In several of my videos and articles I use the descriptive terms of “Mall Ninja” and “Tacticool” and I wanted to take a second to describe the terms as well as to state why I dislike the mindset behind them.
Some may get upset at this (similar to my CCW vs open carry video), but if the term mall ninja or tacticool upset you, please take a second to reread this article and explore WHY more than WHAT I am saying.
I am not pulling a Zumbo and deriding a gun owner because they have different firearm preferences than I do.
What I want to do is explore the proper mindset for defensive firearm ownership.
I would not recommend going to the online urban dictionary too often, as the majority of the terms they “define” are sexual in nature, however, they were about the only website that attempted to define the terms, and once you got past the few reader submitted entries designed to embarrass individual persons, they definitions are pretty accurate. They are:
A term used in forums to mean an inexperienced and enthusiastic weapon owner. This individual pretends to be a seasoned operator. The phrase came about as a result of an over the top character in a famous satirical thread about Gecko45.
Descriptive word for equipment or clothing that does not have any tactical purpose; but looks cool. 2. A person who is a city dweller; but wishes to look like an warrior or as if they are/were in the armed forces. 3. Appearance that mimics military or martial arts.
Here is what I am so subtly trying to say, is that it is okay to like your gun, or to have opinions about what gun is best for you or your desired purpose. However, if you want respect in the field of firearms, you need to have some level of experience and skill to back up your desire. Reading 4 issues of S.W.A.T. Magazine and buying an airsoft quality plate carrier off of eBay does not make you a “seasoned operator”.
I’m Just a Fat Old Guy With Some Training
I will freely admit I am an old fat man whose glory days are behind him, my Marine Corps service was in M1A1 tank maintenance not a Victor unit, and definitely not RECON or ANGLICO, and while I worked in Maximum Security for the TDOC, I was never on their CERT team. My knowledge, skills, and attitudes are directed more at coaching, training, and supporting than running and gunning. However, as a trainer, I constantly see people whose knowledge is based upon what they have heard and not what they have done, and are more than willing to trust their life on things they have read on-line, and have let that knowledge become so ingrained that they will not allow themselves to learn by doing.
I guess it is safer to read a book on karate, and watch an action film and believe you are ninja, than to actually get up and learn. Trying to perform a skill instead of just reading about it may lead to you failing at it, and that can be an ego blow that a mall ninja has no armor against.
I have made all the mistakes in my day. When I was in high school I was a bit of a mall ninja myself. I didn’t have the internet, but I did check out the martial arts books from the library and thought I was pretty “bad” because of it. However, as I have grown and matured I have realized that what you think you can do because you read it, is much different than what you know you can do because you have done it, and world different than what you can do because you have mastered it.
Gear Doesn’t Get it Done
I have guys come to class dressed head to toe in 5.11 gear, wrap around mirrored sunglasses, $300 range bag, and some brand new boutique pistol in an exotic caliber. They want to talk for hours about why they have picked their handgun over a more common pistol. Unfortunately, they haven’t put 50 rounds through it. They shoot low and to the left, and complain their sights are off.
I have also had guys come to class with a well-worn handgun, simple equipment, and quiet demeanor. They often know as much or more than I do in their particular firearm specialty (I am a generalist not a specialist), and ask questions that are well thought out and show experience. It’s really easy to pick who will do better on the range, and on the written exams, who will earn the respect of the other students, and who I enjoy working with more. (HINT – It’s not the mall ninja)
It is not about gear, it’s about mindset, it’s about practice. Each new skill you master is another tool that you can pull out in times of need. Skills can never be taken away, and they are always with you. Skills grow and complement each other. If your budget is $500, buy a $200 gun and $300 in ammo. If you buy a $400 gun, an $80 extended magazine and a $20 box of ammo you need to rethink.
Owning a gun, especially for self-defense, is not about looking or feeling cool. It is about taking responsibility for yourself and learning enough to be able to do that effectively.
If you want a good reference about what is a mall ninja, look at this humorous post “you might be a mall ninja if”