Coaches vs. Equipment Managers; Know the Difference

Ken Hackathorn is a Madden-level Head Coach for the gun culture.

Ken Hackathorn is a Madden-level Head Coach for the gun culture.

It was Sunday morning, game day. At 8:30 a.m. the Dallas Cowboys head coach woke in a cold sweat with a terrible pain in his lower abdomen. He called the team physician who quickly diagnosed the problem as acute appendicitis. Off to the hospital they went for emergency surgery.

Upon receiving the news the Cowboys owner knew that the game still had to be played. Hundreds of thousands of people nationwide were expecting to see the Cowboys take the field at 1 p.m. and they would not be disappointed. Without hesitation the owner picked up his phone and placed a call. “Bobby, the coach is down and in the hospital. I need you to step in and fill his shoes today.” Puzzled, the equipment manager hung up the phone and wondered what he should do next.

“Nice try buddy” you are saying right now. “No team is going to put the equipment manager in charge, replacing the coach.” Okay, I have a question for you. Why do you hate equipment managers? Do they not serve an important role in the overall success of the team?

When discussing sports, whatever the sport may be, there is going to be physical equipment that needs to be accounted for, issued out, and maintained. The players need balls, bats, sticks, pads, cleats, etc. in order to play the game and achieve their ultimate goal: victory. A good equipment manager knows everything there is to know about the gear required to play the game. They understand the specifications, designs, and rules regarding their sport’s official gear. These folks can quote you the official weight and length of an Major League Baseball approved bat or the weight and pressure requirements for a National Football League ball.

Gun Culture Equipment Managers

So, knowing everything there is to know about about the gear required for said sport, is it not reasonable that the equipment manager could step in and fill the shoes of the head coach? I know what you are thinking, “Paul, understanding the specs of the gear does not mean that you can coach or teach people how to use that gear, especially in a real game where they are keeping score.” Coaching is not about gear, it is about learning skill, maintaining skill, and executing that skill on demand.

With all this being said, can someone please explain to me the thought process behind gun culture equipment managers assuming the mantle of firearms trainers and coaches.Think about it for a moment. How often has someone tried to convince you of their credentials as a firearms instructor by speaking in great detail about gear? Sure, knowing specs about gun gear can be an asset in many circumstances, but how does reciting the factory specifications for a Glock 17 teach me to use that weapon in the gravest extreme?

Hardware vs. Software

I did not make up the following quote, but it is most certainly worth repeating. “Amateurs talk about hardware, professionals talk about software.” In the gun world, acquiring hardware is the easy part. Anyone with a certain level of disposable income can go online or to their local gun shop and pick up the hardware. They have accomplished step one: own a gun. Unfortunately, that is where most people will stop. They become gun owners, then gun traders, then gun talkers. These folks buy guns, sell guns, and learn to talk about guns.

After a while, the hardware owners acquire a great deal of information regarding the tools of their new favorite pass time. They become gun lovers and that is about the time that it happens. They gun owner now falls into the trap of engaging others in discussions about tactics and training. After all, their friends and acquaintances have been impressed by their knowledge about gear.

After their local peers have been satisfied by their armchair tactics and training advice, the gun lover is feeling froggy. They decided to make some YouTube videos. After their first “I hate Glocks” or “I love the Sig” video gets a thousand views they begin to wade into the tactics and training category.  Hey, people seem to like their stuff, why not start talking about concealed carry, double-taps, stoppage clearing, multiple target engagement, off-hand drills, etc.

Soon other YouTubers are posting favorable comments and “thumbs-up” on their channel. This is getting exciting. The gun culture equipment manager might even consider taking an NRA Basic Pistol Instructor course. Now, with a piece of paper emblazoned with their name, the equipment manager searches for a cool domain name. Bam! “” is not taken. Their firearms training company is born.  Hooah! The transformation is now complete. A person who bought their first gun three years and two months ago is now Tactical Firearms Instructor.

You might laugh, but ladies and gentlemen, that is going on as we speak. I am personally acquainted with a person who went from purchasing their first gun ever to being the President of a tactical firearms training school and naming themselves the Master Instructor all in three short years. What is worse is that because the package was slick and cool looking, many uneducated consumers and even firearms industry people bought into the BS. I know many of you nice, reasonable people might say, “Well, maybe the person in question completely immersed themselves in firearms and, more importantly, instructor training.”  Yes, what if, but no, that was not the case.

The Moral of the Story

Unlike professional baseball or football, bad advice in the gun world does not lead to a bad game or an addition to the “loss” column. Bad tactics and training advice can cost the user their very life at worst or a lifetime of regret if they survive a badly played lethal-force encounter.

The moral of the story is this, before you bet your life on the advice of the equipment manager, you might pause and listen to what they say. If the equipment manager turned firearms tactics expert spends the majority of their time pontificating about guns and gear, remember that phrase from earlier; amateurs talk about hardware, professionals talk about software.

Listen to Student of the Gun Radio five times a week.

The following two tabs change content below.

Paul Markel

Founder & President at Student of the Gun
Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

Latest posts by Paul Markel (see all)


  1. NoVA Steve

    Great article and spot-on. I recently ditched a number of youtube channels because I realized just how much bum scoop they were passing. One in particular actually advocated that professional training wasn’t necessary for concealed carry, since thousands of people manage to successfully defend themselves with firearms every year, without the benefit of professional training. Now this individual claims to have once served in law enforcement, so he must have received some level of training, and yet his “if you don’t think you need it, then you don’t need it” position will influence others. His videos are entertaining, yet are really just op/ed on guns and gun politics. The problem is that the novice can rarely tell the difference between fact and opinion

  2. Matthew

    Experience is the best teacher in the world.

  3. Jerry Black

    Thanks for this! I appreciate your “no holds barred” approach to these topics. I ALWAYS appreciate yours (and Jarrads) insight.

  4. Pingback: Coaches vs. Equipment Managers, Know the Difference - Shooting Sports News

  5. Pingback: Firearms instructors aren’t qualified to teach self-defense | the street standards

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *