One Life Defense - Defensive Gunfighting Pistol 1 with Varg Freeborn

RJ Boyer

I just completed the June 18th, 2017 Defensive Gunfighting Pistol 1 class with Varg Freeborn of One Life Defense ( in Southington, OH and I wanted to give my thoughts to the group.

I came to learn about Varg in one of his Primary & Secondary Modcast appearances. After I saw his first one, I started to do a bit more research into him and his company. As I started to read up, I became more and more interested in his background and unique experiences in the world. To paraphrase Varg, he has significant experience and exposure to violence and the criminal world due to his upbringing. In a field of trainers who are former military or former law enforcement, someone coming from the other side of the equation was of significant interest to me. My current role as mostly a government employee desk sitter gives me a slight requirement for his professional knowledge, but his training (at least the DGP1 course) is focused on the civilian concealed carry market which I am in most of the time. To give you a yard stick, while our benevolent government has seen fit to provide me with some professional training (both military and civilian) I have only become a more series training attendee in the last year or so. I have been lucky so far as to have very good instructors in the private sector such as Trek from MDFI, Aaron Cowan with Sage Dynamics, and one on one time with P&S own Scott "Jedi" Jedlinski. Spoiler alert - Varg is outstanding as well.


Varg's website is very easy to navigate, the information is provided in good detail and the course sign up and check out is very intuitive.

Communication with Varg was positive and directly with him via e-mail. His directions about what to bring for the course and where the link up point was so the students could travel together to his private range were spot on and very easy for someone to follow.

Equipment used
Glock 19 "Roland Special"
SOE Low Profile EDC belt
M3 Tactical Kydex FEDLR AIWB holster
Gun Craft IWB magazine carrier
Approximately 300 rounds of 124 gr 9mm (S&B Government Contract ammo from S&G Ammo made in Germany just in case anyone is interested)


The course was scheduled to run from 1000 to 1800 June 18th (Sunday, Father's Day). There were seven students in the course including myself which made me extremely happy. Any time the training course I am in is under 10 students, I get pumped due to the extra one on one time with the instructor. The students met up at the rally point, convoyed over to the range just a mile or so away and got settled in. Range was already set up and prepped. The course started right at 1000 on the dot with all students on line, clearing our weapons with a safety briefing by Varg to follow. He started with his rules of firearms safety which were a blend of the normal four that we all know, but with an add on and focus on understanding the condition our weapons were in, which I liked. All throughout the course, Varg would come back to this and expand upon it, using historical references from Feudal Japan which were very enlightening to me. He moved on to the medical brief, the range familiarization, and the general schedule of the day.

Varg indicated (and one of the things I was looking for from him) that this was going to be a lecture/talking/discussion heavy class and the first hour and a half to two hours focused purely on discussion of defining our mission, the fact that all other things (gear selection, training, behavior, etc) revolve around that mission, and then thought process about when to get involved in a lethal force event. His personal experiences, and real world way of looking at this was a very fresh prospective. I had looked at something this way previously, but other things such as moral systems and what I will call the "White Knight" syndrome were discussed that will require much thought on my part to see if I might want to attempt to change the way I think about things. We also covered the legal issues faced in a shooting, the fact that the use of a knife might not be the best of options, and some other topics that normally are not covered in an entry level class which I found to be of great benefit. I won't go into much more detail since I won't be able to do Varg justice and of course you really should take his class to get the information from the sources mouth.

After this we moved into some drills on weapon clearing, following by a diagnostic shooting string which was, well at least on my part craptastic. From that point forward we moved in to build us back up and get our shooting back where it needed to be. This would be a good point to say that one of the students was a brand new shooter. That student's improvement from morning to the evening was dramatic. Right towards the time where lunch was about to happen, a nice solid rain shower moved in which enabled us to fire our last string focusing on trigger reset in a good downpour. Which gave me my one minor issue of the day. A rain drop got in between the laser emitter on my RMR and the glass and caused the dot to shift its location on the glass dramatically. After finishing up with my iron sights, I figured out what was going on and one sweep of my finger solved the problem.

Lunch was had during another rain storm and started the lecture that I really drove the 400 miles from VA to OH for. The topic of the talk was the psychological effects of taking another person's life and how one can go about preparing themselves ahead of time. A very good conversation started about PTSD. The conversation had in the middle of the course was worth the cost of travel, ammo, time, etc. As a veteran who has dealt with some of these things, I can not tell you how useful this conversation would have been about 17 years ago to a certain young private entering the Army. Once again, even if everything else during the course was worthless (and it was far from it) this talk was gold. I am being vague again since this is the whole reason for Varg's training in my position. A lot of instructors have never had to use lethal force against another human being. The rest have, but usually in a position of a sworn law enforcement officer or military member. I do not know of any other instructors out there who have had to use lethal force as a civilian and also who has experience on what we would normally call "the other side of the law."

After the lecture, we started up the live fire again, shooting from retention, then working on drawing from concealment against steel, then a little bit of transition work on those steel plates (where the red dot and Jedi's teachings really paid dividends), then ending with strong hand and weak hand only firing. The course ended with one last magazine against steel and a debrief focusing on the topics which each of us students took away from the course.


My meager public school education does not allow me to get across in words the level of learning that occurred in the eight hours I was with Varg. So just trust me when I say, pay the $125.00 (yes, that price is right) and learn from someone who has a completely different view point and set of experiences than other trainers out there. Every learning point was based around fighting and not an abstract idea. I am looking forward to my next class with Varg.