The Warrior Mindset and Firearms Culture

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”― Heraclitus

“Warrior Mindset is more than aggressiveness and determination, it is about over coming challenge and adversity. It’s about possessing, understanding, and being able to utilize a set of psychological and physical skills that allow someone to be effective, adaptive, and persistent. It also allows someone to use optimal decision-making, psychological techniques, physical and tactical skills learned in training and by experience.”

“The goal of a Warrior Mindset is to integrate the psychological with physical and tactical training to add a dimension that is often overlooked, but necessary to achieve maximal performance of a skill. If you only talk about mental toughness, but don’t actively train it, you haven’t developed into a complete warrior….regardless of what physical skills you have developed. You’ll find, with proper training, that you can possess the power to overcome any obstacle and change your outcomes if you train yourself mentally. This is the point in which you will truly bring out the Warrior Mindset within yourself.”

This post is about having the right warrior mindset, and how to action that in your life. It is also about all that is wrong out there in gun and ‘tactical’ training culture. These two things are opposites: on the one side you have those conducting training that will develop the warrior mindset, and on the other you have a world full of gun ‘derp.’

Firstly, to focus on the positive. If you consider yourself a self-reliant and capable individual, then you need to action the warrior mindset. By your thoughts, actions, training and capabilities, you are working to become an embodiment of the warrior mindset. This is not something that you need to be concerned about only if you are in a martial profession, because in the great American tradition of individual self-reliance, we should all be capable self-reliant individuals. Thus, you are a protector of yourself, your family and your children. However, what is mostly missed is the fact that the utility of developing the warrior mindset and associated tactical skills, is not simply tactical capability. No, development of an effective warrior mindset is a positive character building process and will filter across and benefit all areas of your professional and personal life.

If we dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of tactical training in order to develop a warrior mindset, then we are directly concerned with developing:

  • Physical Fitness and Strength.
  • Hand to Hand Self-Defense Skills.
  • Skill at Arms.
  • Tactical Skills & Knowledge.
  • Physical & Moral Courage.

What is often missed, but is essential to a true warrior mindset, is talked about in the quotes at the top of the page:

  • Problem Solving & Decision Making Ability.
  • Performance Under Stress.
  • Psychological Resilience.
  • ‘Will to Win.’
  • Teamwork.
  • Leadership Qualities.
  • Situational Awareness.
  • Communication Skills.

These are the character building qualities that are essential to a warrior mindset and which will bleed across into your personal and professional life.

I am not writing this post to make you feel good. This is part of the problem – those who think they can develop these qualities by reading about them or watching videos. You are deluding yourself, You need to be actually pursuing these skills, training and qualities in order to invest in yourself. Those of us who developed these qualities by joining the military and serving had to do so by hard work. There are other professions that will also develop these qualities, perhaps in a less directly tactical method. If you have not had the benefit of training offered as part of a relevant profession, then you can still partake in it, but all I can offer you is hard work. Those of us in relevant professions may have been pushed to develop these qualities, but we will not maintain the mindset without continued hard work. No one can rest on their laurels. All I can offer you is training, hard work, and continual striving to do better by yourself and your family. Anything less than a commitment to that, and you are wasting your time.

This is where we get to the less than savory side. Most people are weak, want instant gratification, and are not prepared to do the work. They are sheep, and not worth the time. The internet is a horrible place full of idiots with unfounded opinions. We have a problem in the USA, and that problem is the fact that everyone has, or can have, a firearm and a stupid opinion, with no real experience or training to back it up. The result is a lot of people who are ‘gun owners’ but are less than a waste of time in terms of warrior mindset. Yes, that is fine, it is everyone’s right to be as much of a waste of oxygen as they want to be, it is not my job to fix that, and I will not attempt to. My job is to train those who are willing to do the work to invest in themselves.

So looking around out there we have a bunch of guys who constantly ‘build’ rifles which is a hobby much like adult lego, and has nothing to do with tactical training. We have collectors, which is also a non-tactical gun hobby. We have plinkers. We have all sorts of gun owning types, that have nothing to do with the warrior mindset. Many have fantasies of tactical ability, simply because they own a firearm. Most are obese, incompetent and weak minded.

The next issue is one of ‘tactical training’ and the current trends in American ‘tactical’ instruction. There are many instructors out there with real training and operational experience who should know better. But much of the current trend in rapid firearms manipulation and gaming, if left at that, will get you killed in a real tactical scenario. Does it have training worth? Yes. Does competition have training worth? Yes, in context. But if you wish to progress to a full warrior mindset you must see firearms manipulation and ‘gaming’ as simply a progression to more complex tactical range training. In essence, most of these students are stuck in a training zone that is going to be detrimental to them, and also does not allow them to develop the skills and qualities mentioned as part of the warrior mindset.

But there is often an unwillingness to progress to true tactical training, due to misunderstanding / ignorance, and also a lack of willingness, skill or facility on the part of schools to teach it. There are many ‘prepper’ types out there who are not averse to tactical training, but that is full of its own issues. Why? The majority of ‘prepper’ types are motivated by fear and are looking for band-aids to make them feel less anxious about their worries. Fear is not a good basis to develop the warrior mindset. For example, at MVT we have a cadre of returning alumni who train not only to be prepared, but also because it is part of their character, they have a warrior mindset, and they are truly investing in themselves. These students, if you like, come from the ten that Heraclitus refers to, the nine fighters and one warrior. The rest are sheep. ‘Preppers’ have many motivations, and if it is fear rather than genuine self-reliance then it is a problem. These types of students are fair-weather (or foul weather, really) and will often attend tactical training much in the way they will purchase an item of gear and put it on the shelf. They think they are ticking a box. They will not invest in more than one or two training events, and they are not doing the ancillary personal and physical investment to become capable as a warrior (which is why we now have fitness prerequisites for tactical classes – many were deluding themselves). When it seems fair weather, these types will let it go; they live in the hope that it will ‘be alright on the day.’ They are deluded. You can see this phenomenon recently with the political-fear motivated types, after Trump was elected and their fears of Obama/Hillary went away – they have relaxed and let it all go. This is cyclical depending on how doomsday the news is. That is not the warrior mindset.

One of the huge problems, and why many instructors and flat range gamer types will not progress to real tactical training, is the ‘militia’ elephant in the room. These are the politically or ideologically motivated types who have given camouflage clothing and tactical training a really bad name. As has been told to some MVT students by other prospective students “why would I want militia training” – thus entirely missing the point of training to develop the warrior mindset. True development of the warrior mindset should not actually be politically motivated, other than having ideological roots in true American values of the self-reliant individual and individual liberty (which yes, I know are under attack). But you should not be attending tactical training because the guv’mint is coming to get you in black helicopters (they probably are, I can hear them approaching my house now LOL). In fact, despite pretensions to being a ‘militia’, many such self-described groups are in reality politically motivated groups who are in terrible physical shape and have either none or very little actual tactical training or competence. They are far from approaching the warrior mindset.

Thus, due to the prevalence of firearms, we have a lot of people who are involved in one way or another in the shooting sports. Sadly, the ability to shoot a firearm gives some the delusion that this will impart tactical competence. Speed shooting gamers for one. Another sub-set is precision long gun. This is an admirable skill and a great sport. But do not delude yourself that the ability to hit targets at long range imbues you with any martial qualities. They may well have those qualities from some other area of their life, or training, but long range shooting in itself does not make you a sniper. This is a common misapprehension. Granted, I know that if I went downrange and stood in front of any of the speed shooting gamers or the long range precision types, they could shoot me with a higher hit probability than a totally untrained person. I don’t plan to be stood downrange if I was ever in a gunfight with any of these people – and this is where the checkers versus chess approach of ‘YDKWYDK’ (You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know) applies. Granted, anyone could shoot anyone if they went and stood downrange, but that is missing the point of training progression to develop the qualities of the warrior mindset.

It is due to misunderstandings of the nature of the warrior mindset, its development, the true tactical training progression, along with issues such as the ever present ‘militia,’ that we developed the concept of ‘TacGun’ here at MVT. The TacGun concept has been to a large extent a hard sell, due to problems with getting people to understand the benefits of it in personal investment and the development of the positive qualities of the warrior mindset. Character building, with benefits in your day to day life now, not just in some potential disaster situation. TacGun is designed to help you persuade other potential team mates and training buddies of why you do this training, and divest it from any militia or black helicopter connotations. The hard sell is often related to the reason why students are here in the MVT Universe – what are their motivations and why are they here? Those here due to a pursuit of personal improvement and development of the warrior mindset get it. Those who are simply comfortable with tactical training don’t see the need for it, because they are already there – even though it would help them to bring in others. Some are here just to get the training they want and disappear.

The primary misunderstanding among those that ‘shoot’ is not realizing the ability to ‘shoot’ is necessary but not sufficient to develop the warrior mindset and real tactical ability. Shooting in itself is not hard to teach or learn; you can spend a lifetime getting better, but it does not take long to teach it well enough to be tactically competent. In very simple terms, what is really needed is to be able to shoot, move and communicate in a tactical environment. Those are very simple words to write, and are glibly thrown around on the internet, but they describe in essence the complexity of tactical training. When we put you in a live fire environment and have you shoot, move and communicate, it is not easy to do at first. When we put you in a force on force environment with UTM rounds zipping past, it is also not easy to do. That is why this training develops those qualities referred to above. To those internet readers, commentators, and perhaps those who were in some branch of the military some time a long time ago, these are glib words to refer to. People can read the Ranger Handbook (for example) and think they can execute it. This is all so much crap. To be able to even execute these skills effectively at a very basic level, with others, requires training and practice. The more, the better. It is a process. To think you ‘know’ how to do this by reading and theoretical study is the height of hubris. And if you are just reading and sitting in front of your computer screen, how are you developing those other essential, practical, skills that make up the entirety of the warrior mindset?

You may have noticed that comments are off for blog posts. That is because I have no wish to discus this with the entirety of the internet. This is why we have the MVT Forum, which has a deliberate $25 per year membership fee, which joyously keeps it sane, rational and free of trolls. If you wish to ask questions and partake of genuine professional tactical knowledge and discussion, I suggest you join.

Below are a couple of example videos of the type of training that is included in TacGun, from weapons manipulation all the way up to full Small Unit Tactics:

Max Velocity Tactical operates the Velocity Training Center (VTC) tactical and leadership training facility near to Romney, West Virginia, where we provide training for US Special Operations Forces and Responsible Citizens. We have established a reputation on the leading edge of tactical live fire and force on force training. At MVT we are dedicated to developing and training tactical excellence at the individual and team level.