“Front sight, crush grip and a smooth roll on the trigger is the last cheat sheet before the ultimate final exam.”
– Massad Ayoob
I was trying to define why I wanted to take this class, but I can’t do a better job than how my friend Tam described it, “A MAG40 class from Massad Ayoob,” she said, “is one of the stations of the cross for people seriously interested in developing their ability with the defensive pistol.” Massad has been writing about and teaching the defensive pistol for decades now, and he is THE person when it comes to dealing with the legal after-effects of using a pistol to defend your life. Let’s face it, we lost Rauch, we lost Cooper, we lost Cirillo and the number of trainers like Massad Ayoob, who have been there from the very start, is growing smaller with each passing year.
The class was hosted by Paul Carlson of Safety Solutions Academy. The range portion was taught at The Southington Hunt Club by David Maglio, a veteran law enforcement officer and senior instructor with the Massad Ayoob Group, and the classroom legal stuff was taught at a nearby hotel meeting room by Mas himself.
The Range: MAG20 Live Fire
The first day started off with training safety, stances, grip… the usual stuff. I came into this class not expecting to learn something new during the range portion, but I was pleasantly surprised when I learned how to significantly improve my strong-hand only/weak-hand only shooting, something that’s eluded for me YEARS. The MAG20 qualifier is based on elements from various police qualification courses and to be honest, it’s not that hard. I was more handicapped by my out-of-date prescription lenses than I was by the course of fire. Nevertheless, I managed to shoot 96% on it with my tiny little S&W Shield, a feat that I am somewhat proud of.
The Classroom: MAG20 Armed Citizens Rules Of Engagement.
Let’s face it: 99% of what we know about how to defend ourselves in the courtroom after a defensive gun use comes from what Massad Ayoob has been teaching all these years, and I had heard much of it before. However, just because you’ve listened to a lot of rock and roll, it doesn’t mean you understand how good Chuck Berry really was, and Massad Ayoob is the Chuck Berry of defending the use of lethal force in self-defense inside the courtroom. The advice he gave out in class was simple, sound and is rooted in years and years of defending the legal use of self-defense in our nation’s courts. One thing that I learned in the MAG20 classroom made so much sense, I thought I’d share it here.
We’ve heard, over and over again, not to use hand-loaded ammunition in our self-defense guns, but what I never knew before this class was WHY.
The answer is quite simple: If (God forbid) we need to defend a life with our gun, our gun and the ammunition it contains will become evidence, and the court may need to replicate the circumstances surrounding our defensive gun use, up to and including shooting similar guns using similar ammunition to replicate the circumstances before, during and after we pulled the trigger.
With factory ammo, this is not a problem, as example rounds are kept of each case lot of ammo at the factory, but how do we replicate a hand load without the defendant (us) pulling the handle on the press? Could that be an issue in a defensive gun use that might invalidate evidence that would otherwise free us for the court’s grasp?
You bet it is.
I was also pleased that Massad’s comment about the influx of military trainers into the United States mirrors my own thoughts. As he put it, “A whole lot of the wartime rules of engagement do not apply to armed civilians and law enforcement inside the United States.” Not that there’s anything wrong with learning from someone who’s been in the military, but if, say, you take a course in Medieval Spanish literature, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t help you order up some food in a backstreet cantina in Hermosillo.
You may think that a class like this is something for the hard core student of the gun, but you’d be wrong. In our class of nine, there was one guy, Javier, who had never taken a firearms training class of any kind before in his life. His progression as a shooter over the two days on the range was a joy to watch, and he was hailed at the end of the class as the most-improved person in the class because, well, he was.
If Javier can do it, so can you, and that’s just one of the reasons why I’d recommend taking a MAG40.