All Things SF

By Abner Miranda

I’m going to stick my neck way out there on this article, because there are some things that need to be said. Our industry has an inane fascination with all things Special Forces (SF), and we need an industry-wide comeuppance. It seems that nowadays if your title doesn’t begin with “Former” no one listens to you. I’ve often said that if Eugene Stoner were to try and make it in our industry, today, he would be marginalized by all the SF clownery. I am but one of several instructors, and industry professionals who’ve voiced a rising frustration in dealing with the mindset of “if you’re not SF you’re nobody.” Let me be clear, I am not talking about the hard working folks who’ve paid their dues (Vickers, Haley, Proctor, Spooner, Howe, etc.). I’m referring to the guys who’ve cleaved to a barbaric ethos of total violence that’s meant to sell a warped “lifestyle” to the masses. These people and their sycophantic disciples hide behind online handles, and breed discord.

All Things SF by Abner Miranda Third Person View

What we’re dealing with now is a fringe movement of fly-by-night, tactical toddlers who are making a name for themselves by generating vapid media content that offers little relevance to the fight we have here on US soil. These people are confrontational and disrespectful. I’ve witnessed men that I deeply respect being lambasted by keyboard commandos who’ve nothing relevant to share with our industry. Their ubiquitous retort when confronted is “well Former Special Forces Operator so-and-so says…” It never occurs to these people that a lot of what passes for “knowledge” in our industry is nothing more than someone finding a way to sell their product or service.

If your undies are in a bind over what I’m saying you’re probably part of the problem. I’ve sat quietly for the last few years hoping that this SF movement would peter out. Not only has it not, it’s continued to grow, and now it’s reaching epic proportion's of ignorance.

Let's go back to the beginning with a little quiz. How many of you are even aware of when, why, and how our industry began this inane fascination with all things SF? Anyone?

Modern Warfare, All Things SF by Abner Miranda

In 1999 Steven Spielberg’s: Dreamworks Interactive released a video game (Medal of Honor) loosely based on his 1998, WWII epic, Saving Private Ryan. Little did anyone know that that one game would spawn a cultural shift that would sweep the world. Before Medal of Honor, video games had always been just games. Medal of Honor offered an experience. Hollywood professionals plied their expertise on this game and created a cinematic experience that the end user could now control. 

In response to the growing success of the now franchised Medal of Honor games, Infinity Ward jumped into the mix with their own version of the WWII-centric games with Call of Duty, in 2003. In 2007 Call of Duty took a very risky gamble and produced Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Oh baby! Things got hot after that.

For those of us who were already in the firearms industry this was a welcome extension of our, much loved, hobby of shooting. Suddenly we had an online gaming experience that realistically produced the exact adrenaline fix we got on the range. While a video game is just a video game to an adult with a life, it’s an entirely different thing to a child. Online, team based, combat gaming has now spawned a new generation of problematic kids with some serious rage issues. This phenomenon has been fueled by lack of sleep, lack of parental controls, and moral numbing in a digital world that rewards interpersonal aggression, which, coincidentally, is the universal human phobia. 

That generation of kids who grew up fueling their rage are now the 20-somethings who are shocked when they don’t get their way. Every couple of months I run into some young upstart who thinks he knows something because he now has an RMR equipped pistol and his starter AR-15. These are the people who are fueling this fascination with SF because they want to live out there online gaming fantasies. The fact that gaming has now become the way to entertain oneself has caused a paradoxical effect where the very things that used to seem absurd, are now acceptable. Our industry-wide ignorance about what is real, and what is hype has now created business models which endeavor to pander to this inane SF fascination. 

Then suddenly it stopped at 03:20 on Nov. 9th of this year. Yep that political upset dropped our industry on its head. Those of us on the inside know what just happened, and for the rest of you who don’t quite get it, let me school you. 

For months our industry had been spinning-up for what was predicted to be the buy-in of the century. It was suspected that the 2016 political panic-buy was going to rival 2008 and 2012 combined. Then Trump actually beat Hillary…oops! What just happened? 

Not only were people not buying in mass quantities before the election, which was weird in and of itself. It got worse, as the day after the election saw orders being canceled left and right. In the following weeks we’ve been watching our industry receding at an alarming rate. Mark my words, this fascination with SF is no longer financially sustainable. 

We’re already seeing the signs of financial strain turning to bust. There are going to be companies closing their doors in the next few weeks, and I’m not the only one suspecting that we’re going to have a lot of empty booths at SHOT Show as companies restructure their financials in hopes of surviving.

Believe it or not, this is actually a good thing for our industry. Our childish preoccupation with SF is going to give way too a more pragmatic industry. Product is going to get better and customer service is going to come back as companies have to, once again, earn…our…business! 

All Things SF by Abner Miranda

Now that “We the People” have the attention of the politicians, let’s start working together as an industry that is 2nd Amendment focused. Let’s get back to being America!

As always, God bless you all, get those guns out and practice. Have a good one!

 

~Abner Miranda is a former Police Officer, an FBI trained Hostage Negotiator, a First Responder, and Spanish Interpreter. He is currently a Firearms Instructor, an Armorer, and a regular contributor to our industry of both written and digital media. You can see more of Abner’s work on his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/daddycop3

Comments

12 comments

Walt Schumate

Well, I had to go see a doctor for the amount of eye rolls this op-ed and comments elicited. Glad to see the most mediocre holster company in the game is keeping it real.

Wilson Hines

Spot on! He’s on the mark. And in my opinion, the prices of many of these custom AR and pistol accessories have exploited by companies betting on clientele from the SF fanboy world. I know R&D, tooling, and machining is expensive, but the price for some of these parts are stupid. Flat stupid.

CJ Moore

WOW!! SPOT ON! I am not an expert and I never will claim to be. But I have watched (on youtube or read some of their articles) of many different Firearms instructors. You start to learn their philosophy of training and methodology of firearms training You will quickly learn which firearms instructors you would like to take a class with or not. When and if I have the time to spend the $$ for a firearms class I would be proud to learn from a few. Larry Vickers, Reid Hendrich, Tim Kennedy and maybe a couple more. The reason why I mention these 3 (please forgive me there are a couple more and can’t remember their names) they are “Former” Ops guys but they train everyone with the utmost respect. There are some that will make you feel like an idiot if you make a mistake. My father was a Drill Sergeant and taught me how to shoot and fight since I was 7. I am no expert and I am always willing to learn. I know of one training company (will not mention the name) that tells you to throw or drop your weapon to prove that it’s just a tool. I know that and I get it. But rather than I ramble, Abner Miranda is Spot On!

Jr

This here is why I haven’t paid absurd amounts of money to take any of these “SF guy” classes. Good old trigger time will win. Yes, you can learn some great skills from a lot of instructors. But… I truly believe that if you’re an instructor and have the audacity to charge $600 for a day of training to a civilian, there’s something very wrong.. On the other hand, I have taken two classes with a local trainer (former badass etc etc) that were actually very good and paid $50 for each of the 2 hour sessions. Did really learn anything new but got to compete against other students and had a fun time. Thanks for the read and spot on!

JC Arms & Ammunition

Great article, 110% on point! We’ve always wore Bravo Concealment gear proudly, we will never run any other holsters.

Chris & Nicole Aronson
JCAA Ammunition

Mike

Excellent article. Thank you for saying it. The range I shoot at to practice has a training school that sometimes shoots near enough that I can witness their tactics. My observation is if the lead instructor struts around like he’s got a two foot cob up his butt you better watch out. A lot of these people have serious issues in their lives, and they need a bunch of lowly students to show how big a man they are.

Tom

Well stated. Appreciate (and agree with) your observations and conclusions. As someone who has saught training, I have been frustrated by the obsession with SF everything and and over imbelishing the “need” for equivelant training. Hopefully this new political setting will bring a much needed correction to the industry.

Thanks for saying it.

Les

Spot on. I too have trained with some high speed members of military and police tactical units and was shocked by what I witnessed. And this makes me very selective of who and were I train at. If you have too tell me in every other sentence that you are former SF then there is a problem. You can’t buy equipment to make up for a lack of training and mastery of the fundamentals.

Petro

Spot on. The SOFREP effect

Abner Miranda

Kevin, your comment is almost identical to one I received via youtube from a gentleman named Brandon. Please see my response. It’s good to see I’m not the only one seeing this problem.

Abner Miranda

Brandon, thank you for your compliment. I posted this response on your youtube comment. I really appreciate what you had to say, and I wanted to repost my response here too.

I too drank the SF Kool-Aid for a few years until I started training with them and noticed that the private citizens were outshining a lot of our professional door kickers. Understand that this is fact, and I’ve taken a lot of guff for saying it. But the proof is on the firing line. Bullets don’t lie. Mind you, I’ve trained with some very squared away men and women in uniform. Unfortunately they are few and far between. The majority I run into don’t stand out with the excellence that one would expect. I suspect that some of that has to do with the fact that we, as private citizens, spend more time working with our firearms and gear than some of the soldiers who are tasked with protecting our nation. The saying rings true which says “be weary of the man who only owns one gun for he will surely know how to shoot it.” If you consistently train with your set-up you will, indeed, master it. Unfortunately our troops are not getting the consistent reps that we are all being told that they are. Case in point; At one training facility I got a chance to talk with a couple of teams of MARSOC guys. I asked them if it was a hassle having to fly all over the country with all of their weapons and gear. The guys laughed and told me that they leave all of their weaponry and most of their gear on base. They fly from one training facility to the next, are issued weapons and gear, run the course for a week, then move on to somewhere else. That explains a lot of the fumbled runs I’d seen that day. From a hassle, and financial standpoint, it makes sense to not have to haul all of your stuff around. However, the fact is that a lot of the training that these guys are getting is put on by facilities that are managed by corporations that are in it for the government contracts. Believe me, I’ve talked to soldiers, trainers, and armorers of some of our Tier 1 units and they tell a different story than what our politicians would lead us to believe.

At one facility I watched guys attempting to run a vast course of obstacles, breaching, , shooting, vehicle defense drills, etc. The gear they’d been given was cobbled together, and it showed. I saw them shooting ragged out Glocks with plastic sights, and tired rifles that weren’t zeroed. The guys kept saying “these rifles are way off!” The instructors would call back “suck it up and use Kentucky windage!” Sad but true, and yes I had another media guy with me who can corroborate everything I’m saying. And since he’s probably reading this I’m going to admit to having high-centered a HMMV at that same facility. I take responsibility, I was behind the wheel. But dang, we had fun doing it. That evening my buddy and I talked about the day’s events and we were both shocked at how poorly supplied the MARSOC guys had been. So yeah, when I hear someone say that our soldiers have the finest training I have to bite my tongue. The sad part is that you could tell that the trainers running the course were trying to do the best with what they’d been given. It’s always set up that way. The people who are busy screwing our defenders make sure to insulate themselves behind layers of red tape so that it’s hard to fix the problem. And you know what Brandon, even with all of this in explanation I will still get people going “oh yeah Abner, well your nothing but a scum sucking maggot…” It’s human nature to convince ourselves that we’re doing just fine. Excellence takes focused, concerted effort to achieve.

Kevin

LOVE this article. I for one have been equally frustrated by the SF ideas. I fully respect the true operators who paid their way through months of intense training and operational experience where the washout rate more than doubles the graduate rate. However I was getting tired of the idea if you weren’t “Former” something you had nothing to bring to the table. I’ve had the opportunity to train with some of these professionals mentioned and opportunity to train with professionals that weren’t “former” anything and have learned a lot from both. Thank you Sir for saying what needed to be said!!!!

Write a comment