View Full Version : Lethal Force Institute LFI-I report

June 25, 2001, 07:36 PM
Greetings all,

I just returned last night from Massad Ayoob's Lethal Force Institute. I was there for the 40 hour LFI-I course. The following is a brief read on my impressions. I brought two P7M8s and an Alessi CQC/S holster for the class.

Expectations: I had heard from multiple sources that there were other schools that would teach you more about shooting than LFI. However, the general opinion seemed to be that there was no one else that offered the depth of instruction on the ethical/legal/judicial aspects of the use of deadly force for the civilian. Thus, my expectations centered on enhancing my non-shooting knowledge.

Impressions: Having attended a one-day course at SIG Academy and an IDPA shoot at Blackwater, I was underwhelmed by the "presentation" aspects. Neither the facilities nor the class materials had anything like the panache of those other schools. And guess what - that didn't matter a bit. The quality of the material and instruction was fantastic.

I have heard a lot about Ayoob's arrogance and gruff manner. I found those descriptions to be out of line with my experience. Although VERY confident and VERY focused, he came across as a man of easy good humor and firm dedication to helping the student learn what he had to teach. He also spoke highly of other trainers in the field and other conceptual approaches to the subject. This was particularly impressive when it was a trainer or style with which he disagreed. He had the capability to identify where LFI doctrine and others differed and point out the strengths of opposing views.

His stated goal for the student of LFI-I was 1) a higher-than-law-school understanding of the legal and ethical aspects of the use of deadly force in self defense and 2) a higher-than-police-qualification level of shooting skill. Since the shooting skills were the lowest on my personal check list of importance, I was most surprised to have a stunning technique epiphany during our first range secession.

I have quite long thumbs on average sized hands; they are also double jointed. Thus, when gripping most pistols, I need to spend some time figuring out where to place my flailing digits. Folding the thumbs always seemed to feel unnatural, weaken my grip, and leave a big "chunk o'thumbs" hanging off the weak side of the pistol. In general then, I shoot with a "thumbs forward" grip with the thumbs in line with the bore resting along the side of the frame. This leads to me riding the slid stop on most auto loaders (not the biggest deal). With the P7 series, this grip placed the area of the second joint on my strong thumb high enough that the slide would consistently cut the flesh. To avoid this slicing, I eventually adjusted my grip to move the strong thumb out of the way of the slide. I did this by shifting it out of line with the bore. Thus, instead of riding atop the weak thumb, the strong thumb rested basically in the groove of the weak hand between the thumb and index finger (or thumb and hand-proper depending on how you look at it). The drawback here was that it weakened my grip. I practiced enough that I was comfortable and yet still confident in my ability to control the pistol well enough to achieve acceptable performance. As we were going over the basics of the "Stressfire" shooting technique LFI teaches, Mas' co-instructor Rick suggested that I fold my thumbs in such a way that they were compactly stowed and contributed to the "crush grip" that Stressfire emphasizes. Although dubious, I was immediately rewarded by a (judging roughly) 50% decrease in muzzle flip, an undeniable increase in general controllability, and a 40% shrinkage in group size. To say the least I was stunned. I turned gape-mouthed to Rick and Mas. Mas just patted me on the shoulder and said, "Give it a little time and see if it works for you." I was already sold.

As to the "higher-than-law-school understanding of the legal and ethical aspects of the use of deadly force in self defense," I got exactly what I was expecting. Through lecture, video presentations, and exemplars taken from court cases, Mas walked us through the basics and then some. As our understanding grew and our brains started revving up to the topic, he fielded questions with patience and expertise. Throughout it all, he constantly reminded us that the taking of the life of another citizen was a devastating prospect. We dealt at length with the likely legal, psychological, and financial fallout of a survived lethal encounter. He stressed that LFI was focused on "threat management" and that the firearm was the last tool along the spectrum of tools for threatening situations. On the last day he noted, "Have you noticed that we haven't used the term K.I.S.S. in this class? Why? This ain't simple and you can't afford to be stupid."

Along the way we covered related areas including: ammunition selection, non-firearm defensive skills, home defense issues, tactics, equipment selection, etc. There was a lot of information on how to start learning more about these areas.

I should also point out that he is the most impressive practical shooter I have ever personally seen. Although, by his own admission, no longer a young man, his technique and consistency are impressive in a quite understated way. His technique is simple in a way that shows just how much effort went into developing it (metaphor to the operation of the P7 perhaps!?). Very little "flash". Lots of fast hits.

Class was running by 09:00 and usually ended no earlier than 19:00. Add to that the hour or two of homework (dry fire, other drills, and reading) plus time to eat and clean equipment and you've got several very long days. In my opinion, it's worth it. Every bit. My next class may well be out at Thunder Ranch - to get me in shape for LFI-II.

Contact info. for LFI is:

P. O. Box 122
Concord, NH


Tel: 603-224-6814
Fax: 603-226-3554
E-mail: [email protected]

Sorry to be so long. Hope this helps a bit.

June 25, 2001, 08:08 PM
Thanks. Great report. Regardless of what some may say about Ayoob I think he has a lot to offer despite his constant mention on the Ruger P97.

June 25, 2001, 09:58 PM
Sounds about right. I went through LFI-IV.

June 26, 2001, 12:05 AM
i also attended a lfi-1 class, and came away with an array of info. hell i have about 12 pages of notes (double sided)!
he when the course was over suggested john farnam's class as one of the others to attend.
did 3 days with john and his wife, and his is another class i strongly suggest, if time and funds permit, to attend too.

June 26, 2001, 01:14 AM
Thanks for the info.

June 26, 2001, 07:48 AM
LFI-1: Best bang for the buck! Mas speaks more to the law (correctly too) of self-defense in 4 days than I received in 3 years of L school.

So you don't shoot that much at LFI-1. So what? You'll make up for it if you continue on. As well, I have always referred to LFI as the shield, not the sword. If you want the sword, go to TR. No doubt you need to learn both.

June 26, 2001, 01:35 PM
I've been to LFI-1 and LFI-2. jawper's review of LFI-1 is pretty much inline with my experience. Excellent class that I really consider a must-have. I was less impressed with LFI-2. I don't feel that my shooting skills increased as much as I would have liked. I may try his Advanced Handgun Skills class this August.


June 26, 2001, 01:36 PM
I went through LFI-1 last year. I agree with the above statements wholeheartedly. "Perform the indicated response" has become a regular phrase in my vocabulary, as has "Hollywood foreplay." ;)

June 26, 2001, 01:48 PM
buzz, have you tried "Hollywood foreplay?" Any luck? Not working up here.

June 26, 2001, 02:01 PM
I tried. But, she thought it was a joke. :( At least, I hope she thought it was a joke. Why else would she laugh so much? :rolleyes:

September 7, 2002, 12:05 PM
Hey, jawper. Want to do a report on LFI-II? Be sure to mention how you smoked me during both quals. ;)

September 8, 2002, 08:27 AM
Hey Buzz!

Glad to see you made it home safely. Hope you and Tim had an easy drive. I'll get on writing up an LFI-II report as soon as I can. I'm still recovering, unpacking, and cleaning equipment.

Sure was good to have some time to hang out with you guys. I'm seriously interested in the Thunder Ranch idea. Keep me informed.

As to getting "smoked", let us remind the jury that you outshot me on the shotgun speed qual buy something like 25% . . . .WITH MY OWN F*#$%ING SHOTGUN!!!!!!!


Take care.

September 8, 2002, 03:42 PM
Yup, we made it back around 3:30 Sat. morning. We were both quite a bit punchdrunk. After dropping me off, he had another 30 minute drive. Ouch.

I'll let you handle the review as you did such a great job on LFI-I. Let me just say to everyone reading, make sure you take LFI-II. The weapons retention/disarm training is worth the price of admission. And Mas' jokes only get better (or is that worse) as the class size shrinks.