The word “tactical” seems to be all encompassing these days. I hear it used on almost a daily basis, mostly in reference to firearms and gear. But, what exactly does it mean? Does it mean buying products that are olive drab or black in color, wearing pants with a lot of pockets or loading up your modern sporting rifle with tons of accessories? Or, is tactical more of a way of life and a state of mind?
As found in any dictionary, “tactical” originally stemmed from war or politics, in reference to military application. For current use, the definition has broadened and now encompasses a general state of preparedness and calculated planning that can be used in everyday life.
The tactical state of mind
There seems to be a huge market for gear and accessories tagged with the term “tactical,” as of late. But, any item, regardless of its color, can be tactical, if you use it the correct way. Tactical is not necessarily what you use; it’s how you use it, and the intentions you have while doing so.
“Tactics, the root of tactical, have always gone hand-in-hand with strategy. It is the tool or tools used to achieve a given strategy. So, for me ‘tactical’ describes someone or something that can be employed to achieve an advantage in reaching the strategic objective,” said Sara Ahrens, Illinois law enforcement officer. Sara writes OffBeat here at The WON.
“When you deploy tactics, the gear or methods or mindset have to be tactical to achieve that success. For example, if you go outside in icy conditions to work and you put on flip-flops, that is not a tactical advantage (and just dumb). But, if you wear non-slip snow boots, the boots become tactical!” said Zeke Stout of Talking Lead.
Thinking tactically will save you time. “Tactical is a state of mind. The state of mind where your actions are planned and thought through to make the end result easily acquired, or acquired in a much more timely manner,” said Jarrad Markel of Student of the Gun.
Tactical vs. “tacticool”
“Tacticool” also has various definitions. Most give it a negative connotation. With the influx of products being marketed as “tactical,” it’s important not to go overboard, fall into the “tacticool” trap and be dubbed a mall ninja.
“Someone is tactical when they have trained and used tactics in a job, such as SWAT or military. Someone is ‘tacticool’ when they believe that the Call of Duty video game and the military men and women are the same … and have no real experience in the tactical department. Just because you can rock a pair of 5.11 pants doesn’t make you tactical,” said Amber Brandly, military veteran and owner of 2 Vets Arms.
For some people, continuous overuse of the word tactical, as a marketing ploy, has caused it to lose its meaning altogether. “The word tactical has been so overused that it means literally nothing to me. I assume it’s an empty word incorporated into marketing to make something sound cool,” said Shelley Giddings, 3-Gun competitor and managing editor at GunUp the Magazine.
Truly being tactical means training, whether it is for military purposes, competition shooting or for everyday use of firearms.
“I most often think of the word tactical and how it is associated with the gear designed for military and law enforcement that helps them complete their very demanding job.
“As it applies to me, being tactically proficient means having a specific plan in order to meet a goal. If I am hunting, I apply tactics like being aware of the wind direction, staying unseen and the best way to put on a stalk. If I am competing I think of evaluating a stage and applying tactics that will result in the fastest time. In every day life, being tactical involves taking simple steps to be aware of my surroundings, carrying my firearm, locking my doors, identifying potentially dangerous situations and doing my best to avoid them,” said Julie Golob, Team Smith & Wesson captain.
Something that I have not considered before is that tactical can also pertain to hunting! Well-calculated methods of turkey hunting, as well as other forms of hunting, can be considered tactical. I always have a “plan A, plan B and plan C” while going after gobblers. Maybe I’m more tactical than I realized!
ShootingStarr goes tactical
Everyone has his or her own idea of what tactical means, or how it pertains to him or her personally, but the overwhelming response to my question is not that “tactical” means using specific products, cool accessories or brand names, it is that tactical is a state of mind.
During the next few months, I’ll be thinking tactically, and my ShootingStarr column will also be going tactical. I’ll discuss alternative every-day-carry devices, preparedness and turkey-hunting tactics, among other things.
So, what does tactical mean to you?