The Same Guys That Tell You “One Is None, Two Is One” Will Also Tell You: “Sometimes Less Is More”

Two of the core mantras of a collective of badasses called the Navy Seals, simultaneously proves they are both prepared, and that they are minimalists. But these are also important to be taken as standalone beliefs of the group, and still able to be interpreted by the individual operator in their own way.

Firearm Training with a rifle and a pistol at a gun range

When you hear two is one, one is none – there has been a time where there wasn’t redundancy for the individual. Maybe the ruck was too full, or the mission was too soon, or there just wasn’t enough of the resource available. And, yet, they live lives of minimalists, because adapting is in their DNA.

Can Less Really Be More When It Comes To Firearm Training?

Less can be more. And this author’s experience with many legitimate operators has proven that the mentality is a very good operational pillar when it comes to delivering on needs, not focusing on wants.

I’m not going to name drop, it won’t make me cool. I couldn’t drop any number of names that would make me as cool as even one of these heroes. What I will do is take many years of small, subtle lessons learned through simple sentences without any hesitation, and a lot of body language from team guys in real world firearm training or discussion and try to condense it into an article about how we can refocus to do more with less kit. If you are looking to do more with less money, check around on the internet for deals to stretch your dollar further.

More importantly, I’ll try to do these guys justice and explain how they view situations in warfighting. Which is what each of us really wants to know about when it comes to self defense and our combat capabilities: “What do the real professionals think when faced with the toughest conditions and most difficult decisions?”

I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with Special operations folks and legitimate high speed low drag people over the years, thankfully in a subdued and non-combat related fashion. I’ve also worked with special people in the training game that train these guys with knowledge that stands alone from the group training they get in their respective organizations. And it’s not just team guys, but a lot of different, stealthy, high capability people.

The objective: to prove that less can be more, and that a shift in mindset might be all you need to get to the next level you’re looking for.

Why a lot of guys with real world combat experience prefer less accessorizing and more firearm training

Because there have been times where accessories failed. Right when it mattered. Right when they needed to rely on it. They realize quickly that the only thing they can rely on truly is themselves and the idea that their peers are as equally invested in their own individual improvement as they are, so that each member of that team is perfecting what they can to be the best in every way possible.

Pistol Shooting Training with police officers

Sure people can fail other people too. But the idea is that if you rely on yourself above all else, and then you push yourself to be the best, eventually, you will overcome the weakness that exists in relying on any other thing, including an accessory to help you win a battle.

In this case, what these guys do (or did for a living at one time) is directly related to shooting, defending themselves (going on the offensive to get the bad guys), and winning at all costs.

This is not a lecture, but it’s also kind of a lecture

Stop worrying about your shiny new object and get really, really good with the raw tooling that you will need to carry you through your worst case scenario. Forget that the guy down the range just bought a 12k rifle. He probably is overcompensating for his lacking in skills to use it. When you get to the point where you are a better tack driver than your sub ¼ MOA bolt gun, you deserve that build – go buy it then.

Until then you can get a sub 1MOA AR-15 built for less than the cost of a high end factory pistol. And that will carry you well into the skills you really want to be developing anyways.

So ,no, it’s not a lecture, but it is: Forget about ego and vanity and cool accessories and get really, really good. Then go buy a big trophy piece so you can show off that talent properly.

It’s like the cool guy at the party that learned a single song on the piano for the times when he can show off. Sure he can play one minute and 47 seconds of “Summer” from “Four Seasons” by Vivaldi. But thats’ a party trick.

But there is a guy, who can play all four seasons and can capture an audience for 47 minutes because he is the real deal and he is the guy that wins the hearts and gets remembered. Be the guy that is the master of the craft, and any tool will work, no matter how bare bones, because a maestro is a maestro, nothing less.

That’s the deal.

You know what? Some of these guys can’t shoot as well as some civilians. But they have ice in their veins, and while they may not have as tight of groups as the person who shoots a thousand rounds a week from a benchrest – they can make the single shot that counts. The one that ends the engagement.

If you want to be the master of the defensive scenario, or the real world combat scenario, or any scenarios you can realistically envision yourself being in – learn to have ice in your veins because you have done it right a thousand times, after you learned from the thousand previous failures.

That’s the concept behind less is more. Get better, until the tool no longer makes the performance, and rather, you use the tool to create the performance.

There will be jokes

Having attended many range sessions, firearm training classes and having conversed at length about this topic with real world operators of all types, there are a lot of jokes being told about mall cop mentalities and tacticool setups. To each their own – What do I care if you bring a rig so shiny to the gun fight, that it blinds the bad guys into submission?

Police range training course with AR15 rifles

It’s just a fact of life – when it counts, and your life is on the line, a lot of the fluff won’t matter. If you feel good about your skills, and you want or need your accessories or some specialty bespoke option to do the work – then it’s going to be assistive. There will still be jokes at the carbine run and gun class, but you do you. Jokes don’t factor into the mix when there’s someone in your home, uninvited at 3am, and you are roused from bed to a blaring alarm and an aggressive home invader.

In full transparency though – I’ve heard some amazing snickers of delight and seen some awesome facial expressions when some guy pulls out his trophy carbine. Old operators like to keep it light when they can.

The reasons you want to learn “Slow is smooth, and smooth is slow”

Enough with the mantras, right? But there’s a reason these guys talk in short, simple and meaningful, lowest common denominator type language. It leaves an impact. It tells a story without half baked commentary. It gets to the point. And when you need to deliver on a task, you need to be effective in your entire tasklist. You need to communicate well.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. It means that a truly competent individual is executing at the highest level, regardless of what it takes to do that. Generally it means that you are doing everything over and over again, until you cannot mess it up because it has become a part of you. And then come the incremental improvements.

When you have practiced something so many times that it becomes ingrained in you, you cannot unlearn it. Maybe not that you cannot unlearn it, but it becomes second nature. You know why these guys don’t ever fail due to mistakes? Because they failed in practice a million times until they had addressed all points of weakness. It was no longer about what could become broken, it was now about making it stronger because it had been broken before and isn’t now.

That’s kind of like the evolution of the AR-15. It has been broken a lot in it’s past, but it’s pretty amazing now.

How a barebones build can make more sense than the tricked out one

If you only need “X” to accomplish a task, don’t get in the way and impede “X”.

Above, the words: “half baked commentary” were used. They refer to one of the better commentaries on the Vietnam War (The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien). “Whenever he told the story, Rat had a tendency to stop now and then, interrupting the flow, inserting little clarifications or bits of analysis and personal opinion. It was a bad habit, Mitchell Sanders said, because all that matters is the raw material, the stuff itself, and you can’t clutter it up with your own half-baked commentary.

That just breaks the spell. It destroys the magic. What you have to do, Sanders said, is trust your own story. Get the hell out of the way and let it tell itself.

People lined up on the firing line at a rifle training course

Imagine your toolset in combat is your war story like they talked about in the book mentioned above. Don’t clutter it with half baked accessories and add-ons. All that matters is the raw material. The Stuff itself. Rely on the continual improvement that has come to the AR platform. Get the hell out of the way and let your AR tell it’s story.

The guys I associate with that I know for a fact have seen real combat and defeated their fears in the face of it: they can’t be bothered with accessorizing. They know they have a tool. It’s not perfect, but it can do the job, when paired with their experience, understanding, and intuitiveness. And that’s where the current form of the AR comes into play. It’s refined in the fires of trial and tribulation.

A hundred thousand guys have helped to push changes. Ten million more have benefited from those changes. It’s gotten to the point where the raw virtue of the tool is such that it can do the job – if you are also prepared to help it do the job.

Get to where you don’t rely on your add-ons. Get to where you are the driver of your tool. Get to where you command what that gun can do, and then let it weave your tale. You don’t need to be in a war zone to show what you can do under pressure, or how you can succeed with the bare minimum. But if you train like you’re in a war zone, you’ll be able to handle it when it comes.

And isn’t that what a self defense situation is all about? The average citizen will never be in a position to use their CCW, or defend their home. And that is a blessing. Most of us prepare at some level for the eventuality that will never come in our lifetime. But we also worry more about how cool our tools look, rather than how well we will perform in any given scenario where SHTF quickly.

Some important considerations

  • Learn to shoot on iron sights, they are a lot less likely to fail you
  • If you have an accessory that is a must have – make sure you have redundancy for operational security

No one said you cannot buy a new upper receiver {possibility for a kw/link inclusion}, or a new optic, or a new accessory. But If you want real improvement, you’re never going to achieve the peak of your capabilities by relying on accessories to cover the part that you know you can improve on if you focus on the core fundamental

Sure, the team guys have tons of accessories in the movies and in real world camera footage, but they also have multiple people supporting them

In the real world when you need to rely on your skills against an unknown threat – there is a very good case to be made for the concept of anything that doesn’t contribute RIGHT NOW is only hindering your ability to put lead on target. That could be something as simple as extra things hanging off of your rifle forearm, or a sling that is not able to be utilized in the heat of the moment because you don’t have the time.

Pasadena police academy SWAT range day

They could do it with a barebones setup. That’s the point. The accessorize for quality of life. Then many of them, based on the mission they are undertaking, strip their rifles back down to barebones to ensure they cannot be delayed or hindered by a failing accessory. It’s situational, but they can do it with less. So could you.

Buying time, preparing properly and having situational awareness can be the differentiating factor in a way that accessories could never be

While very little of this article was actually about guns, and while it’s not so much a tirade against accessories on add-ons, but rather a study in minimizing distractions and focusing on the biggest impact decisions, it’s still about guns. And about you as a shooter that has goals, even if you are casual and not hardcore.

Goals aren’t achieved by buying accessories. Goals are achieved by using necessary tools to get you to the point where you have failed through all possible scenarios. It’s only up from there. When you only have the barest of bones to work with, you must make every single interaction, and every single decision and every single movement count.

And when you slow it down to ensure that you are moving and thinking and implementing only the best possible practices in every step of the process, very quickly, you meet your goals, because you are hyper-focused on the result and you cannot be bothered by the handicap that is given by the accessory.

So can less really be more? It can be. But only if you are willing to get better on the core fundamentals instead of compensating for lack of the proper practices and firearm training and experience. Accessories can never give the type of improvement that you can get when you worry about you and your task and iterate on it until you are the master of it.