Its About Shooting Fundamentals, Fundamentals & Fundamentals

By Bob Harvey

Police Training
It is time for Law Enforcement to join the 21st century to teach Law Enforcement Officers the difference between training and practice or qualification. Get them trained up and help them stay alive.
South Florida Gun School
South Florida Gun School

Florida – -( I read an article in the Wall Street Journal recently, where 70 Police Officers at Yale University are protesting a new policy that allows them to be fired if they don’t pass a firearms test in 30 working days after failing it twice.

I for one, cannot grasp the argument.

If you carry a gun for a living, you need to be proficient in the use of it. It is for your safety, the safety of your co-workers and the safety of the community. There is a reason that state law enforcement certifications have minimum requirements.

As a law enforcement officer carries a gun to defend themselves, it is a tool and they need to be proficient with it. Just as a radio, handcuffs, Taser, OC Spray, and nightstick are tools. Not unlike a car mechanic that has a box full of tools. No one tool will work for all jobs, you need to have a decent tool box loaded with tools.

Not so many to confuse your mind when the time comes to put metal to meat, but enough to handle any emergency. And it starts with fundamentals.

Your toolbox starts with the tool between your ears.

When starting out as an instructor over 40 years ago, I was given great advice. The difference between a beginner and an expert is the grasp of the fundamentals. A beginner hardly knows the fundamentals, while the expert not only has a grasp of the fundamentals. He subconsciously runs through the fundamentals quickly and solidly. Experts do it effortlessly and quickly.

Amateurs do not have a grasp of the fundamentals. Speed comes with proficiency. Solid execution of consistency of the fundamentals equals accuracy.

It is never more evident than in the courses I teach. Our school is an instructor developmental school. I will get students with certificates from some pretty lofty named schools, that have firearm manipulation issues.

Target Shooting Stance Weird
I have seen safety issues from many seasoned gun owners. I blame that mostly on the invention of YouTube and self-styled ninjas.

When I see advance defensive shooting certificates issued to a student taking my advance course, that cannot do a basic draw stroke or hit a CNS shot at 7 yards with time, there is a problem in training doctrine. This happens when Instructors do not vet students in their abilities before moving that student into an advanced course. I see it all the time.

An advance course is just that. If an Instructor has to spend time other than doing cursory remedial fixing of fundamentals. Then that student did not belong in that course. They belong in a fundamental course. I know that does not have the cool factor of shooting on the move and dumping 600 rounds of ammo. I know that most shooters think they are better than they are that comes with the territory. But it is a disservice to that student and the other students in the class.

Training Is NOT Practice

In both civilian and law enforcement there is a misconception that training and practice are the same thing. This could not possibly be further from the truth.

Training is where you are taught correct skills, or fundamentals if you will, by experts who will monitor and correct mistakes. Practice is where you take the skills (think tools) and use them via practical application.

When you practice, and are at the range, do it with a purpose. Have a specific list written that you will work on at that practice session. Have a means to measure progress. The mistakes made are normally standard across the board.

Qualification is not training and LEO knows this but it is still promoted as such. Competition is not training; it is practicing what you were or were not taught. I hear time and time again internet experts tell new people to start shooting IPSC, IDPA or 2/3 gun. Do not do this until you have a handle on your fundamentals. Most basic CCW courses will not show you how to become proficient.

It is time for Law Enforcement to join the 21st century to teach Law Enforcement Officers the difference between training and practice or qualification. Get them trained up and help them stay alive.

About Bob Harvey

Bob Harvey is a veteran USMC PMI, teaching small arms training to civilian, military and LEO for over 40 yrs. He owns and operates South Florida Gun School. One of Florida’s oldest and most respected firearms training academies. In business since 1987.

About South Florida Gun School
SFLA GunSchool is committed to providing safety, knowledge, and skills to you in an easy, understandable training format. We have a safety record second to none. From New Shooters to Instructor Candidates we can help you in the advancement of your marksmanship and firearms skills. Ask about our money back guarantee on all firearms training classes. SFLA GunSchool is located within Gator Gun & Archery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Visit:

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Roy D.

One of the biggest problems is that live fire practice takes money. Money for the range time, money for the ammo. Neither is cheap, not that they ever were for most people. For people like me who have been reloading for almost half a century ammo is fairly inexpensive. And we generally have some place to go where we don’t pay range fees. For everyone else, not so much. Given that, it is still less expensive today to shoot than it was decades ago. And the equipment is better. But, unless you practice your skill level will degrade to some… Read more »


Bob Sounds like you are beating a dead hobby horse. (Yes, I mixed those metaphors just for you.) I don’t know how it is in S. FL but here, our cops can shoot. You may have heard of a couple of terrorists who tried their luck against 1 cop in Garland last year. Each Texas LEO must be weapons certified according to our state certifications & then each agency has the option to add to that training as THEY see fit. Civilian authority over that training is only controlled by personnel selections. The Chief controls that training, so, if I… Read more »

Bob Harvey

I will try to explain the article, although I though I covered the point. It is good sound advice for LEO and Civilians. I-Training- definition by webster Definition of training 1a : the act, process, or method of one that trains b : the skill, knowledge, or experience acquired by one that trains 2: the state of being trained II-Practice- a : to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient b : to train by repeated exercises III-Qualify- a : to fit by training, skill, or ability for a special purpose b (1) : to declare competent… Read more »

Jeff K

Mr Harvey, I agree with your assessment of the situation. I teach newbies the basics and when they get to a point they take a few tests. FBI qualifier, IDPA Classifier, Dot Tourture and the like. Most of my students sign up for a ten lesson package and quite a few take many more. They do dry practice as homework. Once they reach a competent level we go to a UTM scenario based training. I believe this is the regiment you are recommending and sound advice IMO. Most of my students can shoot circles around local LE. THANK YOU for… Read more »


prior to 1990s nichigan state issued gun permits based on occupation or need, yet the interview consisted reviewing your cash bank deposits or occupation for the permit. both my father and my self obtained these permits. my father was in the navy, and did not qualify in pistol training but was granted a gun permit. i at least had the shooting hobby some league experience at the oak park gun club. a few years later a neighbor was scared by a knife in a robbery. a wake up call John farnum class, and 2 other self defense classes. my personal… Read more »


At least Jeff offered a suggestion. Just exactly, how do you “pluck students directly from the gun store”, Jeff?

As far as the article, everyone knows the difference between “Training & Practice”.
Training costs money & practice is free. That’s why we all have more students than we can handle.

Jeff K

Roady, I convinced the owner of our local gun store to allow me to hold a class on “selecting the right personal defense forearm” right in his store. He was impressed and allowed me to place my business cards at his register. The sales staff have a standing invite for a free lesson. He now recommends me when someone asks about instruction.


Jeff You found 1 in a million. Nobody, I mean NOBODY that owns a shop here in Fort Worth would let somebody come into his shop & speak to his customers about which gun to buy. The main reason is that’s just unbelievable but another is ALL the gun shops here do training & they won’t let the competition in. & everybody is prejudiced about some specific kind or “make”. You know you can’t tell everybody what they “best” gun for them is before they shoot any. To tell you the truth-I don’t believe it. If this guy exists, he… Read more »

Jeff K

Roady, yes he is a great guy. He just opened a pawn and gun store and was not totally up to speed on personal defense firearms. I do see the sales side of his business and still cringe when the goal is to sell a gun today rather the right gun tomorrow. Most of us have clients who purchased an obvious poor choice. A 4’5″ 90 lb person, small hands who just bought a 357 snubby for the first gun. The store sold her (sorry ladies) 357 ammo, no discussion about 38 or 38 short ammo. Of course she hates… Read more »

Jeff K

I totally agree with Mr. Harvey’s article. Practice and training are different and once you are proficient start training. I train with a group of advanced shooters, some of whom are instructors. We practice on our own but train via scenario’s as a group. UTM, air soft and live fire training are all part of our regiment. I try to pluck my students directly from the gun store and teach them the basics before they start to carry. I generally get them to sign up for a ten lesson package to start which consists of practice twice a week with… Read more »


I didn’t really catch the point of the article. Is Bob complaining about civilian shooters or LE? Or both? I don’t really savvy the hobby-horses he’s exercising. I believe it is NRA instructors’ mission to teach civilians. The NRA has a separate division for teaching LE & LE instructors. Besides, unless the agency is very small, departments do their own training. If an officer was involved in a shooting and did not model that agency’s techniques, he wouldn’t ever be an officer again. I am an NRA pistol instructor & I don’t like the direction the NRA is going. I… Read more »

B-Prepared Training

Roady, I do not understand what you do not get about the article. Jsounds like you are worrying more about making money and how you are going to do it then worrying about the student learning the fundamentals of shooting. Ok….I will make it easy for you….you “teach” fundamentals…that is what instructors do. Make sure the fundmentals are ingrained. Then it is up to the student to “practice” to hone those skills and to get them into good habits that they can rely on when the SHTF. Police officers should be required to not only “train” but also “practice”, that… Read more »

Roady f fanelli

Well thanx, Bob You say the point is “Police officers should be required to not only “train” but also “practice”. Then chastised me for being about money. Maybe you missed this in my reply: “The NRA has a separate division for teaching LE & LE instructors. Besides, unless the agency is very small, departments do their own training.” Police agencies determine what kind of program they will use-not us NRA instructors. In Texas, we can’t even get the state to require training for LTC. It is strictly a qualification. I also said: “We all have to make a buck BUT… Read more »


IS that Barney Fife in the middle of that picture of officers at the range?

If they don’t want training, Treat the morons at Yale like Barney Fifes; Give them ONE ROUND and make them carry it in their shirt pocket !!

Wayne Clark

In musical groups (bands), practice is what you do at home or with a buddy, to work out the kinks in a song…to learn it, in other words. Rehearsal, is where all the members get together with their LEARNED PARTS & play the song. When someone shows up at rehearsal to practice the song, it throughs a kink in the mechanism of performance. Same with firearms. Training (practice in music), works the kinks out for the practice (rehearsal in music), so the performance (in either) goes without any glitches…hopefully. The main difference in the two is, lack of firearm training… Read more »