America is good at war. One might even describe us as a "martial" society. Our country was started with a war - a revolution in fact. Not every country can say that (looking at you Canada!). Let's put some numbers to it: starting in 1775 we’ve been in no less than 26 major conflicts spanning 225 years. That is 91% of our of 247 year history. This doesn’t include all of the minor or “unreported” conflicts we have surely been involved in around the globe.
Our country is basically the equivalent of a 10th degree black belt. Or if you prefer chess analogies: we’re the ranking Grand Master in modern warfare.
In 2022, according to research from SIPRI, we spent more in our military budget than the next 11 countries combined. Or 39% of the world’s total. So there is no denying we are still the 800lb gorilla in war room.
America is a warfighting country and has seen more than its fair share of conflict around the globe. That said, our fighting force is composed of individuals. Combat troops have honed their skills, most recently, in the unfriendly and barren landscapes of Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been bringing these lessons home with them over the past 20 years.
During that time, it is safe to say we’ve seen a seismic shift in areas of small arms training and technology…
Those learnings have filtered into the civilian arms and armor we can all buy today. The AR15 I train with is not the same M16 that my dad took with him to Vietnam while he was part the 101st Airborne. He called his M-16 a “Mattel Special” and hated it. I look at my 12.5” BCM SBR outfitted with a suppressor, weapon light and compact ACOG and love it. It is incredibly user friend and reliable - something my dad couldn’t say about his military issued rifle.
Americans like to “play” war… and frankly, we're good at it.
Just think about how many of us now have battle belts and plate carriers. Many even have helmets and “nods” (night vision). A typical handgun will sport a weapon light and red dot while a well equipped fighting rifle will have those plus an LPVO and maybe even an IR illuminator. These are not the same guns you would have seen in Jeff Cooper's Gunsight classes in the 1980’s! Remember those old school 20” Colt "Sporter" AR15's with the integrated carry handle / rear site and round plastic handguards of yesteryear?
Man we’ve come a long way!
Of course we know equipment doesn’t make the man, so many of us engage in regular training and run and gun type competitions to continue to hone our skills. Shooting sports such as IPSC, IDPA and 3-Gun have seen a huge surge in popularity over the past 10-20 years.
Chris our CTO is a regular in the OED Run and Gun series in Texas. Danielle and I take a shooting class about 2-3 times a year and get to the range on a weekly basis for shooting drills (arm day, leg day, range day…).
Our civilian population is better equipped and trained than the military force of many countries. We are the American militia of the 2nd Amendment. Nobody knows how many of us there are out there, but if it is even just 1 in a 1000 Americans, that is still about 331,000 well armed and trained American civilians.
Fitness and MMA
For even more evidence that we are part of “Marial America” you can go beyond guns and look at the rise of UFC and MMA. Today there is a mixed martial arts gym in just about every city in the country. UFC is easily now more mainstream than boxing. The competitors in UFC are the peak of fitness and MMA ability. Today (not the original ones, haha) look like what I feel Roman Gladiators would have looked like.
While people all around the world love combat sports, Americans are right at the front of the line. Back in the 1980’s we didn’t have this kind of practical skill building in hand to hand combat. We had Judo, wrestling and Karate. Now we take the best of all of them and call it mixed martial arts. Sure there is a game aspect to it - you can't gouge out your opponents eyes or break their neck like you might in real combat, but MMA is good enough for a "combat sport" and millions of people enjoy watching and participating in it.
CrossFit has been popular since 2000 and while not strictly combat sport focused it is active fitness focused. Compare that to the 1980’s when we had what? Jazzercise? It is a marked improvement in group fitness. Heck many people train hard enough to puke during CrossFit so that is a net positive in my book.
In my opinion there has been a major culture shift over the past 20 years that has accelerated during the past 5-10 years. Americans are training more often, shooting more often, and buying gear to make them more effective warfighters. We’re also involved in more combat sport type activities then previous generations.
We are collectively training and getting equipped for something. But this begs the question: What?
Speaking from my own experience and perspective, I believe we’re seeing a general feeling that “the shit is going to hit the fan” sooner rather than later and we want to be prepared for that. Honestly, I think the “gateway drug” for this mentality is just wanting to be able to protect yourself and your family from crime. It grows and expands from there. Soon, you want to have a broader level of protection against city unrest or even an unruly government or NGO. Eventually, you might even feel the need to be prepared for a complete breakdown of civilization, who knows?
Mindset and gun ownership are uniquely tied together. You can even see the gun and gear purchasing habits of people take that same mindset arc: many people buy their first gun, usually a handgun, for concealed carry and personal protection. Soon after that they are thinking of a shotgun or AR15 for home defense. After that they start looking at the training and gear aspects of buying a battle belt and plate carriers. Being prepared means not being a burden on the system, so the additional supplies of food storage, water purification, emergency heat and light come into play. It is a natural transition to self reliance.
We all share a common American heritage and with it comes a specific mindset. As a country we haven't been conquered and as mentioned above, we are masters of warfare. We have ingrained in us the virtues of self reliance and personal freedom. Sprinkle in a dash of global uncertainty and we have the meteoric rise of regular guys and gals getting trained and armed like our lives depend on it.
Because someday soon, it just might.
So just to wrap this up, we’re all Americans and as Americans we have a warfighter spirit in us. It doesn’t matter where you are on this mindset / equipment arc, there is always something else that you can do… if you want to. We can all get in better shape, we can all do more dry practice - two things that don’t cost much money.
Then we can move on to the things that do cost money like shooting more often, taking more training courses, or if you are feeling competitive, signing up for a local run and gun or 3-gun match. You might even want to buy a few more pieces of kit that become “force multipliers” such as weapon lights, optics, plate carriers and night vision - budget allowing, of course!
Lastly, as a card carrying member of Martial America, I'll part with this ruleset I found on the internet. I think it sums up the correct mindset nicely:
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