Can better gear make you a better shooter?
Yes. Sometimes. Maybe. But also no.
I’ve seen this argument play out online and in person more times than I can count, so it’s happened at least 12 times. While there is always a back and forth, which is how an argument works, the prevailing idea that is being pushed is this: that new gun, optic, part upgrade, etc won’t make you a better shooter. New gear doesn’t equal better marksmanship.
And to that point, I agree wholeheartedly.
But when we are talking competitive shooting outside of bullseye competitions, such as uspsa, IDPA, 3 gun etc and even defensive and tactical shooting, there is more than just marksmanship involved.
Now I’m gonna stop here and address the elephant in the room. Hammer Armament sells gear. We sell holsters, mag pouches and other gear with the purpose of providing shooters with better gear. That’s how we make money. So you could make an assumption that we are biased here but that isn’t the case and I’ll explain why as we go on.
Better gear won’t make a beginner, intermediate or even expert shooter a better marksman. If you do not have a solid grip on the fundamentals of marksmanship, then it doesn’t matter how good a gun, or scope, or holster is. It won’t make you more accurate. It won’t make you have better trigger control, it won’t make your grip or stance better. If you are just starting out, or have been shooting a while but haven’t pushed yourself to really grow your skills, then spending your money on ammunition, training classes, and range time will be substantially more beneficial than buying better guns, optics, magwells etc.
And throughout your evolution in shooting, progressing from a beginner to intermediate to advanced shooter, spending your time practicing will always be the best bang for your buck.
So, there, argument settled. Right? Well, not really. Because there is a point where better gear is beneficial. More practice( and better practice through the use of training courses) will always be beneficial but there will be a point when entry level gear will start to hold you back. If we look at the shooting sports as an example, we have guys like rob leatham and jerry miceluk at the high end of “advanced shooters”. If you have ever seen these guys shoot more “basic” guns, like carry guns, they are very effective with them, because of their high skill levels in the basics of marksmanship. But they also compete with high level gear, and that’s for a reason. Could Ben Stoeger smoke your in a competition while using a factory stock gun, while you are using a race gun? Likely yes. But can he still win against someone with the high performing abilities, while using a lower quality gun? Likely not. There is a reason that different divisions exist in competitive shooting.
There is a point where your stock Glock 19 or M&P 9 will start impeding your progress. Your Toyota Camry can only accelerate so fast no matter how good of a driver you are. At some point, you need a little extra horsepower.
So how does better gear make you a better shooter? Well like I said, gear isn’t a replacement for marksmanship. But in both defensive situations and competitive shooting, there is more than just marksmanship at play. There is movement, target transitions, reloading, and more, that are all part of being a better shooter. So better gear should ideally help the shooter apply the principles of marksmanship quickly and with the least amount of obstacles to overcome.
A lighter, or a shorter rifle, makes it more maneuverable, and therefore easier to transition from target to target. Especially for Mil/LE shooters who are working inside buildings and around obstacles, or competitors working around barricades and other range props.
A good LPVO (low power variable optic) can make it easier to see further targets, and see them more clearly, than iron sights.
A better trigger can can give you a smoother, lighter trigger pull than heavy, squishy factory triggers.
The faster we can get a good solid grip, a clear (or clear enough for the situation) sight picture, and apply a smooth, clean trigger press, the faster we can neutralize a target. The faster we can move from neutralizing one target, to getting on the next target and applying the same good marksmanship to it, the more success we will have. This goes for Mil/LE, competitive shooting and defensive situations. The faster that you can put accurate rounds on a target, the better.
A holster can not make you a better marksman. But what it can do is provide better protection on the gun, better retention of the pistol, and allow for a better draw and firing grip from the draw. All these things can account for less time wasted, as well as protect you from dropping your sidearm.
So while better gear can’t make you a better marksman, it can help make you a better shooter. So Choose gear that helps you initiate your marksmanship skills the best that you can, as quickly as you can.
And don’t skimp out on ammo and training. Because a good shooter doesn’t rely on gear to make him better, but chooses and allows the gear to help him maximize the skills he had built up through meaningful practice.
Train hard, train smart, stay safe, and shoot straight.