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Author Topic: John Farnam's Defensive Handgun AAR  (Read 512 times)

Offline citizen

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John Farnam's Defensive Handgun AAR
« on: June 08, 2018, 11:23:06 AM »
After Action Review
Who: John Farnam and Vicki Farnam www.defense-training.com
What: Defensive Handgun
When: 18-20 May 2018
Where: Firth, NE www.nebraskashooters.com

Day One: Fri 5-18-18

John Farnam has been teaching and training on the subjects of firearms, training and legal issues for many decades. I have ready many of his articles and books and have known about him for a long time. I always liked what I read and heard about him but I was excited to finally meet him and learn directly from him on his range.

We began with a Friday night lecture. Everyone introduced themselves. John was interested in what gun we were shooting, what holster we were carrying, what kind of ammo we usually carry and our individual carry habits. John shared a lot of what he has seen in the firearms and training industry over the many decades he has been doing this. He has seen many firearms, gear, techniques and tactics come and go.

Day Two: Sat 5-19-18

Saturday began with a short lecture on safety and range protocols. John runs a “hot” range so he went over what the safety rules were and how we were to conduct ourselves. John repeated many times that when training, “Victory” is our goal and we’re going to train for that in the safest way possible. In a tactical situation where we find ourselves against an opponent, he talked about the important of disrupting our opponent’s OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act).
He also shared with us his “Four D’s of Fighting” regarding an opponent: 1. Divide his Focus. 2. Disrupt his Plan. 3. Disable his Body. 4. Destroy his Will to Fight. These four goals were the basis of every drill we did. Before we hit the range, he also talked about how his method of teaching is different than many instructors. For most drills, he would give us a general set of instructions and a goal, he wouldn’t give us specifics like “reload here” or “move there and do XYZ.” He would give us a problem, a general set of rules and our job was to think and solve the problem. His only other big rule was “Move!” He instructed us that if we didn’t know what to do, at least move and then we could think while we were moving. Don’t stand still like a target.

We did dry fire and marksmanship exercises. Then we moved into when to move and when not to move. When we would shoot, we would stop. At all other times (reloading, clearing malfunctions etc.) we were moving. Johns stressed the thinking and verbal parts of conflict instead of just focusing on shooting the gun. He explained that statistics show that a person will likely draw a gun 30 times for every one time they shoot. Since many times an opponent is presented with a firearm and they either comply with commands, stop attacking or just run away. This tells us that we should be familiar with verbal commands, awareness, reading body language, always looking and seeing what is around us and especially behind us. There were verbal components with almost every drill we ran. We were talking and shouting almost more than we were shooting. We shot representative targets, abstract targets, shoot and no-shoot targets. There were many drills where we would draw, use our verbal skills and not shoot.

We did drills where we would interact with target and John would “speak” for the threat and we would respond accordingly. He would then either act as a concerned citizen and/or arriving law enforcement to us immediately after we used our firearm. These drills forced us to stay alert and think. He expected us to “walk, talk and chew gum all at the same time.”

He had each student shoot every other student’s gun. That way we were all exposed to the different types of firearms present. We also did drills on Phase 1 and Phase 2 stoppage reductions on multiple guns. He would set up a number of different guns with different kinds of stoppages in them and we were to go down the line, clear each stoppage, shoot the target and move onto the next one. This also forced us to “think” and solve a problem. Instead of just blindly follow commands.

We broke for dinner and then began low light shooting. We went over different flashlight techniques and talked about how effective a flashlight can be. A light can gives us two tactical advantages: 1. It gives us information about an opponent. 2. It can temporarily blind them (disrupt their plan). We shot in three different kinds of light: Unilluminated (low light). 2. Intermittent light (flashing) and Luminated with a flashlight.

Day Three: Sun 5-20-19

Sunday began with another short lecture in the classroom. Vicki Farnam gave us an extraordinary lecture on how to teaching women to shoot. We talked about the differences with men and women physically and mentally and how we learn different. It’s not wrong it’s just different. Men and women need different instruction methods in order to benefit the student. Unfortunately, many instructors miss these valid points when they have women in their class. John taught his ways to avoid conflict and avoid fights. “The best way to win a gunfight is to NOT be there.”

1.   Avoid it. Don’t go to places where bad things usually happen.
2.   Get out. If you are in a place where things get out of control, GET OUT.
3.   Be Invisible. Don’t stand out, act or dress like a victim or an antagonist.
4.   Be de-selected by the victimization process.
5.   Disengage. If a bad guy does approach you, disengage by saying something like “Sorry, sir I can’t help you.”
6.   If he doesn’t leave you along step up your command to “Get away from me!” and move laterally.
7.   Carry some kind of non-lethal tool like OC spray. Use it if you have to.
8.   If the opponent continues and assaults you, draw the gun and give a verbal challenge is appropriate.
9.   If we have no other option, we can’t escape and are being attached, use the gun the gun and use it well. Use the least amount of force necessary to stop the threat.

We shot different drills and shot spinning steel targets that were quite challenging. He drilled us on correct decision making, precision shot placement and being extremely conscious of what we were doing with our firearm. Each drill was designed to keep us moving and thinking in a dynamic environment that could change quickly.

At the end of the day we shot his “qualification shoot” that incorporated all of the techniques that we had been practicing. It was one stage of shooting but it had a lot of moving parts and we had to think about how to solve the problem. All shooters who completed this in the appropriate time received the coveted red “Farnam Defensive Training” Pin as proof that we were able to step up on demand, think and solve the problem without losing safety or awareness.
It was an extremely worthwhile course. I especially liked the focus on thinking, talking and moving all of the time. It was different than many other courses that I’ve attending where the focus is just on running one specific tool like the firearm. Obviously, those classes have their place but I really enjoyed this one. We trained our brains as much, if not more than training with the gun.

By Safety Systems Group Staff

Offline Mali

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Re: John Farnam's Defensive Handgun AAR
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2018, 08:48:02 AM »
Sounds like a great course. Thank you for the AAR.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. - Ronald Reagan

Offline Kendahl

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Re: John Farnam's Defensive Handgun AAR
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2018, 06:01:10 PM »
What was tuition? How many rounds did you shoot? How many hours each day?

It sounds like this is not a class for a new shooter.

Offline citizen

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Re: John Farnam's Defensive Handgun AAR
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2018, 10:41:29 AM »
I believe tuition was $700. We did about 3 hrs Friday night. Then on Saturday we went from about 8AM-10PM to get the night shoot in, long day. The on Sunday we did about 8AM-4PM I believe.

Can't remember how many rounds I shot but it had to be around 600-800.

Was it a course for a new shooter? I'm not sure. Depends on how "new" they are. There were a couple of new shooters in the class and they got along fine. Everything John does is geared towards everybody getting better at where thery were at. Even the new shooters were safe and could perform the drills. Maybe not for a "brand new" shooter who has never fired a gun before. But if you can safely draw and shoot your gun, this class would still be applicable.

I think the thing that impressed me about John was his humility. He is now 73 years old and is still training and teaching full time. At 73 years old and with his reputation he said that he still does not know eveything about this business. And that he learns new stuff all of the time. He never talked bad about any other instructor or school. He never dogged certain techniques or tactics (Glock vs. 1911, 9mm vs. 45, CAT vs. Soft-T etc). He just simply articulated why he does what he does because it works for him. One example was when he was pressed on one of these questions he simply said the other technique is not wrong it is just inferior because of XYZ. It made sense. He said he knows certain things work for him but yet he is open to learning something better if it is actually better. After many questions, he would confidently explain his answer, using real world examples and why he thinks this is the best way to do it. Always with the caveat he may change his mind tomorrow. I found this mindset refreshing in an industry that is oversaturated with opinion and hearsay. Especially, coming from a 73 year old expert in the field who has been doing this for a very long time.

John is truly one of the greats, one of the originals and a direct student of Cooper.

I believe John will be coming back to Firth for a class next year if we can get enough students to turn out.