Ernest Langdon, Tactical Pistol Skills, Course Review
I first met Ernest a little over 20 years ago, when he was not long out of the Marine Corps and was just getting established in handgun competition. I knew then he was going to do well in the competition and training world. Ernest served 12 years in the Marine Corps, including seeing combat in a Scout/Sniper platoon and serving as an instructor at the High Risk Personnel program at Quantico. His deployments with the Marines included Panama, Cuba, the Philippines and the Persian Gulf. In addition, Langdon is a California POST Certified Firearms Instructor and the graduate of 40 formal shooting schools and 4 anti-terrorism schools, with instructor certifications from the FBI, NRA, US Army, and US Marine Corps. Ernest has over 25 years experience in competitive shooting and holds a Grand Master rating in USPSA and is a Distinguished Master in IDPA. He has won 10 National Championships and 2 World Speed Shooting titles.
I had been trying for years to get to one of Ernest’s pistol courses, but he only teaches a few of these each year, and anytime he has been teaching within 500 miles of my home, I’ve been 1,000 miles away teaching somewhere else. In November I finally had a chance to drive down to Miami and catch his Tactical Pistol Skills course, which is a two day intensive pistol class. I paid for a spot for Lynn and one for myself and we showed up as regular students, which is the way I like to audit courses.
The venue was the Homestead Training Center, which is located among some palm tree plantations on the south end of the Miami metro area. The nearest hotels are in Homestead, Florida, and most of the major chains have locations there. The range itself is quite nice. It is a large complex that hosts the Florida state IDPA championships and other large events.
I used my Boresight Solutions customized Glock 17, in a JM Custom Kydex IWB #3 holster and JMCK magazine pouches, on a Graith Specialist belt. I went through a bit over 800 rounds of Federal American Eagle 147 grain 9mm ball, and had no equipment issues throughout the class. I shot the entire class from concealed carry, IWB under a Hawaiian shirt, just like I dress every day here in Florida. Lynn used a Boresight Glock 17, as well, and also used JMCK kydex gear.
Our class had a total of 14 students, with a good mix of local law enforcement officers, a doctor, a couple of newly separated veterans and several regular Earth people. About half the class ran a Beretta handgun, either a 92 or a PX4, with an M&P, one Wilson Combat EDC9, and a few Glocks present. About half had JM Custom Kydex holsters and mag pouches, not really surprising, given the high quality of JMCK gear.
On TD1 we started in the classroom. Ernest spent a total of almost three hours going over a variety of topics, including safety, developing a combative mindset, and nuances of grip and trigger control. I have seen a number of trainers over the years cover these initial topics on the range, with everyone standing in the sun. Bad ju-ju! I am a firm believer that administrative and academic topics should be covered in the classroom, where students can sit comfortably and view a Power Point or other visual aid to enhance their comprehension of the topics covered. I was glad to see Ernest use this approach. His lecture was concise and covered a lot of information effectively.
Once we moved to the range, we worked on a variety of basic handgun shooting skills. These included presenting the pistol, both from the holster and from the ready; single shots, progressing gradually to multi-shot strings; shooting cadences; reloading skills; and more. I picked up several nuggets related to explaining specific skill sets and a couple of drill variations I had not seen. One thing Langdon does that I like is he periodically has the class shoot a drill one at a time, in front of everyone else, with Ernest timing them. The drill is selected to encompass some of the skills we had been working on, and is a good way to see how well the students can perform those tasks under a bit of pressure. Our last such drill on TD1 was Ken Hackathorn’s “The Test”, 10 shots at 10 yards, in 10 seconds or less, on a B-8 bullseye target. Ernest offered an LTT ball cap as the prize for the best score on this drill. I managed a respectable 95 points in 7.66 seconds, but noted gun blogger Caleb Giddings was in the class and turned in a 98, to win the cap. Caleb was on fire all weekend, more on that later.
On TD2, we spent the entire day on the range. After some warm-up on the skills we learned on TD1, we got heavily into shooting on the move. Lateral movement as the handgun is being drawn was introduced, then we went on to continuing to move while placing accurate fire on the targets. We moved forward, rearward and laterally, then did figure eight drills around static barrels. Before long, most of the students were drilling the targets with a flurry of accurate shots, while getting further away or moving toward cover. To tie in with that, we then worked shooting from behind cover, from both standing and kneeling positions. Steel targets were used for some of these drills, which gave immediate feedback to each student. We also worked on shooting with one hand only, including the dominant hand and the support hand.
One of the highlights of TD2 was a chance to shoot the late Todd Green’s FAST drill as a solo evaluation run. Ernest and Todd were close friends, and Todd authorized Ernest to carry on as the arbiter of the FAST Coin, awarded for 2 sub-5 second runs in a row in a formal class, in front of the shooter’s peers. As mentioned, Caleb Giddings was really hitting his stride in this class, and he pulled off two clean runs in under 5 seconds, earning him FAST Coin #18. That means he is one of just 18 shooters to pull this off in the ten years of the coin’s history. Congratulations, Caleb! My personal best in class is 5.95, so I’m pretty impressed by a sub-5 second run. By the way, Ernest demonstrates every drill in this class, and he shot a sub-5 second run in his demo. That kind of on-demand performance is rare, indeed.
Despite rain part of the day on TD2, we all managed to get through the class and have a great time learning, honing and refining our defensive shooting skills. Ernest is a gifted shooter and a very talented instructor. His passion for the subject matter is obvious, and his humble demeanor belies his fierce competitive spirit. See Ernest’s website https://www.langdontactical.com/ for details about his Beretta handgun parts and custom work, as well as his class training schedule. His training dates are limited, so if you have to travel a bit to take his class, do it! I did, and I found the trip very worthwhile. I look forward to training with him again.
Thanks for the write-up, Tom. I've been watching some of Ernest's YouTube videos. Nice to read he's a good in-person instructor, too.
"I drank what?" - Socrates
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