MDFI – Handgun 1

Steve Fisher of MDFI offered a Level One Handgun and a Level One Carbine Class on Thursday and Friday in January. Six students attended both classes, and since the level of proficiency was high and the students were comfortable with the new skills, Steve offered to also teach his low light shooting on Friday evening. The students agreed (of course) and we all stayed late after the carbine class on Friday to learn and shoot in low light and darkness

The handgun class was unique in my experience. Steve has a very direct philosophy when it comes to fighting and he sums it up in one word.. win. With that in mind his instruction was not to teach specific movements or techniques, instead he honed each students techniques, he coached them and offered alternatives when needed.

I attended the first two classes Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute (MDFI) offered in Tucson, Arizona. I hope it will be the first two of many.

Defensive Handgun – Level One

General Information:
Limited to 12 participants.
Cost: $125.00

Class will move participants from basic CCW/CPL training and brings you up to speed on the real world skills you need to learn to increase your chances of surviving a lethal encounter.


  • CPL or other pistol marksmanship certification.

Topics Covered:

  • Trigger Control (increase accuracy and speed.)
  • Speed vs. tactical reloads.
  • Shooting on the move, multi- targets.
  • Multiple targets.
  • Proper use of cover.
  • And more.


  • Firearm (no .22 caliber except for medical reasons.)
  • 500 rounds of ammunition.
  • 3 magazines or speed-loaders.
  • Holster (no shoulder or cross-draw.)
  • Eye and ear protection.
  • 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.

The classes were held in mid January at the Pima Pistol Club, just north of Tucson, Arizona.

The temperatures were mild Max Temperature was 52 °F and it was about 42 ° both when we arrived and when we left.

We all arrived at 8:30 am and started shooting at about 8:45

Started with basic drills to warm up both the students skills but their muscles as well

Steve is no slave to technique. He requires his students to be both smart and safe, but beyond that he allows students to use their preferred styles and methods

Steve demonstrated how to correctly shoot in the various styles, positions and types of draw, etc.

Steve has been shooting a long time and is fast, I was able to get this shot of him shooting his M&P 9mm with three spent cases in mid air. These shots all landed in an area the size of a silver dollar at 7 yards, give that a try next time you are at the range

The class asked questions and they discussed the pros and cons of the various popular schools of thought. In the end Steve encouraged the students to know them all but use and practice what was appropriate for them and their usual “area of operation” for this class this would be typical citizen CCW and defensive shooting

After actions were stressed and after each drill students performed their scans

Steve introduced a drill that is new to me done with a standard 8.5×11″ sheet of paper with 9 circles as you can see. The drill was to hit each dot with a different technique. For example. hole #1 ragged hole drill, #2 5 shots from the holster, #3 & #4 , one shot each in succession, #5 strong hand only, etc This is a great drill designed to use 50 rounds (a box) or ammo and can be done at most indoor ranges

Steve is one of the few instructors I’ve seen so far who would effortlessly pause during instruction to demonstrate drills with great precision. And he did so consistently, that kind of example goes a long way for the students

The best part of this drill is, when all is said and done, no matter how you did on the drill, your shots were all effective.

The morning moved fast as the students were motivated, skillful and had all had some amount of prior training. This is always fun, especially when they all agree to get into more advanced drills as a result.

After every few drills the class to a break to reload, drink and rest. The simple but effective facilities at the Pima Pistol Club really made breaks effective. Some times students tend to separate during breaks, but the benches, tables and chairs at the range made it possible for students to keep their gear together and secure. This was made for some interesting conversations during breaks everyone seemed to have a real good time

Movement, alternative draws, off hand, and retention were all covered in this class. And students were shown dozens of drills to use in their practice routines

We broke for lunch as a group and went to a nearby restaurant. Steve encouraged us to eat as a group, we even pulled tables together so that no one was excluded from the conversation. We reviewed the mornings progress, and steve offered to add an additional module to the two days of classes since all the students would be attending both days. And Night Shooting instruction would follow the carbine class on friday. Students all were happy to stay late and bring lights the next day

After lunch the students worked on more advanced drills and retention

Shooting from retention was not new to most of these students, but most had learned other techniques to shoot from here

Shooting from retention is done when you are in imminent threat of having your weapon taken or you are being physically assaulted.

Demonstrations of choices and consequences were demoed and Q&A sessions followed

During the breaks to re hydrate and rest and reload we reviewed the concepts from the previous drills. We also went over gear and equipment issues that were encountered

Students taped their own targets but only shots that strayed from the vital areas. This was not a marksmanship class, so as long as your shots were in a hand size group you were doing POK. The drills and instruction were to learn how to safely bring your weapon into play and use it efficiently

This was the first time I’ve attended a class where both instructors carried an M&P. They both had a 9mm, Steve and Casey let us shoot them to see how they were. Steve’s has a Crimson Trace Grip Laser. These shot well in my opinion, but they have a slightly different trigger than the Glock which I am more used to. It was nice to get the chance to shoot these though and a few of the students I talked to are closer to buying one now

Students brought a few Short Barreled rifles and an M-16 which we shot a bit after class.

We collected up the brass and said our goodbyes, We were all going to be there the next day for the Carbine class so we headed home to eat and rest

The class used cardboard targets and simple wood frames which were changed out every few drills so that shot placement could be monitored easily

The facilities at Pima Pistol Club are great for a class such as this. There are plenty of target frames and other equipment to use