New Shooters Must ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ On Gun Equipment ~ Larry Vickers

By Larry Vickers

Larry Vickers
Larry Vickers

Strasburg, OH -( We live in the best time ever for guns and gear. In fact, we are overwhelmed with too many gadgets and options.

Sometimes a shooter, in particular, someone new to the shooting world, will get completely sidetracked and waste time and money on equipment that is worthless, or worse yet, dangerous in the real world.

Out of the box

My advice after making a living in the firearms industry for many years is to keep it simple. Buy a quality pistol and a quality carbine and, other than proper lubrication, use them both exactly as they come out of the box. After you buy practice ammo and a few spare mags, your next money should be spent on quality firearms instruction.

I can’t stress this enough.

Those who have lived thru this process will back me up 100%; proper training is priceless. Attend the training with your weapon’s box stock, a holster, mag pouches for the pistol, a sling for the carbine, as well as eye and ear protection. You really don’t need anything else to get you through that first class (remember to bring the spare mags and ammo you bought as well !!). Get some quality trigger time and develop some skill with your weapons as they come from the factory before you begin the modification and customization process that Americans are famous for.

It’s one of our greatest strengths but it is also a weakness as countless weapons are ruined every year with ill-advised modifications. Your goal as a new shooter is to not add your name to this list.

Modifying Firearms

What you will find over time is most weapons are more than adequately accurate out of the box with quality ammo, so unless you are talking specialized uses (such as competition) then you can scratch a match barrel upgrade off the “must have” list. What most shooters find necessary involve better sights and possibly an enhanced trigger.

Both of these make sense as long as you:

  • a.) keep in mind the lighting conditions you will use the weapon in for the sights,
  • b.) fight the urge to make the trigger too light in pull weight as a poor substitute for skill.

These are two classic areas that bite shooters when modifying their weapons for the first time. Learn from the mistakes of others and be careful.

Buy Once, Cry Once

One last piece of advice is “buy once, cry once.” Stick to brand names with your weapons accessories. Avoid bargain basement brands or copycat parts and accessories that are dramatically cheaper than the originals. In my experience, these parts and accessories nearly always fail and leave the shooter high and dry. Remember you get what you pay for. From my personal experience, there are very few exceptions to that rule.

I hope this helps the new shooters out there and also serves as a reminder for more experienced shooters that the K.I.S.S. principle “Keep it simple, stupid” is alive and well.

Be safe and I’ll see you at the range. LAV out.

Larry Vickers
Master Sergeant ( Retired )
US Army SOF Combat Veteran

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2nd Amender

You didn’t mention running a cleaning patch and rod thru the bore, every now and then, and a drop of oil here and there!
Take care of what takes care of yourownself!


The “keep it simple, stupid” principle has a lot to recommend it. Case in point: when I wanted a weapon light for my AR, I checked out a local gun show. One vendor with a huge “TACTICAL LIGHTS” banner had all manner of weapon lights, but his sales chatter was eye-opening; he was positively gushing about the many, MANY different modes of operation – high brightness, low brightness, focus, multiple strobe effects, and on and on. It didn’t take much thought to realize that putting that sort of light on a weapon – requiring multiple manipulations of several different controls… Read more »

5 rounds < 0.3 MOA @ 300 yards

While I do agree with the theme of your article – don’t go cheap! – start with the good (safe) stuff, get training, and upgrade later, I wish to comment on your use of “buy once, cry once.” I find this old saw often over-used and misunderstood. It makes me cringe every time I hear it. By way of example, permit me to use my own experience of getting into long range shooting. I started out with a stock Savage in .223. I spent what I could afford at the time and began shooting. As I improved, my groups became… Read more »