Recently, Sight N Training Center advertised a series of firearms classes that would start at the basic level and end at some advanced techniques, i.e., shooting on the move, using cover, drawing from a concealed carry, etc.
Several students who were scheduled backed out and stated that they didn’t need the first class as they had already taken and knew the basics. Their idea was that since they had taken the basics before, they were no longer required to do any basic firearms training. This shows me from an institutional viewpoint that they do not understand basic training or its value as a requirement as to why fundamentals are everything if one is to improve any skill.
Anyone who has participated in sports or any group activity knows the value of training on the fundamentals. A good coach usually starts all practices with everyone going over the fundamentals before breaking into specific skills training for the various positions. Most martial arts classes usually starts with every level of belt going over and performing the basic skills of that particular style before separating into specific belt-level training.
Listen to any coach when a team begins to lose; they all say the same thing, we need to get back to the basics. WHY? Because great coaches recognize that mastery of the basics is advanced training! Mastery of the fundamentals requires mastery of the necessary subskills for that fundamental skill to work.
What makes a good instructor/teacher is their requirement that the basics be drilled on at every training session. Many instructors are reluctant to do that because it’s tedious and seems trivial to them. They have often internalized those basic skills while their students are still trying to learn.
Beginner students find this frustrating because they don’t yet have the basis to know what they don’t know. Glossing over or ignoring the fundamentals to show the student what you know so that you are not bored does a disservice to the student. Students must also realize that they have a responsibility to practice the fundamentals to move into advanced skills.
WHY CARE? A common understanding in sports is that if your fundamentals are not habituated, you’ll have difficulty performing on game day. Coaches are always preaching fundamentals, especially in practice. Everything in a given discipline relies upon the fundamentals. They are the foundation for advanced performance. A practitioner with mastery of a few fundamentals will overcome someone with a wide range of barely practiced advanced skills. As Bruce Leestated, “I don’t fear a man that has done 10,000 kicks once; I fear the man that has done one kick 10,000 times.”
Mastery of the basics or fundamentals often leads one to develop discipline and focus, two critical ingredients for success in any endeavor. No one succeeds at anything without discipline, and mastery of the basics means one has discipline.
What happens if We ignore the Basics?
Usually, when a highly skilled person fails, it’s because they neglect their fundamentals. Basic skills are ultimately the foundation for most disciplines. Without this essential consistency, how could we hope to do anything which requires greater attention, skill, or complexity? Basic skills are the backbone of everything we do or will do in any endeavor. Because of this, they are what we often are strongest in. All skills, even firearms, require mastery of the basics. The shooting fundamentals are called that because they are the foundation for advanced shooting skills, including the mental skills necessary to make a good shot.
When trying to learn new skills. The first step should be to understand and fine-tune the basics. Learning how to learn is invaluable. Just because you took a class one time on the basics of a skill does not mean you can perform them. Look for instruction that requires some basic review every time you train.
Incrementally learn your new skill and its subsequent subskills. Please don’t rush to be the best shot, tennis player, or whatever you try to master. Take time to learn and master the fundamentals and practice them at every opportunity. When you see the experts perform their craft, understand that their fundamentals are rock solid. They’ve established their foundation, allowing them to push the edges and take risks because they operate from solid ground.
Mastery of the fundamentals is hard. You will have to endure countless hours of tedious, thankless work and repetitions. However, there are rewards to this process. Never pass up an opportunity to take a basic class in whatever skill you are developing. Good instructors and teachers know this as you will learn from others even in basic training.