David Maglio is a renowned firearms training expert. He is a Marine Corps veteran and retired deputy sheriff with 30 years law enforcement experience. As if those credentials weren’t impressive enough, David is also a “5 Gun Master” and state/regional champion for the International Defensive Pistol Association and has won more competitions than you can count. All told, he has 45 years of experience as a shooter and 25 years of experience as a firearms instructor.
He is a busy man as head of The Firearms Academy of Wisconsin, so we were excited when David was able to sit down with us for a bit and talk training.
You’ve spent years in law enforcement and in the firearm industry. How has each experience led you to where you are today?
I have worked for several decades to build my shooting and teaching resume. I began shooting in 1975 and teaching in 1999. I’ve been taking classes since 1993. I went into the Marine Corps right out of high school. Even after I was discharged and hired by the sheriff’s department, I wasn’t an expert in using a gun. I realized then that there’s no remedial action for not knowing what to do with your gun and that’s when I began to pursue training and excellence single-mindedly.
I’m affiliated with the Massad Ayoob Group in Florida and am the #3 in that organization, so if you want firearms instruction from them, you’ll be talking to me. I teach all of their MAG30 Range classes & MAG-IC classes. Massad has cornered the market on deadly force training and MAG30 is a training system for that.
In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I take three classes per year from other instructors, such as Tom Gibbons and Ray Chapman. Shooting a gun is a perishable skill. If you don’t use it you lose it. Not many people establish an acceptable level with their firearms skills.
What is your approach to firearms training?
It’s important to remember that you will default to your level of training. If you have minimal training, then under pressure, you will have minimal skills. At the beginning, you have to practice getting your gun out of the holster. Then there’s dry fire training which is manipulating the action of the gun without any ammunition.
Once someone has mastered the introductory-level skills, I pick up at an intermediate level, but the basics don’t change. It’s all about applying the basics on-demand in any given situation and then mastering it. In a stressful situation you need to be taking in information about what you’re supposed to do, not trying to remember how to hold your firearm.
Training needs to be regular and ongoing. If you only practice once or twice a year, you won’t be prepared for a live situation if it happens to you.
What can you tell us about competing and why is it important?
When you start competing, if you do well and are recognized by instructors, they’ll mentor you which accelerates your skill development. You need to take part in shooting competitions because it tests your training.
I compete at the International Defensive Pistol Association matches where accuracy and time both count. You start asking, “How can I save a tenth of a second?” Economy of motion is an important term. As you improve and progress through the divisions, your shooting skill and confidence grow.
How did you come to open the Firearms Academy here at this venue?
I met T.J., owner of The Highlands Sportsmen’s Club, in 2014. After I retired from the Sheriff’s Department in 2015, I taught classes all over the country and began to make a name for myself as a firearms instructor. In 2019, T.J. called and offered me control and management of the rifle range at The Highlands. I have carte blanche and have been working since then to turn it into a shooter’s paradise, which it is and will be.
What is your vision for the Academy?
In 2014, there was a berm that was 12 ft. high. Today we have classes where people move from 100 yard to 600 yard line and we manage five separate outdoor handgun and rifle ranges, and a 1000 yard and 1400 yard range. We have facilities for both rifle and pistol shooting. My forte is handgun and that’s what I teach. We also have great people who manage the rifle experience.
Our highest priority is the safety of our Range Members and their guests. We also want everyone to have a great time. We have a gun lounge where visitors can see and purchase some of the best and most unique firearms available.
What are you most proud of?
Other than that, being able to develop modular handgun training classes in partnership with Massad has been very rewarding and successful. It’s made the classes more accessible to people who have busy lives.
More About David Maglio
David is a Certified Firearms Instructor for the Wisconsin Department of Justice for Rifle and Handgun. He is also a Certified Instructor for the National Rifle Association in Pistol, Shotgun, Rifle, Personal Protection in the Home and Personal Protection out of the Home as well as a Range Safety Officer. You can contact him about The Firearms Academy of Wisconsin at (414) 659-5811 or by visiting their website.