In the veteran community, there is a massive difference between “tactical” and “tacticool”. I’ll warn you, if you’re one of those “tacticool” preppers, your feelings might get hurt in this article. However, for those of you that read my articles, you’ll know that I really don’t care about hurt feelings. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things tactical, but before you cross that line to being tacticool, let’s get into what “tacticool” really means.
“Tacticool” is generally used as an insult to describe a person (or equipment) that’s obviously trying too hard to be tactical. In the process of trying too hard, most people become more ineffective because they overlook the basics. For instance, most of us have been at an outdoor gun range where there’s that “one guy” who shows up in full tactical gear with knee pads, military-like camouflage clothing, a helmet, and an AR that looks like it belongs in “Call of Duty”.
When you see this type of person, do you think to yourself “wow, I wish I was cool like him.”? No, generally you’re thinking “this is how I die, some idiot trying too hard.”. Being tacticool is more than just looking like an idiot, however. The biggest issue with being tacticool is you’re spending way too much time trying to look cool, that you generally overlook the basics like shooting techniques.
Bruce Lee once said, “I fear the man who practices one kick 10,000 times more than the man who practices 10,000 kicks once.”. The whole point of being a prepper is to perfect the simple details that can save your life in case of an emergency, not to boast about everything you have. Believe it or not, humility can actually save your life.
There’s nothing wrong with owning a pair of knee pads (I actually recommend it, they’re extremely useful), but you don’t need to be spending hundreds of dollars on the best brand out there to get the job done when you could use that money to buy more life-saving equipment. Let’s go over some common mistakes preppers make when it comes to their equipment.
If you live in an area that’s surrounded by forests (or heavily-wooded areas), don’t go out and buy Marine Corps desert camouflage uniforms because it looks cool. The whole point of camouflage is to blend in with your environment, not to look cool. Don’t be an idiot. If you’re going to use camouflage, make sure it at least blends in with your surrounding environment. Some people might say, “well what if I travel to the desert?”, my response to those types is simple. Don’t.
Unnecessarily Expensive Equipment
Back to what I was saying earlier about knee pads, don’t go spending $300 on a tactical flashlight when you can get a relatively cheaper one at Wal-Mart. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll more than likely spend a decent amount of money on equipment for quality. With that being said, you don’t necessarily have to buy the best brand or most expensive equipment to have good quality.
Another point while we’re on this topic, is that nobody likes “that guy” who brags about how much his equipment costs every time he gets the chance. First off, why would you advertise how much something is worth? You’re basically asking them to steal it whenever they know they can get away with it. Second, humility remember?
Overloading Weapon Attachments
Just because there are literally hundreds of combinations of attachments for an AR platform, does not mean that you need to use all of them at once. Most of the time, you can get by just fine using an aftermarket optic, a foregrip, and a tac-light for your AR.
You don’t need a bipod, tac-light/laser combo, “Trijicon” ACOG, 45-degree angle BUIS (back-up iron sights), door breaker muzzle break, angled grip, bump-fire stock, and a double-mag attachment for your AR (I say this because I really have seen this at a range before). You’ll be adding ridiculous amounts of weight to your AR, making it much harder to carry over long distances. On top of the weight, you’ll look absolutely idiotic to your fellow preppers, making it hard to engage in conversations with them (potentially picking up useful tips and information along the way).
We all know that one person who “almost joined the military”, and now devotes their life on the internet looking at videos of ways to look cool while they shoot their overly-expensive AR-15, but is a sub-par shooter without all of their attachments. This one is seen fairly often in the prepping community. Odds are, as you’re reading this you’re probably thinking about somebody right now who acts like this.
Now, there are some veterans out there who act like this as well. If you’re a veteran and a prepper, your job is to assist people in the best way possible, not to be condescending and judgmental towards everyone you meet. Most veterans who act like they know everything about any weapon system were a non-combat MOS anyways, do your research before you take advice from a veteran. Learn what they really did in the military before you believe that a cook was “basically Infantry”.
If you find that you act like this sometimes, it’s in your best interest to cease this behavior quickly. Preppers have a much higher chance of survival if they have a trustworthy group, it’s much harder to survive a disaster alone. The more guns in the fight, the better. Aside from this point, you can always learn things from other preppers (hence, this website). It’s hard to network with other preppers and get them to give you valuable tips and advice if they don’t like you. Once again, humility (see a pattern here?).
This is a touchy subject, since everyone has their own style that makes them unique. I will say, however, that going Black Friday shopping in digital camo while open-carrying will not only make you look like a ginormous tool, but you’ll cause way more harm than good. On a side note, I will always recommend concealed carry over open carry. Don’t make yourself a target, and most importantly don’t cause unnecessary panic.
I’m not saying that you need to conform to society’s change of fashion every year, however blending into the populous gives you the massive advantage of staying under the radar. Choose what style works for you, but be approachable. If you’re in trouble and you need help desperately, more people are likely to assist you if you look approachable rather than looking like a grunt who just got out of a month long NTC rotation (shout out to the vets out there, you know what I’m talking about).
Be the “Quiet Professional”
Business in the front, party in the back. That’s the most advantageous lifestyle for a prepper. In public, portray yourself as an average person (plus the added confidence that comes with prepping), but there’s nothing wrong with being that person and having a room in your house with an ass ton of ammunition and gear.
In a SHTF scenario (especially an active shooter), the person who advertises their ability to stop a threat will more than likely be the first target. So, if you’re that guy, make damn sure you really know what you’re talking about. Otherwise, you’re well on your way to a very painful and embarrassing death.
Don’t be a “Range Nazi”
When you’re at the range, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making safety a number one priority. On the range, everyone is a safety. However, you don’t need to go to every person you see with slightly improper form and correct every deficiency. If you do correct someone’s deficiency when they’re just trying to enjoy some trigger therapy, make sure you are tactful and polite when you do. There’s no need to be an ass hole. Remember, at one point in your life, you were in their shoes too.
Another thing about the range, while being on the subject of being tacticool, you don’t need to dress like you’re going to war when you go there. Odds are, you’re not going to be wearing full kit in the middle of Target when SHTF. Train how you fight, which means train in what type of clothes you wear every day. This way, you’ll feel right at home when SHTF and you’ll be able to engage targets in an efficient manner.
With that being said, I do recommend that once in a while you find some private property (with the owner’s consent, generally a friend or relative) and do some shooting while you’re in whatever kit you have. This is especially true if you own body armor. Shooting with body armor, or any type of kit for instance, is incredibly different from shooting with normal street clothes. Just don’t go showing your kit on display every time you go to a public range, you will most definitely be classified as tacticool.
Being tacticool is not a label you want. It makes fellow preppers (or people in general) want to avoid you, and it will cause most people to not take you seriously. This can be devastating if you actually do have useful information or techniques when SHTF and you’re trying to save people. If you’ve been known as the “tacticool guy”, they’ll be less likely to pay any attention to you. Thus, causing any effort you put forward to be for nothing.
Being tacticool with your weapons or equipment can cause you to carry unnecessary weight, which can be incredibly difficult to carry over longer distances in case you need to. Contrary to popular belief, you more than likely won’t be able to shelter in place the entire time during a long-term SHTF scenario. Because of this, you’ll want to justify the weight for every piece of equipment you’ll be carrying.
Being mentally tacticool is potentially the worst form of tacticool out there. Humility is a life-saving trait; however, it doesn’t mean turn yourself into a sheep. Chris Kyle was one of the deadliest snipers in military history, but he was incredibly humble. This proves that you don’t need to advertise yourself as the guy who wears military camouflage clothing every day and open carry in public to be deadly. I can promise you, humility will save your life.