Please pardon any references to bayoushooter.com or specific users there - I initially wrote the review for that forum since half the class are members.
Baton Rouge, LA May 8-10, 2008
TACTICAL SHOTGUN - STAGE I
DESCRIPTION OF THE CLASS FROM WWW.YFAINC.COM
“This course is designed to create reflexive gunhandling, competent marksmanship and tactical thinking. In addition it places strong emphasis on learning what the shotgun will, and most particularly WILL NOT, do. The importance of patterning the shotgun properly is discussed at length. The course also covers ammunition selection, loading and unloading, reloading and ammunition selection while involved in a shooting scenario, shooting from several ready positions and various tactical body positions, dim-light and flashlight shooting, shooting on the move, moving targets, multiple targets and weapon retention. Transition to a pistol is covered for those clients who have taken prior pistol training.”
This class lived up to the description and then some. Louis Awerbuck has been on my short list of people to train with over the past couple years. I was the liaison that set up the class and was therefore able to select the format. Considering Awerbuck’s reputation as one of the best in the world with a shotgun… “the gauge” was the logical choice.
The first day is about half lecture and half shooting. It has been my experience that most of the shooting on the first day is to warm up the class and for the instructor to see where the students are, allowing him to look for any egregious problems.
Louis warned us from the outset that he would "jawjack" us to death, as he would rather talk about how to not screw up rather than have us fill the berm with lead. In the end, we shot plenty, but the first four hours of day one was a deluge of information.
The shotgun is many things, not the least of which is a very effective way to delivery an ounce of lead (or more) in a variety of payloads. Awerbuck hammers that buckshot is not some magic load - rather, it is a very complex option with the possibility of a stray pellet being lethal to an innocent person up to 100 yards away. He emphasized that unless you have patterned a specific shotgun with a specific type of buckshot at various ranges, it isn't a particularly good idea to use it as a defensive weapon.
It was my observation that Awerbuck doesn't endorse one thing or another as a general rule, but he did mention that Hornady TAP will typically pattern pretty well in most guns.
Louis surprised me in that he had suggestions as to how to manipulate the guns, but said if you have been doing something else for years and years, and it works, keep doing it that way - the theory being in a fight you will probably do what you did for 10, 15, 20 years anyway.
Tiger Mckee once told me amateurs focus on hardware, but pros focus on software. I've found this simple statement to be true. Awerbuck seemed to like the Remington 870, but also the Mossy pumps, has good things to say about the Benelli guns, the Beretta 1201 and 390/391 series (as far as autos, particularly the 39X guns), etc. I took away that any of the major players work and will do the job if the operator will. Louis put the gris gris on high dollar 1911s, saying that those tended to choke more often than any other pistol... foreshadowing of things to come.
Sometimes Awerbuck ends up a gun mechanic at break time. He is pictured here working on the most valuable Remington 870 ever produced.
In the bayou shooter tradition, I asked about slings. Awerbuck doesn’t have a preference, but notes that the standard 2 point can do what needs to be done. He said that the shotgun can be cumbersome on a single point due to the weight and tendency to swing. He said liked the old style HK 3 point the best as far as three points went.
Awerbuck also says he is aware of two incidents where someone shot someone else who was proned out with a shotgun slung on a “tactical” sling. Food for thought. I'm sticking with the non tactical 2 point. I'm not smart enough to use them complicated type slings.
On the range, we worked steel plates, basic manipulations, and a few sequence drills.
Several BS'ers and the Awerbucks have dinner after day one at French Market Bistro. I forgot to get permission to post one particular members photograph, so I've taken the liberty of making some minor alterations to the image.
Admission of guilt. I thought I would breeze through the class. I had taken Shotgun at Thunder Ranch a couple years ago and thought I was going to get the same thing - after all, there is a reasonable suspicion of Col. Cooper’s DNA - but what I got was a man intent on working our minds harder than our bodies. Awerbuck tells you up front he is going to mess with your head, on purpose, to help you realize what you can and can't do "on the street". I'm a big believer in the stress inoculation theory, and this class provided a lot of what I normally enjoy - one man drills, under pressure, in front of the class. I normally enjoy them because I can manipulate a handgun and a carbine and hit well with either one. Louis managed to make me look like I couldn't count to three - and in the situation he put me in, I couldn't. He doesn't do it simply because he is a cruel little man, he does it to drive home life and death lessons.
For better or worse, I usually volunteer to shoot first on single shooter drills. I do this for a couple reasons - first, I like to run new scenarios blind. Second, I was initially operating under the flawed assumption I'd do just fine and would give the other guys who haven’t trained as much a chance to see what was going on - wrong on all counts. I flubbed Dutch loading (lesson - don't Dutch load), ran my gun dry on a range command drill, missed my first headshot... just barely, but something about horseshoes comes to mind.
Day two introduced more complex target scenarios. We had to contend with "no shoots" BEHIND the steel plates. I'm disappointed to say they got slaughtered in cold blood, some taking full blown loads of shot. I'm assuming the newer shooters were forcing shots they didn't have. Louis could only shake his head and beg the class to conceptualize that those no shoots were family. Upon them taking another few ounces of lead, he clarified that they were not in-laws, but rather family we cared about.
We did a few more rolling thunder drills, worked on selecting a slug when called for, etc, and proceeded to head into the much anticipated night shoot. The skeeters, snakes, and all the rest joined us.
First, we shot at (notice I didn't say hit) a 10" steel plate at 50 yards. I missed. This is where that ego takes a beating. The trajectory of a slug is vastly different than that of a bullet, and you have to hold very differently. I would have bet my AR-15 I could have put 10/10 in that damn plate using a carbine, but managed to miss the plate a few times trying to figure out where to hold.
We proceeded on to working with the lights. Simple truth - it is possible but very, very difficult to run a pump gun without a light on the weapon. I managed a little better since I was running a semi, but loading was still a *****, even with a "tiger ring" on my light. Louis ran us well past the planned quitting time. We had a couple guys in the class that took a little longer, and he not only accommodated them - he didn't short the rest of us in the process. At the end, I don't think anyone left without thinking about how they were going to attach a light to the front of their gun.