Rifles! From Mr Farnam

I have found that one of the benefits of being a Farnam course alumnus is being placed on the mailing list and getting the Quips before they’re posted. Here’s one that came in the other day, and it neatly illustrates one of the critical skill sets of the practical marksman. (I don’t think he’d mind me sharing, especially since it’ll get put up shortly anyhow.)

“The rifle is the weapon of democracy.”

Edward Paul Abbey

At an Urban Rifle Course on the East Coast last weekend, I, as always, challenged students with:

“How fast can you successfully engage that threat?”

Go too fast, and you miss, and an opportunity is lost. Too slow, and you unnecessarily squander valuable time that can’t be made up!

The most important asset of any Operator is his ability to correctly judge the speed at which he can fire his rifle and expect success. Operators who thus intimately know their personal “Goldilocks Zone” hit reliably in every circumstance, going at just the right speed to hit, while not succumbing to the temptation to exceed their ability and run the trigger too fast.

It is a lot like playing Blackjack!

Operators need an ability to quickly judge distance, size, intervening objects, exposure times, and other circumstances that contribute to the difficulty, and danger, represented by the target. Easy targets need to be engaged and dispatched more-or-less instantly. Difficult targets may require a change in posture, shooting technique, an expedient rest, or even unilateral disengagement.

Most of all, an Operator needs the competence to immediately, but correctly, size-up tactical situations, identify pivotal opportunities, and the courage and confidence to act decisively at the critical instant, never wasting time lamenting about what he doesn’t have, nor about the nature of the circumstances. Put another way, Operators spend their time finding a way to win, not looking for an excuse to lose.

“Good tactics” doesn’t mean taking no risk. It means taking the best risk, at the critical moment, with inadequate information, fearlessly acknowledging everything the term “risk,” implies. Courage and caution, in exactly the right balance!

Serious rifle training exercises these critical skills like no other activity!

Now, that’s good stuff. Read and heed.


  1. ETP0802 says:

    Next time you go, let me know in advance.

    A trip back to the Commonwealth – especially in these times – would be more than welcome.