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“The final weapon is the brain, all else is supplementary.” – John Steinbeck
What’s the number-one problem within the preparedness community? This is a challenging question because it’s often uncomfortable to analyze our own faults. However, honest introspection is a great motivator for change and improvement. Admitting you have a problem is often the first step toward solving it. In this case, a strong argument can be made that over-reliance on gear and under-reliance on realistic survival training is one of our community’s greatest setbacks.
It doesn’t take long to find evidence of this pervasive “hardware over software” mindset. Social media influencers are always showing off photos of their latest gear purchases, store shelves are packed with countless variations on every tool you might need, and many of us have spent a tremendous amount of time and money fine-tuning our everyday carry and bug-out equipment. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of this — we write about gear in every issue of our magazine and will continue to do so. But problems begin to arise when this gear isn’t complemented by skills, which must be developed and maintained through survival training.
This brings us to the Steinbeck quote that forms the foundation of our new recurring column, The Final Weapon. Originally written in his book The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, the expanded quote reads as follows: “The sword is more important than the shield, and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain, all else is supplementary.” Steinbeck perfectly articulated this critical message — quality gear is a valuable asset, but no piece of equipment is more valuable than your mind and the skills held within.
As a result of this epiphany, we’re placing an increased focus on education and survival training from now on. We’ve been taking classes on a variety of preparedness-related topics from knowledgeable instructors, absorbing everything they can teach us and incorporating it into our survival skill set. In each issue, The Final Weapon will serve as a place to discuss these training experiences, and briefly recap some of the key lessons we learned.
One of the first classes in our survival training process was a Dynamic Marksmanship pistol class taught by Blue-Green Alliance. Its two instructors are Force Recon Marines, and the goal of the class was to hone our skills with our daily carry handguns. I attended this class along with our head editor, Tom Marshall, in order to share the perspectives of shooters with two very different skill levels. Between his time as a U.S. Army Captain, 13 separate deployments overseas as an independent security contractor, and a substantial amount of prior training, Tom is an advanced shooter. I, on the other hand, have been shooting casually for roughly a decade and developed a baseline level of competence, but haven’t had much formal firearms training.
Tom and I wrote about our contrasting successes, challenges, favorite drills, and lessons learned during the Blue-Green Alliance pistol class in a web-exclusive article. For an in-depth look at the first step in our ongoing training journey, read it in its entirety at offgridweb.com/preparation/blue-green-alliance-class. You can also learn more about the organization and its courses at bluegreen-alliance.com.
Keep an eye out for a recap of another survival training experience in the next edition of The Final Weapon. Until then, get out there and work on sharpening your own skills — when the time comes to use them, you’ll be glad you did.