Kathy Jackson and line of shooters practice shooting with non-dominant hand.
When Marty Hayes, at the Firearms Academy of Seattle, told me that I needed to take the LFI 3 class from Massad Ayoob this past fall, I was a bit reluctant.
Truthfully, managing to free up the time and resources to take a five-day class which would burn through that much ammunition—100 shotgun rounds, 500 handgun rounds, and 150 rifle rounds—was going to be a bit difficult for me. But Marty was uncharacteristically insistent, and I’ve long made a habit of taking his advice about firearms and firearms training, so I signed up. And I’m glad I did!
Demonstrating a closelytimed drill, assistant Don Stahlnecker kneels with a shotgun at 10 yards while instructor Massad Ayoob keeps an eye on the stopwatch.
While LFI 3 does provide excellent work with handguns (performing the basic LFI qualification at triple speed is not a task for the incompetent), handgun instruction does not dominate the class. Rather, advanced handgun training is provided alongside intermediate shotgun and basic rifle—a neat trick. The class also provides a heavy emphasis on handgun retention techniques: students, armed with dummy guns, work in pairs to perfect their skills and to understand the principles of the Lindell system for handgun disarms and retentions. The final day of class is dedicated to certifying the students in the use of a Kubotan or Persuader (short stick), providing even more hand to hand skills. Couple this with the excellent classroom instruction typical of LFI, and the overall effect of the class is to produce students who are well-rounded in five different self-defense disciplines, with a firm grasp of their own abilities and the limitations of the law.
The class began each morning in the classroom, where instructor Massad Ayoob provided a quick introduction to our plan for the day. Over the course of the next five days, each of the 15 students would be given an opportunity to address the class about some aspect of threat management. This turned into a marvelous opportunity to learn from fellow students: some told stories of harrowing escapes from danger, while others presented carefully-prepared and thoughtful lectures about their own personal areas of expertise which ranged from Muslim terrorism, to fire safety, to domestic violence. Some of those recorded presentations are available through Gail Pepin at the ProArms Podcast (www.proarms.podbean.com).
above: Diane Walls puts the FN SCAR through its paces as LFI 3 students learn to use one low barricade position.
Handgun training in this program focused on speed and manipulation. The basic LFI qualification course provides a good run-through of basic skills at a variety of ranges, with components that include speed reloads, shooting one-handed, shooting from crouched and kneeling positions, and work from all three of the traditional stances at ranges from four yards out to 15 yards. Using this course of fire as a base, Ayoob challenged students to stretch their limits. Students shot the basic LFI qualification “mirror image” (with the non-dominant hand), then shot the course at double speed and again at triple-speed, finally concluding with a “blowout drill” where students ran through the 60-round course at their absolute top speeds. Students also shot several other types of scored qualifications, including a PPC style course which pushed most to the limit of their abilities.
Practicing a rear disarm, LFI 3 student Brian Hallaq rapidly spins around and effectively crashes Ken Ewing’s dummy gun off-target, allowing him to complete the disarm with a minimum of wasted motion.
Why so many qualification shoots? Ayoob explained that this type of shooting serves two purposes. First, shooting the same scored course of fire over time shows personal improvement, motivating students to practice and improve their skills. Provided that the course of fire contains a variety of essential components, students can maintain personal motivation while measuring their progress on an objective scale. Second (and arguably more important), shooting these qualification courses during the class provides an excellent record for future reference. If a student later gets into legal trouble, this clear record of personal excellence should easily prevent or refute claims of negligence or irresponsibility.
After pivoting his torso out of the line of fire, Ken Ewing strips the dummy gun out of the hand of fellow student David Hardy, driving the muzzle “up the track and back” along Hardy’s forearm as instructor Massad Ayoob watches intently.
This same theme carried over into the shotgun portion of the class. LFI 3 places a strong emphasis on learning to run the gun under a variety of challenging conditions. Therefore, students learned to run their shotguns while standing, kneeling, working around barricades, and with only one available hand. We ran POST shotgun qualifications at triple and quadruple speeds, courses which included multiple speed reloads, barricade work, and dropping into a crouch or kneel at distances ranging from seven to 25 yards.
Shotgun has always been a personal bugaboo for me. No, wait, let me put that more honestly: until this class, I hated shotgun, reluctantly forcing myself to participate whenever friends urged me into trying it again. But during this class, I truly enjoyed shooting a shotgun! What made the difference was (of course) good equipment: range buddies Tom and Diane Walls loaned me their Remington 870 which has been customized with a 12-inch Hogue stock and Vang Comp recoil-reducing barrel. Using this sweet little gun with the recoil management techniques taught in the class, I finally managed to master my distaste for shotgunning and keep up with the big boys and girls on the qualification courses.
Diane Walls loads and shoots her tactical 20-gauge shotgun, a Remington 11-87 which she has customized to produce light recoil and fit her small frame.
For recoil management, Ayoob teaches the “Special K” stance: feet are wide and deep, with knees deeply flexed and weight aggressively forward on the balls of the feet. “The traditional upright shotgun stance works well for bunny-fart bird-shot loads,” Ayoob says, “but when you are shooting full-power slugs or double aught buck, and trying to save your life with rapid follow-up shots on multiple targets, you really need the advantage of a strong, aggressive stance to carry you through.”
When taught in other parts of the country, LFI 3 features full auto firearms. Whee! Unfortunately, here in Washington state, full auto firearms are not allowed in the hands of ordinary citizens who might turn into Al Capone or Bonnie Parker Parker at the merest touch of a full-auto trigger. Therefore, we contented ourselves with basic to intermediate-level rifle instruction, including components in one-handed shooting, horizontal and vertical barricades, kneeling positions, and working from prone at 50 and 100 yards.
Shooting a friend’s appropriatelysized 12-gauge shotgun optimized for recoil reduction allowed CCM editor Kathy Jackson to smile at her target as Massad Ayoob noted the score.
Perhaps the most crucial component of LFI 3 is the instruction in the Lindell system of disarms and retention. For a more complete description of this skillset and why it is so crucial, see “Handgun Retention” by Massad Ayoob, CCM Nov/Dec 2009. The advanced students in LFI 3 have already been introduced to these skills in LFI 2; this class focuses on refining technique and performing the skills at speed. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the really cool thing about the Lindell method is that all of the techniques are based on one unifying principle; once you fully understand that unifying principle, you no longer have a collection of individual techniques but a single very simple, very intuitive, very practical method for retaining or regaining the handgun in difficult circumstances.
Ryan Hatch and other students practice keeping their eyes on the target during speed reloads, an important skill.
The final day of LFI 3 is dedicated to mastering the use of the Kubotan or Persuader, a short stick which typically attaches to your keys. Necessary? Only for those who occasionally must enter non permissive environments, such as travelling by airplane. Although Kubotans and other martial-arts tools are not permitted past the checkpoints, these techniques neatly transfer to using sturdy ballpoint pens, small flashlights, and other “non weapon” items effectively and efficiently in self-defense.
Overall, LFI 3 provides students with a wide variety of useful skills in five different disciplines. The program is well structured, using the time efficiently and giving students lots of opportunity to stretch themselves to the limit. I found it a good value for the investment.
[ Kathy Jackson is the managing editor of Concealed Carry Magazine. Co-author of Lessons from Armed America and an instructor at the Firearms Academy of Seattle in Washington state, she takes special pleasure in helping other women learn to shoot. Visit her website at www.corneredcat.com. ]CONTACT:
|Lethal Force Institute www.ayoob.com (800) 624-9049||Massad Ayoob Group (MAG) www.massadayoobgroup.com|
|Firearms Academy of Seattle www.firearmsacademy.com (360) 978-6100|