Saturday, June 02, 2018

Thumbnail Report: Urban Rifle with John Farnam

On the morning of Day One at Tac-Con 2018, John Farnam presented a two-hour block of instruction called Urban Rifle.

The description of the class in the brochure was as follows:
"This course is about the interplay between pistol and rifle (or carbine) applications in urban defensive contexts. We will explore the ways these two weapons systems can complement each other and the safest and most efficient methods of transitioning between them. All pistol work will be from a concealed draw. Good iron sights; EOTech or Aimpoint (Red Dot) sighting systems; or low-power, low-profile, forward-mounted scopes are best for this class. Rifles will be put to strenuous, rugged use and may get scratched up a bit. Pretty guns are best left at home. Equipment List: Approx. 20 rounds of pistol ammo; at least 2 extra magazines or speed-loaders; Approx. 100 rounds of rifle ammo; eye and ear protection; rifle magazine carrier."

John Farnam shouldn't need much of an introduction. He's been doing this as long as anybody, and his traveling roadshow dates back to the pre-Cambrian era of the days of tactical firearms training for private citizens here in the US.

Here's his bio from his website:
John Farnam is presently a fully commissioned deputy sheriff (Training Officer) for the Park County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office. 
A police officer and decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, John is one of the top defensive firearms instructors in the nation. He has personally trained thousands of federal, state and local law enforcement agency personnel, many private security agencies, foreign governments, and hundred of civilians in safe gun handling and the tactical use of the defensive firearms. 
He has authored dozens of magazine articles, five books, written several handgun manuals, produced numerous training videos (including the DTI “Operator Series”), and has written a model Use of Force Policy. His books, The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning, Second Edition, The Farnam Method of Defensive Rifle and Shotgun Shooting, Second Edition and Guns and Warriors, Volume One have become the standard texts on the subjects. 
John is a Senior Board Member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. In June of 1996, he was selected by his peers to receive the renowned “Tactical Advocate of the Year” award from the National Tactical Association. In April of 2009, he was inducted into Black Belt Magazine’s “Living Legends.” In November of 2011, he was elevated to the rank of Kyoshi Sensei within the American Marital Arts Association.
As could be expected, the class filled quickly.

The students were a good mix of private citizens and a few LEOs, with quite a few firearms instructors who were there to see how John taught his stuff and maybe find some gleanings they could incorporate into their own curricula. (This is a collaborative art and one sign of a good instructor is that they're always out there learning stuff.)

The class was almost entirely conducted in the 0-25 yard envelope, with most targets engaged in the 7-15 yard range.

Emphasis was placed on movement "off the X" and keeping the head up and in the fight. While disparaging of the rote "scans" that result in robotic head-swiveling taught in some places, Farnam was insistent that looking around to ensure things hadn't changed be a part of the target engagement procedure.
The class was almost, but not entirely, composed of AR-pattern carbines with a couple SBRs, but there was also a Sig Sauer 556 and a CZ Skorpion 2 carbine.

Gun-handling on the whole was solid and safe, and there were ample folks serving as RSOs/AIs to ensure no lack of watchful eyes.

LPVO's were more common than in days past, but this crowd was still mostly zero-magnification red dots, and even a couple of iron sight shooters.

John had plenty of techniques he taught peculiar to the environment of using a long gun at pistol distances. One was a method to buy enough time to get off a single precisely aimed shot at close range, useful especially for hostage rescue shots.

Farnam also taught a fast, coarse visual index for bringing the gun up from low ready. This was presented as being used in situations where speed to first shot trumped precision and can be seen in the photos immediately above and below. Rather than rotating the sights into the eye-target line, the gun remained horizontal and as soon as a visual index was to be had, the blasting started, all while moving off the X.

I don't know exactly how much time is saved by this versus getting the dot up there, but we weren't timing it.

One of the biggest doctrinal differences (if not the biggest) between Farnam's gun-handling mechanics and the things I learned from Pat Rogers and various Pat-adjacent instructors is the use of the safety on the carbine. Current best practice as I've been taught is that the safety on the carbine is on unless one is actively engaged in pressing off shots; the safety even goes on to reload. Farnam, on the other hand, doesn't express any strong preference for what you do with the safety while the gun is in your hands. I believe he stated that he takes it off when the gun is in his hands and doesn't reapply it until he slings the gun again, but I'm not 100% on that quote.

I'm going to look into his Defensive Urban Rifle class in Kankakee, IL this September and see if I have room on the calendar.