Warrior, Artist, Philosopher

  Who wouldn’t want to be remembered with words like these:

Stubborn, single-minded, articulate, knowledgeable, independent, moral, inquisitive, interesting and accomplished .   .  .

That’s what Robbie Barrkman wrote of Louis Awerbuck (his friend of 35 years) on his Robar Guns website, after Awerbuck’s death in June 2014.  (The entirety of the heartfelt tribute is HERE).   Awerbuck’s Yavapai Firearms Academy, with a summary of his resume, is HERE.  A 2008 interview of Awerbuck, where he answers well-posed questions on life, death, and equipment, is HERE.  Another one, rather well-known, “Interview With A Madman,” is HERE.  An interesting commentary on his death, evidencing Awerbuck’s appreciation for warrior history and philosophy, “Requiem For A Soldier,” is HERE.  It is said that he was fearless, but carried a high capacity 1911 as a primary, and a Glock 19 as backup.

I am a 20-year Awerbuck fan, being particularly interested in the “combat” shotgun.  (Click on his photo above for link to the book).  I never took a class with him, but did “chat” with him once for about 10 minutes.  I listened.  He said much, but used very few words.  A character trait I respect, especially since I seldom can do it.  Greg Ellifritz, of Active Response Training, wrote of Awerbuck:  “If you want to read more words of wisdom from Louis Awerbuck, I would suggest starting with his book Tactical Reality and then move on to his second book, More Tactical Reality.  The type of critical thinking Louis displays in these volumes is seldom seen in the current mass-market firearms and tactics books.”  I agree.

 Awerbuck wrote regularly for S.W.A.T. Magazine.  You can read his May 2014 entry, on tactics  — “The Door Trap” —  HERE.  His ideas and teachings remain in many respects timeless.

Plenty has been written about Awerbuck since his death.  What prompts me to write is that a shooter friend gave me the Kindle edition of Awerbuck’s “Plowshares Into Swords: Musings of a Different Drummer.”  He had several classes with Awerbuck, particularly remembering that during a carbine class, Awerbuck spent three hours to set up a scenario in which you had three seconds to fire a single shot to save a hostage in a crowd of moving innocents.  He said of him:  “A Samurai could pour tea, write poetry or arrange a garden. Louis could write in his voice, Elmer Fudd’s voice, or, from 20 feet away, spot a rear sight that had been knocked off center. He was always at War. It was his Art. Not certain if he really was a Warrior or an Artist, or they just came as one package.”

Some Plowshares quotes (for which Awerbuck would offer no heed or apology to the offended), I culled for this post (with a bit of editing and repositioning), in no particular order:

  • Calm down: – it’s not an IRS audit. It’s just another lousy gunfight.
  • So you practice vehicular defense drills on the training range, sagely nodding your head as your omniscient instructor – who has never been ambushed as a lone citizen in a vehicle – dazzles you with techniques on how to unbuckle a seatbelt with one hand, and simultaneously return fire with a concealed pistol with your other hand. All this is carried out in the blink of an eye while you’re lowering the vehicle’s side window with your third hand and signing a contract with Cirque de Soleil with your left foot.
  • The primary objective of pre-planning is avoidance. Yes, you still practice with your weapons of choice and study tactics in the last-ditch eventuality that you might have to use them, but unless you’re psychotic or non compos mentis, your day-to-day urban existence should also include paying cerebral homage to techniques on avoiding physical violence.
  • Like a grizzled junkyard dog, there are decided advantages to having seen a lot of summers pass.
  • Let’s face it, in a fighting gun the Number One unequivocal requirement is reliability.
  • It’s your life, your decision, and your gunfight. When all is said and done, when there’s fowl play you do whatever it takes to be the eagle and not the turkey.
  • Here’s how it works: – If you want to stroke your own ego, go to Hollywood. If you don’t want avoidable trouble, never ever underestimate your enemy – or potential snowballing consequences.
  • Treat me with respect, for I am the bullet – and I have no conscience.
  • It’s going to be your gunfight when the real bullets start flying, not your instructor’s.
  • In a deadly force confrontation you can’t afford to hit the windshield-wiper button when you’re trying for the ignition switch.
  • You have to use a piece of mind to have peace of mind.
  • Unless you’ve lived the life of a saint or are deeply religious, if you get taken out in winter you’re probably headed for a place where the last thing you’ll have to worry about is getting cold.
  • The purpose of training is NOT to maintain your level of proficiency – the objective is to IMPROVE, each and every time you train.
  • Like everything else your parents told you, do it right or don’t do it at all.
  • Work on one-man tactical movement and observational techniques, have rugged and reliable equipment, take a lot more ammunition than you think you’ll need – and pray a lot. There are no guarantees. You want guarantees? Politicians are liars, you’re going to die sooner or later, and it will rain one day after you polish your car. There’s your guarantees.
  • And the crux of the matter is that if you have a system that works for you, stay with it. By all means, if there is a system or technique that could potentially improve your ability, try it – but make sure you research ALL of the information from your source before you even think of fixing something that ain’t broke.
  • The close attackers are the ones from whom you need to step away (unless you choose to advance and close the distance). Nobody can make a shot when visually reacting to a fast-advancing target rushing in from ten feet away. You’ll be lucky to clear leather if you don’t move your hind paws.
  • For some peculiar reason I personally don’t want a pedagogue who can’t control his own cawwot patch, when I’m trusting his training to ready me for war. Yes indeedy, Mister Fudd, Sir, I’ll certainly pay attention in your school, but I’m going to be vewy, vewy careful in choosing between what information I swallow and what I expectorate.
  • Stay away from gadgets, gimmicks, and fables. Sometimes things aren’t always what they seem to be.
  • The question which arises is, relative to your potential forthcoming conflict, how much and how many reserve articles do you—or can you—carry on one human frame? . . . A spare light bulb is great, but an instantly accessible second flashlight is better.
  • If ever a pistol had a heart, it would be the magazine.
  • Lube your pistol, don’t put any after-market garbage on it that you don’t need – and you probably won’t have any perspiration problems, big or small.
  • Don’t accept “mainstream” opinions without questioning their veracity, relative to your personal requirements. You’re asking for advice—not requesting to have your intelligence insulted. It’s going to be your gunfight, and your life on the line.
  • You need a gun for a gunfight. What you don’t need is a self-inflicted bullet wound before the fight starts.
  • With all these odds stacked against you in a fight, Gunfighting Rule Number One is: – Don’t, if you can possibly avoid it. Rule Number Two: – Don’t Monday Morning Quarterback some poor unfortunate who ran out of luck and placed second. You weren’t there, you don’t know what transpired, and you’re not as good as you think you are.

Interesting note, much from the above has, one way or another, found its way into various MSW posts.  Yes, it’s too late to take an Awerbuck class, but his books, writings, and videos are still widely available.  It’s a good bet they will give you an idea what a class with him was like.

Stay tuned, I am only a bit more than halfway through Plowshares.  You may see more Awerbuck’s gems in a follow up piece.

Lesson learned: Don’t put off training.  The future is uncertain; you could miss out if your “bucket list” trainer changes professions, retires, falls ill, or worse, moves on to Valhalla.  Get to it.


This entry was posted in Photo of the Day, Review, Training, Uncategorized by Steven Harris. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steven Harris

Steve Harris is an experienced attorney (member of Florida Bar, 1979) who has represented federal agents and local LEOs in duty related matters. He has written and lectured about officer involved shootings, self-defense, and use of force law, including "Stand Your Ground." Steve has been a seasoned and active competitive handgun shooter for over 20 years.


  1. Sadly I never took the chance to train with Mr. Awerbuck inspite of being an avid reader of his work. I did not always agree with what he said but everything he said made you think and that is rarely a bad thing! He will be missed.

  2. I took a pistol class from Louis and had nothing but respect for him as an instructor. I learned more about diagnosing someone’s shooting issues as a student in his class watching him than I did in any instructor course. Years later I was an instructor with him in a couple of Gunsite courses (Pat Rogers was the RM). Louis was no Prima Donna, he was up before me, had the range set up before I could catch up to him. More than a decade older than me and I could barely keep up with this Dynamo. After two weeks of this, his pace never slowing down, I had even more respect for the man. He was a mighty instructor.

  3. I was fortunate to have taken several classes with Louis. He will be missed.

  4. Steven, as a student of many of Louis’ classes over the years, thank you for writing this tribute. Besides my father, I would have to say that Louis was my most important firearms teacher. His teaching covered many areas that most instructors never touch, such as moving targets, shot placement on curved, angled targets, and the mental side of fighting. I recommend you check out Louis’ book “Hit or Myth”, Miyamoto Musashi “Book of Five Rings”, Sun Tzu “Art of War” and Bruce Lee’s writings if you want to get more in touch with Louis’ emphasis on the mental side of fighting.

  5. My daughter (23 yrs/5’3″/115lbs) and I were fortunate to take a class from Louis in the summer of 2013. My daughter was about to head off to her first “big girl” job in Houston, and he spent a bit of extra time with her and advised/counseled me on keeping her safe after she went off on her own. He “ribbed” me quite a bit because as the typical dad, I kept hovering around making sure I was there to help her out if she had a problem. She did quite well! We both thoroughly enjoyed the class and I was looking forward to taking another one with him in the future. I was saddened to hear of his passing….

  6. I had him for shotgun at Gunsite. Talk about winning the lottery. He told me in his South African dead-pan, “Jason, you’re going to use a lot of Tylenol in this class.” Classic.

  7. It’s hard to believe that eight months have passed since Louis died.
    It is so heartwarming to see people still talk of him, remember him with kindness and most important of all take his teachings with them.
    Thank you Sir for this wonderful tribute, I’ll forward it on to Leigh (snake).
    Robbie Barrkman

  8. Thank-you for that tribute. I was fortunate enough to spend four days in two different classes attempting to learn from him, and it was like a benediction. I wish he knew that but he’d probably say something sarcastic and identify an incorrect position or wrong movement I made.

  9. After two classes Louie was my favorite instructor. The vision that he had on the range full of students was amazing. That was surpassed only by his ability to diagnose issues. I regret that I was not able to train more with him, and am especially at a loss for not taking his shotgun course. The saying is that gun fighting is the American martial art. If so, then Louie was our Shogun.

  10. Western civilization lost a warrior. I only know Mr. Awerbuck from his writings and videos but he had an analytical mind and a total lack of pretense.

  11. I was privileged to take several classes from Lou. He was an warrior who would have been right at home at Thermopylae and in his element manning a post at Rorkes Drift singing Men of Harlech. His kind do not pass our way often.

    I was stunned and saddened by his death but when I learned of his health issues, I understood his thinking.

  12. I spent 8 days on the firing line with Louis and Leigh. He was a wealth of knowledge, and his course curriculum was completely different from any other instructor I’ve had (insert Alias instructor name here). Very self deprecating, he’d tell embarrassing stories about himself to better convey his point. He was so patient; many of the classes had students I felt were probably in over their heads, but he never lost his temper. And he ran a very safe range; despite my misgivings with the students I felt safe with Louis running the line. I will miss Louis.

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