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Old August 20, 2011, 04:57 PM   #1
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MAG-40 class with Massad Ayoob

I think fiddletown had an earlier thread about this class, in a different location.

Anyway, I just finished MAG-40 with Mas at the Firearms Academy of Seattle yesterday. It was $800 (plus plane ticket, hotel, and rental car, plus 440rds of .45acp) well spent. The shooting portion was enjoyable and informative, but I'll discuss that tomorrow in Tactics and Training.

I think the best value the class offers, for shooters who are already competent, is in the training Mas provides in the classroom about Self-Defense law and case law, and the practical advice he gives about these issues.

I highly recommend this class to anybody; the class I trained with had 29 students, to include an ER doctor, several nurses, and a bunch of military veterans. Of the 29, 24 had bachelor's degrees or higher. Everybody learned something, and all the feedback was positive.

Marty Hayes, Kathy Jackson, and the rest of the FAS instructors were first-class, too.

Additionally, Mas brought in local attorneys, and the local chief coroner, to give certain lectures to the class.

Be advised, MAG will only accept students with carry licenses, LE or military IDs, or some other proof of completed background checks.

Anybody interested in the class schedule (and locations) should check
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Old August 20, 2011, 08:46 PM   #2
Al Norris
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I think this would be a really good fit in the Tactics & Training forum, unless you were going to discuss something else in this thread... Perhaps the legal areas of the class?

I'll leave it here, until I hear from you.

Otherwise, sorry, it is off topic for L&CR.

ETA: Heard from MLeake. Moving to T&T.

Last edited by Al Norris; August 20, 2011 at 10:35 PM. Reason: Moving the thread
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Old August 21, 2011, 04:40 PM   #3
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What does MAG stand for?
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Old August 21, 2011, 05:24 PM   #4
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Massad Ayoob Group. It more or less replaced LFI.

Anyway, I agreed with Al that this thread should be moved to Tactics and Training, after all. So here it is.

Now, while I found the legal aftermath aspects of the course to be the most useful, for my purposes, there were several pretty new shooters there who showed exponential improvement in their mechanical skills. Some of us more experienced types were also able to polish a thing or two.

If you've read In The Gravest Extreme, and followed Mas' articles over the year, you should have a pretty good idea of what will be entailed in the legal issues portions of class, although he also cites plenty of cases and precedents that have happened since the book was published. While on that topic, Mas is very good about citing sources, and also encouraging students to do their own research. The first day of class, he went into detail about how to use county courthouse legal libraries and findlaw, and the types of information we might want to seek.

If you've read Stressfire, you should have a pretty good idea of the basic stances and methods the hands-on portion entails. Weaver, Chapman, and Isosceles are covered in the classroom, then run as dry-fire on the range, and then put to work at various distances on silhouette and IPSC targets.

Mas uses the same basic method (classroom ,then dry fire, then live fire) to teach his "Punch" one-handed shooting method; his Cover Crouch; his High Kneel; and his Low Kneel. Mas also went into great detail on his "Crush Grip" technique, which helps minimize "milking the trigger" and limp-wristing, all in one go, when combined with a High Grip.

Our class had 29 students, so while on the range, we had several FAS instructors acting as assistant trainers, safety officers, and RO's as needed.

Gail Pepin came with Mas; she's a women's IDPA champion for North Florida and Georgia, and runs a firearms related podcast. From FAS, Marty Hayes was there, as well as Kathy Jackson (aka Pax here on TFL). Gila Hayes, Rick, and Don also helped out.

Everybody learned something. For some people, they learned good basics for the first time. For others, we received some fine tuning.

Kathy Jackson taught me that the reason for my occasional high flyer (if you ever look at one of my targets, the center will be punched out, but there will be at least one high flyer, and sometimes at least one low flyer) was that I tend to want to see where my shots have gone. By working on better follow-through, I was able to minimize that tendency.

Marty Hayes got me to slow down just a bit, recognize when my sights were starting to drift, and back off for just an instant while I recovered. Sounds basic, and I suppose it is, but Marty and Mas both really wanted me (and others as possible) to shoot a 300 on the final exam. Mas offers a signed $1 if you tie him on the final, and a signed $5 if you beat him. To tie him, you need to shoot the same score. To beat him, if the score is maxed, you have to beat him on group measurement... Good luck with that one - although Mas and Marty had their own side bets.

Mas got me to grip the gun tighter than I normally do, and to ignore the slight oscillation that would cause. His premise is that for SD purposes, a target shooter's relaxed grip won't work - epinephrine levels are too high - so the Crush Grip is more practical. I tend to agree. (For those who wonder, I am currently working with a Captains of Crush grip set, and can close the number 1.5, aka 167.5lbs tension, grips with either hand. Next step, which I've just started working on, is the number 2 aka 190lbs tension. My grip ain't exactly weak, but I was always taught to grip the gun gently. Having tried the Mas Crush Grip, I like it, and that is now my default.)

Long story short, the new guys all improved a lot; the older guys all improved at least a little; I shot my 300, and now have a signed $1 bill. (Mas shot a 4" group, 60 rounds, IPSC target... Aaaaargh.... and Marty beat him by 1/16" on their side bet... and they were both shooting revolvers...)

The $5 would have been nice, but my M&P45 and I weren't quite up to that; however, I can accept tying with Mas for points, thank you very much.

One last note: I also picked up a few neat teaching tricks that I'll have to try in the near future with my wife and a couple select friends.

Last edited by MLeake; August 21, 2011 at 06:52 PM. Reason: cleaning up poor grammar
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Old August 21, 2011, 05:35 PM   #5
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Note on these targets: I was shooting at the 19 position. I think these were Day 3 of the 5 day course. IIRC, these were after shooting one-handed drills, with either hand.

The point I want to make with this photo is that the young woman who was shooting at station 18 was a relatively new shooter (4 years since she first started) taking her second formal class, first with Mas; by day 5, she went from what you see there to a 298 score on the IPSC target, with one shot about 1.5" from the A zone, and the other one with just enough white between bullet hole and A zone line to keep it from getting the line-cut upgrade.

Her improvement was typical of that shown by the other, newer shooters in class.

Everybody passed, although the weakest shooter from Day 1 was still the weakest shooter on Day 5 - but she needed a 225, and shot a 226. A grandmother, she had waited to start exercising her permit until taking this class, and was shooting a Glock 26...

Another grandmother won "Most Improved;" and she was shooting an LCR...

Last edited by MLeake; August 21, 2011 at 06:53 PM. Reason: more grammatic OCD, sorry
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Old August 21, 2011, 05:46 PM   #6
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Some points on Mas, as I've read a few others on TFL bash on him a bit.

1) I had never met him before, but we have some mutual friends. They had spoken highly of him. Also, I've been reading his articles since I was 15. If you can't tell from the photo, I'm 43 now, so I've been reading his writings for 28 years or so. My expectations were pretty high.

2) I've read people call him arrogant; I've read posts on this forum that accused him of making stuff up.

That said, Mas turned out to be as nice a guy as my friends had told me he was. He encouraged questions and discussion, although if a topic were likely to create too much veer he referred to it as a "Rolling Rock question," as in let's meet after class, and shoot the bull over a Rolling Rock, and we can argue Glock vs 1911, 9mm vs .45, etc. He was quite happy to do exactly that, too.

He told a lot of jokes, most of which made himself the butt of the humor. He occasionally tweaked somebody in the class, but always in a friendly manner, and always ended by turning the joke around on himself.

And, as noted, he encouraged outside reading and verification of everything covered.

The FAS instructors were all very helpful on the range. It was quite apparent that they really wanted to see everybody do well, particularly the newer shooters.

Safety was emphasized from Day 1. Policy was that the first safety violation removes you from the range for the day, but you can watch. The second violation would result in expulsion, no refund. Nobody had a first violation, let alone a second one.

The final shooting course was a mix of the New England qualification course, and the FBI qualification course. Mas said that if it came to a court case, he'd like to be able to show that his students had met minimum standards for the FBI - since ability and knowledge can be defended, whereas ignorance and incompetence are a quick path to a Manslaughter conviction.

To sum up, good course, with both legal and practical shooting aspects covered in detail; Mas is a good instructor, and easy to get along with; Mas brings in guest instructors (in this case, the Lewis County Chief Coroner to cover forensic investigative technique, and a pair of attorneys who help arrange Gun Trusts). Rumors of Mas' massive ego are highly overrated. As Mas puts it, he isn't arrogant, as he's much too big a person for that. (You either get it or you don't..... if you get it, it's funny; if you don't, he's arrogant. I got it.)

I highly recommend the class.

Edit: My bust, it was the New England course from Rhode Island that contributed the 10yd portion of the shoot, not New Hampshire. Corrected.

Last edited by MLeake; August 21, 2011 at 09:08 PM.
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Old August 21, 2011, 05:53 PM   #7
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Sorry, but one last thing (edit: I should know better - make that two last things):

I forgot to mention, but Mas also had a very informative video on securing your house against home invasion and burglary. Not really legal nor tactical, in the sense tactics are usually discussed on TFL, but very useful stuff. From motion sensors to landscaping to floor plans, to oft-forgotten access points into the home.

Oh, yeah, and Marty Hayes also runs a group called the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. For $85 per year, plus an additonal $50 per family member in your home that you would like to cover, you get: a list of local attorneys specializing in criminal law who will help conduct initial investigations if you have an SD event; $10,000 up front for that investigation: and, should the case look like legitimate SD to the investigators, yet get prosecuted anyway, ACLDN may provide more money to assist with the defense. ACLDN also has an online newsletter for members.

And Mas and Marty will both act as Expert Witnesses for the defense, should a defense ever become necessary in a case of what they feel is legitimate SD.

Not exactly something to sneeze at, should Bad Things happen someday down the road.

I signed up my wife and me.



Last edited by MLeake; August 21, 2011 at 06:13 PM. Reason: Network not Fund....
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Old August 22, 2011, 10:58 PM   #8
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Outstanding reporting and very interesting reading! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

I have read Ayoob's books and regularly follow and look forward to his articles in American Handgunner and Backwoods Home. I have learned much from his writings. He may be a little cocky, but in a good way. I believe he's earned his stripes, so to speak...
No one prays harder for peace than the soldier.
"We Dare Defend Our Rights", Alabama State Motto...
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Old August 22, 2011, 11:36 PM   #9
Frank Ettin
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It sounds like it was a great class. Congratulations. And I'm envious that you were able to meet Kathy Jackson and Marty Hayes. I need to plan an expedition up to FAS sometime.
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