The Basics of Fundamentals

It’s funny to sit here and look back on the many classes that I’ve taken since I started learning how to shoot. No matter if it’s with a local instructor or someone recently like with Chris Costa; it seems that every (good) instructor will key in on the fundamentals of marksmanship. Although they all might expose or talk about this uniquely in their own way, they pretty much all say the same thing.

So how important is this fundamental?

In the last year or so, I was letting myself just get by with my mediocre performance. Lets face it, I was stuck on denial and fighting with a gear that really made my learning a real challenge. If not, a handicap. While I love my 45, I come to realize that the caliber in a handgun doesn’t really matter when it comes to self-defense. Sure, there are other reasons why people will say a certain caliber will be a better choice over the others. But ever since I’ve spent a weekend training with Costa, something he either have said or what I experienced somehow has been making me re-evaluate my skills.


Since late last year, I was slowly migrating over to the 9mm side, only because it was a real pain in the ass to conceal carry my 45 with multiple extra magazines. Before, I thought that having a big ass 45 ACP is enough to get by. But as my training progress and I began shooting more and more, I realize that my thinking and lifestyle has to change. It was difficult to carry all that gear on a daily basis in a concealed fashion. So something had to give.

My time with Chris also reaffirmed that the 45 was just too much of a beast for me to handle. And the reason is because I failed to grasp or re-enforced the basics of fundamentals. Sure I always thought about it, but I honestly didn’t think to put much thought into it. In fact I did what I normally did – fight with the 45 and tried to keep it from flinching. I was so focus on trying to keep it straight, I didn’t really pay attention to any of the other fundamentals.

Since then, I recently went back to the range to work on the keyhole drill Chris had shown me. The exercise consist of stacking your bullet hits on top of each other. Hence, you are key holing your shots. But what I did differently this time around was that I switched to a 9mm platform. I ended up renting the full size M&P9.

I will admit that the 9mm platform was so much more manageable than my 45. But I still managed to dip the gun slightly, however, not as bad as I did with the 45. I must have spent about an hour or so in the range just doing the drill at 3 yards and then 5 yards. My guess is that I’ve been fighting this gun for so long that it translated over to the 9mm. So how do I fix this?


Why am I shooting low and to the right?

So I had to stop and think about it as it was very clear that I forgotten some the very basics of fundamentals.

While I will admit, I’m guilty of just reciting these fundamental steps but failed to stop and really understand what they mean, until now. Maybe it’s because I’ve been impatient and just want to step up to the line and start slinging lead down range. Taking my new revitalization of understanding my enlightenment and going back to the range, I purposely worked on my fundamentals. I made it a point to also include dummy rounds to catch if I’m still flinching. And let me say, I’m so embarrassed by it.

But standing at the line, I focused myself on the fundamentals that was taught to me.

Shooting Stance
Sight Alignment
Sight Picture
Trigger Control

It was interestingly to note that while I was doing slow fire at the 3 yard line, there were two groups of shooters on both side of my lane. They dropped their targets back to the 10, 15, and 25 yard line and sprayed their targets all over the place. Meanwhile, I was still working on my slow fire, but decently making a tight group. Then they took their new targets to the 5 yard line and they still sprayed their targets. Eventually, I heard someone say that I was shooting at the 3 yard line and that anyone can do that.

But I knew they didn’t understand the fundamentals of marksmanship nor did they have the mindset and I can only hope that these people will eventually get formal training.

So during my next reload, I threw up a new target and sent it back to the 10 yard line and matched their target. They were still spraying lead up, down, left and right on the target. I kept to my slow fire, went at it center mass, and nailed a tight grouping within the x-ring. I was trying to really knock out the x-ring, but most of my shots just fell within the red, with maybe 1 or 2 strays due to flinching. But it was still good enough for now, as I was starting to get fatigue. At that point I decided to wrap up and go home with a grin on my face. I was very pleased that I managed to do a tight grouping at 10 yard. Maybe the next time, I can start working on speed and take it further out in distance as well.

But now, as I think more and more about my family’s safety and becoming a more responsible conceal carrying gun owner, my mindset needs to change. It is my job to become more of an asset and not of a liability. As Chris Costa states, how I train today, will or may someday save either my own life or someone else’s.

And it starts with truly understanding the basics of fundamentals and it’s meaning.