***** Mindset *****
I am the kit fox,
I live in uncertainty.
If there is anything difficult,
If there is anything dangerous to do,
That is mine.
-- Sioux warrior's song
Please read "The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning"
by John S. Farnam. To order the book, send a check for $30
made out to Defensive Training International to
Mrs. Vicki Farnam
1281 E Magnolia Street
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Make sure to include your address.
Mr. Farnam teaches to shoot from a stationary position.
Don't move and shoot at the same time. (The games such as IDPA
and IPSC love to force the competitor to shoot while moving.)
But, shooting while moving drastically increases your
probability of missing, and every miss is damaging property
and injuring innocent people, maybe killing them.
"Only those who risk going too far can
possibly find out how far one can go."
-- T.S. Elliot
“Stay alert and keep your head up.
Out here, not all ‘organ donations’ are voluntarily!”
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal,
it is the courage to continue that counts.”
“Never, Never, Never Give Up.”
-- Winston Churchill
***** Safety *****
“The fast and/or emphatic reholster
is an awesome way to shoot yourself.”
-- Chuck Haggard
". . . personal defense is a lifestyle, not a hobby."
-- Sheriff Jim Wilson
***** Training *****
Why do I need to train?
"To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment
when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and
offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique
to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if
that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for
that which could have been their finest hour."
-- Winston Churchill
Stop practicing shooting!
Please read the comments by Marcus Wynne at the end of the blog post.
5 quick and easy spec-ops trigger control tips for defensive pistol precision
“When you aren’t skilled and confident,
you get scared and you over react.”
-- Greg Ellifritz
Practice smarter: Information is key to improving shooting
Practice smarter: The physiology behind learning
Practice smarter: Putting it all together
Your Tactical Training Scenario- Castle Doctrine
Over the Christmas and New Year vacation, I practiced on the simulators
with Axiom Training in Summerville, SC. Email: email@example.com
We had students from 11 years of age (female) to 60 (male). We consistently
found that the students shoot over the bad guy, when the bad guy ducks or
falls due to being shot.
John Farnam says you should fire your first shot to the bad guy's
navel (because it is difficult for him to move in such a way so as to
avoid getting hit there) and then the subsequent 3 rounds up the midline to
his neck (and then move).
We had a very ambiguous scenario in which a young man and a young
woman were lying on a couch in a college dormitory setting. He was
holding a knife and trying to convince her to do things. It was not
clear that she was in distress or not enjoying the situation.
The 11 year old girl presented her pistol from concealment and
fired 3 times into the guy (all good solid hits that would have
incapacitated him immediately). In the debriefing, she said that she
thought he was attacking her with the knife (and couldn't understand
how such behavior could be play). When questioned about any concerns
she might have had about missing and hitting the young lady (who was
lying next to the guy), she said it never entered her mind. When
asked if she had used her sight to aim, she said no. She said she
just pointed and shot.
In another scenario, a middle age woman (wife and mother of two)
watched a guest in her house get beaten to death and then allowed the
attacker to turn on her and kill her without presenting her pistol
from her holster. She put her hands on her face and turned to look
Yes, you can learn a lot in simulator practice. The simulator
is sometimes the crowbar that pries your eyes open to see reality.
Are you doing something in training classes that you should not be
doing in combat? Are you doing something during your practice sessions
that you should not be doing in combat?
At Front Sight we learned Administrative Actions. We would do a
chamber check and a magazine check after every exercise before
holstering. The idea was that it ensured you were prepared for the
next exercise. We were repeatedly told that these were administrative
actions and that we were not to do them in a combat situation. But,
as Sara Ahrens says,
“Be careful what you teach. Because your students will do in combat
whatever you have trained them to do, no matter how ridiculous.
Be careful what you practice. Because you will do in combat whatever you
have practiced, no matter how ridiculous.”
(These are not direct quotes. I have paraphrased Ms. Ahrens.)
So, perhaps the correct thing to do is to dispense with the
administrative actions and simply holster after the After Action Drills.
Then you can practice reloading and clearing malfunctions when needed
in real time.
At Front Sight we never picked up spent casings. The casings
were considered part of the gravel surface on the ground. But, on
some ranges, students are required to police up their brass after
every exercise. Better to pick up brass at the end of the day.
Or, leave the brass on the ground for the brass hounds. There are
people who reload and would love to pick up your brass for you.
Training & Practice: You Need Both to Build Self-Defense Skills
We train to learn new and proper techniques.
We practice those techniques often enough so
that they become a habit. And it is also the
reason for continuing our education by
taking more classes. Those classes reinforce
what we have learned and give us a chance to
make sure that we are practicing it properly.
There are actually many bad instructors in the
training industry. So, you have to be careful.
If you see them violating any of the 4 basic safety
RULE I: ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED.
RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING
YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY.
RULE III: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER
UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET.
RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET.
in their YouTube.com or Photobucket videos or
advertising material, avoid them.
If you see them violating the safety rules in
class or allowing others to violate the safety rules,
leave the class. Don't worry about losing your tuition.
This is a life and death situation.
I have to mention this because very dangerous
practices have appeared in classes on YouTube.com
videos and after action reports from classes as
reported on several instructor forums.
Live fire while persons are down range is wrong.
Dry fire with real pistols while persons are down
range is wrong. Dry fire while aimed at persons is wrong.
"But, Staff, we did that sort of training in
the Marine Corps."
Yes, that is true. We fired artillery over the
heads of other guns in our battery. We crawled under
live machinegun fire and live explosive detonations.
But, I do not believe that that sort of training is
appropriate for civilian self defense operations.
The Armed Forces accept training casualties,
including fatalities. We, as civilian instructors,
should strive for zero training casualties.
Our insurance carriers won't tolerate casualties.
"I would like to see every
woman know how to handle
guns as naturally as they
know how to handle babies."
-- Annie Oakley
Rangemaster newsletter, January 2019 A.D.
Remember that recency trumps everything in retention of motor skills, . . .
"You train for the people who love you."
-- Tatiana Whitlock
***** Tactics *****
-- Carl von Clausewitz
"FBI Miami Firefight" by Edmundo and Elizabeth Mireles,
2017. (No publisher listed.) ISBN 978099510308
". . . In the military, if you run into an ambush,
you assault through the ambush. In law enforcement,
if you run into an ambush, you seek cover, return fire
if possible and call for back up. Two diametrically
opposed philosophies came into direct conflict on that
day." Page 82.
[I teach my students that an immediate explosive
counter attack (or preemptive attack, without telegraphing
your intention) is effective because surprise is a force
multiplier. Col. Cooper espouses similar advise in his book,
"Principles of Personal Defense", ISBN-10: 1581604955
-- Jon Low]
IN EXTREMIS COMMUNICATION, PART 3
Who Dares Wins
-- motto of the Special Air Service
***** Techniques *****
"The shorter the fight, the less hurt you get."
-- John Holschen
10 Common Handgun Draw Mistakes, and How to Fix Them
Snatch, Don’t Pull
[I had to think about this for a while.
I'm pretty sure what the author is talking about
is jerking the pistol out of the holster, as
opposed to smoothly pulling the pistol out of
the holster. In order to get the inertia
effect that the author is talking about, you
have to have a non-zero third derivative of
displacement with respect to time. [Zeroth
derivative is displacement. 1st derivative is
velocity. 2nd derivative is acceleration.
The automotive industry calls the 3rd derivative
"jerk", because that's what the passengers
in the car feel.] So, you have to jerk the
pistol out of the holster. (Always a good
idea, because in combat, easy things become
difficult and difficult things become impossible.
So, make sure you can do everything easily in
training and practicing.) -- Jon Low]
[For us, civilian concealed carriers, the
support hand would not normally be free to slap
the chest. Rather, it would be holding the
concealment garment out of the way. Or, it would
be occupied, forcing a one handed presentation
from the holster. So, slapping the the chest
with the support hand may be forming a training scar.
-- Jon Low]
[All bad autonomic nervous system responses are
defeated by the surprise break. That's why Col.
Jeff Cooper taught it. Anticipating recoil, and
pushing the muzzle low left (for a right handed
shooter), and breathing incorrectly (such as not
breathing) are autonomic nervous system responses.
-- Jon Low]
Slow Down Strings
[This is essential, because you can do all
these things only as fast as you can think.
Letting your pre-programmed responses outrun
your rational thought is wrong.
You may have had the experience of outrunning
your GPS unit while driving because you were
driving too fast. Bad results, you missed your
exit, you got into the wrong lane, etc. Worst
case, the cop does not stop you for speeding in
time, and you collide with another vehicle or
pedestrian, killing many. (You may not understand
what I am saying. When I was young, I hated the
cops for giving me speeding tickets. But, I am now
more mature and thoughtful. So, I realize that
the cops pulling me over for speeding, prevented
me from killing many people.) -- Jon Low]
Lack of Economy of Motion
“. . . speed is the economy of motion, . . .”
[You must not push yourself to go faster.
Rushing is one of the three causes of mishaps.
The Marine Corps calls self imposed rushing,
time compression. Distraction, breaking habits,
and time compression cause mishaps (in particular
If you want to go faster, practice.
With deliberate practice, you will automatically
It takes about 2000 repetitions to engrain
muscle memory, so you can execute the action without
conscious thought. How many times have you pissed
into the toilet bowl? Way more than 2000, right?
Why do you still miss? Because, your are not doing
it deliberately. You are not concentrating on what
you are doing. Repetition of an action is not the
same as deliberate practice. -- Jon Low]
“If you don’t practice that and you’re in a
high-stress situation it’s going to be very difficult.”
[If you don't re-holster, the cops might shoot you,
because you are the person with the pistol in hand
at an active crime scene. -- Jon Low]
*** The following are related and should be read in the order presented. ***
Front sight focus or point shooting: Which is better?
Sighted vs. point shooting: Myths and realities
This is something that shooters can eventually do
subconsciously . . . in a few thousandths of a second
instead of 0.4 seconds, or more.
. . .
Everything was being driven by the subconscious.
. . .
But I do agree with point shooting as a step in the sighted shooting process.
Why the quickest thing you can do to shoot better is something you shouldn’t do
Speed vs. accuracy in training and self-defense
So, it’s really important that you do the shooting fundamentals
on autopilot so that your cortex can make smart choices about
whether or not to shoot and what to shoot.
*** End of related articles. ***
Craig Douglas teaches How to draw a firearm while standing in a crowd
After Drawing, When Should You See Your Sights?
HOW TO ESCAPE A STANDING REAR CHOKE
This technique is similar to the technique taught
in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. As with all
self-defense techniques, the goal is to escape.
The Marine Corps technique's (taught in 1981) goal was
to incapacitate or kill. The Judo we learned in boot
camp was not the sport Judo taught in civilian schools
for progression into Olympic competition. Sport Judo
is sanitized. They do not teach techniques that would
injure or kill the opponent. Parents wouldn't send
their children to such classes.
How do you win a gunfight? Don’t be there.
***** Gear *****
Avoidance, Deterrence, and De-escalation
-- John Farnam
"FBI Miami Firefight" by Edmundo and Elizabeth Mireles,
2017. (No publisher listed.) ISBN 978099510308
"Keeping in mind that the Wound Ballistics Workshop
concluded that size does matter, . . . " (the author
italicized the word "does"). Page 138.
[That is why you should shoot the biggest bullet
that you can shoot accurately. -- Jon Low]
I got a holster from
Ivana Krasku 980/9
96901 Banska Stiavnica
(They had initiated the contact because apparently someone in Slovakia is reading this blog.)
Model: Open-Muzzle IWB Holster
Gun: manufacturer Ruger, model American, .45 ACP
As described and pictured on the web page,
Shipping $17.95 UPS
The material quality is high. The quality of workmanship
is high. The areas that need to be reinforced are (so the
mouth of the holster stays open and it appears that the holster
will not wear out in normal usage before the pistol does).
Double stitching throughout. Molding is well done.
Tension screw is effective at controlling the friction on
the trigger guard that holds the pistol in the holster.
(I like my holsters tight, so my pistol won't fall out
when I break dance. Don't want to be like that FBI special
agent who dropped his pistol at the night club and then
negligently shot a guy when the agent picked up the pistol.
Ya, I have to jerk hard to get the pistol out of the holster,
but that's the trade off I'm willing to make.)
As with all high quality leather holsters, it is tight at
first and needs a break in period, but then it holds the pistol
firmly and consistently. I had forgotten the smell of high
quality leather. I haven't bought a leather holster since
my Kramer decades ago. (I've been using hybrid holsters
of leather and Kydex.) The snaps that hold the holster to
my belt are secure. Wearing the holster in the 3 o'clock
position is comfortable. No sharp edges digging into me
or anything like that. I can bend my leg at the hip without
the holster impeding movement. There is no adjustment
(as in most hybrid holsters) for cant or position of
carry up and down relative to your belt. But, it is
designed correctly, so that's not a problem.
I recommend this holster without reservation.
Finding a pistol grip that fits your hand is essential
for weapon retention and accuracy. Your glove size
(circumference measured around your knuckles) is not relevant.
The length of your fingers (not your thumb) is really what matters.
When you have established a correct high tight grip, and
the barrel is in line with the bones of your forearm
(in the same line, not just parallel to) your fingers
should wrap around the grip so that your finger tips point
back toward you.
Try grabbing a hammer. Got a solid strong grip?
Try grabbing a pencil in the same way. Too small, right?
Try grabbing a basketball in the same way. Too big, right?
There is an optimal size of an object that allows you to
get your strongest hand grip on that object. On your pistol grip,
it is the largest grip that allows your finger tips to
point back toward you.
Why do you need a strong grip? So, the pistol doesn't
come out of your hand. Well, someone may be trying to rip
it out of your hand or you may have bumped into something
that would knock the pistol out of your hand.
Ordering some full size self-defense pistols in .45 ACP
from fattest grip to thinnest grip (in my opinion)
we have (magazine capacity + 1 in the chamber):
Glock G21, 13+1
Para Ordnance, 14+1
Springfield Armory XD, 13+1
Heckler & Kock USP, 12+1
Heckler & Kock HK45, 10+1
Smith & Wesson M&P, 10+1
Ruger American, 10+1
CZ 97 B, 10+1
Model 1911 type single stack pistols, 8+1
(Of course, you can change the stocks, back strap,
etc. to change the size of the grip.) Grip size is more
important than magazine capacity. Don't be silly with
life and death decisions.
Once, you find a pistol with correct grip size for
your hand, you have to adjust the trigger so that when
you place the center of your fingerprint on the center
of the trigger, and you have taken the slack out of the
trigger, the last bone of your trigger finger is
perpendicular to the barrel. That is to say, your
trigger finger is pressing the trigger straight to the
rear, without any vector component of force in any other
direction. So, your gunsmith may have to move your
trigger, or you may have to change your trigger. Just
do it. Don't compromise your grip to get proper trigger
I met a Customs and Border Patrol Officer at an
instructor's class whose hand was too small for his
pistol's grip (a Glock). So, he rotated his hand around
the grip, so he could get his finger on the trigger.
(So, his thumb did not lay flat against the side of
his pistol, but rather pointed out to the side.)
He had to do this because his agency would not allow
him to use some other pistol and would not allow him
to modify the trigger on his issued pistol. (He put in
a lot of practice and shot quite well. But, WHY?
This is akin to forcing all of your agents to wear
the same size shoes. Can you imagine trying to work
in shoes that don't fit your feet?) As a civilian,
you don't have such ridiculous restrictions. So,
get a proper fitting pistol grip and move your trigger
to accommodate the length of your trigger finger.
Your pistol should be ambidextrous. Just because you're
right handed doesn't mean you're going to be right handed in
combat. The person you give your pistol to might not be right
Pistols such as the Glock and Smith&Wesson M&P allow you to
move parts to make the pistol left handed. That's not the
same as being ambidextrous, and once so configured will
present a problem for the right handed shooter (which may
be you, being forced to shoot with your support side hand).
The truly ambidextrous pistols that I know of are:
Springfield Armory XD
Some of the Fabrique Nationale Herstal pistols
Some of the Heckler and Koch pistols
Some of the Walther pistols
Charter Arms makes a left handed revolver. But, you
should not be using a revolver for combat. They don't
hold enough ammunition. They take too long to reload.
They are too difficult to reload under stress or one handed.
All other revolvers are extremely right handed and difficult
to manipulate left handed.
If you choose to have a manual thumb safety on your
pistol, it should be ambidextrous. But, you should not
have a manual thumb safety. Unless, you are going to
practice enough to automatically defeat the safety when
you present your pistol, and automatically engage the
safety immediately before holstering (which takes about
2000 deliberate correct repetitions). So, in the modern
manual of arms, the safety is only engaged when the pistol
is holstered. If you have a properly designed holster,
it will cover the trigger. So, the manual thumb safety
is not useful. That's why most modern combat pistols
don't have manual thumb safeties.
***** Instructors *****
"In martial arts and especially if you claim to teach self-defense,
the price of error is blood. The luxury of an instructor is that
it will not be your blood. That makes bullshit more reprehensible,
not less." -- Rory Miller
Instructors, please read "The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning"
by John S. Farnam; completely, not just the parts that pertain to you.
Because you will have to teach those left handed revolver techniques to
your student. Well, you will, if you are worth your salt.
Shooting Sports Industry Influencer Series: John Chapman
"Talking negatively about other instructors is a huge red flag."
This is truth.
My aunt Lois told me, if you don't have anything nice to say,
don't say anything.
It's a matter of maturity, spiritual maturity.
"Every time I teach a class,
I discover I don't know something."
-- Clint Smith, Director of Thunder Ranch
The Telephone Game and the Training Industry
Colonel Robert Lindsey to his fellow trainers:
"We are not God’s gift to our students.
Our students are God’s gift to us."
***** Pedagogy *****
"Train, Practice, Compete are the key
elements in the development of humans."
-- John M. Buol, Jr.
***** Education *****
Video Podcast: Concealed Carry and Responsibilities
This is reality.
Adaptive thinkers and competent doers.
Louis Awerbuck: Interview With a Madman
. . . All males from the shoulder line to the waist are the same height,
whether it’s me or a basketball player. And from nipple to nipple they’re
all nine inches wide. So in a full frontal shot, if you’re out nine inches
here you’ve got nothing. . . .
[Mr. Awerbuck's training is one of the reasons that I took my
children to a 4-day defensive handgun class when they were 14 years
old. He was correct about a lot of things. And humble to the end.
-- Jon Low]
The odds and stakes of home protection
Driving 201: Road Tactics
Small Arms Survey report: Improvised weapons
Free download at
We're not talking about zip-guns. We're talking craft-production.
We're not talking handtools in your garage. We're talking top of the
line milling machines and lathes. No, I'm not advertising for my
An Introductory Guide to the Identification of
Small Arms, Light Weapons, and Associated Ammunition
Free downloads at the web site. For those of you who have been through
any of the intelligence schools, check out chapters 7, 8, and 9. I have
a high school classmate who has worked as an intelligence analyst since
grad school. He sits in an air conditioned office in Suitland, MD.
I told him that he should get out in the field and see the real world.
Criminals do not appear out of no where.
If you didn't see him coming, shame on you.
"Criminal Assault Pre-Incident Indicators"
If you didn't take immediate action (like running away)
when you noticed him, shame on you.
"I'm the victim! It's not my fault!"
Completely false. If you live defensively, you will have time to avoid.
"The car accident wasn't my fault. I had the right of way."
Completely false. If you drive defensively, you will never get into a collision.
(Even if someone intentionally attempts to ram you.)
If you have a collision with a stationary object, you are an incompetent
driver, and you need to take training and practice until you are competent.
Cars are unstable when driven backwards. If you can drive
backwards fast in a controlled manner, you are well on your way
to becoming a competent defensive driver.
If you are constantly scanning 360 degrees around, even when
you are stopped at an intersection, you will notice the car barreling
down behind you, and you will have time to pull onto the sidewalk
to avoid getting rear ended.
Yes, we are that type of person.
Awareness & Action!
“Destiny doesn’t make appointments,
nor does she waste her time with the naive and unready!”
-- John Farnam
***** News, Legal, Philosophical, and Political stuff *****
Media Hype Questionable Gun Control Study
What you believe depends on what you choose to read and watch.
"There is no journalism. There is only propaganda."
-- Prof. Yerkes, English Department, Columbia University (~1977 A.D.)
"When You Give a Teacher a Gun" in Gentlemen's Quarterly magazine
A reporter embeds with a FASTER Saves Lives class in Ohio.
Few tyrants argue for 'slavery of the masses.'
Instead, they argue for the power to
'protect people from themselves.'
-- AE Samaan
***** Survival Tips *****
"If you prepare for the emergency,
the emergency ceases to exist!"
-- Dr. Sherman House
This is why you must never send your child to a government school.
UNPREPARED AND OVERWHELMED
This happens all over the world, all the time. About once
a week world wide. (I read and analyze open source intelligence.
It was my job in the Marine Corps for 3 decades.) A concentration
of children with unarmed and untrained adults is a honey pot for
criminals and terrorists. Notice the sexual predators kept at the
school by the district administrators in spite of the investigator's
recommendation to fire that faculty member.
When Cops Shoot an Unarmed Kid
This is truth. As Ralph Morz says, police departments
disqualify any applicant with any arrest record. So, they end up
with applicants who have never been in a fight, not even a shoving
conflict. Can such people handle violent confrontations? They
can't even conceive of a violent confrontation. So, what do they
do when they can't control the situation? They go to guns.
Don't go to stupid places.
Don't do stupid things.
Don't hang out with stupid people.
-- John Farnam
Or, . . . as my girlfriend says,
"That's a horrible idea. What time?"
***** Basics *****
"Panic is simply the lack of preprogrammed responses."
-- Tom Givens
Training: Three ready positions every concealed carrier should know
The problem with the Sul position is that you only have one
hand on the pistol. So, we teach a retention Sul position, which
is the same as the Sul, except that the support side hand is in
front of the pistol (holding the pistol), instead of behind the pistol.
The thumb tips are still in contact to prevent the possibility of
shooting your support side hand. (Ya, I know that sounds stupid.
But, it's a real thing.)
"Fear is an instinct. Courage is a choice."
-- Rear Admiral Joseph Kernan, USN
***** Miscellany *****
"We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence is not an act.
It is a habit."
Pro Tip: Understanding Parallax | Shooting USA
How Does it Work: Open Bolt vs Closed Bolt Firearms
Individuals and churches come to me for training.
Usually after a traumatic experience. When they realize
how inept they are at personal or organizational security.
A young lady asked me for training because she and her
friend had been followed by two men in a Kroger grocery
store. The men followed them out to their car.
I reach out to churches, businesses, and individuals.
Because the training prevents the criminal predator from
choosing the trained person to victimize in the first
place, avoiding the trauma. Training changes the person's
personality, behavior, body language, etc. The trained
person leaks information that makes it clear to any
observer this is not an easy submissive target.
For the latest version (it changes almost daily)
of my lesson plans for my NRA Defensive Pistol course,
send me an email. Jon_Low@yahoo.com
“After our enemies with guns have all been wiped out,
there will still be enemies without guns, and they
are bound to struggle desperately against us.
We must never regard these enemies lightly.”
-- Mao Tse Tung
Report to the Second Plenary Session of the
Seventh Central Committee of the
Communist Party of China, 1949 A.D.
Low Jun Hin
Report to the Sheepdogs of Defensive Pistolcraft
Patriotic Defenders of the Second Amendment
United States of America, 2019 A.D.
Jonathan D. Low