Editorial: Five Misused Shooting Terms That Annoy me

There are a few things that make me cringe: getting struck by lightning, swimming naked with chum in shark-infested waters, and hearing or reading words that are just plain annoying or incorrect within the firearms and tactical community.

1.  Plink

Plinking, in my opinion, is for amateurs.  When I think of plinking, I recall the times I went out with my friends as a kid and blasted glass bottles and trash with my .22 rifle.  We had a good backstop, but we definitely weren’t shooting at a gun range.  It was more like a garbage dump.

That said, plinking a few cans with .22s can be fun, as long as it’s safe.  Even professionals should take time out with their kids to plink every once in a while.

2.  Operator

The crème de la crème of tactical experts are referred to as operators.  In the past, the term operator was limited to a select few who worked inside of the most elite special operations units.  For example, Dalton Fury, the former Delta Force commander, would be accurately referred to an operator.  SpecOps warriors like Tom Spooner and Kenan Flasowski can be called operators too.

There are also a small handful of other people I’d refer to as operators, but then again, I’ve been fortunate to meet and/or work with some really skilled…well, operators.

But I see the term operator thrown around so much that it gets quite annoying.  Bottom line: not everyone who carries a gun is an operator. Not everyone who trains is an operator. In fact, most folks who call themselves operators are posers.

3.  “Shoot to kill”

While there are certainly times to kill, anyone familiar with the criminal justice system opts to say, “shoot to stop the threat.” In the bright light of the courtroom, “moral” people don’t usually seek to kill others.  Besides, if you are a student of ballistics you would know that even blasting someone several times in the chest doesn’t mean they’ll die.

Tactically speaking, understanding that multiple rounds to the chest or even a couple shots to the head might not stop someone will help you win lethal confrontations.  The tactically superior mindset is, instead of assuming your bullets will kill the target, to shoot to stop the threat, then, after the threat is ended — at least when you’re not at war and maybe even when you are — administer medical attention to the person you just shot.  It’s a rare occasion when civilly-minded people shoot to kill … unless of course they’re hunting animals.

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