Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wonder Gear

I worked with a guy once who built bicycles from scratch. He built “regular” bikes and recumbent bikes. Once, just to make conversation, I asked him if titanium forks were worth the money on a bicycle. Now, about all I knew about “titanium forks” was that they “were lighter than regular forks” and one could buy them – I think I saw an ad in a triathlon magazine or something. Like I said, I was just trying to make conversation.

He explained to me that it was not merely the weight of the bike that was important –it was the combined weight of the bike and the rider that mattered. He also pointed out that while titanium forks would weigh a few ounces less than steel forks, most of the suburbanite yuppies in the bike clubs out there on $4,000+ Trek bikes could stand to lose more than a few pounds. He recommended that before folks invest in titanium forks to “save a few ounces” they get out on the bike they had and start working out to shave off a few pounds.

I took up golf once. A rich friend heard I was interested and gave me a brand new set of TaylorMade Pro Tour Gold graphite shafted drivers. For those not in the know, he gave little ol’ neophyte me about $1,000 in brand new clubs for free. I asked why he was giving away brand new clubs? He told me that right after he bought them, his golfing buddy bought the latest and greatest thing to come out of the factory and it was just a case of “keeping up with the Joneses”. While I was trying to learn golf, I read a lot of magazines and I noticed how much stuff is for sale in those catalogs. The latest driver to “add incredible distance to your drives” the coolest putter, etc, etc ad nauseum.

It’s the same in almost any sport or endeavor in America – you can always buy new “better” gear and accessories to “make you better”. You can buy the latest running shoe, the newest batting glove, the most high-speed underwear (yes). And it gets to the point of ridiculousness with firearms – guns. I have seen more crap hung on firearms than you can shake a stick at.

I think I figured out why people do this – they would rather invest money than time or effort. They would rather buy stuff than do something to make them sweat. They are attempting to compensate for laziness.

There, I said it.

Most of us are in the “average band” of performance. Which means most of us are not experts. Most of us cannot perform to the level of the gear we already have – so why do we insist on buying “better gear”?

Most golfers would benefit more from spending more time on the driving range, putting green and with an instructor than from buying the new “WonderHead” golf club.

Most runners would benefit more from getting out and running more instead of worrying about what they look like while doing it.

Most shooters (who cannot shoot to the level of the average rifle – let alone some expensive “sniper rifle”) would do better spending their money on ammo and range fees and get out and shoot the heck out of the rifle (or pistol, or shotgun) they have instead of buying this or that accessory, or upgrading to a better model.

I do not even want to hear (because this is a preparedness related blog) – “How much is your life worth?” to try and justify buying so-called better gear. How about getting out there and wearing out the gear you already have? Pros, masters, Olympic-class types can benefit from shaving a few ounces or seconds or whatever off. They can because they have mastered the lesser gear first. And really, they have not mastered the gear - they have mastered themselves.

I happen to shoot very well. I can shoot most people’s guns better than they can – I do it all the time at ranges when folks say, “wanna shoot it?. I don’t own anything too fancy. I outshot a guy with a bazillion dollar “sniper rifle” with a Chinamart special deer rifle at a range one time – he was flabbergasted. He just could not understand why his wonder gun did not shoot as well as my El-cheapo.

Baron Manfred von Richthofen said once, "The quality of the crate matters little. Success depends upon who sits in it." And he is a product of the personal effort he (or she) has expended

Ever see those pictures folks post of themselves on the 'net with all their high speed gear? Ever notice how clean it is? How brand new looking? I’d be a lot more impressed if it looked like it had been dragged through hell and back. At leas then it would appear that they had actually used it. What a concept - I know...

So people – get out and do. Instead of buying new and better stuff - use the stuff you have. Once you wear it out or get better than it – then you may want to consider Wonder Gear.

Have a comment? I'd love to read it - just contact me at If it's really interesting I may even post it here.


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