Introducing Max Wins and the 1%

16-Aug-13 – 09:09 by ToddG

Overheard every day on the internet:

Sevigny/Leatham/Vogel uses <insert gear choice here>, so I should, too!

Sometimes, it’s completely valid. These guys shoot a lot more, and at a much higher level, than anyone you probably know at your local club. They’ve figured out what works best for them through more intense testing than most folks will ever be able to replicate.

But the key part of that sentence — the part that is often glossed over — is “best for them…” They represent the top tiny fraction of a percent of all shooters. Plenty of people have written about the mistake of assuming one size fits all when it comes to sights, triggers, etc. And that’s very true. But that’s not what I want to address here. Instead, I want to talk whether a champion’s gear is even worthwhile for an average Joe.

To use a made-up example, let’s suppose that shooting uberchampion Max Wins tells the world that his reloads are 0.03 seconds faster with blue floorplates than normal black ones. Next thing you know, there’s a run on blue floorplates worldwide. Everyone and his brother start advising newbies to use blue floorplates. Guys get on internet forums and show off photos of the fifty blue baseplates they bought.

But 99% of those people won’t see an iota of improvement in their reload speed. Why? Because they don’t have the requisite skill to get a benefit from blue floorplates. It may make a small — and to him, meaningful — difference for Max Wins… but that doesn’t mean it will do anything for the 99%. What helps a guy trying to go from a 1.0 reload to a 0.9 reload is likely to be a lot different than the guy who is starting with a 4.5-second reload. If you don’t have a smooth, practiced, consistent reload technique then you probably shouldn’t assume you and Max Wins are on par.

Of course, just about every shooter I know understands this. The problem is that 50% of all shooters think they’re in that 1%.

There will always be temptations to solve performance problems with gear. Sometimes that’s perfectly legitimate. But try to understand the difference between serious benefits and minutia for you at your level. Max Wins might notice the difference between a 0.140 and 0.141 inch rear sight notch… but you might not.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 25 Responses to “Introducing Max Wins and the 1%”

  2. Very sage advice. Thanks for posting this. I’ve had similar thoughts but you have articulated them well.

    By Redchrome on Aug 16, 2013

  3. I have used the “Vogel runs this” argument for a very different purpose quite frequently.

    “Vogel destroys everyone in the IDPA with a freaking Glock. I’d bet he’d do the same with an M&P or FNS if he had to switch to one of those. Why don’t you spend a little more time learning to shoot well and a little less time thinking it’s about finding the perfect gun.”

    Granted, I do typically tell new shooters to just buy a Glock or M&P, whichever feels better in their hand. But that has a lot to do with the fact that their popularity makes it easier to find gear that suits you than other similar quality, but less popular, models. That popularity also makes them easier to sell later if they’re ultimately not a good fit.

    By Laughingdog on Aug 16, 2013

  4. Sayin’ what needs to be said…well done!

    By Jess Banda on Aug 16, 2013

  5. Actually trained all day with Robert Vogel yesterday (TLG – he says hello) and we had some good discussions about gear & Glocks. Only gear item I walked away from the day wanting was a mag pouch that’s cut low enough to allow me to get a better grip (finger higher up) on the mag before bringing up to the magwell. He liked the DeltaPoint on my Glock 19.

    By halodog on Aug 16, 2013

  6. A good post. To reinforce the point, ill add my own observations as a new shooter.

    In the first Fast and Furious movie, one of the characters is a garage owner who sells go-fast parts for cars. The supporting character tells the protagonist why he likes the film’s villain, who is driving a tricked out street car-“When Toretto wins, the kids ask what he runs, and THEY PAY CASH!!”.

    That same syndrome appears to exist in the firearm shooting community. We first have to note that its a rare person who actually SHOOTS their guns. Most gun owners buy a weapon, run 100 rounds through it, and then draw plans for the next acquisition. In terms of skill they’re newbies; these folks just barely know how to draw without getting “Glock Leg”. Unfortunately, they do not know this and confuse their massive gun collection with shooting competence. When Pro Shooter/Special Ops Guy X uses Gun Y, these folks are all over it with the mistaken psychological impression that equipment= competency. That’s like saying 2+2=22

    True competency is achieved through effective live fire practice, not by aggressively filling up a gunsafe. The guy who’s buying a magazine baseplate to mimic a pro shooter did has missed the entire point of the exercise.

    By ST on Aug 16, 2013

  7. True as always Todd. There’s a local guy at the USPSA matches I go to who is classified as GM and shoots a stock Beretta 92fs. More than just a couple times I see the guy with a Sig 220 clean the clocks of everybody else in the single stack division. It is fairly safe to assume that the trigger, sights, mag baseplates etc…won’t matter as much as the number of bullets you fire in intelligent, thoughtful practice.

    By John on Aug 16, 2013

  8. There’s a long list of gear that nobody in the winner’s circle, or even within a stone’s throw of the winners circle, uses. Almost everything the average shooter sees for sale in retail stores is on that “nobody uses” list.

    Someone just starting out could do a lot worse than picking someone in the top 10 and just buying a setup exactly like theirs as a starting point to begin training for competition, or doing the same thing with a credible trainer when choosing carry gear.

    When you copy the gear a top shooter uses, it eliminates one excuse. You can’t blame the difference in performance between you and Max Wins on your gear any more. That can be beneficial, because it can drive the person to moving on past equipment into training methods, training frequency and other areas where improvement is likely to occur.

    Often I see people swapping gear simply to put the “new” back into it – what Leatham called “Trick of the Day”.

    By KR on Aug 16, 2013

  9. **cough** Golfers! **cough**

    By Cutter on Aug 16, 2013

  10. It’s the same motivation that drives golfers to buy the latest set of Pings because $GOLFPRO uses them, when in reality more (driving) range time will do them much more good than the latest gadget. We like our toys, and we refuse to think it’s us that’s messing up, it *has* to be the gun’s fault.

    By ExurbanKevin on Aug 16, 2013

  11. Blue floorplates are pretty awesome. You really need to switch them all out, so build the right your mussel memory.

    By Max Wins on Aug 16, 2013

  12. Same phenom happens from the tactical side big time.

    By JHC on Aug 16, 2013

  13. Todd: How do you expect to sell advertising if you keep telling people that it isn’t the gear?

    By SteveJ on Aug 16, 2013

  14. There is an opposite to this, also. If I went to the forum right now and listed out my gear I’d be the source of indirect ridicule for quite some time. Already seen some references in that direction to some of the gear that I use (no Hi-Point). It isn’t the gear that is holding me back – not shooting more is. My goal is to do the best I can with the equipment choices I’ve made – everyday, ordinary equipment. When I can perform better than it, then I may pursue some blue floor plates. Or, orange, maybe.

    By dustyvarmint on Aug 16, 2013

  15. Well said.

    By AJZ on Aug 17, 2013

  16. Are Max Wins and Sheepdog247 related?

    By Dropkick on Aug 17, 2013

  17. “There will always be temptations to solve performance problems with gear.”

    This also explains a lot of Victoria’s Secret’s success. Just sayin’…

    By JimK on Aug 17, 2013

  18. the 3 Gun Community is guilty of the “gadget war”. It always seemed like there was a new toy or gizmo designed to be used in order to better game a stage.

    By Andrew on Aug 17, 2013

  19. KR — “There’s a long list of gear that nobody in the winner’s circle, or even within a stone’s throw of the winners circle, uses.” That’s denying the antecedent. If you go back and re-read what I wrote, I acknowledged repeatedly that those “winner’s circle” guys know a lot about gear. And yes, a brand new shooter could go out and gun custom tuned and tweaked to be exactly like Max Wins’ Glock with a $100+ custom action kit, $100 competition sights, $100 grip & magwell work, etc. With a little effort he could double the cost of his Glock overnight. And not shoot it one iota better than if he’d stuck with a stock Glock… and probably worse than if he’d stuck with a stock Glock and invested those hundreds of dollars in training & ammo instead.

    Dropkick — Related? For heaven’s sake, man, they hate each other!

    By ToddG on Aug 17, 2013

  20. That would make for some interesting family gathering shouting matches…

    By Joe in PNG on Aug 17, 2013

  21. So I guess I shouldn’t get the Safariland Holster that Vogel uses. I was going to get it because I need a good holster for CCW and work. I like Safariland Holsters and most important, it is in my price range. Now I know I will not be as fast as Vogel I am thinking I may not want to get it.

    You make a good point Todd. So did Laughingdog. I think I will stay with the Glock Black Floor Plates lol

    I’m just kidding, I still going to purchase the holster :)

    By Dave S. on Aug 17, 2013

  22. Good stuff Todd.

    By Kirk in Utah on Aug 17, 2013

  23. (pouty lip) But… but… but… buying gear is FUN! I’m not an “operator”, I shoot to have fun. I like toys and experimenting, let me have my fun.

    Although I totally do agree with your article. Most of the stuff doesn’t make a hair of difference for me. However, say I have a new competition gun with stock sights that I just don’t really like. They need replacing, but I have no idea with what. Where to start? Same thing that Max Winns is using is as good of a starting point as any.

    By Tom on Aug 17, 2013

  24. Myself, I’m an exceedingly mediocre shooter. On the other hand, not being particularly “tacticool”, I _know_ why I suck: I simply lack the skills to do better. Slowly, (ssslllooowwwlllyyyy!), I’m making fewer mistakes. You make excellent points. “A poor craftsman will blame his tools”.

    By Reltney McFee on Aug 24, 2013

  25. I, too, am an exceedingly mediocre shooter. I know this because I compare my shot groups at the range against the guys and gals along the firing line, and my shots are nowhere near as tightly grouped as many I see.

    And I don’t compete at all.

    But I have taken two CHL courses for obtaining and renewing my TX CHL, and was the best shot both times in classes of 30 students.

    Which makes me wonder, knowing how poor a shot I am with my box-stock Glock 19 and cop-surp S&W Model 10 and Ruger Mark II, if I could get much better just by shooting more ($$$$) or whether training would be a better investment ($$$$).

    If I ever get the $$$$, I may have to make that decision.

    By mikee on Aug 24, 2013

  26. I work in video games, and in the past I often dealt with professional gamers. These guys have a comprehensive knowledge of the game systems and the meta theory behind the games that they play. They often have inhuman reflexes and the ability to take advantage of techniques and tactics that are simply unavailable to the average player. What you’ll see though, is average players duplicating pro-player ‘set ups’ purely because the pro players do things that way.

    The problem is that not only do they lack the skill to use those set ups in an optimal way, and the knowledge to understand why those choices were made, but also that those set ups actually inhibit their ability to excel at their own level of play because they aren’t optimal for their situation and level of ability.

    By Nik the Greek on Sep 4, 2013

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