I can currently think of at least a dozen or so people I know of that own armor but rarely train in it. Armor can easily complicate even the easiest of shooting. It effects your shoulder pocket for rifles, how you support the gun while prone and even your ability to effectively draw and then present a pistol.
If you own armor, whether it be a concealable IIIa vest or full on plate carrier, wear it while you shoot. You’ll find out real quick what you need to change up with your presentation of the weapon and how you have things placed on your kit.
Lastly, are you used to the extra weight and bulk? Adding 20lbs to anyone dramatically effects how they move. Get used to wearing it.
After all, what good is your armor if you cant effectively move and put rounds on target with it on?
You often hear the term “Train like you fight” but how many of us actually put it into motion. Almost every tactical shooter has a loadout they like, whether its just a molle belt or a plate carrier equipped with armor. Shooting with your gear on all the time will quickly point out that what looks good on paper, pictures or what you see people using on dvds might not work out for you. One of the most effective ways to test your current load out is to find some classes and local matches and put your gear to the test both on the clock and out in real world environments.
For example, in Southern Arizona we have several good matches that one can attend every month. ACTS, PRG 3-gun and a pistol match at Marksman. Certain elements of this environment make certain choices in gear result in complete failure. One will find out after a match or two what these are. Back to the point though, if your choice in equipment and layout can stand up to match conditions, then assume it can handle your neighborhood should SHTF actually occur.
My first run in with complete load out failure occurred at an ACTS match in early 2010. I had purchased an Eagle Universal Chest rig and figured it would work well. Eagle is known for quality and several friends had used the same rig on a couple of deployments to Iraq. Perfect right? Wrong. The major issue occurred with magazine retention. Due to the lack of positive retention via tabs, kydex or velcro, my magazines would slide right out onto the deck when engaging in any type of prone position. Here i thought i had a great system, after all, its combat rated. But obviously not suited for any type of dynamic movement. After learning the hard way about active magazine retention and fixing my gear, it hasn’t been an issue.
The point of that anecdote was this though, by running gear in a simulated or training environment and seeing what happens it better prepares you for a time is life environment. After all, if your gear cant handle 10 seconds of movement and shooting, then how would it stand against a completely hostile environment. I recently got some criticism for wearing a plate carrier to a pistol match and that sparked this article. In the end I may look like the black sheep in a room of IDPA shooters, but at least i know my gear is good to go. Do you?