This is a 2 part series by Kurt Bertram. Kurt is currently pursuing a degree in Human Factors Psychology from Embry-Riddle. In a past like he was a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment.-Ash Hess
Improvement Through Facilitation:
Now that we understand the Shot Process is series of tasks performed in an established order, we can begin to explore the power of congruency in models and the things developing a serialized process can facilitate.
First, I’ll briefly explain a process called task switching – the more accurate description of what’s going on in “multi-tasking”. Humans haven’t been shown to be capable of attending to two different things and perform to separate tasks simultaneously. What is more likely occurring, is a switching between two (or more) concurrent tasks. Attempting to respond to more than one stimulus at a time will cause the tasks associated with those stimuli to suffer in performance and/or speed. A full explanation of task switching, and task decrements is complicated and could easily be it’s own article, so for now I’ll leave it at: If you receive two stimuli closely together and try respond, you will have to choose a response and begin responding to one before you can choose a response for the second one. Trying to attend to two or more tasks concurrently – as was expected with the old model – will lead to difficulty performing one or even all the tasks involved. This can be mitigated under the Shot Process. By developing a serialized process, you will train your body and brain to know when each task needs to be focused on, when to make a response choice, and what responses will be occurring during other tasks/stimuli. This serialization creates a helpful schedule and should decrease total times and response accuracy as automaticity improves. Caveat: automaticity (muscle memory) is a dangerous word in Human Factors – and it is often conflated as requiring no cognitive resources. This is likely not true. While the cognitive load may be very, very minimal, for some automatized behaviors, they are not free of engagement and processing. Some reflexes are fully automatic, but those are generally very primitive in scope since they are linked to lower order functions ex: touching a hot stove and the subsequent recoil.
So, the process works well with our cognitive process, what else does it work well with? Well, it facilitates training and learning! By establishing a serialized process, you can begin to properly attribute behaviors within the process to errors in the performance. You will know when each task should be occurring in each shot, so when you or a coach observes your performance, they can more easily identify what is happening versus what should be happening, and both shooters and coaches will know where they need to be concentrating during each phase of the process. This gets much easier when behaviors and performances are recorded digitally – for reasons I can cover in another article. Basically, we’re not always the best at noticing things we think we notice, or that we think we should notice. By forming a serialized process, you will also be able to work on establishing each step of the process and train each individually in order to facilitate automaticity of produced responses (so your body just keeps doing what you told it to).
The principle thing to take away from all of this Human Factors/Psychology technical rambling is this: the Shot Process is good not just because we said it was or because the “Fundamentals” were flawed and bad, but because it mirrors more closely how we as humans function which should facilitate efficiency and effectiveness of marksmanship training and performance. This article is by no means an exhaustive explanation of the subject, and I look forward to elaborating on topics touched upon and discussed here. I consider this a stepping-off point of sorts for my exploration of methods and techniques in shooting/marksmanship. Please let me know if there are any topics you’d like to hear more about specifically, otherwise, I’ll just work through things as they some to/interest me.