Institutional Firearms Training & Failed Logic

By John Farnam

Unload Guns Sign
Institutional Firearms Training & Failed Logic
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-( “Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it!” ~ Andre Gid

Comments on institutionalized training:

We, now and then, present training programs at state academies and other long-established “institutions.”

In the private sector, we've moved forward rapidly over the past few decades, but many institutions, state and federal, still lag far behind- ever timid, ever afraid, ever suspicions of anything not invented there!


Cold Ranges. These are still the rule, rather than the exception, at many training academies. In fact, some are so anal that they prohibit any live rounds from entering a classroom or dining facility, even in magazines! Officers arriving at the range are thus forced to unload weapons in their cars, including emptying all magazines, before entering the training facility. Of course, the entire process must be reversed when students leave, among those who remember to do it!

This leads to inestimable wasted time, a great deal of unnecessary gun-handling, and many Negligent Discharge (NDs), all of which would be prevented if pistols just remained in holsters.

Rifles must be unloaded before proceeding from the firing line forward in order to examine targets, then reloaded before the next string of fire. Simply slinging a loaded rifle and moving with it (something that must be done routinely while the officer is on-duty) is, of course, unthinkable during so-called “training!”

Many institutional training facilities are de-facto “gun-free” zones, and the people making those rules do it for the same reason all gun-free zones are naively declared: They're far more interested in keeping their jobs than they ever will be in doing them. The improvement/safety of students is the last thing anyone ever thinks about!

These are the same ossified “range-masters” who used to so arrogantly declare, “If it doesn't rotate, it doesn't shoot on my range,” referring to when only revolvers were allowed (never any of those new-fangled autoloading pistols)! Again, no one cared about students. No one wanted anything to move forward, as it might threaten their fiefdom. I ran into this personally when I attended the police academy in WI many years ago.

And today, they're still so worried about NDs, that all else is forgotten. The result: Little relevant training ever takes place, and they have NDs anyway!

Muzzles up: This is an invitation to muzzles being constantly pointed in unsafe directions. When rifles and shotguns are slung with muzzles up, they invariably point horizontally every time the user tries to mount the weapon. Muzzle-up carry is inherently unsafe. Rifles and shotguns need to be routinely slung, or otherwise carried, muzzle-down.

Making a distinction between loaded and unloaded guns: Universal muzzle and finger discipline is what defines safe gun-handling. Allowing “unloaded” guns to be handled carelessly, while having a separate set of rules for “loaded” guns, is a recipe for disaster! Sooner or later, “safe” guns and “dangerous” guns get mixed in with each other! On modern ranges, all gun-handling is the same, regardless of the supposed condition of the weapon.

All guns are always loaded,” because they are!

We train Operators, surefooted Operators who can function independently, make correct judgements, who daily carry loaded guns with confidence, who don' t have gun accidents, and who don't miss. When you make it clear that is why we're here and what we expect of them, students will invariably rise to the occasion. Indeed, they will exceed your expectations with their competence, understanding, and enthusiasm. It will all make sense to them!

Conversely, when you insultingly treat students like infants, don't be astonished when that is all you get!

“If we listened to our intellect, we'd never fall in love, never have children, never have friends, never chase a dream. As a result, we would all die of boredom or hang ourselves! So, for the sake of our own mental health, we have to jump off cliffs now and then, building our wings on our way down!” ~ Ray Bradbury


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

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    brian winters-tedmic Recent comment authors
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    brian winters

    In Nj cold ranges are the law due to our no carry regulations. If I walked from a loading table to a range line I would be carrying illegally. The loading table has to be at the range line. Hence in Nj there is virtually no 3 gun or idpa shooting.


    I took your class here in Oregon many years ago. I had never even heard the concept of a “Hot” range until that day.
    You forced me to reevaluate all my gun handling skills. I am a safer shooter today because of it. Many thanks!


    As a Range Master I can not agree more. Every gun is loaded or treated as loaded. Except for specal events our range is hot for shooters and spectators. Even then its only “cold” in limited areas and times as needed.