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Old October 24, 2001, 11:08 PM   #1
Join Date: September 11, 2001
Posts: 57
John Farnam defensive handgun class report

I attended Farnam’s Basic/Intermediate handgun class in Los Angeles last weekend and here’s a report for our archive.

First, some background: I am a handgun enthusiast and have been shooting regularly for over a year. My experience has been limited to informal shooting sessions “with the boys”. I feel fairly adequate with my gun safety knowledge and my shooting ability. This is my first formal training and I was looking forward to learning about improving my gun handling and shooting skills.

The class took place at the Angeles outdoor shooting range and the October weather was mild and perfect. We spent the entire time outdoors, the atmosphere was very casual, more summer-camp like rather than a formal class room. There was a picnic table there, but bringing your own lawn chairs is a good idea. John and his wife, Vicky, were very friendly and approachable to the students. The format of the class was a combination of lecture, group discussions, practical exercises, food and fellowship. Interspersed in there were John’s thought provoking quips, quotes and poems.

To my surprise, we didn’t dwell on the fundamental mechanics like stance, grip, sight picture, sight alignment and precision trigger control. Even though John would correct my hands, fingers and feet position when necessary, I felt it was never a “big deal”. To my delight, we placed a heavier emphasis on safe gun handling and defensive tactics – not just shooting, but also posturing and issuing verbal commands. By the end of the first day, I came to realize that I had received a lot more than what I thought I signed up for. This wasn’t an elementary “Handgun 101” class, but rather a brilliant lecture on personal security and defense – where shooting a handgun plays only a small role. John Farnam beat into my head the mindset, the tactics and taught me the skills necessary to fight and survive an attack.

It’s worth noting the targets that we used for the shooting drills. Each unit is a free standing steel target with two paddles that pivots in the middle, like a ... Ferris wheel. The paddles are heavy enough so that the first few shots will only get them rocking back and forth; only with a high number of repeated hits, will they spin a complete revolution. This is an ingenious target to learn defensive shooting technique because you will learn real quickly that you have to hit a moving target fast and accurately. Missed shots will cause the target to slow down and waste all the momentum you’ve been feeding it. Adding to the challenge is the fact that you can not stay in one place statically when shooting, but must move after a few shots and move while reloading as well. Although I consider myself a decent shot, I was totally humbled and frustrated with these rotating paddles; lovingly dubbed “Those F%$#^&* Targets”.

The second day brought a pleasant surprise. We had an LAPD officer joined us as a guest speaker. It was very refreshing to have straight answers from an LEO re. car stops, searches, concealed carry, shooting aftermaths, etc. I seized the opportunity to ask about some of the favorite topics discussed here, such as “SHTF scenarios” and what not! The class ended with each student participating in a practical exam. To earn our “wings”, we must demonstrate our efficiency in posturing, drawing, holstering, shooting, reloading and clearing malfunctions; all in a fixed time period with no safety error and no missed shot. I must admit it took me several times to pass this exam.

I came away from the class happily with sore thumbs and sore fingers from loading and launching nearly 1000 rounds downrange. I want to thank John, Vicky and my classmates for the most rewarding weekend. I feel fortunate for the chance to study with a Master Warrior who not only taught me the skills but also instilled in me the spirit of “GETTING BACK IN THE FIGHT”!

John Farnam is President of Defensive Training International, Inc.
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