In any discipline the fundamentals are of extreme importance. They are the foundation of whatever structure will be eventually built. I have spent a lot of time working on the fundamentals of rifle shooting. I realized at some point that I do better if I don’t think about them as much as I used to.
I probably spent a lot of time learning to walk early in life. There were probably times when I had to revisit walking, such as after I broke my femur, or maybe as I grew. Walking is a foundation for a lot of other activities. Yet despite its importance, I think I walk better and more naturally when I don’t think about it. Not only do I walk better if I don’t think about it, but walking usually isn’t an activity done for its own sake. It usually underlies some other activity. Whatever that activity might be, I’m certain that thinking about walking would detract from one’s effectiveness in it.
Walking is not perfectly analogous to rifle shooting. Trigger control and sight picture aren’t hard wired into us. I have to spend time in dry fire to keep my trigger press clean and effective. But the analogy does basically hold true to most of rifle shooting. When I am firing at a target, it generally seems counterproductive to put my attention on my trigger finger, or on any particular at all for that matter. At some level I just have to let things happen.
It almost seems counter-intuitive to put all that time and attention into something so I can forget about it later. It’s difficult to simply let go after all that prior emphasis. It wasn’t really all that long ago that someone was yelling at me, “BY THE NUMBERS!” as I shot from the prone position. That, by the way, is not a great teaching tool (and I have done it myself).
Part of what experience brings is discernment to distinguish one thing from another. Initial learning is different than practice. Practice can be distinguished from training. All of them are different than application. When a target is downrange, it’s not the time to be thinking about the fundamentals. Rather, it’s the time to embody the fundamentals while not thinking about them at all.
We practice and we train so we can forget and act.