Course Review: Defense Training International Advanced Defensive Handgun & Instructor Courses; November 17th – 19th, 2017 – New Plymouth, Ohio

“The time to prepare for your next shooting is now.” – John Farnam

Recently I attended the Defense Training International (John & Vicki Farnam) Advanced Defensive Handgun and the DTI Instructor Course in New Plymouth, Ohio.

Many of you probably know that John Farnam and Ken Hackathorn were two of the very first Instructors to take their Program of Instruction (POI) on the road and train Law Enforcement Officers, Active Duty Servicemembers and Responsibly Armed Citizens back in the 1970’s and if you didn’t, you do now. John and his wife Vicki, who have been training together as husband and wife for the past thirty-one (31) years are “Industry Giants” and if you have not trained with them yet, you really need to make that happen.

In case you didn’t know, John is also a long time advisory board member of Marty and Gila Hayes’ Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network along with other industry giants like Massad Ayoob, Jim Fleming, Tom Givens, Emanuel Kapelsohn, and Dennis Tueller. (In full disclosure I am a member of the network as well)

Let’s get to the course information. Friday morning, bright and early my friend Steve from Trailhead Defense, LLC and I met the Farnam’s for breakfast and then we took the thirty-minute drive to the range so we could get started promptly at 9:00am. The weekend schedule was as follows, DTI Advanced Defensive Handgun Course on Friday and the DTI Instructor Course on Saturday and Sunday.

We started all three days in the classroom and on Friday John began discussing the art and science of defensive shooting and his “Four D’s of Fighting.”

  1. Divide his focus.
  2. Disrupt his plan.
  3. Disable his body.
  4. Destroy his will to fight.

During the classroom lecture, John talked a lot about the immediate aftermath of a self-defense shooting. His background as a law enforcement officer and a top industry trainer for somewhere north of forty (40) years gives him the credibility of a subject matter expert in this area. Folks, we’re talking about how to handle the 9-1-1 call, and how to answer questions from responding officers at the scene without talking yourself into a pair of handcuffs. (Never once was the words, “I was in fear for my life” spoken, I say this just to prove how infantile that expression has become)

While inside the classroom we also worked on some handgun retention and disarming techniques. John believes that it is more likely that you might have to disarm someone rather than shoot them, especially when you are within arms reach of your assailant. This is an area of Defensive Tactics that I wish more responsibly armed citizens would spend some time in training and not in the Dojo. In the law enforcement community, there are plenty of hours spent training these skills.

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(Photo: John demonstrating handgun disarms with Steve from Trailhead Defense, LLC)

Once on the range, we were introduced to the Ravelin Group Rotator® Rotary Action Targets. These targets are absolutely diabolical, and shooting at them around simulated friendlies and or cover is not easy at all especially from distance. John and Vicki’s POI is all about moving off the line of force so you won’t be standing with your feet in cement while you present your handgun, and they get you moving after each four-round burst. Move and re-engage the threat/target from your new position and move while reloading as well. There is absolutely no need to stay stationary in a gunfight, that is unless you want to get shot.

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(Photo: Ravelin Group Rotator® Rotary Action Target)

The Ravelin Group Rotator® Rotary Action Targets have 8″ square paddles on them and in order to get them to rotate you must get your hits precisely in the right place and at precisely the right time so you can keep the inertia going. This can be both mentally and physically challenging as you’ve got to make every shot count, a missed shot breaks the inertia you’ve built up and next thing you know you have missed several times in a row because you get frustrated. All of us pitched our share shots during the course, it’s how we followed up those misses that counts.

During our range exercises, John emphasized his checklist that includes scanning and movement, reloading, creating distance from the threat, finding cover, checking yourself for injuries, accounting for everyone who might be hurt and finally calling 9-1-1. We practiced these things on the range after each drill and John would ask us key questions to prepare our “tape loop” for the immediate aftermath when law enforcement arrives on the scene.

It is worthwhile to note that John and Vicki run a hot range and will not allow a student or instructor candidate to ever holster an empty gun. An empty gun in a holster is useless and furthermore, it is dangerous because it adds to the administrative handling of the gun and most “accidents” happen during the administrative handling of guns. (Holstering) John’s range instructions are purposely vague, you have to be a thinker in his course and apply the instructions given into a plan to solve the problem.

The Farnam’s are also big on demonstrations as well. They believe as I do, a firearms instructor/teacher must be able to step up cold on demand and demonstrate drills to standard for their students. One has to be able to explain, demonstrate, and coach their students through drills, they must also give the “why” in training, most instructors can’t because they only regurgitate what they heard some instructor say or worse, what they read on the internet. If you heard it from John, he probably coined the phrase or developed the POI being taught.

During the Instructor course, John quoted these words many times as a way to emphasize the need to teach to the adult learning theorem, “What I hear, I forget; What I see, I remember; What I do, I understand.” He also made us keenly aware that feelings may be hurt during the course, it’s normal and part of the learning process. (My friend Steve mentioned that many sacred cows were slaughtered over the weekend)

On TD2 of the Instructor course, we got an excellent presentation from Vicki on teaching women. Her POI is based on her book, “Teaching Women to Shoot.” John and Vicki’s books can be purchased through the DTI Bookshelf at http://defense-training.com/

Additionally, the DTI Instructor course comes with a comprehensive Instructor Manual; however, you can find the POI well outlined in John’s book, “The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning.” I would highly suggest that you buy this book (And read it) before attending any DTI Handgun course, especially the Advanced Defensive Handgun course or the DTI Instructor course, you will thank me for that advice and you will be well prepared if you act on it.

Make sure that you prepare for some presentations as well, you will need to give them in front of your classmates cold on demand and with no preparation time. John and Vicki put pressure on their Instructors to perform. Thus you are assigned a subject and you must give a five-minute presentation and answer questions from the students and of course be prepared for Mabel to show up. (That’s Vicki’s alter ego)

AAA DTI Presentation

(Photo: My closing presentation last Sunday during the DTI Instructors Course)

In summary, I mentioned earlier that these two courses pushed me both mentally and physically and the qualification is not particularly easy. I was able to pass in seven (7) shots and some thirteen (13) seconds and change after a little warm-up and time to work out some frustration. My friend Steve from Trailhead Defense, LLC stepped up and passed in six shots, cold on demand. That is pretty darn good shooting on those targets. The classroom presentations including developing a plan to deal with the immediate aftermath and the handgun retention/disarming techniques are a key piece of John’s POI and I am glad he had time to fit them into our course.

I strongly recommend that you attend a DTI course when John and Vicki are in your area, and if you are shooting 9mm, make sure to bring 147gr FMJ or some +P, they spin those diabolical Ravelin Group Rotators® quite well.

You can find the Defense Training International course schedule located in the hyperlink below.

http://defense-training.com/schedule/

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(Photo: DTI Staff Instructors and Students – Advanced Defensive Handgun Course/DTI Instructor Course; November 17th – 19th, 2017)

 

Until next time…

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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