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Posted on February 15, 2021 by in Training



My training school starts off our basic defensive pistol class with a brief lecture which we refer to as “setting the table.” The reason most students are attending our classes is because they want to learn how to protect themselves from violence by using a handgun. Our preference instead is to first teach the students how to protect themselves against violence without using a handgun if at all possible, but if force is required how to skillfully use a handgun in such a manner that not only do they prevail in the physical fight but also any legal battles that may  follow.

Setting the table means that we spend some time discussing when the use of force, deadly or otherwise, is both necessary and justifiable, and anything we can do to avoid violent physical contact with another person, whether in the form of avoidance, deterrence, disengagement, or de-escalation. If force is the only remaining option, then it is likely that more than skill-at-arms is required in order to not become just another crime victim. I have met some of the best handgun shooters in the United States, and it no longer surprises me when one shows up at a shooting competition unarmed. I can pretty much assure them that a criminal offender is not going to contact them in advance and inform them of the time and date in which they plan to assault them.

A good way to start off one of our lectures is with a few solid quotes. Some of the best quotes in the business come from master instructor John Farnam, who does an excellent job of teaching “old school” methodology while constantly updating his material based upon current events and the lessons learned as well as developing technology. I have taken three classes from John starting with an Advanced Handgun class in the late 1990s followed by shotgun and carbine courses. Persons that have studied under John are often not only surprised by his vast knowledge of history regarding personal conflicts that span centuries but his ability to use what he has learned in order to better prepare his students and followers to protect both themselves and their loved ones.

I find most of John’s quips to be memorable, and I have frequently shared them with others. It is an effective way to convey information in a manner that is both rapid and long-lasting. One of the things that makes a direct quote from a reputable source so powerful is that it tends to capture 100% of our attention at the time because we must deliberately concentrate on what is being said to make sure we can then process what we heard or read and how it relates to some point that the quoter is making. The more clever, memorable, or enlightening the quote is the better, and many of quotes that can be attributed to Farnam are exactly that.

Set out below are some quotes that have been attributed to John Farnam that can be described as “pithy” (both expressive and concise):

“Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t hang out with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things.”

“Asking for trouble is a pretty good way to get it.”

“If you are unwilling to defend your own lives, then you are like mice trying to negotiate with owls. You regard their ways as wrong; they regard you as dinner.”

“Potential predators as they attempt verbal engagement should be politely dismissed. Bearing and eye contact should always project strength and confidence. We should be continually moving off the line of force. We should be observant in every direction, giving potential predator duos and trios the distinct impression that they will not be able to sneak up on us.”

“When predators are confused, they are unable to focus sufficiently to carry off their victimization.”

“Ultimately, we must “have a plan.” Potentially dangerous encounters must be thought about in advance. Decisions must be made. Skills must be practiced. Confusion, hesitation, and vacillation will always attract the attention of predators and simultaneously stimulate predator behavior.”

“Weakness perceived is weakness exploited.”

“Speed without hits is a waste of time. Hits without speed is a waste of time.”

There are other instructors whose quotes that I remember well, such as Tom Givens (“You don’t get to pick the day that you need your gun. Someone else picks it, and they will only tell you at the last moment”), Clint Smith (“When seconds count, cops are only minutes away”), and Colonel Jeff Cooper (“Owning a handgun does not make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician”).

Why do I like quotes like these so much? Because they seem to remain in our memory banks a long time. To this day, I not only remember quotes like these and others, but I make a concerted effort to try to act upon the underlying message that is contained with them.  On at least one or more occasions my decision either kept me from me making a dumb decision, caused another to decide that he needed to leave me alone, or kept me from being emotionally hijacked and acting upon it in a manner that I may have likely later regretted.

Steve Moses

Steve Moses has been a defensive firearms trainer for over 26 years and is a licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer with 7 years of experience performing as shift lead on a church security detail for a D/FW area metro-church. Steve is a co-owner and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. Moses is a retired deputy constable and spent over 10 years on a multi-precinct Special Response Team. He owns multiple instructor certifications, including Rangemaster Advanced Handgun Instructor and Defensive Shotgun Instructor, Red Zone Knife Defense Instructor and Adaptive Striking Foundations Instructor, Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Sight Instructor, and State of Texas Personal Protection Officer Instructor. Steve holds a BJJ Brown Belt in Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He is a content contributor for CCW Safe and writes weekly articles on various subjects of interest to concealed carriers. Moses shoots competitively and holds an IDPA Expert rating. Steve is an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.