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Skills vs. Tools

I’ve been dwelling on a Robert Heinlein quote for a few days, and I think that he says something really important here that most probably don’t realize:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

What are all of the things mentioned above?


He doesn’t tell us to buy a car, buy a gun, buy a knife, etc.

He tells us to acquire skills to make us well rounded people.

As shooters, how often do we buy new gear without having mastered the things we currently own?

If you are a prepper, how much time do you spend buying more stuff for preparation that can all be lost in an instant, rather than working on skills that can never be taken from you?

I think chasing tools instead of skills is human nature. People are always flocking to the next best thing (pointing the finger at myself here, have you seen how many Glock 42 and Remington R51 posts I’ve done?) whether it be guns, gear, get rich quick schemes, weight loss shakes, or whatever, people always want to purchase a tool to help them achieve their goals quickly rather than taking the time to acquire a skill.

The trouble is when we buy the tool, it rarely helps us complete our goal. When I switched from shooting my trusty Glock 17 to my M&P Pro, my match scores didn’t really improve at any faster rate than they did before when I was shooting the G17.

When I bought low-fat groceries and drank diet pop trying to lose weight, I didn’t.

But, when I took the time to practice shooting, and learned how to eat healthy, I saw an improvement in my shooting, and I lost weight.

It’s early in 2014, resolve to work on your skills this year.

About Lucas

Editor/Head Honcho at Triangle Tactical. Lucas is a life long shooter and outdoorsman, avid concealed carrier and competitive shooter, and a lover of pork fat.


  1. Truly an astute observation.

  2. I like Heinlein’s summary of the concept….”Specialization is for insects”.

    Very true. Skills are required, and variety is as important as competency.

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