86 episodes

The Everyday Marksman teaches regular people just like you how to live a more adventurous life through the study and practice of martial skills. We focus on marksmanship, survival, fitness, winning mindset, and equipment. Join us every other week as we talk to experts in the field and inspire success.

The Everyday Marksman Matt Robertson

    • Sports
    • 4.7 • 22 Ratings

The Everyday Marksman teaches regular people just like you how to live a more adventurous life through the study and practice of martial skills. We focus on marksmanship, survival, fitness, winning mindset, and equipment. Join us every other week as we talk to experts in the field and inspire success.

    Starting From Scratch, a Beginner’s Guide to a Basic Armory

    Starting From Scratch, a Beginner’s Guide to a Basic Armory

    I've been seeing a question going around forums and social media for the last week or two. The gist of it is, "What would you suggest as a solid basic armory for a serious new gun owner?" The context usually a friend or young man coming of age into the world of firearms ownership and training. I've found the answers to be both entertaining and enlightening. You see the obvious bias of the authors and their personal preferences for using firearms. Some people veer towards the outdoors and suggest hunting rifles and big bore revolvers for backwoods protection. Others went right towards the tactical realm.

    So today is my personal answer to this question, and I'm couching it in terms of the Martial Marksman and Scenario-X. I'm not leaning purely on the tactical, though. Rather, my preferences for someone starting out is thinking in terms of versatility and reliability. Too many marksmen, including me at times, go needlessly deep into "optimization." By that, I mean we think of a possible situation and then work backwards to build a rifle or collection tailored to that situation.

    But, as the Martial Marksman principles dictate, there is no such thing as optimum. We are, in fact, better served with a tool that does many things pretty well rather than a tool that does one thing exceptionally well at the expense of usefulness elsewhere. Sure, there's a time and a place for specialist tools once you've established your foundations- but this post is about actually building the foundation.

    So let's dig in.

    Amory Prioritization Tiers

    Much like the "gearamid," I'm break my starter arsenal down into a series of levels. The most important and highest priority items being at the bottom, and the least important specialist items being at the top. This isn't to say there isn't a reason you might skip a level, but you should do so understanding that you're probably neglecting something important in the process.

    Tier 1: The Martial Marksman

    As far as I'm concerned, this is the starting point. If you're at all serious about defense of self, home, and community- then this is the core of it. A beginner's top priority falls along two things: a common and reliable semi-automatic pistol, and a common reliable semi-automatic rifle in an intermediate cartridge.

    I have some important additions and caveats to go along with this, as well.

    The Starter Pistol

    I said that a beginner Martial Marksman should have a common and reliable semi-automatic pistol. That's not terribly specific. I know a lot of readers and listeners want something more specific and concrete. The thing is, I've found that handguns are a personal preference. Once you find one that you like, or even a particular family of them, it ends to become your default suggestion going forward. You can tell when other writers go down this path by only suggesting something like a Glock 19 or 17.

    I think that's a mistake, though.

    So here are guidelines for a Martial Marksman's first handgun:

    * Proven track record of reliability

    * Compact sized (i.e. about a 15 round capacity of 9mm)

    * Currently for formerly issued to police departments, government agencies, or military units

    * Comfortable to hold and shoot in your hands

    Reliability is #1, here. This isn't your weekend match gun that only costs you the win if it goes down. You may very well stake your life or your family's life on this gun going bang every time you pull the trigger. Don't skip this point.

    • 23 min
    Prioritizing Your Marksmanship Training Zones

    Prioritizing Your Marksmanship Training Zones

    I'm going to ruffle some feathers today. In fact, I'm highlighting something I've been doing poorly for years. While I was putting together the hierarchy of physical fitness for the Martial Marksman, I realized there was a need to do the same thing for firearms training and marksmanship. We tend to focus on the things we're already good at, or at least the things we most enjoy. For me, that tends to be scoped precision rifles and relatively long distances. That's fine for a general interest, of course, since fun is allowed. However, if my focus was on cultivating the Martial Marksman skill set, the priorities would look very different.

    So here's the challenge: can we establish a standard set of training priorities for the average person preparing for Scenario-X? I think we can.

    Setting the Boundaries

    First off, my goal is less about dictating what weapon to become proficient with than it is about establishing what distances you should focus on. In some cases, the distances involved naturally lend themselves to specific weapon types. Rather than force that on you, I'm stating the range bracket and letting you decide what weapon platform makes the most sense for you and your circumstances to meet the requirement.

    Second, most marksmanship training standards focus on an angular standard like 4 MOA (minutes of angle). This works ok, honestly. It's rather convenient to tell someone to always train for a 4 MOA standard, and then adjust the size of the target based on the range they have access to. At 100 yards, that's a 4 inch target. At 50 yards, it's 2 inches, and 1 inch at 25. Or if you shoot at 200 yards, the target is 8". However, when you think about the context of a Martial Marksman, targets stay the same size regardless of the distance. This is something I picked up from John Simpson's latest book, and it's an important point to consider.

    Example Time

    Here's an example. Let's say the target is a circle eight inches in diameter. The target is always 8" regardless of the distance. At 200 yards, that target is about 4 MOA. However, at 50 yards, the target is still 8" and is now approximately 16 MOA. Your perception is that the target is now much larger even if it's the same size it always was. What does that mean in practice? It means that your priority should be hitting the target even faster, not necessarily "more accurately."

    In the Martial Marksman's world, there are not bonus points for hitting the 1" x-ring if any hit on the 8" black would have done. Taking the extra time to hit the x-ring might mean losing to the opponent who sought to be just fast enough to hit you first. In the real world, that means coming in second place during a gun fight. For our purposes, the goal is hitting a target of set dimensions at a variety of distances with as much speed as possible.

    Establishing the Target

    Training principle #1 for the Martial Marksman is train for the target. So what is it that we're looking to hit? I've theorized on it before, and now it's time to make it official.

    The target of a Martial Marksman is a 10" circle. For practice, you could go as low tech as a common 10" paper picnic plate, but I'll get a little more specific and say that the official training target is an a href="https://www.avantlink.com/click.php?

    • 20 min
    Transformation Requires Sacrifice and Other Uncomfortable Facts

    Transformation Requires Sacrifice and Other Uncomfortable Facts

    I was reflecting on something Lanny Bassham wrote in his book, With Winning in Mind. It's something that I reference a lot, and definitely suggest giving it a read. When discussing selecting the right goal, Lanny says that you should pick something that you're willing to trade your life for. He doesn't mean that in the literal sense of dying for your goal. Rather, it's a figurative statement about giving up the life you lead now for the attainment of that goal. If it's not powerful enough, then you won't do it.

    In the last episode, we talked about the Martial Marksman mindset, I had an aside about homeostasis. The context was that driving change in your life means introducing some stress. That stress could be physical, mental, or something else. The point was that introducing sufficient stress signals to your mind and body that something must change in order to make the stress less impactful the next time.

    While writing all of that post, I had a very long aside about how difficult this actually is. Eventually, I decided to break it off into its own article- which I'm sharing with you today.

    I don't want to undersell just how difficult it is to make this process happen. Part of it is that change happens slowly. You will not get the kind of improvements you want to see after just a handful of exposure to the right kind of stress. It takes hundreds, if not thousands, of exposures over time to make this happen. Eventually, and probably a lot sooner rather than later, pursuing this kind of change runs into the homeostasis problem.

    The Homeostasis Problem

    If you recall, homeostasis is the tendency towards stable equilibrium between interdependent elements. When it comes to driving change, you might think of this as a "status quo bias." We tend to want to keep things as they are because it's familiar and comfortable.

    This all makes sense when you're thinking about introducing stress by lifting a weight, or building a habit for dry practice.

    But here's where the problem comes in: usually, the "interdependent elements" part of the equation include more than yourself. Humans are social creatures, and we tend to surround ourselves with people "like us." Your lifestyle, as it exists today, is probably organized in a way to best support the current status quo.

    For example, let's say you get back from a long day at work to have dinner with the family. After the kid(s) go to bed, you and your wife have a ritual of talking for a while then watching something on Netflix for a bit. After that, you scroll social media and trade a few posts, then go to bed. Both of you probably view this as "together time." So what happens if you decide that you want to spend 30 minutes per day practicing rifle drills by yourself, and the only time available is when you would be watching Netflix together?

    That's the challenge. When you introduce stress to drive a change, you're not just pushing against your own willpower. You're pushing against your entire lifestyle and social circle, elements that have little to no reason to challenge the status quo.

    If you aren't aware of this problem, then it's easy to abandon the new habit and any change you were hoping to develop out of it. It's easy because everything else in your life is literally organized against you.

    Working the Problem

    Going back to the "together time" example. At first, you probably won't think this is an issue. You feel good about doing something more productive with your time, and you start picking up little wins and showing progress against the clock. Not long later, though, your wife starts getting upset that you never spend time with her anymore. She misses hanging out with you and watching shows together.

    • 11 min
    The Martial Marksman Mindset: A Deeper Dive

    The Martial Marksman Mindset: A Deeper Dive

    When I re-launched the Everyday Marksman site in 2018, I thought it was important to have a core topic area around Mindset. Inspired by the work of Lanny Bassham and others, it's important that I kept at least some focus on the idea of training the mind to perform just as much as practicing marksmanship and buying gear. Over time, many of the interviews I've done and books I've read also referenced the importance of mindset.

    I've gone as far as making sure that "mindset" is one of the primary corners within the pyramid of performance. It's every bit as important as physical capability as well as technique when it comes to success.

    But, to date, I've yet to actually dig in and provide a thorough definition of what I mean when I talk about mindset. Today I'd like to rectify that oversight and plant a flag in the ground of what I mean when I start talking about the mindset question.

    Before I begin, I'll point out that I'm keeping my scope narrow. There is a lot of fantastic work out there regarding things like growth mindset, habit formation, and other important aspects of a healthy mental state. These are all great concepts, and I encourage you to look into them. For simplicity sake, I am focusing down to only the aspects that most impact performance of a given task. That's not to say that those other aspects don't impact performance, they do, but those effects are tangential compared to the ones I actually want you to focus on.

    All good? Sweet, let's get going.

    It Starts With Three Circles

    I recommend reading Lanny Bassham's, With Winning in Mind. It's a book that changed my perception of training and development. One of the core tenants is this interlinking of three circles: the conscious mind, the unconscious mind, and the self-image.

    The Conscious

    Per Lanny's definition, the conscious mind encompasses everything that you are thinking about while performing the task. For beginners and novices, their minds are busy considering every aspect of the action they're performing. It's all new to them, and nothing is automatic. The novice focuses on making sure they grab the magazine correctly, inserting it into the well without missing or getting hung up, and must look down to find and actuate the release controls. When aiming, they mentally think about every step of the firing cycle including breathing, sight picture, trigger control, and position. Step-by-step, they think about everything they were taught they had to do to succeed.

    The long-term goal is reaching a point where the conscious mind is silent and focused only on the outcome (i.e. "hit the x ring").

    The Subconscious

    The subconscious mind encompasses what you might call, "muscle memory." It's the stored motor pathway within the brain that recognizes the pattern and requirements, and executes the task without any further consideration. Lanny says that you build the subconscious mind through repetition, practice, and visualization. This is important: it means practicing a task the exact same way every time to build consistency.

    After all, consistency is accuracy.

    Like a champion power lifter or Olympic weight lifter, every repetition looks exactly the same. Regardless of the weight, the setup is the same, the approach to the bar is the same, grip is identical, and the mechanics of the movement are all exactly the same every time. This is the result of thousands of hours of practice doing the same thing over an...

    • 18 min
    The Martial Marksman’s Training Philosophy: Simple, Not Easy

    The Martial Marksman’s Training Philosophy: Simple, Not Easy

    In the last episode, I discussed the Martial Marksman ideal and how it relates to the various topics I talk about here. One of the challenges that anyone going down this path quickly runs into is the fact that there is a lot of "stuff" to learn and practice. It's one thing for a professional soldier to do these things, but it's a very different beast for Everyday Marksmen like you and I.

    Military members have the benefit of government pockets paying for training, equipment, travel, and the like. In a perfect world, professional military members make their living pursuing the Martial Marksman ideals, and don't have to worry about competing day jobs and other obligations. Of course, I know that it's not realistic, given the number of "additional duties" and superfluous other stuff they have to do. That's besides the point.

    So the non-professional aspiring Martial Marksman must play within a different set of boundaries. It's not that they can't have it all, because they can achieve everything we're setting out to do. But they cannot have it all right now.

    Chasing every scenario and capability at the same time is a bottomless pit of spending money, stress, and neglect of our day-to-day lives.

    Today I'm introducing the Martial Marksman's training philosophy. These are not so much laws as they are guiding principles to help us stay within the bounds of budgetary, time, and training restraints. As we explore more aspects of the Martial Marksman's capability set in the future, I'll refer back to these principles over and over.

    So let's dig in.

    The Big Picture Training Principles

    I've spent a lot of time writing and talking about different ways to approach Marksmen problems. What I have thus far failed to do is tie them all together into a repeatable methodology. Today I'm changing that. Here are my five training principles from here on in. I'll break each one down a little further as we go.

    * Train for the target

    * There is no such thing as optimum

    * Embrace simplicity

    * It's training, not entertainment

    * Play the long game

    If you've been a long time reader and listener, then I bet you'll recognize a few of these themes. They've showed up again and again throughout my writing. Each one might be worth it's own article or podcast episode on its own.

    Training for the Target

    A good training program is intentional, not arbitrary. In practice, this means that the training objective is based on something real and tangible rather than something that sounds good in theory. This came into focus for me the last time I talked to John Simpson when he released his book on patrol rifle marksmanship.

    To illustrate a marksmanship example, if you ask most people what their personal rifle accuracy standard is, I bet 8 out of 10 will tell you that it's 1 Minute of Angle (MOA), or about 1" spread for every 100 yards of distance. If you follow up with, "ok...but, why?" then you'll get some variation of, "because that's what everyone says."

    While we hope not to do it, a Martial Marksman is prepared to fight against human adversaries who wish to do harm. At 300 yards, the outside edge specified by Trainfire, a human is not 3" tall or wide. Since a human is roughly 19" wide (shoulder to shoulder) and 10" deep (sternum to spine), the actual accuracy standard is closer to 3.3 MOA at the minimum.

    • 18 min
    Virtue in the Crosshairs: The Martial Marksman Ideal

    Virtue in the Crosshairs: The Martial Marksman Ideal

    Every year, I tend to focus in on a "theme" to pursue. Sometimes it's personally, sometimes it's got a bit more to do with the site. For most of 2022, the key phrase was "Minimum Capable Citizen." The idea was around a set of standards and baseline targets that I think any prepared citizen should strive for. Eventually, the idea fizzled out a bit when I felt like there wasn't much more to write. I'm not interested in "minimum." I believe we should strive for excellence, and minimum doesn't cut it. In 2023, my goals turned personal, with a heavy focus on my health and fitness. Now, coming out of my annual break, I've settled on an idea that's worth exploring with you: the Martial Marksman.

    The philosophy and capabilities of the Martial Marksman is the focus of the book I've been working on. The book itself won't be ready for a while, I've still got more to do, but I'm happy to start talking about the ideas stemming from my effort so far. I credit the seed of the idea to two places: John Simpson's latest book, and Jeff Cooper.

    A Means to an End

    In my review of John's book, I quoted something that needs to be said again. Bold emphasis mine.

    The audience that this book is written for has already made the decision to deploy patrol rifles, so I don't need to talk you into it. They've picked the manufacturer and model of the rifle they'll use, so I don't need to sell you a particular product. And they've picked the ammunition design, so I don't need to make recommendations. The point is that you've got your patrol rifles and you want to know how to train with them. That's why you're reading this book now.Keep in mind that the type of marksmanship we'll be discussing here has nothing to do with shooting bull's-eyes for score or seeing who can shoot the smallest shot group. Those are fun sports and have their place, but always keep in mind that in patrol rifle training, shooting on the range is a means to an end and not the end in itself.

    John Simpson

    This sentiment is not new. Several of my previous guests said variations of the same thing. Time on the range and in competition is not wasted, so long as you're doing it with the right motivation. You must keep the end goal in mind. Your goal is building proficiency with the rifle and its employment. If your goal shifts to competing and winning as your primary purpose, then your training and practice change accordingly, often for the worse. Eventually, you're more "gamer" than "Martial Marksman."

    This was the first impetus. John put it clearly and concisely in a way that I could chew on ever since reading it. Now let's look at Jeff Cooper.

    A Good Shot

    Years ago, early in my marksmanship journey, I picked up a copy of The Art of the Rifle from the now defunct Paladin Press. Published in 1997, it predates my serious interest in shooting and marksmanship by nearly 20 years. Jeff opens the book discussing "The Queen" and about finding a why. Rather than summarize, I'm just going to quote some relevant excerpts.

    Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal weapons. The possession of a good rifle, as well as the skill to use it well, truly makes a man the monarch of all he surveys. It realizes the ancient dream of the Jovian thunderbolt, and as such it is the embodiment of personal power. For this reason, it exercises a curious influence over the minds of most men, and in its best examples it constitutes an object of affection unmatched by any other inanimate object

    The rifle is a weapon. Let there be no mistake about that. It is a tool of power,

    • 18 min

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