By Chris Laliberte
I’m sure everyone has already noticed that in the last several years, everything has suddenly become “tactical.” There was even a booth at the local gun show selling as their only product, a rail mounted TBO, or “Tactical Bottle Opener.” I have coveted, but not yet tried the “Tactical Bacon.” While I don’t think anyone thinks these two examples are anything more than funny, many out there are probably wondering (while scrolling past the latest ad for tactical polo shirts) “who goes for this crap?” Well, I gotta ‘fess up here folks…it’s me. The Tactical Noob . . .
I’ve been embarrassed and tried to hide it for years now, but it’s just time to come clean. I work in an office, go shoot guns on weekends, read gun mags and online forum discussions, and just generally wish to God I lived and breathed Call of Duty for reals. I have never and will likely never find myself in a “tactical” situation. That’s just not my life. I do carry a concealed firearm for that unlikely self-defense situation, and train for that scenario regularly, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
What I’m admitting to you guys right now is that I’m the one who buys the Condor plate carrier and the AR500 plates on eBay, loads it up with triple double stack mag pouches (and I tried, like, four different configurations too), plus the two that have to be kangaroo with pistol pouches, then gets a dump pouch, Kydex AR mag pouches for the belt, and goes back and forth between a drop-leg pistol holster or a belt holster with a little off-set to clear the carrier. And then I go run around at my local shoot-in-the-woods spot, practicing everything on the Art of the Dynamic Carbine DVDs, just because it’s flipping FUN! I own Blackhawk Down and Act of Valor and The Veteran and all the complete seasons of The Unit and Strike Back, and I mercilessly criticize the tactical idiocy of those other shows that have their heroes dancing around with a full rail flat top AR with no sights on it!
And you know what? I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. There are way more guys out there who wish they were on a SEAL team than ever actually get into ‘the business.’ And honestly, any rationalizations we come up with about how “we might need to know how to do this” or “be prepared for that” is just BS. Let’s face it—we’ll never, ever need to stack up and hit a room with a tactical team. And you know what—that’s ok.
We don’t play-pretend because we think it’ll save our life someday. We train and learn to engage multiple targets and shoot on the move and around improvised barricades, and learn all the expert tactics, and get all the gear, and discriminate the good gear (that’s being made by operators for operators to adapt to real world conditions) from the bad gear (that’s being made by tactical noobs for tactical noobs)—just because we like it. That’s what we want to spend our time (and money) doing. And we want to be “good” at it—learn to “do it right” the way the guys out there actually learning this stuff the hard way, in harm’s way, are teaching it.
That’s just the deal. No more hiding it. There’s a lot of us out here, and we’re gonna keep doing it. So let’s stop hiding it. It’s OK to want to get good at tactical shooting and fighting skills just ‘cause we want to. Honor to the soldiers who do it because they are in the real deal. I’m not making light of the fact that these skills have developed for real fighting and dying. And I hope they feel honored that the work-a-day Joes who will never set foot in combat appreciate what they do, and want to emulate their skill, even if we can’t possibly know what it’s like.
But I think the point is, really, that we wish we knew what it was like. Because we have a fantasy that being in the fight—especially the good fight—would be enlivening. That being where your life (and those of others you care about and are pledged to protect) is really on the line would make it feel like your life, and how you conduct your life, actually matters.
We are warriors at heart too, yearning for something to fight for that actually matters. That promotion? That new car? That office betting pool? All these things we strain and devote our effort to accomplishing. . . well, in our heart of hearts, I think we feel like it just doesn’t matter that much. I go to work, I do my job, and I do all this other stuff, and by the time you follow the chain of connections to the point where you can say “and if I didn’t we’d starve to death” well, my soul is asleep already.
So I, the Tactical noob, scope out the 11” keymod handguard I’m gonna score on eBay for under $100 while suffering through another day at the office, and plan out my next shooting session (9mm again, or should I get a little trigger time on the 1911?). And I wait for the day when 22LR is once again $25 for a brick of 500.
Just for the record, whoever those freaking idiots are who continue to buy 22LR at $75 a brick—that’s not us. Tactical noobs may be dreamers, but we’re not stupid. We’re gonna wait until .22 is once again inexpensive training ammunition. If 1000 rounds of .22 costs $150—then we’re gonna pay $180 for 1080 rounds of 5.45×39 and train with the real deal. If you don’t already have a 5.45 AR upper, you’re not a tactical noob.