One of the things about the shooting community is that it is small, and anyone who has been in the industry for any period of time knows each other. I have had the pleasure of knowing Ernest Langdon for over a decade, and have always found him to be a genuine, down-to-earth, personable guy who just happens to have top shelf shooting skills. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to get on the range with him. So when a buddy invited me to sign up for Ernest’s Advanced Pistol Skills course that he was hosting for a private group of local LE guys, I jumped on it.
Unlike the “typical” competitive shooting champ, Ernest also has quite a bit of experience with which to frame the mechanical skills he’s developed over the years. In addition to winning more titles than I can count (without taking my shoes off), Ernest has a significant background including serving in various capacities in the Marine Corps as a Sniper School instructor and the HRP course. Ernest is the founder of LTT (Langdon Tactical Technologies) and is the guru when it comes to the Beretta 92/M9 platform. I was lucky enough to have him tune up a trigger on my personal 92FS years back and it is one of the smoothest triggers I’ve ever felt on a 92. (Thanks to his partnership with Wilson Combat, you can now have a similar trigger on yours as they do custom work on Beretta 92s now.)
Ernest starts off the class with a brief but informative classroom session that includes a safety brief, introductions, and the basics of his shooting and teaching methodology. There are no big departures from what I have been exposed to in the past, but it is clear that Ernest has a deep understanding of the physiological and mental aspects of performance shooting in the context of gunfighting. After this was done, it was time to hit the range.
The live fire portion was the meat and potatoes of the class. Most of the first day dealt with the importance of trigger control, and various diagnostic and development drills on how to diagnose trigger control problems and train to overcome them. Ernest made it a point to give individual attention to every student in the course. Watching him interact with the class, it was clear he had a solid grasp of adult learning concepts and wasn’t simply barking a bunch of range commands at the group. Having seen quite a few different drills to illustrate, diagnose and address trigger control issues, I was surprised to pick up a couple very useful drills from this section.
Ernest moved on to multiple target engagements. Rather than discuss the merits of various engagement sequences, Ernest broke down mechanical skills necessary to efficiently transition from target to target. This included a great drill to train the coordination of eye and gun tracking. The rest of the day included emergency reloads and shooting on the move in various directions. The following day built on the first, and after a brief warmup session, we continued with various shooting on the move drills.
After a brief lunch break, Ernest set up a lateral mover where we spent the rest of the day engaging it from static positions. We then graduated to engaging the mover while shooting on the move, while moving with and against the target. This was challenging to say the least, but students learned how much lead was (or was not) necessary from different distances.
As with all good courses, Ernest’s class highlighted for me areas I needed to improve. I came off of a six to eight month layoff of regular pistol training, and these two days on the range was the kick in the behind I needed to get me back on the range. In two days, we shot approximately 1000 rounds each, but no shot was wasted. Students were held accountable for accuracy, and the Ernest never asked anyone to do anything he wasn’t capable of doing himself. Perhaps the biggest endorsement I can give is that I will be attending Ernest’s next class when he returns to the greater Los Angeles area in May. If you have the opportunity, jump into a class and see for yourself. Check out his website at Langdon Tactical.