Every always says “oh, you need to practice the fundamentals” or “my fundamentals are off”. The problem is, there actually isn’t a clear definition on what the “fundamentals” are. Sure, everyone agrees that sight picture and trigger control are fundamental skills, but beyond that, what constitutes the “basics” or “fundamental skills”? To truly examine that question intelligently, you have to first define fundamental – I think we can all agree that “sight picture/trigger control” is a constant across all disciplines, so we’re actually going to ignore that for now. So our first stop today is my old friend the dictionary, which defines the adjective form of fundamental as serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying – such as “fundamental skills”. Thus, the “fundamentals” are not fixed in their definition, but rather are malleable and determined by the goal of the shooter. Extrapolated further, I would personally define a fundamental skill as any skill that must be possessed by a shooter to be successful/proficient in the task at hand. That means that while you can lack the fundamental skills and still perform a task, you won’t do it as well as someone that possesses and has mastered or continues to improve on a fundamental skill.
For example of fundamental skills vs. non-fundamental skills; I would define “reloads” as a fundamental skill for a USPSA shooter. Without the ability to do quick, efficient reloads you will not be competitive or proficient as a USPSA shooter. Contrast this with a non-fundamental, or advanced skill such as perfect footwork. While perfect footwork is important in USPSA, it only becomes a necessary skill at the Grand Master level; it’s not a requirement to be competitive or considered a proficient shooter.
For action shooters and defensive shooters, here’s the list of skills I would define as absolutely fundamental:
- Presentations from the holster
- Follow up shots
- Multiple target transitions
This is again in addition to the basics of sight picture and trigger control. Your list might be different than mine. Also, it can change based on your gear – for revolver shooters, trigger control is the gospel as your match lives and dies by that one little thing. If you’re a high power rifle shooter, your fundamental skills are going to be different than a Steel Challenge shooter or an ICORE shooter. The important thing is to find the skills that you absolutely cannot succeed without, master them, then move on to more advanced skills.