Basic Pistol
John Farnam

< 1999
By Jay Williams

Although I own several pistols and have done a good bit of shooting with them, I looked forward to getting some formal instruction in their use. I was warned by several friends to take at least double the recommended quantity of ammo, and knee pads, as well. I was starting to get nervous, but with little reason.

John Farnam is a super-nice guy with a great sense of humor and he put the class at ease immediately. He was easy to talk to and always appreciated a good joke (he told several of his own). John's Basic Pistol course is a two-day course which covers all the fundamentals and a few advanced topics. We spent the first morning in the classroom. John is a VERY practical guy and didn't give us any information that wasn't useful.

The first rule of a gunfight is "don't be there." The second rule (if the first doesn't work out) is "get out of there." Obviously, if you can't apply one of the first two rules, then you've got to know how to use your gun. In the classroom, we discussed types of guns (including advantages and disadvantages of each), many legal matters (John is used, regularly, as an expert in court), what to do after you've been involved in a shooting, how to respond to an intruder in your house, and many other practical matters.

That afternoon, we hit the range. First thing, John inspected each student's gun for safety. There was one revolver, several Colt 1911s, and a variety of other guns, including Sigs and Glocks.

We began by learning how to draw from concealment. There are several aspects to this, and to learn to do it right and quickly takes practice. Then we worked on trigger control--take out the slack, squeeze, and then reset the trigger in preparation for the next shot. Next, we put together what we had learned thus far--draw and fire. We also practiced reloads extensively. As we progressed, we put together what we had learned. One more fundamental is being able to clear a jam in the gun, should it occur. The final test involved drawing from concealment, firing a string of shots, reloading and firing another string. This was timed and all the shots had to be in the black.

The last thing we did was to fire at multiple targets, reload, retreat, and fire again from behind cover. This was definitely an exciting exercise as there were two students doing this simultaneously.

John Farnam has an extensive background as a law-enforcement officer and has much practical experience. He is fun and safe. He shot the final test himself, and did quite well. The gun he used was a Smith & Wesson DAO (double action only), just to prove that, even with a gun that wasn't the fastest one around, you CAN shoot the qualifier sucessfully.

We shot a few hundred rounds over the duration of this course and no special clothing (or kneepads) was needed. The course proceeded at an excellent pace for a beginner, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend John Farnam to anyone seeking a better understanding of our criminal justice system, how to deal with that system, and how to defend one's life in the first place.

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