The Basics: It is a Process and That is Critical.

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


The change made in 2016 from “Fundamentals” to “The Shot Process” was significant. I know, I know, many readers in this audience are familiar and probably think this is an old, tired, and annoying conversation, BUT I still see arguments about the change frequently, and this should catch up any newcomers. The primary thing I see is “They just renamed the fundamentals”.  Anyone who says this is ignorant of the power inherent in the change and will be hamstrung in their analysis and development regarding shooting. So, in the spirit of extinguishing ignorance, let’s look at the nature of the fundamentals, the Process now, and why the process model is preferential for training and improvement.

The Nature of What it Was:

The Fundamentals of Marksmanship –difficult to remember at this point – consisted (at least for the Army) of aiming, breathing, trigger squeeze, and steady position. The way the “Fundamentals” were often presented were as nebulous things that were all occurring simultaneously, and all of them needed to be attended to concurrently to produce the desired performance. This model does not match up with contemporary models for how process information, attend to stimuli or handle decision making and action, for “multi-tasking” (which research is showing isn’t really possible the way people tend to think it is, if at all). The “Fundamentals” model’s mismatch with cognitive processes is going to be key when discussing the new model.

The Shot Process: As many readers here may know, 2016 brought us the long awaited arrival of Army Training Circular (TC) 3-22.9, and with it came the game-changing Shot Process – which was met with derision and a resounding “meh” from many of the entrenched and uninitiated. One of the most critical things the Shot Process did was outline the things that needed to happen when employing a weapon and the order in which they needed to occur – generally. It provided wiggle room for changes in focus depending on shooter and situations unique to each employment. Serialization – especially with the order in the TC – probably one of the most important advancements from the old methods. It treats the shooter more like the complex but predictable system that it is. Readers here should be familiar with Joseph Plandowski’s earlier article involving Cognitive/Information Processing Models (they get called different things depending on focus/domain, but a potato is a potato and they are the only appropriate way to suppress an AK), and if you’re not, go enlighten yourselves. By creating a serialized process for shooting, we are mirroring the natural cognitive process which should facilitate better/more efficient performance of demanding psychomotor tasks such as shooting. So how exactly is this better? Let us count the ways (some of them anyway – go get your own degree)!

Part 2 coming soon.