Hardware or Software?

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m going to be getting a bow for my birthday. I’d done a fair amount of digging online, and thought I’d identified what I wanted. But then, I discovered there’s an archery store about 20 minutes from my house. I dithered. Should I go over there? I asked myself. Surely I know what I want, and anyway, the price will be better online.

In the end, I decided to go. After all, it was only 20 minutes away, and I had an appointment nearby anyhow. So, I left early for my appointment and drove over there. Boy, am I glad I did!

For one thing, I was able to lay my hands on several different bows, and thereby to clarify my thinking about some features I needed (and didn’t need), accessories, and so forth. I was able to be properly and professionally measured for my draw length and weight, and to shoot a few bows on the store’s indoor range. I was able to answer some questions about stance and technique.

Better yet, the store had a special going on a bow that was of much higher quality than the one I’d been looking at, and will be able to essentially match the online price I’d found but deliver a better product. The bow is one or two model years old, a fact that bothers me not at all but which enables me to pick it up for a great price.

But do you know what? Even that fact isn’t a deal-clincher for me. What sold me was that the shop offers a free lesson with every bow purchase, as well as good prices on training and range time.

I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: My gun, knives, flashlight, and (soon) bow are just tools. But the real weapon is the grey thing between my ears. Without our amazing human brains driving our perception, motions, reflexes, and responses, my bow is just a chunk of aluminum and composite. My gun and knives are just lifeless pieces of steel and polymer. Without my brain, all my efforts toward shooting, self-defense and safety are for nothing. Without the brain, I might as well not even bother.

Consider this next time you catch yourself saying, “I can’t take that class – it’s too expensive!” Think carefully next time you’re planning a new gear purchase. Do you really need that fourth gun, sixth blade, third bow? Or will you get more bang for your buck by spending that money upgrading your software to better use the tools you already have? I can justify buying a bow, because it’s a useful tool that I don’t already have. But you can bet that once I buy it, I’ll be spending some time and money on training and practice before I buy a second one.

The pages of American Handgunner and Bowhunting and dozens of other magazines are full of glossy full-color ads showing us all the latest and greatest guns and bows and gear. Their call is seductive: “Buy one of THESE, and you’ll shoot better.” And you know what? It might even be true. But is it really the best use of our money if we’ve not maxed out the capability of the weapons we already have?

Buy all means, buy that new gun or bow or scope or whatever, if you can afford it. But along with the new hardware, add to the software that is your brain and spend the time and money it takes to become proficient with the new gear. You’ll see huge dividends in the long run.


  1. Mark Cronenwett says:

    Great to hear that you found such a great shop!! I also agree that you should spend quality time with your gear, and quality gear does indeed help. I have taken quite a few ‘beginner’ handgun courses and I learn something every single time. It never hurts to reinforce the basics, and the use of weapons is a perishable activity.

    PS: Your bow pic is upside down.. 😀


  1. […] Safety, Training No comments it’s been quiet here for the past few days because I got my new compound bow and have been doing some training with it in what little spare time I’ve had. This morning, I […]

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