practical shooting: beyond fundamentals (Brian Enos)

practical shootingI’d like to dedicate this book to the creative shooter.  The shooter who isn’t bound by any ideas or traditions.  The shooter who is always looking within himself to discover the limitless ability that is always there.  We’re all on the same road.

— Brian Enos


I don’t know what my “rich” brother was thinking for sending to us all the way from Texas to the Philippines numerous books on nursing and DVDs and magazines and a book on gun-shooting when none of us – my father, my younger brother, me – is into all that.  My “rich” brother is a registered nurse, by the way, and works in the U.S.

The things I’ve mentioned above were just some of the contents of the package that my brother sent to us last year apart from the imported clothes (old and new), huge towels, bags, oven, tool case, shoes (old and new), canned goods, chocolates, other books and magazines, and everything else that he could think of putting there.  My “rich” brother came for a visit two months ago and since I am the only person who can be brutally frank with him told him face to face to stop sending us “not-applicable-to-us “ stuff.  But there’s one book, under the category of the “not-applicable-to-us” stuff,  that I decided not to give away, I told him.  It’s this book entitled Practical Shooting:  Beyond Fundamentals by Brian Enos.

“He’s more into mental shooting,” he said in Tagalog.  I forgot to ask him why he got those DVDs, magazines, and book on gun-shooting.  I forgot to ask him if that is his hobby in Texas.  Forgive my naivete but I really don’t have any idea about the kind of recreation that the people in Texas would do there.  I could do some research but I don’t have the time.

However, I do have the time to share a little bit something about the book I’m talking about.  There are six sections in the book:

Section 1:  Awareness and Focus

Section 2: The Tools of Shooting

Section 3: Creative Shooting

Section 4: Specific Challenges

Section 5: Competition

Section 6: Development

Like I said, I never held a gun.  I am physically weak and not sports-oriented and would rather hit the books.  However, in my college subject Physical Education, I took up archery (you know, that bow and arrows) and arnis (a Filipino style martial arts that uses a rattan stick as a weapon).  So yes, I’ve held a self-defense weapon in the past not just once but twice but never a gun.  But Practical Shooting:  Beyond Fundamentals by Brian Enos is something else.  It wasn’t what he was saying that was interesting here.  It was how he said what he was saying.

“This is a book about shooting.  A lot has been written about firing, but not much about shooting.  And there’s a big difference between the two.  Firing ability is not what separates levels of shooters.  My success as a shooter came from learning to see my own limitations, discovering why they existed, and then finding ways to break free of them.  And I will do that continually for as long as I shoot.

“The whole purpose of this book is to help you expose your own limitations.  The point of view that you need to cultivate is not one of learning new things or of even learning to shoot—it’s in shedding away your own obstructions to the knowledge that you already have.  The things that let you shoot to your maximum potential, and the things that make that potential unlimited, are already a part of your life.  You really don’t need to know anything else; you only need to understand how things that you do and experience every day apply to your shooting.” – Brian Enos

I need to make a confession before I proceed any further:  I NEVER GOT TO FINISH THIS BOOK.  I read the whole Section 1 on Awareness and Focus and the first few pages of Section 2 on the Tools of Shooting.  The rest of the other sections are already difficult for me to read because of many technical aspects on gun handling and shooting.  Maybe I’ll save that for later if ever I become interested in shooting—we never know.

So here I am, a person who never held a gun reading a book on gun-shooting.  But I promise you that the lessons that the author shared in the book we can relate also in the way we do our job, our own craft, even on how we live our lives.  Allow me to share a few of those golds and diamonds of  lessons that I was able to dig out from the book.

Quotes by Brian Enos…


It’s only through ego that you ever worry about how you do, how you look, and even how you think.  It could be that ego is the source for just about all our problems, but in shooting, it’s a major point.  It’s ego that makes us attach ourselves to ideas.  It’s also ego that forces us to reject ideas and makes us afraid to try things that we may not understand.  Your ego can draw a line and won’t allow anything to cross it that doesn’t agree with what it has already decided for you.  Don’t let your ego make your decision; don’t give it control.  Let your choiceless perception of your experiences guide your shooting.  But it’s your ego that says, “Prove it…”  Don’t operate in the mode of prove it—just experience it.  The proof will be in the experience.


Don’t react, just act.


When you’re beginning, you will develop some habits to help you build your basic shooting platform—you have to have a place to start in developing your skills—but realize that the habits will end someday.  Mechanics only exist so that you can go beyond them.


Paying attention to anything and everything that can have an effect on your shooting is what I mean by awareness.


Don’t concentrate on your shooting—get interested in it.


Dedication and determination are two often overlooked, but very important, aspects of realizing your potential.  Confidence in shooting does not come from “Knowing How.”  It comes from learning continually on every shot.  You can never learn to shoot.  You can only learn as you shoot if you want to reach your potential.


Techniques do not make the shooter.  The shooter is the technique.  These are the tools you’ll need to fire a gun accurately at a high rate of speed, and that’s all they are.


You must practice what you don’t like to do if you want to become a well-rounded shooter.  If you don’t like to shoot groups, then don’t ever expect to be a top-level shooter—because you never will be.  If you haven’t mastered the fundamental of accuracy and haven’t learned to do exactly what it takes to produce an accurate shot and you can’t do it on demand, then you can never expect to beat whoever is at the top.  I can confidently say that there isn’t a top shooter who can’t shoot extremely accurately.


Be aware of what you’re actually doing at the time you’re actually doing it.  Keep yourself open to your experiences.


Learning through awareness is an endless, full-circle experience.  When you know what you want to see, your awareness will show you what you need to do to see it.  Through awareness, there is no distinction between learning and application, even though intellect and instinct are generally thought of separately.  Maintaining awareness as you’re experimenting with your technique will allow you to almost immediately change, add, or discard any variation on a particular component of your shooting style as you intuit your experience.


If you’re a beginning shooter, slowing down your study of mechanics may speed up your progress, for some things, you may accelerate your improvement by learning each component piece-by-piece.  If you want to reach your potential, it’s important that you develop skills that a good application of the mechanics will give you.  Even if it takes you several months to get to where your freestyle platform is what you want, that just means that from that time forward you can devote your time to experiencing the shooting instead of working on your mechanics.


Don’t ever be afraid to make a change in your shooting technique.


Through awareness, you no longer fight the dogmas of prior limitations and limiting beliefs.  You can adopt whatever your observations show you is working best.  You’ll be able to try different things without worrying that trying something that turns out not to work will “mess up” your shooting.  If you keep yourself open to your experiences, and let them guide you, that won’t happen.  Trust that, and trust yourself.


 If you know where you want to go, you will find a way to get there.  But it can’t work the other way around.


Shooting is a process, but, in actuality, it’s a practice.  You must take steps to improve your shooting or you’ll resign yourself to staying at the level where you are now.  But the steps you take must end in your passing over them.


Locate the target.  Get the gun on the target.  Keep the gun on the target while you fire the shot.


Pay attention to everything that you do, everything that you try, everything that you think about.  When it’s all said and done, if you just want to sit down and talk about shooting to someone, you need to understand every single thing that you do; you need to know why you’re doing everything that you do; you need to know why you know everything that you know.


The more organized my overall picture of shooting becomes, the more I realize that things all change constantly.


During the actual shooting, you have to know when to let all the knowledge that you’ve accumulated and all the things you’ve learned go and just let it happen.


Eventually you’ll understand that everything that you do is dependent on your own attitude.  And you’re responsible for every single function you have when you’re shooting.  If you’re shooting too fast, shooting too slow, if you can’t hit any targets, if you’re tense or worried—every single problem you’ll have you have to deal with, and you can solve it if you just pay attention to yourself.


Confidence is an emotion created by conscious thought.  By its very nature it can work for you or against you.  When you step up to shoot, let the emotion of confidence yield to pure action.


Wanting to win is a contradiction.  The desire imposes a limit on your actions.  There is only the shooting.


If you are tense, you are probably concerned over results.  Only when there is no concern over results can you perform to your maximum potential.  Results aren’t found in the present tense.


To be a successful practical shooter, you work on what you can’t do until there’s nothing that you can’t do.


I’m not a natural athlete; I’m not a natural shooter.  For me, the whole thing has been a process of determination.  I enjoy this immensely, and I just stick with it—I never give up.  I never feel that I’m as good as I can be.  And it’s that attitude that’s made me understand everything that I do.


Brian Enos is a Masters Champion, two-time Bianchi Cup winner, and has placed in the top-5 at every major practical shooting event, including two second-place finishes at the Steel Challenge and IPSC Nationals.  He is also a certified Combat Master.

(Note:  The info above about Brian Enos is only copied from the back cover of the said book which was published in 1990.  I couldn’t find a way to update it.)

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