So, we are just coming down from the SHOT Show high and what a great experience. I didn’t get a chance to walk the showroom floor as much as I might have wanted, but I still got the feeling there wasn’t much innovation.
It’s a bit disappointing, but not too surprising. What is innovation in the first place? Innovation differs from invention in that innovation is the use of a better idea as opposed to a new one. It differs from improvement in that innovation is doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.
Innovation starts with understanding a specific need. Defining the expectations then evaluating whether current technology will be able to meet those expectations. You have to make sure you are not just changing for the sake of changing, but to truly fill the gap identified. At times I see the change being driven more from a marketing source rather than a true need. The mistake in that thinking is when folks jump on the bandwagon without questioning the “why”. I use to piss off a lot of people because I asked why, I ask why all the time. Even at this past show I asked a few manufactures why are they doing this or that. It was funny to hear the answers, most were not driven by true innovation. As I continued to question the why you could see that either they didn’t know the need or were just changing for the sake of changing.
As a lead climber I had the pleasure of climbing all sorts of things, both recreationally and professionally. Back in the day when conducting ship assaults I might have to hang precariously at times so I wore a climbing harness. There weren’t a lot of good tactical ones, so I ended up using one of my sport rigs. It was small, lightweight and I could fit all my holsters and magazine pouches on it. I used it all the time and eventually I cut the leg straps off to streamline the setup. I’m sure that wasn’t the smartest thing I have ever done, but it meet my requirements. I WAS NOT using it to arrest a fall, but to support my weight as a safety harness if I needed to hang will performing duties. (Just so we are clear, anything that might require my fall to be arrested and I used a climbing harness) I used that belt for a few years partly because I didn’t want to trash my nice leather gun belt, but honestly it was because it did a great job of supporting my weight and carrying my gear; win/win.
A few years back I saw a pretty innovative product, it was a departure from the traditional riggers belts that are very common. The Arc’Teryx H-150 Riggers belt perfectly fit my needs back then. If you dissect the construction and materials you can see the departure from the current trend. Could this have been spurred by some crazy frogman dangling under a ship; maybe. Chances are there was a specific need identified and parameters set. It is not an improvement, it is different and it is better and that is innovation and that is hard to find.