Mako Defense Israeli Method Training - Unlike any Defense Training you will ever experience…
Recently I spent three days going through Mako Defense’s “Basic and Advanced Israeli Instinctive Shooting Pistol” courses and had the experience and training of my life. It is hard to convey how different the Mako Defense training is from your atypical firearm training classes; there are those classes that teach you safety, how to be a great target shooter, hand-to-hand combat, and others provide legalese and standardized tests so you can obtain your concealed carry license. All these classes are good, but always have an air of invincibility about them. Most outline the “perfect defensive scenarios” and profess that attackers will quickly fire bursts of bio-matter into their shorts at the mere appearance of a gun, but this is not reality. Worse yet, students are typically left to go home and practice after only watching the instructor lectures for a couple hours and in the end develop bad, or worse yet, unsafe or life threatening habits.
A veteran motorcyclist jokingly said that almost any accident was survivable, but he would need to know in advance what to wear before the accident. Life is not a set of perfect scenarios, it happens when you are spacing out carrying groceries to your car, with you cell phone ringing, all while fumbling for your keys. Attackers don’t tell you 10 minutes before they attack to make sure you have your gun ready, bystanders clear, and are ready to speed draw, muscle memory needs to take over and nothing outside of drilled training will prepare you for that moment. This is why I like the Mako Defense course, it teaches through realistic situations via hard drilled sets of muscle memory training based on decades of Israeli real world engagements. In short the class trains you to be a highly effective gun and hand-to-hand fighter even in really bad unpredictable scenarios. The program is so good I believe it should be THE standard training for anyone carrying a concealed firearm.
WHAT MAKO SAYS IS IT
Mako Defense’s class title is a very simple description considering everything taught in the training:
“This tactical pistol course is ideal for all who carry a pistol in the course of their service, employment or for self-defense. Regardless of your skill, you will be trained to a level of proficiency exceeding that of many professional firearms instructors. Graduates of this complete course will be trained in skills including: Safety, Draw Techniques, Aiming for accuracy & point shooting, Magazine Changes, Clearing Malfunctions, Engaging Multiple Targets, One -Handed Operation, Bystander Safety, Hostage Situations, Search & Detain, Entering Rooms, Taking Corners, Firing from Vehicles, Krav Maga (hand-to-hand fighting with a pistol)”
Unlike typical feel good courses that discuss and demonstrate lawyer approved techniques in an air-conditioned setting while sipping lattes, the Mako Defense classes are built around the idea that only the strongest, most aggressive, and smartest survive deadly encounters. Your body and mind actually gets a sample of the training regimen that the real Israeli Special Forces units train with. The result is a tough sweat through you shorts, muscle aching, bone jarring, body bruising, and mentally taxing training that will prepare you to defend yourself in the worse situations like no other public training in the US. If you want a lecture style sweat-free training this is not it, but if you want realistic hands on “I have to work for it and better be in shape” training that will train you beyond most law enforcement and military training, then this course will be worth it’s weight in gold.
The content was dense and the pace was fast but the instructors allowed proficiency by each student to be gained before the next interlocking skill was layered on.
The Israeli method of learning is interesting; success is expected; failure is evaluated and used for training and improvement. You never feel singled out or made to feel embarrassed when you make a mistake or error. For instance when I pulled both my Glock and Level II Blackhawk Serpa Paddle holster in entirety from my pants during dry fire drawing drills, the class was stopped and a general discussion ensued about why you should not use level II retention holsters for non-duty carry and how high stress affects motor skills. For the record I was not the only one who attempted to defeat a level II holster by tearing the holster from belted pants.
“Mako Defense teaches the Israeli Method of fighting exactly as it is taught to the Israeli Special Forces, not the modified version that some companies may offer in the United States. Mako Defense instructors have extensive experience as operators and instructors in the most elite Israeli Special Forces units, including:
• Yamam – or Special Police Unit is the elite police counter-terrorism unit in Israel. Yamam specializes in hostage-rescue operations and offensive take-over raids against targets in civilian areas. It also performs SWAT duties and undercover police work.
• Duvdevan – an elite unit of the Israeli Special Forces. Duvdevan is particularly noted for conducting undercover operations against militants in urban areas.
• Sayeret Mat’kal – a top Special Forces unit. Its main roles are counter-terrorism, and deep reconnaissance, obtaining strategic intelligence behind enemy lines. Sayeret Mat’kal is also in charge of hostage rescue missions outside Israeli borders, such as Operation Entebbe in 1976.
• Classified units of the Israeli Secret Service.
Mako Defense instructors teach and use these fighting techniques in Israel on a daily basis.”
The instructors were all former Israeli Special Forces operators and were first rate, polite, never profane, had good personalities. All were engagement seasoned veterans of various special Israeli defense units and were all so professional and patient I would be happy to recommend the class to any entry level male or female shooter.
All instructors but one spoke what I call Isra-Lingish which made the class fun and light hearted despite the intensity of the subject matter. One American born and US Army trained instructor who later joined the Israeli Special Forces provided any necessary translations and Florida Concealed Carry license certification for the course.
In the post training debrief (another Israeli learning methodology), everyone was thrilled with the class, although most wished they had been in better shape. According to the one female in the class who was new to shooting, she thought it was an incredible experience. From the way her 100lb frame was working over her 250lb+ training partner, I would say the training techniques were highly effective regardless of opponent. Additionally, her shooting hit ratio also skyrocketed after one of the instructors worked personally with her for over an hour. One of the things I really liked was the individual attention and that one-on-one time the instructors provided to correct and improve poor technique. I certainly needed the coaching on a number of points.
HOW MUCH DID IT COST
Currently the Basic 2-day class and 1-day advanced pistol classes are available separately or at a discounted rate of $800 if taken together. It would be my strong recommendation to attend the classes back to back for continuity. For those that want to also obtain their Florida Concealed Carry License (currently recognized in 37 states), the certificate from the Basic class is all that is needed to prove training has been complete for the Florida Concealed Carry paperwork.
WHERE WAS IT
This year’s Mako Defense training was available in either Alaska or Missouri, however I am told that future classes may add additional locations. The class I attended was in Republic Missouri, about 10 minutes Southwest of Springfield. Mako secured a discounted hotel rate for attendees in Republic, MO, however I choose to stay at the Courtyard with a pool in Springfield, MO 15 minutes away.
The hosting facility was a former 80 acre residential farm property which is in the process of being converted to a top notch tactical training facility. The property included the former residential house converted to a “room clearing training house” that police, SWAT, and training classes such as Mako’s can use for realistic room clearing maneuvers. The house also provides for a more comfortable bathroom, potable water, and air-conditioned equipped facility.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Safety – Without a doubt this was the most safety conscious class I have ever taken which is good, because you point you own empty gun at other fellow trainees during dry fire drills and pull the trigger. This class brought together an almost unnervingly realistic set of skills and drills focused on delivering the highest attacker neutralization possible. For me, 35 years of gun safety has drilled to never point a real gun at someone, however in this course with gun cleared and barrel plugs in we had three days of pointing our guns directly at each other and pulling the trigger as fast as possible. You could see the hard programming of nearly everyone the first day as we politely slipped our muzzles to the sides of our fellow trainees heads.
Draw Techniques – OK, so too much “gangsta” tv and 24 episodes have apparently trained me and my previous instructors some really stupid habits. At first you think, well this is different… in a weird way, and then you understand the rational and then realize it’s a little dangerous and life threatening to pull a gun any other way. Did I mention their method really gets you on target fast. With three mags with a single bullet in each mag, I pulled a 1.68 second from an empty chamber, from beep, draw, charge, and fire my first round and a total 6.58 seconds for all three rounds including two mag changes. Did you know it takes an average person about seven seconds to charge 15 yard from standing, this was among many things we learned from the class.
Aiming & One-Handed Operation – I know how to shoot. This I did very well and finished as one of the top hit count shooters in the class, however rapid fire was new to me as well as using the free hand to do bystander protection. I have literally never let 45 rounds fly as fast as I could pull the trigger and these guys know how to coach you to fire fast and still keep rounds on target. One of the former Israeli instructors ran the same courses we shot and his Glock 19 sounded like a sub-machine gun with an unbelievable hit rate. Also learning high rate one-handed shooting was a huge help for me.
Magazine Changes – Again I and others though we knew how to change a magazine efficiently and reliably, however again we were wrong. During dry-fire reload drills I would have been a rich man if fumbled magazines would have been $100 bills. Now I can bang out mag changes in just over a second.
Clearing Malfunctions – The concept that a gun could jam was a new concept to some folks, or at least they had never trained for it. I reload a lot and occasionally accidentally go too light on the powder and get the opportunity to “practice” jams. The Israeli methods are the most effective and fastest jam clearing techniques I have ever seen.
Engaging Multiple Targets, Entering Rooms, Taking Corners, and Firing from Vehicles – This was as cool to learn as is sounds. Never have I had an experience like this from any classes I have ever taken.
Bystander Safety, Hostage Situations, Search & Detain – Unfortunately the perfect situation in defense will never present itself and it was great to know some basics about protecting and extracting the innocent and assuring the bad guys are neutralized.
Krav Maga (hand-to-hand fighting with a pistol) – No flying ninja death kicks here, all hard hitting simple effective practical Jujitsu’esk techniques that will do seriously harm to an opponent. One guy accidentally was punched in the nose, another rolled into a side kick and caught it in the kidney, and we ALL were bruised extensively. I only wish we had spared this hard in all my martial arts classes back in the day, I may have retained a little more. Very physical class that was taught at the right intensity which may hurt a little in class, but the experience will prepare you for realistic fighting.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE PREPARE
Without belaboring the point, this was a hard physical class that left me heavily bruised and sore for a week after the course and I would take the same class again in a heartbeat. The physical nature of the mornings Krav Maga fighting and dry firing drills of the class were tough for those of use that were a little out of shape, those really out of shape started hitting their physical limitations by the end of the first day. You don't need to be in great shape but the more fit you are the more you will enjoy the class.
That said one attendee in good shape completed the training with a nearly healed broken leg in a sport cast. Others have completed previous classes in wheel chairs, but the class will still make you sweat.
WHAT TO BRING
Mako has recommendations on their site however I have a little longer list that will make your attendance more enjoyable:
• Semi-Auto Pistol
- The Israeli methods are based on simple, draw, charge, and fire. Avoid pistols with a bunch of safeties. Simple is good in high stress situations; safeties are confusing. Glock users by far had the least amount of problems and the highest success in the course. In high stress drills, more complex pistols with decockers or safeties caused the owners to fumble. Extended mag and slide releases will increase your speed significantly.
• Pistol holster external or concealed
- About half the class started with Blackhawk Serpa holsters with Level II retention index finger locks. By the second day almost all of us had either removed the finger locks or converted to pressure retention only holsters, or in my case I switched to a CBH (Cross Breed Holster) Super Tuck Deluxe IWB (Inside Waistband) concealment holster. The Blackhawk Serpa holster is a great holster, but after you go through a class like this you realize the extra retention lock will just leave you fumbling, I recommend buying the less expensive “Standard CQC Concealment Holster” instead. There is a high probability that if you are taking this course, your intent is to carry your firearm concealed. I cannot recommend enough the investment in the most comfortable concealment holster you will ever own the CBH Super Tuck Deluxe. I sweat, bled, and trained in that holster and it was as comfortable as my Northface cross trainers. You spent a lot of money on your gun and this course, don’t cheap out on the component that allows you to get your gun on target quick.
• Three Magazines
- Bring four if you can to make your range time more enjoyable.
• Dual Magazine holsters
- I saw a lot of magazine holders fail, but the one that seemed to work great were the inexpensive Blackhawk magazine holsters.
• Pistol Belt
- I used a nylon Riggers belt and it worked great, but you need some sort of wide belt for weapon support.
• Cleaning Kit & Lube
- Obviously please know how to quickly disassemble your handgun for tactical cleaning… some did not. Clean your gun nightly.
• Cross trainer or ¾ height training shoes
- Tactical boots are not required. Why not be as comfortable as possible. I wore a pair of Northface cross trainers and they were about perfect. In some of the hand to hand Krav Maga drills a little more ankle support from some ¾ height trainers would have been nice.
• Light weight tactical pants and shorts for each day
- We all started with either tactical or sport pants. By the third day most were in shorts and exponentially more comfortable. Bring a couple pairs of shorts, you will be more comfortable. Blackhawk, 511 or other Coolmax tactical pants will be more comfortable.
- Bring at least two per day. The best option is to go for CoolMax shirts. The day I wore mine was the most comfortable day of the three.
• 200-300 rounds per day (600-900 rounds for the two courses)
- I know it’s tough to not buy the super cheap stuff, but don’t for this class. I went with an affordable mid-grade Fiocci that provided reliability and accuracy.
• 3-4 Power/Granola Bars per day + quick snacks and plenty of water. You WILL get hungry and thirsty and need the energy.
• I was very sore each night and protein shakes, vitamins, and Tylenol helped me show up relitevly pain free each morning.
The training didn't magically create an army of Jack Bowers, however according to all with military or other tactical training; the class was superior to anything they had taken previously from government or professionally. The training prepared that dark part of your mind for an event we hope never comes. Mentally, I thought I could have pulled the trigger if I needed to, however mentally & physically it was obvious I had a long way to go. Carrying and owning a firearm is a great right. In a defensive situation, that ownership becomes a responsibility to protect yourself and others from harm and retain control of your weapon at all times. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take this course and really learn the next step in gun ownership responsibility, the fact that the course was a blast should make the decision all that much easier.