Practical application of the fundamentals--Buck Doyle, Afghanistan, Aug. 2009.

I've had a lot of guys ask me when I'm going to put some "Advanced" courses on the schedule, and my reply to them is, "what is 'Advanced'?".  Most aren't really sure--maybe they've been shooting a while, have some military or law enforcement experience, or do a lot of hunting.  They know they're not a Beginner, and have mistakenly equated course titles like "Carbine Basics" with "Carbine Beginner".  Let me explain why I don't use the term "Advanced", and why in my opinion, mastery of the "Basics" (fundamentals of marksmanship) separates the very best shooters from all the rest.

There's been a lot written over the years in industry mags and books about the importance of "mastering the basics".   But for every one of those articles you'll find 50 YouTube videos of guys doing backflips with their AR, shooting upside down, from the trunk of their car, or some other "advanced" technique.  Most males I come across are naturally drawn to courses labeled "Combat", "Tactical", or "Sniper"--even though they are marketed to civilians, who may not have been in combat with anything more deadly than the flu.  The fact is, we like to feel like we have skills that are "advanced" or "high speed."

What if I told you that the most "advanced" shooters I know are the ones who have mastered the fundamentals? Through thousands of correct repetitions, they have developed the "muscle memory" to ensure their fundamental skills remain intact when they are practically applied (real life).  I consider the fundamentals of marksmanship to include: grip, stance, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, breathing, and follow through.  Each of those "basics" can be broken down further and generalized to any practical environment or situation.  

In a military environment, I've watched a highly trained shooter--who'd been to all the "advanced" schools the military had to offer--as he would take off gear to establish a good shooting position, slow his breathing under high stress, consciously adjust his grip on the rifle, and successfully take a difficult shot at long distance.  Sure, this guy was "high speed"--but only because he had continually trained and mastered the fundamentals of marksmanship.

Practical application of the fundamentals should be the goal of every shooter.  For the border patrol agent, practical application could mean establishing a solid shooting platform from a helicopter.  For the lone Highway Patrolman it might be shooting from his vehicle and moving quickly and efficiently to cover.  For my wife it might mean safely employing concealed carry techniques in a dark parking lot.  They each rely on a solid grasp of the "basics" when they are employed in a practical environment.

While my Basic courses (1-day) are appropriate for most beginners, they will also improve the consistency and technique of an experienced shooter.  Carbine or Pistol I & II courses (2 & 3-days) allow more time for practical application, but are still founded in the fundamentals of marksmanship.  Every professional marksmanship instructor or competitive shooter has their "niche" or focus.  Based on my experience in the military and as a civilian contractor in support of combat operations, my focus has been combining the fundamentals with movement, points of domination, dealing with physical and psychological stress (elevated heart rate), and self diagnostics (Buckism #39: 'Do you know what you just did?').  I address all of these things in each one of my courses.

**Keep checking the website and Facebook page--we will be adding Carbine I (2-day) to the schedule for August!