In early 2010, I had the epiphany: I needed to bite the bullet. I needed some heavy-duty gun training. I did some asking around. I was overwhelmingly directed to Massad Ayoob and his entry-level MAG 40 course. The four-day class focused on the legal aspects of shooting in self-defense, as well as core handgun skills. By week’s end, my brain was so full I had couldn’t understand a single example of “common sense gun control” that didn’t involve safety, accuracy, legality and self-defense. In short, I was hooked. After a few months practicing what Mas preached I was ready for more . . .
When I learned that Gator Farm Tactical was hosting the follow-on course in my area in March, I was chomping at the bit. MAG 80 spans five full days. It covers advanced handgun skills, introduction to long guns for defense, handgun retention, and a wide range of informational lectures on strategy and tactics.
Unfortunately (for me), Mas busy testifying on behalf of a police officer in a civil suit. Marty Hayes of Firearms Academy of Seattle taught the first half of the course. I was looking forward to training with another member of America’s Armed Intelligentsia.
As one might imagine, a class like this requires a PILE of equipment and supplies:
500 handgun rounds: 450 rounds 38 Special and 50 rounds of .357. I shot my DAO Model 19 for the entire class and brought my 442 snubby as back-up. (Openly, I dreaded this possibility, while secretly relishing the humiliation and punishment it would deal me.)
100 long gun rounds: Shotgun requires 90 (yes, 90!) slugs and ten rounds 00 Buckshot. I wielded an FN-TPS that I own ‘Vicariously’.
Mags and Carriers: I used five Safariland Comp III Speed Loaders and loaded from two custom kydex belt carriers. You need a minimum of 3 mags, but it’s always a good idea to bring extra in case one takes a crap. I also brought speed strips and HKS loaders in the event that I needed to break out the 442
Dummy Gun: You need one dummy gun for the Gun Retention training. Metal or hard plastic is best. Soft rubber flexes too much and you can’t generate enough finger-twisting leverage to train effectively.
Holsters: Custom Kydex IWB from RRCS for my Model 19. Galco Matrix Paddle for the Snubby, and a Galco Fletch, Thumb-Break, Pancake to use with my SIG226 Dummy gun.
- Two sets of glasses with side protection. Muffs and Plugs.
- A brimmed hat to keep hot brass from getting behind your glasses.
- A good sturdy belt like the Galco Instructor Belt.
- Maxpedition’s “Rolly Polly” Dump Pouch for Shotgun shells and loose handgun rounds. This would prove to be invaluable.
- Notepad and Pens. Even though this class is mostly hands on, I still ended up with a heap of notes.
- Knee pads and a ground cover or mat for prone shooting and the wounded/ down positions.
- Cleaning Supplies- Even Glocks and Revolvers need some TLC to stay in peak form during days of shooting and crawling around in the dirt and dust.
With all that, plus clothes, and a big ice chest for lunches and refreshments, I loaded up my borrowed, gas-sipping Civic and drove the three hours south from my home in Phoenix to Sierra Vista, AZ. I had no idea how much I’d learn in those five days. And how much I didn’t know. How could I? [Part 2 to follow.]