Thanks for registering for a DTI course! In preparation for your upcoming class, we recommend that you set aside some time to get acquainted with the information on this page.

  • Upon receiving a Class deposit, Defense Training International sends each student a detailed handout. The handout includes information regarding types of firearms that are recommended and the modifications that are allowed.
  • Also included is a student check-list of items to bring. It is important to us that students are as well prepared as possible so they are able to focus on learning.
  • After signing in, the course begins with a classroom session where students introduce themselves and John S Farnam presents an overview of the course activities. When students move to the range, each firearm is carefully inspected. Instructors will also inspect each student’s accessories. During the next section, students will go through “administrative” gun-handling drills, loading and unloading, as well as charging magazines and speed loaders. Once John is satisfied that students have mastered these tasks, we move on to live-fire.
  • Students begin with drills that allow them to become familiar with a correct grip and stance. As the day continues, students will learn to draw from concealment, reload, and reduce stoppages, all on the move. Training is conducted in a realistic manner, stressing movement, use of cover, verbal challenges, and other important individual tactics.
  • Later in the course, there will be another classroom session concerning levels of influence and the use of lethal force in self-defense. Other classroom subjects include situation awareness, threat/risk evaluation.
  • The second day of the class will include cover and movement, performing under stress, and precision shooting, combined with shoot/no-shoot drills. The low light shooting session is designed to allow students to practice all skills with and without a flashlight.
  • The class ends with the DTI Proficiency Test. A student achieves a passing score when he hits with all shots, does not commit any safety errors, and does not commit any procedural errors. Students qualify at one-hundred percent. Even one miss yields a failed attempt.
  • Students who attend Defense Training International courses find that they are physically exhausted at the end of the two days, but that they have mastered a set of psycho/motor skills and have adopted a personal philosophy that will serve them well in their next lethal encounter.

Our friends at Check Six Defense produce and manage our DTI Operator Series of videos. They have also created a Pro Shop specifically for DTI students, where you can buy bulk ammo (free UPS Ground shipping) for your upcoming course. Go to: SHOP.DTIOPERATOR.COM.


DTI Operator Series, DTI Videos, John Farnam, Defense Training International, firearms instruction, tactics, tactical rifle, tactical handgun, defensive rifle, defensive handgun

Click for more free videos.

The DTI Operator Series is a paid subscription intended for those familiar with serious firearms training. But there are topics that we think are important for everyone, and we’ve made them available for free. These include:

  • Range Conduct & Firearms Safety (1 & 2)
  • Use of Deadly Force
  • How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings

Watch these videos at:

John Farnam, Defense Training International, firearms instruction, tactics, tactical rifle, tactical handgun, defensive rifle, defensive handgun

"Like" DTI on Facebook.

Social media isn’t for everyone. For those who use it wisely, we hope you’ll follow us on Facebook and share our posts with your friends and family. We encourage you to run a Privacy Check-Up:

  • Log in to your Facebook account
  • In the upper right, click the pad lock icon
  • Click “Privacy Check-Up” and follow the prompts

“Like” our page at:


Below, you’ll find a list and description of the primary equipment required for all DTI courses.  Please become acquainted with this list prior to attending any DTI course.

Note:  As the cost and availability of ammunition varies based on the ever-changing economic and political climate, the amount of ammunition required for each class may vary.  Contact DTI with questions about required ammunition.

Each student needs to show up to class with at least one semi-automatic pistol or revolver in an appropriate caliber for our purposes with defensive shooting.

Appropriate calibers include:

  • 9mm NATO (a.k.a. “Parabellum,” “Luger”)
  • .38 Special, .380 AUTO
  • .357 MAG, SIG
  • .40 S&W
  • .45 ACP, GAP

Any calibers smaller than those listed above are not appropriate for use in DTI courses unless special arrangements have been made prior to the course date.

The student’s handgun should be of modern manufacture, and must function as designed to factory specifications. Low-profile, fixed, night sights are preferred.  Adjustable, target sights should be avoided. If possible, your handgun should be test fired and sighted-in with the ammunition you intend to use.

Handguns must be clean and properly lubricated. Sharp edges should be removed (if needed, this should be done by an experienced, competent gunsmith).

Contact DTI for handgun questions and/or recommendations.

Competition guns or related equipment are not recommended.  For our purposes with defensive shooting, all firearms and gear should be practical and concealable/low-profile.  Duty gear may be appropriate for Mil/LE and other security professionals.

Further Recommendations:

  • When you bring a pistol with a manual decocking-lever, either two-stage or single-stage, we’ll show you how to use it.  However, for most serious shooters, self-decocking, autoloading pistols represent the best choice.  Manual decocking levers are virtually obsolete, although they still do have a following, albeit ever-dwindling.
  • Colt/Browning, 1911-style pistols also have a fierce following, but their popularity with new shooters is low.  The 1911 is really an expert’s gun; a self-decocking autoloader is a much better choice for the vast majority of serious shooters.
  • The “Continuous Motion System” (H&K P7M8) autoloading pistol is perfectly functional, but not recommended. These pistols were popular at one time, but are long-since out of production, as incorrect operation of the squeeze-cocker has led to many accidents.  In fact, there has been so many accidents with this pistol, that we no longer recommend it for general use, although it may be a good choice for certain individuals.
  • S&W, Beretta, Springfield Armory, and now even Glock offer “variable grip geometry” on many of their pistols.  This permits the user to make the grip bigger, or smaller, at his option. Changing from one size to another is easily done, at the user-level, and takes less than a minute.  Pistols with this feature are recommended.
  • Use OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) magazines.  Avoid after-market and surplus ones, when possible.
  • When you decide to modify your new handgun, you are particularly cautioned to avoid trendy, novelty, and gimmicky add-on’s, like trigger shoes, after-market grip adapters, buffers, compensators, target grips, sight ribs, grip weights, etc. That kind of rubbish has no place on a serious pistol.

All students attending rifle or shotgun courses are required to bring one rifle/shotgun in an appropriate caliber.


Students attending rifle courses should bring a serviceable rifle chambered in a centerfire caliber (preferably 5.56 NATO or larger, although pistol caliber carbines will suffice in 9mm PARA or larger).  All rifles MUST have iron sites, even if such sights are used as a back-up for “red dot” sights or other optics.


Students attending shotgun courses should bring a serviceable shotgun chambered in 12 gauge or 20 gauge.  The front sight bead on most shotguns should be sufficient, but shotguns with rifle sights or red dot optics may be appropriate as well.


All rifles and shotguns must be equipped with sturdy slings.  Appropriate sling-styles include:

  • 2-point (one end of the sling attaches to the front of the firearm, the other end to the rear)
  • Single-point (both ends attach to a single point on the stock)

Three-point slings are often cumbersome and not recommended.


All rifles must be equipped with fixed “iron sights.”  Mounted optics like “red dots” and other scopes should still be equipped with back-up iron sights (or “BUIs”).  Flip-up style BUIs are fine.

A durable red dot/holographic sight is highly recommended!  The reticle of such a site should “co-witness” with the BUIs.

Magnified scopes may be appropriate, but magnification should be limited to 1.5-3x.  Such scopes should be durable and made for serious purposes.

Quick-release mounts are recommended for all optics, so that the operator might easily jettison the optic in exigent circumstances when the optics become unserviceable, reverting to BUIs.


Although we will take time to assure that each weapon is properly sighted in on the first day of class, it is highly recommended that all Red dots, scopes, and iron sites are sighted in BEFORE coming to class.


All students should bring a hand-held flashlight to class.  Weapon-mounted lights may be appropriate.

It is recommended that all operators carry a flashlight on their person.

Hand-held flashlights should be rugged, durable, and bright!  These days, a flashlight with an LED lamp of 120+ lumens is fairly easy to find.  There’s little reason to carry anything less than that.  Tail-cap activation is recommended.


Weapon lights can be very beneficial.  They should be mounted well forward, and activation should be easily achieved by use of the shooter’s support-side hand, without radical changes to how he/she holds the rifle.

A “constant on” feature is recommended but not required.


Many hand-held and weapon lights come with a “strobe” feature, which isn’t a bad option.  However, operators should understand the limitations of such a feature, and recognize that a quickly strobing, blindingly-bright light is exceptionally disorienting–for ALL parties present!


Each student is expected to provide and manage their own ammunition.

MAGAZINES / SPEED-LOADERS & POUCHES Students must bring a minimum of three reloading devices (magazines or speedloaders) for his/her primary handgun.  Low-profile, belt-mounted magazine pouches/carriers are highly recommended. AMMUNITION Standard, full metal jacket (or “ball”) ammunition is recommended for training.  High performance service ammo need not be used.  The best ammunition is from major, domestic manufacturers. NOTE:  Reloaded/hand loaded ammunition is not recommended, and will not be allowed for use in DTI courses without DTI approval prior to the course date. Foreign ammunition may be acceptable, but much of it is trash.  Steel-case ammunition is not recommended, as it has proven to greatly increase wear and tear on extractors.  The lacquer coating on such ammunition creates a gummy mess inside hot, dirty receivers and may begin to affect normal feeding.  Further, most steel-case ammunition uses bullets with steel jackets (with a copper wash); steel jacketed bullets have been shown to erode the bore, dramatically decreasing the lifetime of the barrel.


A belt mounted holster, either inside or outside waistband design, is generally accepted for all courses.

All handguns must be holstered!

We prefer hip holsters, worn strong-side, appendix-carry, or cross-draw.  Holsters with retention devices are not required.  Mil/LE and other security professionals may wear their duty gear.

Cheap, nylon, “one size fits all” holsters are NOT recommended.

A sturdy belt is highly recommended.  Students should ensure that their holsters and magazine/speed-loader pouches fit their belt!


Several law enforcement agencies, including FLETC, have experienced incidents where students
and field agents/officers using Blackhawk SERPA holsters have had accidental discharges
resulting in personal injury and or property damage.

Many well-trained operators have used this holster for years without incident.  The SERPA holster is a functional holster system, but it has its limitations.


For our purposes with defensive shooting, students are encouraged to wear some type of concealment garment, e.g. vest, jacket, over-shirt.  We believe that individual operators benefit from practicing a low-profile appearance.  With few exceptions, “range gear” and “day-to-day gear” should be one and the same!


Be prepared for changes and extremes in the weather. Long pants and comfortable, sturdy shoes are highly recommended.  Absolutely NO open-toed shoes are allowed.  Students will be on their feet for most of the day.  Gloves for colder weather are highly recommended. During cooler temperatures, some students find that wearing several layers (which can be added or taken off throughout the day) is more convenient and beneficial than an bringing a single, heavy coat.


Coats/jackets with elastic drawstrings have been proven unsafe, when used in conjunction with firearms carry, because of their tendency to catch on nearly everything.  Such drawstrings should be removed before being worn on the range (or, indeed, anywhere!).


High-necked t-shirts/undershirts are highly recommended to be worn under blouses or other tops that expose cleavage.  Most (if not all) firearms used during training courses will eject empty brass cases into the air; those brass cases are extremely hot–hot enough to scald/burn/blister when they come in contact with skin.  Such an unwelcome surprise is not only unnecessarily painful, but dangerous while handling firearms.


No student, instructor, nor observer is allowed on the range without the following safety equipment:

  • Clear and/or tinted shooting/safety glasses. Clear for low-light/night training.  Glasses should fully wrap around the face.  [Plastic side-shields will be provided for students whose glasses do not satisfactorily protect from the sides]
  • Hearing protection. Muff-style and/or ear plugs.  Electronic muff-style hearing protectors are very advantageous.
  • Baseball cap or other hat with visor/brim.   Such a hat prevents hot ejected brass from falling behind the shooter’s glasses and burning the eyes/face.


One or more meals may be provided.  However, depending on the venue and other considerations, students may be required to provide their own meals.

Contact DTI if you have questions about meals during your course.

DTI hosts will typically provide plenty of water, but students are encouraged to bring their own water bottles, backpack-style hydration units, sodas, sports drinks, as needed.  Any time spent on the range requires regular liquid intake. NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES!


Among other obvious reasons and uses, we recommend that students bring moistened hand wipes to clean up after handling led-based ammunition prior to eating.

Sun, wind, and bugs can make your life harder than it already is!