Friday, January 28, 2011

...which 'Fundamentals' are most fundamental?

Depending when and where you learned to shoot, you might be familiar with “the Shooting Fundamentals,” or at least some version of them.  We NRA Instructors not long ago received a “new, improved” list to teach in NRA sponsored classes.  So how could the ‘fundamentals’ change?

The act of shooting seems simple.  Ask anyone whos seen guns used in a movie, on TV or in a video game.  Everyone thinks they can do it before they even see a real gun for the first time.  But they’re often stymied by unexpected sensations of shooting to the point that they are often unsafe to themselves and others.

The thing most people say the first time they handle a “real gun” is, “It’s heavy.”  Even small pistols and revolvers seem to be heavier than they look.  This becomes an issue when they first realize that holding this several pound chunk of material steady at arm’s length might be a problem.  The next shock is how loud and sharp the sound of a shooting firearm is.  For some it is absolutely unbearable.  For almost all it is painful and the physical damage to hearing is well documented.

Teaching people to shoot is, at first, largely about helping them overcome these unexpected sensations, and then teaching them to manipulate the device to make it do what they want.  In that sense, it’s a lot like teaching the use of any other tool.

The NRA ‘Shooting Fundamentals’ up until recently were:  1) Position, 2) Grip, 4) Breath Control, 5) Trigger Squeeze and 6) Follow through.

NRA instructional materials distributed after 2010 revise this list by treating position and grip as separate introductory topics, the addressing the following five shooting fundamentals:  1) Aiming, 2) Hold Control, 3) Breath Control, 4) Trigger Control and 5) Follow through.

With my military training in ‘delivering blocks of instructions,’ and having taught 91 NRA classes over the past 10 years, the large majority to persons new to shooting, I have my presentation pretty well memorized.  But despite the fact that I’ve had to relearn some of the material, I am glad  that this change came along because it pushed me to reexamine how I am communicating the same basic information to new shooters.

I remain convinced, however, that the same basic tasks are before one who would make use of a firearm, and that either of these lists of fundamentals is equally useful in conveying the information needed to perform those tasks safely and well.  Both facilitate the shooter reaching an understanding of what is happening physilogically and psychologically--which is how the fundamentals address the act of shooting.  Also, remember that effective hearing protection makes the learning process and the practice it takes to get shooting skills down much more comfortable.

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