Airsoft Extreme who was very helpful in getting the project off the ground. Stay tuned for more info on my experiences with it and airsoft training in general.

  8. Michael Bane December 10, 2014 at 18:21 #

    Excellent article, Matt.

    Michael B

    • Matt December 10, 2014 at 18:30 #

      Thank you Michael. That means a lot coming from you.

  9. MK262 Mod1 December 10, 2014 at 20:19 #

    Excellent post and very on-point to a relevant and neglected principal that is primal to the real study of personal defense.
    My favorite line was this:

    “Why do so many shooters emphasize shooting courses and turn up their noses at combatives and first aid training?”

    (Please indulge the following rant:)

    Bingo! I have sung this one from the mountaintops for as long as I can remember. Far too many people fool themselves with the typical, ” I have a gun, now I’m safe” mindset. These are the same folks that head off shore fishing with the $4.99 orange walmart life jackets. (The Coast Guard calls those things corpse markers for a reason) That mental path is a perfect example of unconscious incompetence. They don’t know what they don’t know. Some folks actually seek proficiency with their firearm through practice or organized training. This is an improvement, but still tolerates gaping inadequacies in any suite of personal defense skills. To stop at that level is to delude oneself in the comfort and security of a purely imaginary blanket.
    My personal enlightenment began when I read Musashi’s “Book of Five Rings”. He always referred to the pursuit of his craft (martial arts / samurai) as “the way”. Meaning it wasn’t just a sidebar to his life. It WAS his life. That concept sparked a complete reassessment of the job I was doing as protector of my family. I realized then that personal defense is a layered collection of attitudes and skillsets. It is not the acquisition of gear and rudimentary skills in its use. It is an entirely new paradigm. It must become how you think and how you act.
    Defensive firearm skills are absolutely mandatory (IMHO) for the construct of a personal defense skillset. However, (long pause) if you find yourself having to go to the gun you have most likely just failed at multiple other skills that could well have prevented the enormous amount of legal and financial ass-pain you are about to endure. IF you survive. This is all theoretical of course…but could you have ended this encounter before it began by simply being aware of the threat before it became one? Could you have used judgement and decision skills to not be in the proximity of stupid people/places/activities? Did your ego get you here?(road rage / bar fight/ etc). Could you have de-escalated the situation verbally? All of those skills and many many more are just as, if not more important than being dead-eye-Dick with your new 1911. Now that you find yourself eyeball deep in defecation; Do you have the indomitable will to see this through to the end? Are you willing to do ANYTHING and WHATEVER it takes to this other person to go home to your family? And if you’ve really stepped in it and you’re at hands-on distance; do you have the cardio / strength /skills to maneuver on, engage with , and inflict sufficient damage to this threat to gain the distance and time required to access your firearm? Has your PT (physical training) regimen been limited to the travel between the table and the buffet line?
    What if the assailant misses you with his shots but hits your 13 yr old son in the arm tearing open his brachial artery? Can you apply pressure to stem the bleeding and apply your tourniquet? (You DO have one with you don’t you…)
    As I began to do the research and dig in and “peel the onion”, I asked myself these questions and many more. I created for my family and I what Pat McNamara calls “a new normal”. We have gradually integrated many new concepts, practices, and priorities into our lives. All of them based on the premise that our safety and security is our responsibility and should be a factor in every decision we make. It doesn’t rule our lives but it is always present. The fundamental technique of this new ethos is to do whatever is necessary to preclude / avoid the situation that requires the application of lethal force. Should that process fail, then we must all have the ability and skills to handle any contingencies that arise.
    I love the way Aaron Cowan signs his videos off and it fits here perfectly, so I’m gonna borrow it just this once.
    “Train accordingly”.

    • Matt December 10, 2014 at 20:23 #

      Thanks for your thoughts MK262! That is one of the most thoughtful comments to ever grace JTT and definitely the longest!

  10. James Bliss December 11, 2014 at 09:06 #

    Well, you start off as a shooter thinking you need x,y, and z and then you learn that you really need x, a, and 23. Someone who will be operating in an AO with snow or a lot of mud probably is going to be more reliant on the BUIS than a light and someone doing Home Defense/Urban ops is going to be reliant on the light. Everybody says it, but its still true “Don’t be Absolute.”

  11. Tater Salad December 11, 2014 at 11:09 #

    good read.

    But your front sight is still too far back. 🙂

    • sianmink December 11, 2014 at 12:49 #

      It’s the same place a gas block fixed sight would be on a carbine without an extended rail!

  12. KevinC December 12, 2014 at 10:34 #

    Why do so many shooters emphasize shooting courses and turn up their noses at combatives and first aid training?

    I may be wrong here (and I probably am) but I see three reasons for this:

    1. People start off their training on one tangent (firearms, dojo, etc.) and tend to stay on that course.

    2. The list of places where you can train with a gun is long. The list of places you can train combatives is long. The list of places you can learn first aid is long. The list of places you can learn all three? Very short.

    3. The idea of an armed “civilian” (i.e. not wearing a uniform) population is fairly new. Cops and the military have hundreds (if not thousands) of years figuring out what training they need to stay safe. We civvies just haven’t prioritized things yet because we haven’t had the experience needed to sort out what is important and what isn’t.

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