What Do I Think About The ND At MAG-40?

I was recently invited to attend Massad Ayoob’s MAG-40 class, in Southington Ohio. As some of you may know, this class was somewhat unusual in that halfway through TD4 the lead instructor, Massad Ayoob, ND’d a revolver into the air while demonstrating trigger control techniques to a group of students. You can read Mas’ account of the incident HERE, and also Paul Carlson’s (the class host) account HERE. In the interest of full disclosure, I was the other instructor that Paul mentions in his account of the incident, additionally, I was invited to attend the course by Mas and therefore was not a paying customer. To the best of my knowledge and recollection, I find both accounts to be factually accurate, though obviously colored by the perception of each person writing the account.

Several people have asked me to publicly comment on this. Frankly, at this point I feel that almost everything that needs to have been said publicly, about the incident and the events surrounding it, has been. I believe this incident was preventable, and have offered suggestions to the people involved that I feel would be best practice to prevent something similar from happening in the future. For those wanting a general shape of what those suggestions were, many of Paul’s observations RE: physical/policy factors leading up to the event, mirror my own. I see no need to comment further in a way that will detract from the learning points already readily available from this incident.

A specific learning point, FOR ME, that I’ve not seen brought up is the absolute need for what Dr. William Aprill calls pre-need decision making in ANY endeavor that may have life or death consequences. In the moments immediately preceding the ND I did in fact find myself considering whether or not to intervene, as I found the general situation to be very close to the edge of my personal window of acceptable risk versus reward for the combination of class environment and general student body as it existed in that moment. Before I had made a decision to act one way or another however, the event was over. This is similar to one of the difficulties for people who suddenly find themselves involved in a violent encounter, who have never considered the event that they are now facing, and by extension, have not considered what their pre-determined response might be. Because of the relatively quick nature of the event, by the time a decision regarding the novel stimuli presented to you has been reached, it’s already happened.

I don’t claim to have any answers in this regards, it’s just a personal observation that I would suggest any who read this begin considering. Additionally, if you consider safety to be a destination that one can arrive at, versus an endless journey filled with numerous obvious and not so obvious pitfalls, I would kindly suggest you reframe your thinking.

As to the class itself, I would still highly recommend that if people are able to attend, and have an interest, they do so.


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