Here at Paladin, our slogan is that "You don't RISE to the occasion. You FALL to your level of training." This can mean a lot of things, to to a lot of people, but one thing it should also mean to you is "Don't buy more gear than you can learn how to use." Another corollary would be to not dilute your training by buying several different models of the same type of gear.
Let's face it, everyone loves gear. Gear is cool, and fun, and there is always an endless list of awesome new things you can get. Gear is also easy, and it's much easier to sit in your pajamas for a few hours, and buy something off your favorite tactical website, than it is to go out for several hours in the cold and train. That is where the temptation lies.
That sounds a bit abstract, so let's take a couple concrete examples that illustrate my point.
- On one episode of Doomsday Preppers, one "prepared" woman confidently shows the audience her defense guns hidden throughout the house. There's a .357 revolver in a drawer in the kitchen, a 12GA pump shotgun behind the bedroom door, she's carrying a .380 pocket pistol, there is a .30-'06 hunting rifle hanging above the mantle, and so on. My questions to her are "Which do you train with most? Which can you operate all the controls of in the dark, and under stress? How much ammo do you store for each one, and how much ammo could you have stored if you only had one?" She would have been better off either having several copies of the same model gun, or even just having one or two guns.
- It would be a good idea to have two-way radios for communications. You have the choice of inexpensive FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies, or powerful and feature-rich handheld HAM radios. The HAM radios sound awesome, but also have a couple-hundred-page manual. So the dilemma becomes whether you buy the cheap radios, that are simple enough a child could use them with little or no training, or you buy the expensive radios, with all the features of your dreams, but you're going to be unable to use reliably without a great deal of training and practice. The answer may be that you are probably better off with the FRS/GMRS radios, since you'll be able to easily use them unders stress, after not having touched them for several months.
There is no end to how many fantastic gizmos you could have as part of your disaster preparedness supplies. I regularly see "preparedness checklists" that encourage you to build a kit/bag with every possible tool... more is better right? Each survival expert has to outdo the last one, and suggest one more item or redundant necessity you need. Having 5 different ways to start a fire is great, but unless you practice using that bow-drill semi-regularly, you aren't likely to be successful with it. In my article about Packing a Bug Out Bag I talked about the need to constantly be cutting down your gear, and similarly you want to be constantly cutting down the number of different types of gear you need to train with.
The next time you go to select a piece of gear to buy, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have enough time to get the training, and familiarization through practice/use, that I need in order to use this?
- Am I diluting my training between several different versions of the same type of thing?
- Should I get rid of one type/piece of gear, in order to "switch to" the new one I want?
- Do I really need all the complicated features of the item I'm considering, or should I pick a simpler version that I think I can use more reliably?
- Can you get your family members similar gear, that makes each of your training useful on everyone else's gear?