Here’s what happens when 2 powerhouses in the outdoor industry meet and cogitate on how best to work to inform the women’s off-body carry market about the importance of training for this method of carry. A course is born. Meet firearms instructor Vicki Farnam, who with Claudia Chisholm, the president of Gun Tote’n Mamas (aka GTM Original), is promoting a new class aimed at training women how to properly draw, fire and then, re-holster – with the holster being in an off-body purse or bag.
The WON: What is the collaborative effort with GTM and why?
Vicki Farnam: Claudia and I started our conversations in the second year GTM had a booth at SHOT Show. I liked her product, its quality, price point and functionality. Off-body carry was not new to me. I find it very useful at times. I managed to get 1 staff member to spend time on the range with me and then Claudia spent a couple of days training with me, and eventually the entire staff joined us. Manufacturing a product and using a product are 2 different things and I kept urging that everyone needed to know how to use this product with real loaded guns in them! That is how we started. Over the years I have done some product testing for her and have worked on projects with staff on the range. This project is a natural evolution of a long association.
The WON: Whose idea was it?
Vicki Farnam: This was a long discussed idea. Claudia asked me last summer if I would create a curriculum for an instructor class
The WON: You’ve been teaching firearms skills for quite a while, and what caused you to think that this is a niche that needs work?
Vicki Farnam: Off-body carry, even in women’s handbags especially designed with holsters and isolated compartments, has been vilified enough! In the firearms training world, we have seen the condemnation of particular ideas without taking into consideration the individual. Physical capabilities, the environment where ones carries and why, and manner of dress do not always lend themselves to on-body concealed holsters as many instructors would like their students to believe. The ideal of one person is not necessarily the reality of someone else. Almost every “tactical gear” manufacturer has a briefcase, messenger bag or backpack – for men to carry off-body.
The WON: What is the importance of learning these skills?
Vicki Farnam: Because off-body carry is vilified, condemned and ignored, there is not a structured learning curriculum. But step-by-step instruction gives us the capability of managing the risk and carefully managing a loaded handgun in our off-body carry mode of choice. All of this is so the handgun will be available to us should our life be in danger.
The WON: I understand the draw is important. Does your training focus on other fundamentals and which ones?
Vicki Farnam: Of course the draw is important as we carefully and efficiently remove the handgun from its holster – no matter if the holster is on a belt, at our waist, or in a compartment in a handbag or briefcase. The class will spend time on this skill. Re-holstering is just as important, but perhaps even more potentially dangerous if we rush to accomplish it! So, we will work on this skill as well. And, once one draws, can you hit the target and manage the off-body carry bag simultaneously? And, we’ll also add movement and the other skills usually in a defensive handgun class.
The WON: Where can people find out more about the classes? Are they just for trainers?
Vicki Farnam: Anyone interested in the class can contact me directly at email@example.com. My office phone is 970-482-2520. The web page is www.defense-training.com and the class is listed under schedule/registration. The web page is undergoing a few tweaks right now, so I would ask people to be patient and contact me directly. I will send a flyer showing dates, cost, course content and equipment. We are requesting that anyone serious about taking this class have some recognized instructor credential, such as the NRA or USCCA. It is also important that they have attended some type of defensive handgun skills class and that they are skilled at drawing from a holster and movement. The first class was held last November with GTM staff (all instructors) and 2 outside instructors who have long been associated with GTM. The next class is scheduled in Ft. Collins, Colorado, April 10 to12, 2020.
The WON: Why did you choose GTM purses for the training?
Vicki Farnam: Again, this has long been a conversation between Claudia and myself. With the completion of the GTM Users Guide, this was an ideal time to inaugurate the class. GTM products are incredibly popular and one of the best on the market.
The WON: Anything else?
Vicki Farnam: I’m sure you are as familiar as I am with the story of the handgun or handbag, or both, that sit on the shelf in the closet because the owner does not know how to use either. Nothing substitutes for solid, knowledgeable and correct training to take away uncertainty about protecting yourself.
Interested in knowing more about Vicki Farnam and her off-body carry7N training? Check out this article at The WON.
Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. She is a contributing editor at "SHOT Business," and her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at ozarkian.com. View all posts by Barbara Baird