Last weeks’s shooting incident in VA: I won’t comment on motive of the single shooting suspect (now deceased), as these facts have been reported elsewhere. I will comment on tactics.

Representative Mike Bishop (R-MI), who was there, said this in a radio interview:

“The only reason any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here had a weapon to fire back and gave us a moment to find cover. We were inside the backstop, and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot themselves, we would not have gotten out of there, and every one of us would have been hit, every single one of us.”

Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) added:

“… would have been a lot worse without Steve Scalise’s (security) detail. They immediately began returning fire. They were the true heroes. They fired back”

Scalise’s bodyguards [Uniformed Capitol Police] where apparently the ones to which Mike Bishop (above) was referring.

Uniformed Capitol Police were on the scene, and apparently fired at the suspect. Uniformed APD officers arrived within minutes and could have fired at the suspect too.

In any event, the suspect was fatally wounded at some point, but perhaps dissuaded (maybe wounded too) by return fire at a much earlier point, as Mike Bishop indicated.

Points everyone needs to take away from this:

1) Decisive and IMMEDIATE return fire doubtless prevented a much larger massacre.

2) Those who go armed routinely, and have IMMEDIATE access to guns, are the only ones who can possibly influence these kinds of terrorist incidents in any meaningful way.

3) Competent training is the only way through which one can adequately prepare to deliver precise, war-winning fire on pernicious threats, at the moment it is required. Simply “giving guns” to the incompetent accomplished nothing!

4) “Armed and well trained,” is the solution to terrorist attacks, whether you’re protecting a dignitary, your family, or just yourself.

5) “Helplessly waiting to be rescued” holds out scant hope!

This tragic incident has changed our political climate already! Many politicians and bureaucrats, who rarely thought about the subject before, will be carrying guns this week. Many others will be clamoring for bodyguards!

This is America, and we shoot back!

– – – – – – – – –

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: www.defense-training.com

60 Responses to John Farnam: Tactics Suggested by the Congressional Baseball Shooting

  1. Yes! Training! Expensive! Training at my school! Come, let me take your money! If a guy with a rifle attacks you on a ball field it will be totally worth it!

    All the training, asides from safe gun handling, you need can be summed up in a line from Mal Reynolds.

    “Somebody tries to kill you, you try and kill them right back”.

    All the rest is bullshit. You either have it in you to kill or you don’t.

    • While I agree that first and foremost you must be willing to kill do you honestly believe there is no value in training?

      • There is great value in training. How to safely handle loaded firearms without shooting yourself or others accidentally. And a class room session with a legal mind that’s familiar with self defense laws in your area.

        The tacticool timmy stuff is just recreation and a way to spend vast sums of money and time. Like any other guy oriented hobby.

        • A monkey can shoot a gun.

          A trained monkey can shoot a gun accurately.

          A trained monkey who practices will always think and shoot accurately.

          When that trained monkey who practices runs into an encounter where defecation has struck a spinning blade, he who has both trained and practiced will not think but will shoot at a level of proficiency that will master the monkey who can just shoot.

        • Some training is, window dressing, and some most definitely is not.

          Like most things, its not the “advanced” skills that really matter – its a repetition of the basics until they are fully programmed into your muscle memory.

          1- Drawing from concealment.
          2- Moving to cover.
          3- Sight acquisition and trigger pull
          4- Reloading

          Learning to do these 4 things without freezing or putting your head down increases your chances of survival immensely. Can you survive without them? Of course, people do every day – but your risk goes up significantly.

          Again – these are not “secret squirrel grand-master” secrets. They’re the very basics that you master by a large number of repetitions.

    • “You either have it in you to kill or you don’t.” Not true. People can be trained to kill. That’s to kill, not how to kill.

      Prior to and during WWI, soldiers trained shooting circular targets. Turns out soldiers on the field intentionally missed a lot. The military studied the issue. Turns out people don’t like killing other people. To desensitize soldiers to killing, they introduced silhouette targets. People stopped missing intentionally.

      There is a poorly cited Wikipedia article that talks about it in one of its sections. The article is titled “killology.” If only I had known that I could have grown up to be a killologist.

        • It’s mentioned in the poorly sourced Wikipedia article. Seems like they could have cited it a couple more times and had a well sourced article.

          To think, I could have been TX_Killologist. (Sad face emoticon).

        • Or I can get it from my local library for free. Why don’t people use libraries? They give you stuff for free. You just have to give it back.

        • If you have a Kindle, or use a Kindle Reader program/app on your computer, tablet or phone, you can own a copy of it in less than a minute for $8.54.

          Go to the Kindle store on Amazon, enter “On Killing” in the search box.

        • Because the libraries are full of homeless heroin addicts and weirdos trying to watch porn on the public computers, and On Killing is good enough to be worth a few bucks?

          If you think I’m crazy, then your libraries are better than the ones around here.

        • My libraries are better than the ones around there. The libraries around here don’t allow any nonsense.

          I generally don’t buy a book unless I have read it at least twice, it is part of a series I read, or it is a reference book I plan on using.

      • I don’t completely agree with that. People are not going to be trained to kill if they don’t already have it in them. In my experience all the training did not make some guys able to kill.

        Some folks just don’t have it in them and unless you get into hollywood sy fy level mind washing they aren’t going to do it.

        Man. I didn’t realize how much this one thread was going to effect me. I’m getting a little of the shakes just thinking about crap that was decades ago.

        • Yeah, some people will never get there. Others enjoy killing and need to be restrained. Like most everything, it’s a spectrum.

        • I’ve mentioned this at least twice before, but it fits this discussion as well.
          The first time my wife ever fired a gun, she turned to me and said “I could kill someone”. She had just put six holes in paper on a 3 inch group from 7 yards. I said “yes, that’s good shooting”. She said “no, I mean if I had to shoot someone to save my kids or myself, I could do it”.

        • Males may be reputed to be more aggressive, but in no way, no how, could they *ever* match the aggressiveness of a female protecting their kids.

          That’s about the most basic of all switches that can be flipped…

        • The right training can make many people who would not have consciously considered taking a human life, react to the right stimulus by returning aimed fire. The problem is that the training usually does not deal with the psychological effects of the reaction- and I think this is where a lot of the PTSD from Vietnam and onwards military vets comes from.

      • As I recall from my basic training in 1980, except for zeroing our (crappy) M-16s all of our training and qualification was done against plastic pop-up targets that looked suspiciously like Red Army soldiers.

    • Ha…yes…..article does sound like another advert pretending to be an article.

      And no offense to those Capital Police Officers….but if they are anything like 99% of LEO’s I’ve met their “training” is minimal….amounting to probably 8 total hours in the academy and some monthly or quarterly range time. Most of the People of the Gun I’ve met had more time behind the gun at the range, shooting 3 gun, etc.

      Sorry…tired of people thinking(especially antigunners who think only cops should have guns) that cops are all Jason Bournes or Seal Team 6 members….they are not. If you can hit a target and have the balls and presence of mind not to panic you’d be surprised what joe average shooter can do.

      • Everybody SHOULD train, and to a certain degree every body needs to train, but:

        “3) Competent training is the only way through which one can adequately prepare to deliver precise, war-winning fire on pernicious threats, at the moment it is required. Simply “giving guns” to the incompetent accomplished nothing!”

        Which incompetents in this situation were given guns that accomplished nothing? Precisely zero. The only incompetent on that baseball field was the Bernie Bros who couldn’t shoot straight. The only other guns were the Capital Police.

        Against this guy ANY RETURN FIRE would have done the job, regardless of the level of training. The first rule of a gun fight – HAVE A DAMN GUN! Need I point out that you can’t even get training, adequate or not, if you didn’t BRING A DAMN GUN! So in these defensive situations we are not talking about “precise, war-winning fire”, we’re talking about being able to return fire, any fire, even if it’s just enough to GTFO of Dodge.

        Get training. All you can, if you can. Read TTAG and watch YouTube videos for tips and pointers. Think about situational awareness, attack and defense scenarios, and threat risks. But regardless of any of those things accomplished or not, always have a gun. There is no training standard in the Second Amendment except that a militia should be well regulated. A singular DGU is not a militia engagement.

        • “Against this guy ANY RETURN FIRE would have done the job, regardless of the level of training.”

          *WORD*…

        • Exactly. If we were to create an odds of survival scale for the typical scenario, I think it would look like this:

          No gun: 5-15% chance of survival.
          Have a gun, and be able to discharge it audibly: 75% chance of survival.
          Have a gun, and be competent enough to get multiple COM hits at 10 yards: 85%.
          Have a gun, and enough training to get off the X, seek cover, reliably get COM hits at 25 yards: 95%

          Having a gun takes you from 15% to 75% even if all you can do is shoot into the dirt in front of you.

          The bottom line is the guy knows he could be shot now, and his own impulse for self-preservation will greatly slow, or altogether stop his attack.

  2. “Tactics Suggested by the Congressional Baseball Shooting” – Don’t congregate unarmed with several high value targets?

  3. I went out shooting with my dad and uncle regularly after about age 6 , over the years I’ve bought owned many firearms and God alone how many rounds of ammo I’ve fired. That said I’ve learned more about the tactics and actions I can take to give me fighting chance in a armed conflict in the last 5 years than in the previous 45. My wife sent me to The Firearms Academy of Seattle for my birthday and I more to self defense than having a gun. Honestly I don’t shoot much better after spending around 800$ over the last 5 years, but shoot quicker, draw, reload faster and handle firearms safer. Some people are hobbyists, take 5-6 classes a year, every year . I think that is unnecessary but if they enjoy it good for them.

  4. Of course training is worthless- the military just wastes billions of dollars annually on training because hell, money has to go somewhere! We don’t need to develop skills or reflexes or the ability to react quickly. Just run on out there and Leroy Jenkins it live with no training and no skills and no plan, and it’ll all work out great!

    Excuse me while I go wash the rest of the sarcasm out of my mouth.

    • The military has you 24/7. They house you. Feed you. They don’t pay overtime and if your instructor breaks his foot off in your ass, no harm, no foul. People die in military training. Ask me how I know.

      You’re not going to be sharpened and honed by one or two weekends with a lawyer neutered ex seal, sf, marine etc. etc.

      Safe handling and legal advice is what we citizens need. We are not paid or expected to ride to the sound of the guns.

      We have posts right here on TTAG of people 75+ that had never fired their gun before their encounter with Tyrone Dindunuffin. They lived and he died.

      • I tend to agree with both of your posts but… only to a point.

        Personally, I think a lot of “tactical” training is overblown because, yeah, what they teach works great in Fallujah or some place in Afghanistan but it’s not generally applicable to civilian life in the United States. I watch some of the promotional videos certain trainers put out and I think to myself “Wow, he’s training you to go to prison”.

        Now, that said, an attack like the “baseball attack” is a whole different kettle of fish than a gas station robbery or a home invasion. Yeah, some of that tactical training might be useful for such a situation but the chances you’re in an area with such an attack are slim and the rarity of using the training is compounded by the fact that you very likely won’t have a rifle with you/be able to get to it and get it into the fight fast enough to matter… and… these days you’ll probably get shot by the cops if you bust out a rifle to fight back.

        So I would say there is some very limited real world application for such material but generally you’re correct; it’s a hobby and a way to have fun/practice for sport.

        • And as a hobby or sport it may have the one ingredient needed. It may be fun for a bunch of guys that never took the Kings Shilling to get together in a friendly atmosphere and play “what if”.

          I’m sure as hell not going to tell folk how to spend their money or time. But as you so wisely pointed out. This isn’t Fallujah.

          Training like it is is nothing but fantasy.

        • I would agree. The chances a civilian would get to “use” such training is probably 1 in hundreds of millions if not billions. That probably qualifies it for “fantasy”.

          Then again, it could make you a nasty airsofter. ROFL.

        • I think the best kind of training for regular folks is force on force with sim guns. The first time I went into a scenario where I didn’t know what to expect but knew the role player might shoot me, I nearly went condition black. I was able to return fire, but missed with half a mag from about seven feet- shooting the top score in my academy class didn’t count for crap.

          A few session of scenario training and I’m able to keep calm, think my way through each problem, and place rounds where I want them until my facemask fogs up. The point is that advanced tactics are nowhere near as important as getting used to the stress.

    • dude…were you ever IN the military? I spent a probably total of 4 actual hours FIRING a weapon in boot camp then maybe a few days on tactics, safety, etc and that was about it in terms of my military training with firearms. Unless you were a grunt who went onto more training(depending on your MOS) most people in the military have probably LESS training the average competent ciivilian shooter. Same thing with you average cop.

      Is training fun? Sure. Is training really ever a waste of time? Probably not….but it’s a myth that you need to go through all these expensive training schools to be able to take care of yourself when the shit goes south. Faerct is a firearm is a pretty simple tool to master.

      • Depending on his age the and era which he served he may have had very different experience than you may have. Remember the military now is pretty neutered compared to just 10 years ago. I’m surprised after 8 years of Obama the poor SOBs still have 30 round mags. Hopefully this improves with Mattis as head of DOD.

  5. Points 1, 2 and 5 should be self evident. I disagree with 3 and 4. They ignore the number of people who successfully defend themselves with firearms they haven’t shot in years. Yes, tactical training is valuable. But it’s no substitute for being able to put rounds on target. Somebody with a used .38 revolver, who shoots 100 rounds of the cheapest ammunition he can find at bulls eye targets every weekend, is better prepared than somebody who takes all the high speed, low drag tactical classes he can afford but never shoots otherwise.

  6. I have a joke with a friend of mine with whom I go to the range from time to time. I don’t recall when it started and its not (spoiler alert) that funny a joke but, while getting ready to shoot, uncasing firearms and loading magazines, one of us will say, “hey, don’t shoot me with that”, and the other will reply, “if you shoot me I’m gonna shoot you right back.”

    I told you it wasn’t all that funny but it started a long time ago and, well, there it is.

  7. We’re all thankful the attacker’s tactics sucked. Open baseball field (not even including the part of the property beyond the fence line) against defends armed with, at most, handguns is something a scoped rifle with a bipod from prone would be better at than an SKS. Even a cheap bolt action even some of the most restrictive countries are OK with would have worked here would have done much better.

    Not often a life is saved because liberals are stupid.

  8. I just completed my first Defensive Pistol I class this past weekend. It was an eye opening experience.

  9. Depending on your specialty you could spend a lot of time at the range in the army and as JWM notes sometimes people died when things went wrong. Helicopter and truck accidents too often but never had anyone even hurt at the range.

    Training always helps but the first rule is have a gun.

    • Only guy I saw hurt at a stateside range wasn’t hurt by gunfire. He got his ass kicked for being stupid during live fire.

      And yeah, before we went over seas most of our losses were to trucks and choppers. More injured than killed.

      Man, I hate choppers.

      • “Man, I hate choppers.”

        I know someone in TTAG who will be happy take any extra ones you have laying abound and put them to *very* good use.

        “Sergi’s Helicopter Transportation Services – Guaranteed the ride of your (soon to be ending) life.”

        *snicker*

  10. Awful lot of whining about training at the top of these comments. Probably from from folks that don’t even know what a “figure eight drill Is” and never shot wind sprints. Sorry guys, keeping a 1911 single stack in your underwear drawer is not being prepared.

    With no disrespect to John Fanrnam the five points listed are not tactics (I bet he did not write the headline) they are the essential mindset and advice on how to get prepared and learn tactics.

    The chances of being in armed confrontation are probably less than being struck by lightning, but I have three acquaintances who been hit and lived to tell.

    The forward-looking instructors are beginning to break training up into shorter, cheaper chunks. God knows I can’t afford time off and $1700 for a week at Gunsite (but I still want to go).

    Time is precious. Training, travel and ammunition are expensive. You don’t know, what you don’t know. Do what you can with the resources you have.

  11. I don’t think it’s out of the question to learn to fight with a gun. Really, that’s what we’re talking about. Not marksmanship fundamentals, or how to operate the firearm, but how to fight someone(s) trying to kill you, with a tool. There’s a big difference between making headshots on a silhouette at 25m on a nice sunny day, hanging out and bullshitting with your friends/family, and actively trying to move your ass out of the line of fire, while getting shot at, after you’ve gotten over the flu, in 20° snow and sleet.

    I understand the straw man here, but the people suggesting that getting trained to fight with a gun is just a waste of time and money, are quite frankly, dumb as hell. Do you NEED it? Probably not, but to suggest that if you do, you just learned some shit you’re never going to use and it’s a waste, is absurd. I’ve learned a lot of things I’ll never use in my life, doesn’t make me dumb for the time spent to learn it. Knowledge never hurts.

    • Completely agreed. I’d also add that real-world encounters, for non-military and non-LEO folks, are likely to be very short-range. Even with excellent awareness of your surroundings, the guy who attacks you probably won’t be an obvious deadly threat from 20 yards. By the time you know you’re justified in drawing your gun, you may well be at contact distance.

      There are close-quarters courses where you learn and practice things like weapon retention and techniques for armed self-defense at arm’s reach distances. I think they’re particularly valuable because they focus on the kind of encounters that Joe Average Armed Citizen is more likely to experience. Almost any training is good; realistic training is better.

  12. 6) Cops

    ON

    THE

    FING

    SCENE

    And people still nearly got dead and the cops got shot. If this had been a pair, or a crack team of ISIS/Dreamer-jihadi Obama Invites we would have gone to civil war to even it up with the evil satan-sucking POS (D).

    Defend yourselves.

  13. I’m not going to make some (quite strange) argument that training is worthless or whatever. Obviously training is better than no training. So, if that’s what you want to get your panties into a twist over, go ahead and read the other comments.

    What I will point out, however, is that nothing about this attack supports, logically, point 3 (and, therefore, point 4). Training wasn’t what was required; having a gun was. If more people had a gun there, the result would have likely been even more in their favor, but a couple guns was enough to make a huge difference. They didn’t need to wound the attacker in the first return volley (we don’t even know if they did, in fact); all they had to do was return fire and that made the difference between sitting ducks on a baseball field and sitting ducks with concealment (maybe cover) in a dugout/behind a backstop. And that difference meant that none of the rest of those ducks got hit (beyond the obvious primary target). IF one or two of those ducks had also been armed, they may have also had the opportunity to render aid to the congressman who WAS hit; as it was they indicated that they felt completely helpless to do anything about their fellow, despite wishing they had the ability to help him.

    In that sense this turned from article to advertisement; point 3 (and 4) do not follow logically from the facts of the situation, but they serve to encourage purchase of the service that the writer sells. Perhaps they did not fully, consciously, intend to turn this into a blatant advertisement, but their inherent self interest/bias did so, in the end.

  14. One of the advantages of training, and yes some training can be more tacticool than others, is that you get a chance to shoot rapid fire (including double taps), draw from a holster, and in non range type settings like shoot houses. Most people don’t have open land they can just go to, but instead go to public ranges that are very controlled, 1 shot per second in your assigned stall; they don’t get a chance to shoot in a more fluid environment which would be more realistic and closer to what an actual gun fight would be like.
    Competitions are always helpful but they can also be very controlled in terms of what is allowed and what is not.
    Going to Front Sight, I have taken several classes there, was an eye opener to me, and very beneficial. And when I was in the Army in the 70’s, we rarely fired our weapons at all – just a 1 – 3 times a year and mainly to just zero them in at 25 yards. Not very helpful at all in terms of surviving a real gun fight.

  15. IMO, the best example of this principle occurred some few years ago in Glasgow, Montana, when a perp attempted to invade the local hospital(only one, GGW pop:4000) with a 10/22. Before getting to the emergency entrance, the perp encountered an EMT coming out of the ambulance barn. He shot her dead on the spot, which drew the attention of a local man, whom I will call SB. SB was in his pickup to drive his wife, who had just gotten off shift, home. Being a Montanan, he grabbed his .357 and returned fire, hitting the perp in the leg.
    The perp then fired many rounds at the pickup, hitting SB in the hand and the wife in the ankle. He then limped off into the snow, triggering a town lockdown, the calling up of all officers in a hundred mile radius, and a 6 hour manhunt that found the 10/22(a couple hundred yards from the hospital) three hours later. After many more hours of following a clear blood trail on the frozen river, law enforcement managed to kill the now unarmed perp dead.
    My question is, which was more effective: SB or the two hundred LEOs called up after the fact????

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