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American Sheepdog Online CCW Resource Magazine - John Farnam, Defense Training International, Inc.
  • John Farnam, Defense Training International, Inc.

    Interview: John Farnam, Vicki Farnam, Diane Nicholl
    18 Oct 09
    Copyright 2009, “Sgt T” and

    John and Vicki Farnam, the owners and Chief Instructors of Defense Training International, Inc., have been team-teaching military personnel, law enforcement officers, and private citizens to effectively use firearms for self-defense for almost 25 years. John, who is a Vietnam combat veteran, police officer, and Major, US Army Reserve, Retired, has an additional 10 years of experience in teaching combat skills. John has written several books on defensive shooting. Vicki, and co-author Diane Nicholl have written two books together, Teaching Women To Shoot, A Law Enforcement Instructor’s Guide and Women Learning To Shoot, A Guide for Law Enforcement Officers. In addition to being an author, Diane is the President of DTI Publications, Inc., a National Rifle Association Training Counselor/Firearms Instructor, and DTI Instructor.

    I first met John and Vicki when I attended a DTI course held at Victoria, Texas in October 2007. Neither John nor Vicki would stand out in a crowd. That is just the way they like it. Under an unassuming façade of “average” are two of the best minds in the firearms instructor/self-defense field. Diane, whom I just met, is cut from the same cloth.

    The interviews with John, Vicki, and Diane were conducted separately during the weekend of October 17-18, 2009 at Victoria, Texas. Getting the three together at the same time is almost impossible during a course. This interview with John is Part I. The interview with Vicki and Diane will be Part II.

    ASD: It is my privilege to again visit with you, John. First, let me say thank you for taking time to answer questions for the AmericanSheepdog forum.

    John, you travel extensively across the United States conducting DTI courses. You also teach in numerous countries around the world. What is the difference, if any, between your U.S. students and students you encounter overseas.

    John: There’s not really much difference in my students overseas. They are regular citizens who have decided to learn to defend themselves. Most of my students wish they lived here (US). We often hear comments where they envy the NRA (we wish we had an NRA), looking after our rights. In many countries I see where guns are far more restricted than they are here. It is like many places in this country, it is nearly impossible to even know if you are law-abiding. Much less the likelihood you would ever be prosecuted for doing something wrong.

    ASD: I’m not sure if you are familiar with Col. Dave Grossman.

    John: Yes, I know Dave. He is a good friend.

    ASD: Col. Grossman said there are three types of people: wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs. There are some members of the law enforcement community who feel disdain for citizens using the term “sheepdog” to describe themselves. These officers think that citizens who have decided to adopt self-defense as a way of life are just “pretenders.” You have contact with law enforcement personnel from all across the country. How pervasive is this opinion? How often do you encounter this?

    John: Actually not very often. Most police officers have no problems with armed citizens. They know that the people I train, for instance, are very much devoted to our art and are every bit as competent as most police officers with guns, and sometimes a good deal more. In any profession we have arrogant twits. Who knows what their reasons are. But, happily, they’re a minority.

    ASD: In my experience most police officers are just like average citizens when it comes to their gun handling skills. They are just a cross-section of society. They are not supermen with firearms.

    Yes, thank you.

    They need to be trained just like private citizens.

    When I come down here I am a Colorado police officer in Texas. I have no arrest authority down here. I am no more than an armed citizen. Conversely, when a Texas police officer comes to Colorado, it is pretty much the same thing. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for taking steps to protect themselves.

    Sometimes you conduct training in states that are not necessarily “gun-friendly” or are even hostile to gun owners. The maker of the Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifles stopped servicing police departments in California, when California banned .50-caliber ammunition. Are there any areas where you find it to difficult to conduct training?

    Actually places like New York City and Chicago. I don’t do training within the city, but I have lots of students from the city come to me and they bring the guns they can own. In Chicago, for instance, we train lots of people with M1 Garands and shotguns because they’re far less regulated than are other guns. It’s nearly impossible to own a pistol in Chicago. But, people come to the courses; they borrow pistols from other people, and run the course. It’s the same with New York City.

    I’m glad to hear that there is no place that is considered off-limits for you.

    John: I consider those places to be challenging. There are lots of people there who want the training. They’re good people and they need to be trained.

    Many people focus on acquiring the newest “tacti-cool” equipment and the latest specialized tactics for self-defense. My impression, when I attended the course two years ago, was that you focus on the basics, on what works. What are the basics you focus on?

    John: Gun handling skills. Basically, my students don’t have accidents and they don’t miss. That’s my goal. To keep people from having gun accidents, to make people competent when they have to use a gun, and to keep them out of the penitentiary. As you know, we have a heavy dose of how to deal with the criminal justice system as part of the course. That’s our second goal, to keep people from spending any time in the penitentiary for some kind of shooting charge.

    ASD: In your book, The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning, you state that in most handgun courses students are taught a series of “psycho-motor subroutines.” However, you emphasize mental toughness. What do you mean by “mental toughness?”

    John: By mental toughness I mean inoculation. We have to talk about these things in advance, even the unpleasant things. My students do not have unrealistic expectations of what’s going to happen in the wake of a shooting. They know in advance the worst things that can happen to them and how to deal with them. That’s where toughness really comes from. It’s when you are surprised by disaster that disaster has its’ greatest sting. The sting goes out in a disaster when you prepare for it in advance.

    What’s the phrase you like to say about disaster?

    When it’s least expected, you’re elected.

    ASD: At the beginning of the interview I stated that neither you nor Vicki would “stand out in a crowd.” Some of our readers might confuse this as being derogatory. I believe you know it is meant as a compliment. You and Vicki both live a “stealth” lifestyle. How does that fit into your personal self-defense strategy?

    (Laughter) Well, what we call the stealth existence, or having a low profile, in most cases is very much in your best interest. Standing out and attracting attention to yourself may be necessary in some professions, it may be necessary in certain circumstances, but a great deal of risk attaches to it. Even in this country, heavy involvement in political activities is not risk free. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying be aware of the risk involved when you do that. I’m heavily armed, as is my wife, and most of my students. Let’s put it this way, a superior gunmen is someone who uses his superior judgment, to avoid a display of his superior skills.

    I hear people say, “I was at the wrong place and the wrong time.” I tell them, “There is no right time to be at the wrong place.” In the classes you tell your students to avoid places where trouble is lurking.

    Exactly. And why associate with stupid people. And why go to stupid places. You’ve heard me say, “Be in bed by 10:00 o-clock.” Have the personal courage to get up and leave when you don’t like the circumstances that are developing.

    Once again, thank you for taking time out of your schedule. The readers can’t hear it of course, but there is a lot of shooting going on behind us. You are in the middle of a course and you have to get back to it. Is there one last comment you would like to leave with the members of American Sheepdog Forum?

    John: We live in a world that’s always been perilous. It’s my belief our particular age, right now, is especially perilous. We all have to realize “you are on your own. You are on your own.” There are certain institutionalized things setup to provide you with some protections, but in a real sense, you are on your own. You have to take reasonable steps to assure you are not a victim of a violent crime, or as many other unpleasant things as possible. As a friend on mine in the agency, that’s slang for CIA, says, “There are things that you cannot imagine, but there is nothing that may not happen.”

    John, I appreciate you taking time out of your busy training schedule to talk to our members.

    I appreciate your being here.

    To find additional information on Defense Training International, Inc. courses and schedules go to

    John Farnam’s books: Guns & Warriors, DTI Quips Vol.1; The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning; and The Farnam Method of Defensive Shotgun and Rifle Shooting as well as the books by Vicki Farnam and Diane Nicholl: Teaching Women To Shoot, A Law Enforcement Instructor’s Guide and Women Learning To Shoot, A Guide for Law Enforcement Officers are available from Defense Training International Publications, Inc. at
    This article was originally published in forum thread: John Farnam, Defense Training International, Inc. started by Sgt T View original post

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