Day: September 9, 2014

Class Review: Tactical Pistol Skills with Ernest Langdon

“Your best cover is accurate fire on your adversary.” –Ernest Langdon

Ernest Langdon shooting a demo.

Ernest Langdon shooting a demo.

Ernest Langdon of Langdon Tactical Technology brought his Tactical Pistol Skills to class to the area, and thankfully, I was able to get a spot in the class.  If you have read any of my previous class reviews, you may have noticed that I tend to seek out training from instructors who can walk the walk with equal credibility in both the “tactical” and competition worlds.  My thinking on this is that such people will have refined their techniques for maximum efficiency, but they will have done so with an understanding of what happens in violent encounters.   Ernest Langdon fits this bill.

A short list of his credentials include the following: USPSA Grand Master, IDPA Distinguished Master, winner of multiple national and world championships, service as a Marine Scout Sniper and Scout Sniper Instructor, service as an Instructor in the USMC’s High Risk Personnel Program, and a host of others. You can read his complete bio by clicking here.

Sheriff Mark Moore and Ernest Langdon discussing Beretta 92 variants

Sheriff Mark Moore and Ernest Langdon discussing Beretta 92 variants

The class was limited to 12 students.  Three of the students were peace officers; the rest were armed citizens who are all regulars in such classes.  The small class size allowed the instructor to observe and coach each individual student.

In some parts of the world, there are four seasons in a year.  That is not the case in Georgia. We have summer and not summer.  September here is summer.  The temperature on both days of this class topped the 90 degree mark, and day two included a thunderstorm in the afternoon that upped the already substantially high humidity level.  Not only did we get roasted; we were boiled a bit as well.  This presented considerable teaching challenges, but he handled them well, and the students all seemed quite pleased with the product they received. One of the breaks evolved into a lengthy question and answer session which I enjoyed very much.  During the thunderstorm, he set up barrels underneath our shelter and taught proper use of cover, well, he did until the rain started beating on the metal roof so hard that it was impossible to hear anything other than a shout.

The shooting drills were very much accuracy focused with a lot of time spent shooting at tiny dots painted on the targets under a time or cadence standard.  We did some work on steel targets as well.   Attention was also given to shooting on the move as well as with strong and support hand only work.

target dots

Tim getting coached on being able to move one's eyes without turning one's head

Tim getting coached on being able to move one’s eyes without turning one’s head

In the opening paragraph, I referenced seeking training from people who have both competitive and tactical shooting backgrounds.  As my friend Erik Lund says, “A gunfight is solving a tactical problem at speed.”  He also says that “competition process can be applied to tactical applications.”  With that in mind, there was one topic that Mr. Langdon touched upon in regard to the so-called “tactical turtle” stance that is derided by competition based shooters. I’m not going to fully delve into it at this point as I want to discuss it with him to make sure that I am accurately reporting what he said, and I have a training class upcoming later in the year with a favorably credentialed instructor who presents yet a different approach to the question, and I would like to bounce educated questions off of both individuals before putting it all in writing. If you can’t wait until then, seek out Mr. Langdon and pay for a class.  It’ll be worth it.

Finally, for you Beretta fan boys:

pistol case

Dynamic Fighting Rifle

Recently, I had the opportunity to take Erik Lund’s Dynamic Fighting Rifle class. I met Erik several years ago as a fellow student at an IALEFI Master Instructor Development Program and was happy to get the chance to take a class from him. For those not familiar with his background, the brief overview is that he has been a peace officer for over 20 years, is a USPSA Grand Master, and shoots on the FNH USA Professional Shooting Team, and he has numerous championships to his credit.

The students for the class represented four agencies in Georgia, and most were either firearms instructors, members of a tactical team, or both; so, after the introductions and safety briefing, we jumped right into the material. The class had a high shooting to discussion ratio, and was fast paced with around 700 rifle rounds fired per shooter plus some pistol work, and if we weren’t shooting, we were loading mags. It was a full day of training, and I don’t think any student left with the feeling that they didn’t get their money’s worth. We did a lot shooting while moving and from unconventional positions as well as some optics failure drills (no biggie for me as I was running iron sights exclusively).

 

The shooting community is not autonomous. There are those who only believe in the validity of “tactical” training, and often those of this ilk shun the competitive shooting world; usually with a “competition will get you killed” thrown in for good measure. The competitive shooting side of equation is not replete with spotless lambs as too many of them want to use punching holes in paper after a stage brief and a walkthrough as the exclusive measure of one’s ability with a firearm when, to be perfectly blunt, they have never had to go through a door with a true life or death shooting problem, to include a shoot/no shoot decision, waiting for them on the other side. These are broad generalizations to a certain extent, but they are illustrative of diametric mindsets that too often prevent the lessons learned from one being applied to the other.

Erik is one of the few out there that can successfully walk through both worlds with equal credibility. Frank Proctor of Way of the Gun is another such person. With the above in mind, Erik addressed the debate by saying that competition processes can be applied to tactical applications. In other words, the things learned about techniques and equipment from the competition world (processes) can be applied by those who must use tactics. A gunfight is solving a tactical problem at speed. That is not saying that you learn tactics in competition; rather, it is saying that you can combine the lessons of how do the important things faster in combination with sound tactics.

Among the so called tactical crowd, there is a debate over accuracy versus speed. This debate actually is in part based upon wound ballistics theory. I have been in some classes where the instructors made a case for intentionally spreading the wounds around the torso to create as many wound channels as possible. I have also been subjected to the notion (an absurd notion in my opinion) that if you are shooting a tight group that you aren’t shooting fast enough and that you are worrying too much about accuracy. Erik’s philosophy is that “accuracy is damage at speed “and that “damage is damage is damage”; however, he was clear in that the bad guy just might not present his entire torso to you and he might not give you a lot of time to aim; so, you better be able to make tight shots and do it in a hurry.

Paired with the debate about speed, the tactical side of the house debates over when confronted with a threat whether or not a shooter breaking for cover should concentrate on making it to cover or should they shoot at the threat while moving. Erik is definitely a proponent of putting shots on the threat. An illustration of this is included in the accompanying video.

Erik is also not a fan of the “shoot two and assess” model. He says that too often people want to run a rifle like it is a pistol and equates this to driving a race car at 55 MPH. He stresses driving the rifle hard and to keep hammering the threat until it is no longer a threat. Again, accuracy is damage at speed and damage is damage is damage. Unless a drill had a specified number of rounds for a specific training purpose, we were expected to shoot between two and six round on every fire command with the caveat that we could not fire the same number of rounds twice in a row.

Erik does not treat the pistol as if it is a secondary weapon. He refers to it as a complimentary weapon. He says there are times when it may be advantageous to go to the pistol instead of the rifle if in a very tight space or other such similar situations. We did do some work on transitioning to pistol and at any time a shooter experienced a malfunction and ran out of ammo during a drill they were expected to transition to their pistol in order to complete the drill. He did expect us to be doing tactical reloads to keep our rifles fully stoked so as not to be running dry.

In conclusion, this was an excellent class. If you get the opportunity to train with Erik you should take it. You will most certainly get a high return for your training dollar and your ammo expenditure. For all of you instructors out there, you will also come away as a better instructor as you will pick up a lot of teaching points that are readily adaptable to other platforms.