MDFI – Carbine 1 in Tucson, Arizona

Day two of MDFIs Tucson classes in January 2008 was Carbine 1. A course designed to teach students how to effectively and safety operate and shoot a light rifle at close range.

Steve Fisher’s approach to this class was the same as the Handgun 1 class the day before. He teaches the essentials and does a good job of teaching to the level of the students experience. This was the first carbine instruction for most of the class, but they all caught on quickly and they shot many drills.

All but one shot an AR15. One student shot 1400 rounds on Friday (but that was for both Carbine 1 and Low Light classes)

Defensive Carbine – Level One

General Information:
Limited to 12 participants.
Cost $125.00

This is the first level to becoming a more proficient user of the magazine-fed rifle or carbine (AR-15, Mini-14, AK-47, etc.)
This class will prepare you for Carbine II.

CPL or other pistol marksmanship certification.

Topics Covered:

  • Proper fighting stance.
  • Sight in for proper zero.
  • Holdover.
  • Malfunction drills.
  • Shooting from 50 yards, and beyond.
  • Choices in gear.
  • Explore the myths surrounding this weapons system.


  • Carbine (Pistol caliber carbine may be used.)
  • 600 rounds of carbine ammunition.
  • 100 rounds minimum handgun ammunition.
  • Minimum of 3 magazines.
  • Something to hold magazines on body.
  • Handgun and holster (no cross-draw or shoulder rig holsters will be allowed.)
  • Sling system.
  • Snacks and drink for 8 hours of training.
  • Centerline Classes: Lunch can be bought at the gun club or you may provide your own.

This class is held outside, so dress appropriately for the weather.

Students started day two, the Carbine 1 class with zeroing in their rifles. Casey watched shot placement and students dialed in their rifles to 50 yards. Most were already zeroed, so this went fast, and a few things were learned in the discussion during this session. Later the students would be learning alternative types of prone

The MDFI Level One Carbine class was very complete and well thought out. Steve taught from his manual, so he covered his whole curriculum and because we all stayed later for a Low Light class, we actually did a bit more than a typical Level One class might.

Steve was as comfortable shooting the carbine in front of the class as he was shooting pistol. He was able to demonstrate each drill he asked the students to do, so they could see both how to do it and that it’s possible to be very accurate and fast with practice.

All but one student used an AR15. One was actually an M-16 and a few were Short Barreled Rifles (SBRs)

Steve’s AR15, a fairly simple rig, with just the necessary quality parts. This keeps it light and easy to shoot and Steve has used this one so much he can shoot it at very high speed. although he’s not slow on the other ARs he tried out either.

This is some kind of AR break that people seemed to like

On Thursday night a group of us visited Tucson Guns and Western Artifacts on Tucson’s east side. Some of the guys bought things they needed for the carbine and low light classes on day two. Tucson Guns was happy to help out the class. Casey had a good time at the shop and took this photo with the gatling gun. On Friday one of the students helped Steve add a new break to one of his AR15s.

One of the students shot an AK47 for a portion of the class using this BattleLab AK47 Low Vis. Rack LV6 This LV6 rack features: 2- Small grenade pouches, 1 Medium GP pouch with chem light holders, 3-AK47 Mag Pouches, 3 GP Pouches (center), Radio pouch, 2-9mm Mag pouches, adjustable shoulder and waist straps.

Training courses like these are an opportunity to test gear and equipment. Some of the issues students found were a loose rear sight (need locktite) and a poorly placed med kit (moved it to the other side of the chest rig)

All but one of the students (and both of the instructors) used am AR-15 and one student had an M-16. All the AR15s had collapsible stocks four used a forward pistol grip.

All the ARs used a railed front handguard and everyone used some type of optic. Four used an EO tech, and two used Aimpoints. The students had no issues with optics that I noticed

One student went with an alternative platform, and used a Korean DaeWoo. These are sort of a hybrid between an AR15 and an AK47. They use AR15 magazines and an AK47 gas system which allows it to have a side folding stock

One of the skills taught was how to pick up a magazine while still keeping your weapon ready. This is an important point because you want to keep your head up and eyes on the threat if you are using your rifle

Students were encouraged to practice this technique. Like most disciplines, shooting requires personal commitment. Steve didn’t attempt to force students to use this method, but he encouraged those who did. Students who kept these kind of techniques in mind and used them, got the most from the class and it may pay off if they ever need to use these skills

Steve looked for the “lightbulbs going off” as he offered new tips and methods to the class. One time that happened to everyone was when he explained why to carry a good strong knife.. not for self defense, but for clearing the most difficult of the type three malfunctions. These kind of tips are used rarely, but are great tricks to know to save crucial time in a fight

The class did many malfunction drills. These are the basic skill of any shooter. Clearing the malfunctions that will happen, and knowing what to do to attempt to eliminate them are the core of most carbine classes

We took a long lunch since this was going to be a long day. We used a laptop to check the messageboards but they were quiet that day. The temperatures were a bit warmer than Thursday, the max Temperature was 60 °F and it was about 45 ° when we arrived. It stayed a bit warmer for the low light class, but it was still cold enough to wear a jacket

Steve demonstrated a few techniques for alternating to your off hand. This illustrated the need for training such as this. I’ve seen photos like these two offhand positions before, and I’ve tried switching from my strong hand to the weak side with my AR15 in these two positions. I never really knew how to smoothly get into the faster method, so I didn’t understand the reason to do it. But seeing it done enlightened me and I think I would have dismissed this technique if I had not seen it again in this class.

Again this group of students learned quickly and soon they were starting to shoot on the move

A few drills were run as a group. but for safety the more difficult or complicated drills were run in pairs or one on one. Steve even touched on some team tactics like being aware of your partner, and communicating with each other while on the move and shooting. Transitions were stressed over reloads. Stay in the fight and reload behind cover if possible

Drills that cover walking forward, backward and to the obliques. Moving is designed to cover distance while engaging a threat. Practice makes perfect on a crucial skill like this

After movement was alternative shooting positions with the carbine. I knew a few styles of prone before this course and now I know a few more. Some critics of the AR15 platform suggest it’s height restricts it from being used to shoot from under cover. Those critics should take this MDFI Carbine 1 class

The AR15 needs just a few inches of space over the ground to operate, students learned first hand how to keep the AR15 low while shooting accurately. One student took a charging handle to the nose during one of these drills. We all learned from that, thanks to R for taking one for the group. you kept on shooting and we learned from that example too.

Fighting your way out of a shooting position is another way this class was unique. The was the first class where returning to a stand was part of a prone drill. Steve encouraged students to keep alert, scan and communicate while recovering from laying down for prone. In this way all the previously taught skills (after actions, kneeling, movement, etc) were used all day.

Steve illustrated a few police style team drills used to lay down continuous fire while moving as a group. While this might not be level one instruction, the demos were interesting, and we were passing time until the night shoot. We didn’t show up late to make up for the extra time we would stay for the Low Light course later. So the students received an entire day of carbine instruction, then in addition, a few hours of low light demos and Q&A then a full 3 hour course of low light / night shooting drills and demos. MDFI really gave these students their moneys worth.

One useful / clever piece of kit is this collapsible cleaning rod. Like a tent pole, it has a cord through the separate parts, which keep them together and in place to quickly go together. They come in a nylon belt pouch

This was Day Two of a Two Day, Three Class visit from MDFI

Day One – Handgun 1
Click here for the review

Day Two – Carbine 1
Click here for the review

Day Three – Low Light
Click here for the review

Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute is a Michigan-based training company that has been providing real-world firearms training to military, law enforcement, and qualified civilians since 2001.

Classes available for groups or individuals, beginners or advanced training.

American Confederation of Tactical Shooters
ACTS Purpose

To provide a sport in which Civilian rifle owners along with Military and Law Enforcement professionals can practice ‘real world’ shooting skills in a sporting venue that has not been offered by any other shooting discipline or association.

To promote the safe practical, proficient use of rifles. To foster sportsmanship and camaraderie among rifle owners, and to support and defend the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

MDFI was brought down to Tucson by Scott who runs the Tucson ACTS matches each month. Scott knew that Steve was a good instructor through his participation in ACTS, so he invited MDFI to Tucson. Scott coordinated the range and collected students.

Thanks to Scott. Also big thanks to Jim another ACTS shooter who also helped out by driving the Michiganers to and from the airport and to the range, to dinner, to the gun shop, etc. . and thanks to Tucson Guns who provided some supplies for the classes.

Look forward to seeing MDFI in Tucson again soon

Are you interested in shooting an ACTS match?
Come down and check us out. Visitors are welcome, just check in at the office and let the range officers know who you are and they will get you a tour of the ranges, and you can talk to the shooters and see how the stages are shot. We are all proud of our safety record (zero incidents) and are happy to answer questions. If you live in Phoenix, Casa Grande, Benson, Serria Vista or anyplace else within driving distance. Come on down and shoot with us. You will literally have a blast. It’s not like shooting at any range you’ve shot before and the skills you’ll learn could one day save your life.