From a self-defense, daily carry (EDC) perspective, knowledge, skills, and equipment are important parts of preparedness. What should be your priority, given that we have little time and money?
It may become clear how to balance priority when we define what we mean by knowledge, skills and equipment. in the context of self-defense.
What is knowledge—
Knowledge is a theoretical understanding of a subject, in this case self-defense. This is what we have learned through education or experiences. If you have taken a basic firearms course, you will gain basic knowledge of gun safety rules, how guns work, and state laws. Perhaps you are aware of the physiological effects that occur in a high-stress deadly force incident because you have been a victim of one.
There is no dearth of good and bad content related to self-defense and firearms available on the internet. We offer in-person and online training courses and discuss all kinds of topics related to best practices for carrying and using a firearm in self-defense. I hope you found our content useful and learned from it.
Knowledge is fundamental and vitally important. However, without practically applying the knowledge in your head, it is only theoretical. This brings us to the next component.
What are skills—
Smart people have categories called “soft” and “hard” skills. I’m a simple person, so I simply define skills as the ability to perform a specific task necessary to, in our case, survive. Some skills are more technical and require physical practice.
Take firing your handgun from concealment, for example. You could watch our Draw like a pro online training course, which teaches how to build a quick and consistent draw stroke. But then you have to start physically applying what you’ve learned.
In other words, you must acquire the skills necessary to put into practice what you have learned.
There is some debate over whether certain abilities should be called skills or not. Take the example of the ability to “think on your feet”. In other words, can you teach someone to problem solve under stress, or are some people “just born with this ability”? I think we can teach this skill.
Stress inoculation, or performing a desired task under deliberate exposure to stress, is a proven strategy that improves performance.
I think when we talk about skills, there’s one aspect that we can’t ignore, and that’s someone’s physical abilities and limitations that really limit our performance. Some limitations can be overcome by wearing glasses, or improving cardio with physical conditioning, but not all.
For example, reaction times increase with age or if we take certain medications. We can practice the skills we’ve learned to perform at the peak of our physical abilities, but our drawdown may not be as fast as it was 15 years ago. On the other hand, someone may lack the stamina to fight for more than 30 seconds. A physical handicap such as asthma can be a limiting factor or simply require better physical condition. I think you get the idea.
The next component is the equipment used to accomplish a task.
How does equipment fit into the equation—
I understand that someone might say “your brain is the most important piece of equipment”. While I completely understand the idea behind this thought and agree that our minds/brains are more important than any gear you can buy from a store, for the purposes of this article, let’s keep gear for physical items.
Equipment is fun and tangible. The lure of buying gear isn’t unique to guns and self-defense. It is often jokingly said that lures catch more anglers than fish, and it’s true. For self defense equipment, firearms, accessories, modifications and holsters are just a few of the things we spend money on.
We can have an in-depth discussion of the most important gear, but that’s beyond the scope of this article. However, in general, there are four areas to focus on when considering carrying a firearm for everyday carry (EDC). They are:
Select a reliable firearm that is suitable for concealed carry. Finding a carry weapon is a process. You might not know exactly what works best right off the bat, but here’s some content to help point you towards something that might work in the long run.
Choose a good case. With the vast array of holster types, carry positions, and methods, it’s impossible to find the “perfect” holster right off the bat. But because I’ve been on this journey for a while, I’ve learned and discovered what works and what doesn’t. Here are some links to content that can help you in your case selection process.
Get a belt designed for carrying a gun. Strapping a gun to your waist requires a belt that can handle the extra weight. After using many gun belts over the years I settled on the Foundation Belt from EDC Belt Co. Here is a link to the review where I explain why I think this is a fantastic option.
Once you start live fire training, you will need eye and hearing protection. I’d rather spend a little more on gear that I’ll be using for a long time, instead of buying something cheap, only to spend more money on something else. So many times I thought that if I only knew this thing existed, I would never have spent money on the other thing. I would have just bought this to start with.
An example is hearing protection. I highly recommend electronic hearing protectors over passive hearing protectors. Here, I explain why I prefer over-the-ear electronic hearing protection and how to optimize it for comfort.
Which is more important, knowledge, skills or equipment?
In the context we have been discussing, we have to start with knowledge.
Seek knowledge first on topics such as equipment, laws, and state of mind through resources like those provided in this article, as well as in-person classes. In this phase, you may have an idea of the type of weapon you want to carry. The learning process can help you focus on choosing a semi-automatic handgun over a revolver or vice versa.
The knowledge aspect becomes even more critical when using a deadly tool like a gun. Getting familiar with the operation of the weapon in a safe environment, using dummy ammunition or other dry fire training tools is a great way to learn the basics of weapon handling.
building skills come next. In this phase, we seek to apply knowledge through physical action. We never stop learning, of course. But now we do it safely and systematically. In-person live-fire training with a knowledgeable instructor is money well spent.
I know we haven’t really talked equipment Again. And the natural thought is, well, how am I supposed to train and practice if I haven’t purchased a gun, holster, or belt? At some point in the knowledge building phase, of course, you need to purchase materials. But don’t go out and spend a lot of money before researching topics like carry positions, gun action types, and holsters. That way, you’re more likely to get the gear you’re actually going to use.
I put “equipment” at the end because, provided the equipment is usable and safe; it has the least impact on your performance, knowledge and skills should come first. The vast majority of shooters will not see the performance benefits of things like trigger upgrades, compensators, extended magazines, paint jobs, etc. Money spent on these upgrades is much better spent getting more knowledgeexperience and skill development.
I’m not saying there aren’t benefits for aftermarket sights, trigger modifications, improved grip, or other modifications. Simply put, most people can’t outperform their gear. So just learn to apply the basics with the equipment you have before trying to fix performance with modifications or expensive equipment.
I hope this article and the resources included help you focus on what’s most important once you’ve decided to carry a gun for self-defense. If you find it useful, consider sharing it with others. There are a lot of things I wish I had known when I started carrying a concealed weapon on a daily basis. You may also consider checking out the Concealed Carry podcast where we discuss a wide variety of topics related to gun ownership, self-defense, and concealed carry.