MAG-180 AAR (Tracy Becker guest post)


 by Tracy Becker Thronburg

The Massad Ayoob Group’s MAG-180 was held Sunday June 24 through Saturday June 30, 2018, in Ripon, Wisconsin. MAG senior staff instructor, David Maglio, hosted the event.

This was the first time the MAG-180 (formerly known as LFI-4) had been held in eleven years. The MAG-180/LFI-4 is Massad Ayoob’s most advanced class. Approximately a year and a half of planning went into making this class happen, as we trained at four different locations. The prerequisite for the MAG-180 was the MAG-40/LFI-1, MAG-80/LFI-2, and MAG-120/LFI-3.

At the MAG-40, you learn the rules of engagement as an armed citizen and how to shoot Mas’s StressFire technique. In the MAG-80, you start learning how to shoot on the move, shoot at further distances and at faster speeds, and are introduced to handgun retention and disarming techniques. In the MAG-120, we learn to train the way Mas and his cadre of instructors train. In the 180, we perfect our instructing techniques for handgun retention/disarm and Persuader (Kubotan®) while shooting challenging handgun and rifle qualifications. Upon successful completion of the MAG-180, you are certified by Massad Ayoob to teach handgun retention/disarm and Persuader (Kubotan®).

There were 24 students in class, four of whom were women. Students from as far away as Utah, Texas, and Florida made the trek to Wisconsin for the 180. We were split into two teams, and Sonja McCarthy (Gail Pepin’s daughter) and I were the team captains (go girl power!). Your days were divided into five hours on the range and five hours of handgun retention/disarm techniques and Persuader (Kubotan®) instruction.

Day one started out at a slaughterhouse in rural Wisconsin. We were instructed to bring our carry guns and carry ammo with us as we would be shooting a pig in the head for a bullet analysis. I shot my Glock 43 (with Dawson Precision sights) with Federal Hydra-Shok 147gr. (regular velocity). Mas coached us individually on where to shoot the pig in the head, and lucky girl that I am, I got to shoot my pig first. One shot and the pig was down. The head was dissected from the body, and then the head was sawed in half, so we could see first-hand what our EDC ammo was capable of doing to a living creature. Gail Pepin was there to photograph the wound cavities, and she spent the week putting together a great PowerPoint of all of the wound cavities from the heads of the pigs shot by the students.

As there were two teams for the 180, half of the day was spent qualifying at the range and half of the day was spent refining your techniques in handgun retention/disarming and Persuader (Kubotan®). David Maglio and his staff of MAG instructors ran the range, and Steve Denney, Ken Kelly, and Massad Ayoob worked with the students on the hand-to-hand combatives.

Every day at the range started with shooting a cold single-speed MAG qualification for score. On our first day at the range, we shot the MAG qualification at quadruple speed. That means you take the times for the single-speed qualification and divide them by 4. The quad speed qual was shot one student at a time, and you either made the par time or you didn’t. The beauty of Mas’s qualification is that it is rather easy to shoot at single speed, but when you start shooting his qualifications at triple and quadruple speed, the level of difficulty increases exponentially.

We shot umpteen MAG qualifications at single, double, triple, and quadruple speeds – all for score. We shot different law enforcement handgun qualifications including the Wisconsin DOJ, the New Jersey State Police qualification, the DHS/ICE qualification, and the FBI handgun qualification. What was interesting about the Wisconsin DOJ handgun qualification was that you had malfunctions that had to be cleared while on the clock (for example, setting up a double feed), clearing it, and then shooting the designated string of fire.  There were also two rifle qualifications and one shotgun (optional) qualification thrown in the mix.

(Here’s a video from a different MAG class showing the pistol qualification run at double speed.  Cut the times in half for the quad speed version and the test requires IDPA Expert/USPSA A class or higher skill level to clean.)

All of Mas’s handgun retention and disarming techniques are designed to pass the Bambi versus Godzilla test, meaning a little, petite lady could use these techniques on Mongo and be successful. The techniques are all leveraged based. Since you don’t get to pick who the bad guy/gal is going to be in real life, Mas has you grapple with everyone on your team. I came back to Texas bruised up and sore (I have the photos to prove it). Steve Denney is as patient as they come when it comes to instructing the handgun retention and disarm techniques, and I wish he and I lived closer so I could practice this with him.

Ken Kelly was our main instructor for the Persuader (Kubotan®) training. Sometime between when I took the MAG-120 in December of 2017 and the MAG-180 in June of 2018, Ken had an idea to make “training” Kubotans. These proved to be great training tools, as they allowed us to work through our number 2 wrist locks/thumb locks/snaps/jabs without having the living daylights beat out of us since we still had to finish qualifying on the range.

One of the criteria to pass the MAG-180 was that you had to teach a handgun retention/disarming technique. The students got to pick the technique they wanted to teach, and you were paired up with another person who had also signed up to teach that technique. The technique I chose was the elbow roll-off. The other student who had chosen the elbow roll-off technique to teach was approximately a foot taller than I with at least a foot more of arm length than I. Mas has pictures of me executing this technique on my partner and taking him down. The techniques work when executed correctly.

On Friday evening, we instructed a group of civilians from the local area in Persuader techniques, and I got to meet two of my Facebook friends (shout out to Alex Kogan and Joshua Glazov).

Our high overall shooter (top gun) was a gentleman who had come up from Naples, Florida. I was the high overall woman shooter.

I learned a lot in this class and made many new friends. I only wish Mas had a fifth level class, so I could have a reason to go train with him some more.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: KR Training August 2018 newsletter – Notes from KR

Comments are closed.