This is really picky. I’m being a dick. But you know what bugs me?

The word “operator,” as applied to a guy with a gun.

This guy, fer example…

I’m watching this seriously-meant instructional video, and at 1:30 Mr. Oakleys and Thigh Holster (whom I don’t doubt for a heartbeat could absolutely kick my ass with a handgun and a shot timer,) gets called a “skilled operator.”

And I stop listening.

Because I’m completely burned out on the misuse of that word.

‘Operator,’ in context, means something specific. It is not synonymous with ‘Range queen who could absolutely kick Joel’s ass with a pistol and a shot timer.’ I hear somebody call himself (or consent to have himself called) an ‘operator,’ I want to know when he graduated SEAL school and what were his deployments.

Yes, I know I’m being a dick about this. I’m a writer. Writers are dicks. We also love words, and prefer that they continue to mean things.

H/T to Kevin.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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16 Responses to This is really picky. I’m being a dick. But you know what bugs me?

  1. MamaLiberty says:

    Yes, and I always wonder what these folks would do without their controlled environment, the “timer” and the trick holster/trigger.. In other words, could they actually defend themselves out in the real world?

    I’ve had some competition shooters with me on the range a time or two, and I swear most of them would have real trouble if confronted by a criminal on the street. Now that’s sad.

  2. Joe in Reno says:

    I always want to ask them know how well AT&T pays……

    Sadly that reference goes over most of their heads these days.

  3. Kentucky says:

    Yeah . . . me, too.

    Another one that’s completely worn out is “tactical”.

  4. coloradohermit says:

    My mother was a phone operator during WW2 and boy she never let anyone forget it. Say operator and I think of a row of ladies with ’40s hair just like Lilly Tomlin.
    The gun related word that sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to slap someone is “shootist”. We’ve got a phony wannabe cowboy neighbor who calls himself that. Thinks he’s a smooth operator, that boy.

  5. Joel says:

    Another one that’s completely worn out is “tactical”.

    Don’t get me started.

  6. Matt, another says:

    During another time in my life I was a certified switchboard operator, I didn’t own a thigh holster though, so guess it does not count. Operator to me generally came with a qualifier such as Heavy Equipment, Telephone, Radio Telephone, etc.

  7. joemedic says:

    Showed up at an IPSC match around here with my carry gun–Glock 30, my carry holster and shooting surplus .45 ACP ammo. Made the middle of the pack beating a lot of guys with $3K+ race guns. Hacked a lot of them off by not having the right holster or a tricked out gun. Sorry, I thought it was “Practical” shooting. Show up with what you carry each day, shoot it the best you can and go from there.

    Even more annoying to everyone was that I head shot the closest targets rather than going for the safe A-Zone hits–if they are close enough that I can see their eyes, that’s what I’m aiming for.

    Did almost get DQ’d on several of the matches because I wanted to step out of the defined shoot box–shoot and move is the way to survive, I know I can’t out draw most people so they better be able to hit a moving target because I’ll be moving, putting rounds down range at them.

  8. Buck. says:

    I adhere to the policy of shoot and meander. Shoot and move indicates the exuberance and agility of youth. That went the way of my tacticool. In other words, I ain’t got none and haven’t had any for a long time.

  9. Spud says:

    That “Operater” drank way too much coffee before “shooting” this…..

  10. Peter says:

    Actually, I don’t like the term ‘Operator’ at all. It certainly doesn’t convey what the word means in the context of special forces personnel. Does anyone know how, or why, or when it was first used in that context? Would you please enlighten me?

  11. Bear says:

    Peter, the mall ninjas adopted the term approximately 35 milliseconds after the first time someone in the media mentioned it, because mall ninjas are convinced they are… operators.

    Frankly, I like it. When someone calls himself an “operator”* in his first sentence, I know I can safely ignore the rest of his “wisdom” and walk away. Saves lots of time.

    * Seriously. You might say, “But what if he is a spec-ops operator”, but that’s happened to me exactly… lessee add… carry the one… divide by… Never.

  12. Kentucky says:

    For me, “tacticool” carries a huge, steaming helping of sarcasm, so I can use ir with impunity when referring to mall ninjas, pseudo-operators, Tactical Tommys, and their ilk. It’s particularly rewarding since they never realize they’re being tweeked.

  13. I’m sympathetic to the specific strain of dickdom here–possibly I go even farther, just for a different reason. (To me, the term “operator” simply screams “I outsource all my ethics and am just a remote-controlled trigger for someone else!”)

    I don’t know how Mitty or range-queen Travis Haley may be. Truly don’t–he’s not the fella I’m interested in. I also don’t know whether Ron Avery really buys all the fifty-cent, “smells like Marketing” words that he uses before the one-on-one range session (which is with a different student, btw, not Haley). I just know that his psychology-of-technique interaction with his student is an impressive thing for an instructor to watch, and I suspect there is some coaching value in it for me, too. I do intend to find out!

  14. Goober says:

    I posted almost the same rant over at my place earlier today. About a different term that people misunderstand, but the same kind of deal. It drives me crazy.

    Just because you shoot guns good does not make you an “operator”. Period. People need to stop saying that.

  15. Goober says:

    From the Navy Website, a quick synopsis of what a man is expected to be able to do in order for the Navy to consider him an “operator” in the context in which it is being used:

    Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) perform a multitude of duties in support of special operations missions and operate on, under and from the sea, in the air and on land. These duties require skills in combat diving, paradrop and air operations, small boat operations, submarine and submersible operations, land warfare, small unit tactics, mounted and dismounted operations, small arms and crew served weapons, explosives, communications, tactical medicine, mission planning, intelligence gathering and interpretation, joint and combined operations, and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Explosive (CBRNE) defense measures in all environments including urban, desert, jungle, arctic, and mountain warfare

    So until he shows up with a boat and some scuba gear and speaks some Farsi, I’m not even going to start listening.

  16. Expat says:

    Always liked the video of the Texas LEO who was demonstrating his fast draw in front of Lady Bird Johnson. This was before Demotards turned on guns. Anyway, he makes his move and the gun hit the target rather than the birdshot or whatever he was using.

To the stake with the heretic!