Can You Buy Skill?


Bartholomew Roberts
December 27, 2002, 10:38 AM
I've heard the old saying "You can't buy skill" oft repeated here at TFL and while I'm inclined to agree in general, I don't think it is precisely true.

Lately I have been watching new shooters using red dots on their rifles, and I would have to say that without exception, every one of them has improved their shooting faster and more dramatically than an equivalent amount of money spent on training would have. In some cases I know this to be true as the shooters had training and you could compare the improvement from training with the improvement from a red dot purchase.

Of course, there are still downsides. For example, they don't get good weapons manipulation skills, awareness of equipment limitations or good tactics that generally come with training. However, if we look only at shooting ability, I'd have to say that you can now buy skill to some degree.

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2nd Amendment
December 27, 2002, 10:54 AM
Is that really buying skill? They realize one aspect of their potential a little more quickly but in the end they're no better than whatever their natural ability would have been anyway. Maybe even a little less well rounded.

When I think of buying skill, I want to BUY SKILL! :D Pick eyes out of flies at 500yds with a Model 94, ya know?(see Back to the Future II...maybe it was 300 yds...and maybe it was a partridge eye...anyway, you get the idea).

December 27, 2002, 11:07 AM
It's this simple: red dot sights allow you to shoot better. Whether that's buying skill or not, you be the judge.

December 27, 2002, 11:12 AM
If buying skill includes buying more practice ammo & using proper technique to build muscle memory and not just buying more widgets to add onto a firearm, I'd say you can buy skill.

Still Learning
December 27, 2002, 11:13 AM
Seems to me that the example Bartholomew is using is really more a matter of improving one's tools to maximize the skills they are developing.

Just my two cents.

2nd Amendment
December 27, 2002, 11:13 AM
I've used red dots. I didn't shoot any better. Had I had them to start with I might have learned more quickly but I don't see it likely I'd be any better(or worse) as an end product. Thus the point stands.

December 27, 2002, 11:14 AM
No, you can't.

The mind can't train the muscles. It can only guide them to achieve a desired outcome.

Practice produces skilll.

December 27, 2002, 11:19 AM
Originally posted by 2nd Amendment
I've used red dots. I didn't shoot any better.

I've used red dots and did shoot better. To be more precise, red dots allow me to shoot to the best of my ability at times when other things might prevent that.
For instance...I went to the range with some friends on a day when allergies were kicking my butt. My eyes were watering and burning and if I tried to close one eye to focus on an iron sight, my vision blurred. I used the red dot on my M4 and shot as well as I usually did.

December 27, 2002, 11:23 AM
"perfect practice makes perfect".

Take a pair of guns, beaucoup ammo and gear to Thunder Ranch for a series of classes and you'll come out a better shooter.

December 27, 2002, 11:26 AM
Red dots are considered accessories to the firearm. If they the shooter shot better great. The operator/shooter still needs to have a certain degree of skills in order to shoot the gun properly.

When I think of buying skills....I think of a game called Diablo. :)

December 27, 2002, 11:27 AM
I equate it with a computer or calculator. In the proper arena you end up with a better product. However, if you're handicapped without the aid of the technological "whizz bang", then you very well could be in a world of hurt.

As in proper education, the key is to learn without the aid of spell check or a calculator. When you know how to spell and perform math problems, use the technology to speed up the project.

With proper marksmanship skills via iron sights, you can always use the aid of red dots when they're available.

December 27, 2002, 01:37 PM
I've noticed in the local IPSC matches that you can improve a shooter's score ten to fifteen percent ("poof") with top-shelf hardware.

And I've also noticed that a good shooter can do almost exactly as well (within five percent or less) with a total POS out of a nylon holster.

Train more, shoot better.


December 27, 2002, 06:14 PM
Buy ammo.

Shoot it up.

Buy more ammo.

Shoot that too.

Repeat until you acquire skill.

(This is an over-simplification, but you get the idea).

December 27, 2002, 06:47 PM
I'll have to side with the "can-buy" side on this issue. But, only if "buying" is taken to mean buying the things that make practice possible.

A good example of this is the quality of your weapon. My first 1911, a Springer, was horribly inaccurate and had extraction/ejection problems. Even a top-shot like John May (several times SC Police champ) couldn't make anything smaller than a 6" group at 25yd.

The poor quality of the weapon, a lemon as other's have had better luck with the maker, made me doubt my abilities and really dampened my desire to practice. When I got my used Colt 1991, my accuracy improved immediately and put the fun back in range time. I wanted to get more ammo and spend more time at the club; therefore, I got better. I bought skill.

Sights are a similar issue. Some folks do better with a red-dot sight simply because it's easier for them to pickup. Tritium sights or large white-dots are prefered for similar reasons.

Sometimes, you find that your abilities show marked improvement simply because you changed something about the equipment you use.

December 27, 2002, 06:54 PM
I shoot better with a device like a Red Dot, but I shoot not just for accuracy but for training. It's not likely that, if and when a BG comes at me, I'll be carrying anything more than a pistol with fixed sights.

4v50 Gary
December 27, 2002, 07:10 PM
Sure can. Practice costs $ and time. Gotta spend both.

El Tejon
December 27, 2002, 07:44 PM
You can buy education. You must still do your homework.:D

December 27, 2002, 08:13 PM
You can buy skill, but it's expensive -- you buy the time to practice enough to acquire (and keep) the skill. And you buy (well, rent) good teachers, from whom you learn both faster and better.

The right tools help you employ what skill you have as well as possible, and are not to be sneered at. But buying tools too advanced for your skill can actually hold you back. I see this last all the time in photography; the stereotype is the dentist with the Hasselblad (though, statistically, some dentists must be skillful amateur photographers).

December 27, 2002, 08:20 PM
Yes. If you couldn't then all those shooting schools would've gone out of business long ago.

December 27, 2002, 11:47 PM
I don't believe you can buy skill, however I completely agree with you that you can buy equipment that allows you to shoot better. I don't consider this buying skill however. I think it allows you to make better use of the skill you already have. A personal example for me would be the times I have had the opportunity to shoot really fine custom guns. I was immediately shooting tighter groups, and making hits faster than I did when shooting my stock gun.
I have brought this up a few times on TFl, but I once took a girlfriend out shooting. I took a carbine I had recently purchased that had a laser installed. The girl had very little firearms experience. She had fired a couple different guns a couple times before but basically had no skill. She asked why anyone would want that little light on their gun. I explained that you just put the red dot on the target and squeze the trigger. She was immediately bounching cans all over the desert. Why ? Because shooting with the laser takes less skill than using iron sights. With iron sights you have to understand sight alignment, you have to focus on three different focal planes etc. With the laser you put the dot on the target and fire. She didn't gain any extra skill by using the laser but since the laser was easier to use, she was more successful.

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