View Full Version : Review - Louis Awerbuck - Tactical Shotgun Level 1

June 4, 2008, 11:13 PM
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.

Louis Awerbuck

Baton Rouge, LA May 8-10, 2008



“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.

Classroom jawacking

Pavillion jawjacking

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.

June 4, 2008, 11:15 PM

9:00 AM brought a new day and new targets. We ran more complicated good guy/bad guy drills and worked on pistol transitions.

Aroundlsu shaking his thing in a individual drill

Louis uses three dimensional targets to illustrate that sometimes you don’t want to shoot the center – at oblique angles, shooting the torso is a glancing shot unlikely to penetrate the rib cage. He emphasizes you have to look for a shot that will get you “deep meat”.

Targets, YFA style

Starting on day one, Awerbuck said expensive 1911s are the most problematic guns he sees and that they cause problems. I had planned on shooting my G19, but upon hearing that decided to break out my Caspian… the gun has seen five classes, probably 10,000 rounds, and never choked. I built the gun myself in the Patriot class, and it has been inspected by a number of smiths, all of whom said good things. After I finished it, a top smith who was a friend of a friend volunteered to install a match barrel for me, and he went through the gun as well. It has always run like a top.

My gun choked 15 rounds into the class – how, I’m still not exactly sure, but it took two tap rack bangs to clear it – then it worked perfectly for the rest of the class. The other 1911 in the class broke a King’s Ambi thumb safety. I can only attribute these events to the fact that Awerbuck so despises custom 1911s his aura alone causes them to tremble in fear and/or break.
I now have no choice but to take a pistol class with Awerbuck, using that pistol. If it makes it through the class, I’ll know it is indeed “the one”.
After that, we worked drills where we had to face the plate rack with four no shoots – two in front, two behind – until all the plates were hit. Then we had to transition to the pistol or slugs and hit the paper, with the plates being the no shoots.


After lunch, Louis ran us one by one in a drill where he was constantly yelling for us to change direction, or do whatever – load, shoot more, etc. It was an intense drill that gave everyone a lot to think about. I didn’t see a single person that made it through perfectly – or even with just a single mistake. Everyone made a bunch of mistakes – they didn’t move in the right direction, they ran out of ammo, they didn’t load when they could, etc.

Finally, my personal favorite was the Mirage target system.


Awerbuck introduces us to the final test


Working the Mirage as a mobile team

This is a system designed to illustrate that if there are multiple people in close quarters, and only one threat, you have to be very, very careful about shooting lest you hit the innocents. We did this as a single shooter, stationary, and as mobile two man teams. This drill will make you think about just how difficult a real shot might be, and reinforces you have to work to get a clear background.


Overall, this was a great class. There was so much valuable minutia there is no way I could capture it all in a review – you really have to take a class from Louis to appreciate the type and quality of instruction that he brings to the table.

The man could put together a comedy routine for gun nuts. He has a lot of catchy little phrases that serve to not only make you laugh, but also help you remember. I will never, ever, look down at a gun again as I load it – I will hear him in my head saying that if you look for the hole, you are bragging about your virginity. There are countless other little examples.

All said and done, I can say with confidence anyone that takes a class with Louis Awerbuck will come away a better shooter on a number of levels.

June 4, 2008, 11:45 PM
Great review! Thanks for posting it. :cool:


June 5, 2008, 12:31 AM
Happy to do so. Awerbuck is already an icon in the community, but any additional exposure I can help provide is the least I can do... he is top shelf.

June 5, 2008, 07:24 AM

Enjoyed reading your post.

Good going!

June 5, 2008, 07:41 AM
I can only attribute these events to the fact that Awerbuck so despises custom 1911s his aura alone causes them to tremble in fear and/or break.

I don't think it's that Louis despises custom 1911s so much as he sees so many that have been customized for no purpose and to the detriment of the weapon.

As for the class, I've taken several of Louis' and this is the one that kicked my tail.

June 5, 2008, 10:21 AM
Please understand that was tongue in cheek. His point is simply that mil spec tolerance 1911s work - and that when they get tighter than need be, they start to be inclined to have problems.

June 5, 2008, 10:26 AM
Thanks, Pangris! Has Louis switched over to the XD45 Compact? I thought he was alternating between his double-stack 1911 and his XD a few years ago, but never heard the outcome.

June 5, 2008, 11:32 AM
That's me in the white shirt under Day 3! :D

June 5, 2008, 11:47 AM
Thanks, Pangris! Has Louis switched over to the XD45 Compact? I thought he was alternating between his double-stack 1911 and his XD a few years ago, but never heard the outcome.

He did an article on a custom XD45 Compact in SWAT within the last year or so. I think it indicated that he'd switched over.

June 5, 2008, 12:15 PM
As of May 2007 he hadn't switched...

June 5, 2008, 02:07 PM
The only pistol I saw him carrying through the entire three days was his broken dummy gun. I believe in the last issue of Concealed Carry Magazine he indicated he was carrying a double stack 1911 and wasn't going to carry anything else.


June 5, 2008, 02:09 PM
Quoted from the article:

Because of his associations with Col. Cooper and Gunsite (Louis was Chief Rangemaster at the original Gunsite), you might be surprised at how he almost scorns single-stack guns (e.g. stock 1911s) when a double-stack gun can be had. Though his primary gun is a double-stack 1911, he's comfortable with plastic as well, highly esteeming the Springfield XD.

Q: Let's shift gears a little and talk about carry guns. Most people who carry guns seem to change their carry choice over time. Tell me about your various carry gun choices over your lifetime, over some forty-five years of carrying.

LA: I've never changed my primary gun system, except to go to a bigger capacity magazine, in forty-five years. Never.

Q: So what is it?

LA: It's John Browning. John Browning, stock. Does that mean it's the best? No. Do I think the Springfield XD is going to make a great gun? Yeah. But, I've never changed. All I've ever carried, as a primary pistol was a Colt, a Hi-Power Browning, or a double-stack .45. I've never changed that, the primary pistol.

Q: How about secondary?

LA: Secondary has changed because of changing a 5-shot .44 Special for an 11-shot 9mm of the same physical size, or something like. That's the way it is. The other one has never changed.

Q: So what have you gone through for a secondary?

LA: 5-shot… [in the] old days, .38 Special, Smith [& Wesson]. Then I went to a .44 Special Charter Arms. Then, Glock 26, or Kel-Tec P3AT, dependant on circumstances. As a secondary. Lately, Springfield XD is looking a lot better. I may be switching the Glock 26 for a sub-compact 9mm from Springfield. Maybe. That's all.

June 8, 2008, 04:01 PM
Just want to say thanks for a nice review. His interview in CCM left me wondering.

June 8, 2008, 05:14 PM
I wonder if something happened to change his mind about the XD. Shortly before the XD Compact .45 came out, he was very clear that when it did, he'd carry two of them.

Shane Tuttle
June 8, 2008, 09:56 PM
My wife and I have had the honor of taking two gun courses from one of his disciples: Randy Cain.

He always spoke highly of Aweruck as well as the late John Dean Cooper. Randy's courses were fantastic. If we ever get the chance, we're going to take your advice and attend one of Awerbuck's courses.

Thanks for your input...

gordo b.
June 10, 2008, 02:44 PM
Wait till you take the next class SG II then the H.I.T.T. shotgun class !;)
For sure you'll want something like this:

well used 1991 Police with "new style" Imp. Cyl RS barrel with AO Big dot tritium and rear Express inserts. Smoothed action and chamfered barrel and port, Houge 12" stock and GG&G single point mount. Surefire 9V with an LED conversion (runs all night with a real bright light), side saddle and Rem factory extension, Vang Follower and safety.I like Remington Reduced recoil tactical slugs, which it is sighted for and Federal TAP 00 buck shot and Kent #6 HV 1 oz. for training on the steel.