Sheepdog Equipment Reality Check

In the news this week, there was a report that Mississippi State University had an active shooter on campus. Thankfully for everyone involved, the initial reports were in error. The subject in question was distraught and threatening to harm himself and others. As of this writing, I am not even sure the subject possessed a firearm. But what caught my attention was a photo of MSU PD Sergeant Virginia Rich.


Sergeant Rich Starkville Police Department

Sergeant Rich MSU Police Department

Best I can tell, she is a 21 year police veteran. Trained fire fighter. SWAT officer. PD Field Training Officer (FTO). Certified EMT. Bike Patrol Officer. State Certified LE Trainer. Simunitions Instructor. Firearms Instructor. Detective and Certified Scuba Diver. In researching her resume, it also appears she has some pretty high on-the-job commendations. I have to point all of this out because if I don’t, some 13 y/o internet commando will try to negate her credibility thus undermining my point.


And what is my point? Did you notice how she was dressed? Women’s fashionably slim pants, high heels, and some kind of fashionable, women’s top. She is also carrying a flat-top AR-15, loaded, and possibly wearing soft body armor.


Russian SF Solider Load out. Real World?

Russian SF Solider Load out. Real World?

Where is her zombie apocalypse outfit? Where is her SWAT callout jumpsuit? Kneepads? Camouflage? Blowout kit? Reloads? LBE? Plate Carrier? Camelback? Flash bangs and smoke? Gas Mask? Where are her non-leathel option? Where are her Comm’s? NVG’s? Breacher Bars? Etc, etc, etc? The reason she is dressed like this is because this is what she was wearing when the call came in. “Active shooter! Active Shooter!”


There simply is no time to put her zombie apocalypse outfit on. She grabbed a rifle and ran out the door. Was she first on scene? Don’t know. Frankly don’t care. The uniformed officer next to her is carrying some kind of bag. He isn’t ninja’d out either. Again he probably didn’t have time. He had time to grab a bag.


Confession: I don’t personally wear a plate carrier when training. I just don’t. There was a time in my life when I had to wear body armor but anymore…I don’t. Why? Because someone isn’t, specifically, trying to kill me these days. Yay me! But it is my experience that illuminates the logical fallacy of many fellow Second Amendment advocates who always parrot the following, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away”. Then that same guy will spend 10 minutes putting on his “full-kit” World War Z costume just to get range time in. Here is a pro-tip, home gamers. If whatever you wear, wasn’t issued to you by some entity also giving you a paycheck, it’s not “kit”. It’s crap you bought. And if you don’t live life wearing that crap, why are you training in it?


A more flexible load out?

Is this a more realistic emergency load out?

Sheepdog advice: If you have some “equipment” that you keep handy for emergencies and fancy yourself as a Minute Man, play a little mind game with me. Be it in your vehicle or in your house. Close your eyes and sit still. Imagine yourself in shorts & a t-shirt. Barefoot. In the dark. Lost in your own thoughts. Now…imagine me kicking you in the thigh very hard bringing you back to reality. As you look at me in shock and possibly a little pissed off that I just interrupted Shaolin-Temple-Time, I scream for a SECOND TIME what you missed the first time I yelled it,


“They’re shooting people next door!!!!!”


Is your “equipment” configured in such a way that you can sling some of it over your shoulder and run while it bangs around all loosey-goosey? It better, seconds count.  Will important pieces fall to the ground if carried in this way? Remember, seconds count.  Will you have to leave it behind because there is no time to play dress-up when it’s for real? Remember, those second are adding up.  Will any of it even be practical to carry slung through one arm while running full speed, carrying a rifle in the other? Tick-tock it don’t stop.  Does your World War Z ninja-suit require an under-belt or other sub-load to even wear? You’re in Jamaican-me crazy time now. 


Troop Wasn't On Duty. But They Were Hit.

Troop Wasn’t On Duty. But They Were Hit. Notice middle troop t-shirt and footwear

If I just crapped on $2000 worth of gear you have been accumulating since the GWOT, I’m sorry. But I hope I have your attention. Because unless you are part of an actual, commissioned, assault team being assigned counter-drug or anti-terrorism raids; most of what you bought is bullshit anyway. At least for you. You’re going to be lucky to have enough time to grab a rifle and one other thing. Choose wisely.




“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”




Marky Mark

Marky Mark

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Writer for Co-Host of the John1911 Podcast. Video content provider for John1911-TV.

Areas of focus: Defense and National Security, Modern Light Weapons, Analysis of the Geo-political / Military Relationship in the Context of Strategic Goals.
Marky Mark

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    So this MEME made me laugh.


  • dave d

    I don’t know about you but if someone wakes me up in the middle of the night with ” they’re shooting people outside!” I’m not going to grab my gun, run outside and start shooting….. who is shooting? The police? A neighbor defending theirself? 35 MS13 bangers? Why would you go running into that kind of situation blind? You’re going to kill the wrong person whether it’s the the shooter that is trying to help or some kid with an air soft rifle. You’re going to get killed. Just because my gear doesn’t fit your messed up fantasy of how long it should take me to respond to an incident does not make my gear bs…… that’s a stupid argument.

    • Dave

      Was an example to get a point across not to be taken literally.


        Thanks, Dave. It’s quiet out here in the wilderness isn’t it?




      Dave is correct. The scenario I give is an example in the extreme to prove a point. Statistically, what is a civilian more likely to have to confront? Bad guys with long guns up to no good? Or getting a call from your local 2-star general saying, “We’re short a man over in 3rd brigade. Will you “kit up” and fill that slot? BOTH are highly unlikely. Highly. Actually the stats on being killed by terrorism world wide are surprisingly low but I digress.

      It’s just a “war game” to get people thinking about reality. Here’s another. A civilian who lives 10 miles form the beach would be better served by which of the following:

      1. Taking swimming lessons and learning how to handle a rip-tide?
      2. Taking lessons on how to survive an emergency aircraft waterborne landing?

      One is cool.
      One is real world.
      One is more likely than not to be missing a few key skills for the average civilian.

      Your mileage may vary.


  • john

    A shooting is tragic and police should be commended for their courage. It still doesn’t warrant the use of military gear and tactics on every day interaction with the public. The police should practice law enforcement and public safety and human empathy not combat training. The author of this article wreaks of police superiority over the citizens instead of service to the community. Truly hope the author isn’t in law enforcement.

    • ConnorMacLeod

      I’m not really seeing the “police superiority” in here that you speak of. He’s just driving home the point that if you aren’t in a combat regiment in an active environment, or an officer on a SWAT team, or any other field where you are paid to be in harm’s way, why would you need all the ridiculous amounts of gear you see some of these guys train in these days? It’s a sore subject because there are a lot of Special Operations wannabes out there that don’t want to hear this. But I do understand where this guy is going.


        Yeah, I’m not seeing that either. Frankly, the PD’s are not allowed to have anything a civilian can’t have. Most don’t believe that.

        Machine guns? Yup. Civilian legal.
        Flash Bangs? Yup. Civilians can buy those if they wish to jump through the hoops.
        Body Armor? Ditto.
        Grenade Launcher? Yup. BATFE has licenses for that.

        Can a PD arm a helicopter? Nope. And neither can a civilian.

        Food for thought.


    • Team Player

      Police don’t use military gear. Even if they wanted to purchase it, the cost would be prohibitive.

    • Mikial

      John, I know there has been some genuine concern about LEOs showing up in a surplus MRAP to make an arrest and I have to agree with it to the extent that in a few cases fire superiority has be substituted for good police work but they have been the exception and not the rule.

      But with the potential issues we are seeing at some venues, I am glad to see LEOs equipped and prepared to deal with them. Here in the DC area over the past few years we’ve had an active shooter at the Navy Yard, an active shooter at the Holocaust Museum, and an active shooter at the Pentagon Metro (subway) stop. Every day tens of thousands of people cram into trains, buses and the subway to commute to and from work at a wide range of government and private contractor jobs, and if you ask me DC is a target waiting to happen. The San Bernardino terrorists were very well equipped, and I would like to feel that the police are as well equipped when the need arises.

      Other than the occasional police presence at various train and metro stops, you don’t normally see police in full kit even here in DC. And even when you do, I haven’t seen them strutting around like Storm Troopers. they are polite and friendly to the citizens around them.

  • Spencer Borum

    Although I agree there is a lot of absurdity in the realm of tac gear but this is foolish advice. Every single military aged male in our country should have a basic infantry kit at home. Resistance to tyranny doesn’t happen from a few guys “grabbing a rifle and one other thing”.


      Never said that. I’m just looking at the math, Spencer. What’s more likely to happen to every US military aged male over the next 24 hours? Or 365 days?

      To be attacked suddenly and unexpectedly? Or to be mustered into the 2015 Tea Party Army serving under General Rand Paul, Kentucky Theater Of Operations?

      All I’m saying is too many people are not looking at the odds correctly?


  • Brennen Munro

    I have a thought that I would like to add, even if it is not directly tied to having a “Full Kit” to play in while going for training… I have thought about wearing body armor when going for rifle training. The reason is that I have seem such poor muzzle discipline being practiced, that if fellow trainee should have an ND, that I may still be able to live through the experience. Just a thought, what do you think?


      I am not against body armor. Many training facilities require students to wear body armor for even CCW classes. I have personally seen a PD range do it for their classes. I am sure a city lawyer was involved in that.

      I will also note that I am an experienced instructor. As such, every instructors’ job is to police safe gun handling. Up to and including throwing people off the range. And yes, I have had to correct some highly qualified people in my day.

      But truth be told, I’ve had to have myself corrected as well. Anyone who doesn’t admit that is a liar.

      So…if YOU see something that you don’t like, say something. If it’s really bad, just leave.

      I support body armor, but don’t use it as a crutch for bad gun handling.


  • Mikial

    This is a great story. When TSHTF you rarely have time to “kit-up” before you go out. I worked with a great South African security project manager in Iraq. This was a guy who’d seen the bear for more years than most of us, and he would always chuckle when the mew guys would come in to be on the PSD teams. He would laugh when he talked about the new guys who would come in on the contract, and who were carrying every gee gaw you can imagine.

    The first thing he would do is take them out on the range and put them through quick reaction drills. Take fire, drop, roll, return fire, etc. They would show up with all their high speed gear hanging off their rigs, and after the first 15 minutes of rolling around in the dirt, half their stuff was off to the side where they’d put it after it had either fallen off or they had taken it off.

    I turned out more than once in the sweat pants I slept in with my vest thrown on over my T-shirt and my boots untied. When you have to react, you have about 1 minute or less to do so.

    • And that one minute is “getting your rifle”. Think about that in terms of “fighting to your rifle”. That is an extremely rare event. Most engagements are over so fast, you will fight with what you already have on your. Or maybe handy, if luck give you that 1 minute referenced, to pick something up.