Train Realistically For When We Must “Go to Guns!”

Tattered Target With Bullet Holes
Train Realistically For When We Must “Go to Guns!”

Ft Collins, CO –-( “When I'm dead, I'd rather people ask why I have no monument, than why I have one.” ~ Cato the Elder

In 2008, then-Chairman of the JCS, Admiral Mullen, said “We can’t kill our way to victory.”

Like all liberals, Mullen can’t abide the concept of victory, indeed is frightened by the very thought of it, so he invents clever-sounding, but nonsensical, phrases to lend credibility to his lack of audacity.

It’s a good thing neither Eisenhower, Patton, Nimitz, MacArthur, nor LeMay during WWII (the last War we dared actually to win, unconditionally) were advocates of Mullen’s pusillanimous philosophy.

It is only through killing enemy combatants, one at a time, that we have any chance of victory. When we kill enough of them, the remaining few may decide to negotiate seriously!

If you know of a more “humane” species of warfare, I’d love to hear about it!

Machineguns were once shunned by military planners as being too consumptive of ammunition, back when ammunition production was not automated and (with black powder) extremely dangerous. With the advent, if smokeless propellant and automation, machineguns suddenly enthralled the next generation of planners, maybe too soon and too much! In fact, within the German Army (Wehrmacht) during WWII, the entire rifle platoon was dedicated to protecting the GPMG (MG34, later the MG42).

Among opposing American forces, the purpose for the GPMG (Browning 30) was to produce sufficient “covering fire” for infantrymen to maneuver into a position where they could, using powerful battle rifles [ read: M1 Garand ] with consummate competence and suburb accuracy, shoot-dead individual enemy soldiers, one at a time!

The latter philosophy proved superior to the former!

However, stories about wartime feats of rifle accuracy quickly become inflated with the passage of time, particularly when “legends” themselves are no longer available to defend themselves. As my friend and colleague, Dave Grossman, points out, “average” accuracy of the “average” infantrymen is well below that of a few show-offs whose occasional spectacular shots seem to be the only ones anyone ever talks about.

In the game of golf, we see the same annoying inflation. Even among professional golfers, “holes-in-one” are extremely rare. Most professionals never experience even one during their entire career. From reading news reports on golf tournaments, one can get the impression they are a common occurrence. In truth, not one golfer in a thousand consistently shoots sub-par, much less gets holes-in-one!

Likewise, during the active fighting, an out-of-breath soldier using a typical battle rifle, with production ammunition, and using expedient shooting positions, who consistently achieves 10moa accuracy is considered very respectable indeed. In fact, that is equivalent to sub-par golf!

And, that is the guy I want on my team!

If any of us purchased a hunting rifle and subsequently discovered it was capable of only 10moa accuracy (shots within a 25cm/10inch circle at 100m) from bench-rest, we would probably indignantly return it to where we bought it, complaining that it was “defective.”

And yet, when using a typical military rifle, with production ammunition, we can only hope to be that accurate with any repeatability. Particularly when shooting at aggressively animated targets who are hard to see, with bullets whizzing past our ears, while in a cold, muddy ditch, at night, in the rain!

I spend a great deal of time during my classes instructing students about maintenance of a low, personal profile, intelligent “avoidance behavior,” being “invisible,” active “de-selection.” etc.

All of that is important, as the vast majority of harmful contacts with violent criminals are avoidable, via sound “avoidance behavior/lifestyle,” and assertive disengagement.

Target With Bullet Holes
Don’t paint steel targets. Let them acquire their default dull, gray color. You can’t shoot what you can’t see! Make “finding” targets part of your training routine.

However, some of us dance around the issue of aggressively applying lethal force (gunfire) when we have no choice but to “go to guns!”

The media frightfully avoids the issue, as does most “advice,” even that coming from official police sources.

However, when we’re going to arm and train realistically, at some point we have to directly, frankly address the issue of killing people!

So, if you are wondering if there is a point in all the preceding, here it is:

When “The Test” comes to any of us:

  • 1) There will be no machineguns to provide “covering fire.” We’ll likely be alone, with a very limited amount of ammunition, and help will not arrive in time to affect the outcome.
  • 2) Personal weapons must be intensively trained with, and selected, with the goal of impressing our enemies, not our friends!
  • 3) Our skill with our military rifles and pistols needs to be superb, far above “average!”
  • 4) Our dogged determination to be victorious needs to drive our actions. The purpose of fighting is to win!
  • 5) Don’t become obsessed with “accuracy-itis.” Always push yourself. Have realistic expectations. Shoot from expedient positions. Don’t spend all your time trying to “look good.”
    • When everything is “under control,” you’re not going fast enough!
  • 6) Fighting for your life is not a job from which you get to “resign.” It’s victory or death!


Keep your serious weapons well maintained, close at hand, and train regularly with them.

Don’t paint steel targets. Let them acquire their default dull, gray color. You can’t shoot what you can’t see! Make “finding” targets part of your training routine.

Hunt with your serious weapons every chance you get. At some point, you need to shoot something that is alive!

We’ve entered a period of unstable and extremely dangerous world history. Responsibility for your safety, and that of your family is ultimately yours.

Take your responsibilities seriously!

Years after the fact, a much-mal

Defense Training International, Inc

igned Aaron Burr said with regard to his fatal pistol duel with Alexander Hamilton in Weehawken, NJ on 11 July 1804: “Hamilton's hand shook. Mine didn't.”


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:

  • 5 thoughts on “Train Realistically For When We Must “Go to Guns!”

    1. I shot my attacker in the forehead at point-blank range…Despite being out of the Army for over 20 years, my training & instincts were spot-on…

    2. I can not tell if Farnam is talking about large unit combat or personal combat. If large unit combat: The key to winning is logistics. Attrition warfare (killing the opfors one at a time) is slow and inefficient. Denying all of your opfors food and water for three days, and they become a mob, each man for himself, seeking survival. If personal combat: Surprise, speed, and violence of action.
      As to Mullen, he is a particularly forgettable sailor.

    3. Great article. I believe a person who trains to hit a target anywhere may be relied on more than a sub-MOA shooter when the called upon, either self defense or SHTF scenarios. It’s great that someone can shoot sub-MOA and there is nothing wrong with that being part of a shooters training, but it should be only part of a broader skillset.

    4. Congratulations on a fine article!

      I usually pass over your articles because of both your style and sometimes nonsensical, from my point of view, Prose.

      However, articles such as this are well worth reading, providing suprrb advice in real-world terms, which are easy to follow in a consistent manner.
      Thank you again.

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