Looking Back, Part III

20-Dec-10 – 02:13 by ToddG

A couple weeks ago, I began this series to recognize the people who have been most influential in my development as a shooter and instructor. The idea was inspired by Kyle Defoor’s “Paying Homage” series on his blog. The first entry in the series was about Chuck Davis and his partners at Comp-Tac; next was Ken Hackathorn.

This week it’s Ernest Langdon. While best known in shooting circles for his incredibly successful competition career — from numerous IDPA National Championships to being the first USPSA Production National Champion — Ernest’s background includes many years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps where he served in the first Gulf War. He was an instructor at the USMC Scout Sniper school and also served as the head instructor at the USMC’s High Risk Personnel course, where military and non-military government personnel received training on how to prevail against terrorist and criminal assaults while serving overseas.

Calling Ernest “influential” on my career is barely scratching the surface.

I met Ernest more than a decade ago shortly after I got seriously involved in IDPA. Ernest was the reigning national champion and I was an Expert class also-ran. But I was shooting a Beretta, and Ernest — who was both a sponsored Beretta shooter and a full-time employee of Beretta USA at the time — went out of his way to help me. He worked on my Berettas. I attended multiple high-intensity pistol classes he taught. He even invited me shoot in his squad at some big matches, offering tips and advice that made the difference between walking home with a trophy or not.

In early 2000, Ernest recommended me for the job at Beretta that kicked off my full time employment in the firearms industry. In addition to my regular duties, I became part of the Beretta Elite Team, traveling all over the country with Ernest and our fellow teammates Rob Haught and “Super” Dave Harrington. Whether it was hours on the range practicing, days at a match, or evenings hanging out at a hotel, it was impossible not to learn about shooting just by being around such incredible guys. (that’s Rob, me, and Ernest from L to R; photo from the 2002 IDPA Nationals at Mid-South)

When I moved on to work at SIG, Ernest was running his own company (Langdon Tactical Technologies, aka LTT). By coincidence, he had begun shooting a SIG P220ST and in no time we were back to traveling the country shooting IDPA matches together. In fact, 2004 was the most successful competition year of my career, often coming in second place (to Ernest) at more than half a dozen major matches. Ernest also had an OK year, winning eight state/regional championships, the S&W Winter Nationals, and becoming the first person to win IDPA Nationals in Custom Defensive Pistol division with a double/single-action pistol, beating out some of the world’s most talented and most successful 1911 shooters in the process.

The first pistol-training.com endurance test, the M&P9 Full Size, came about in large part due to Ernest’s intervention when my personally owned M&P9 cracked its slide. Ernest — who at the time was Director of Military Sales for S&W — set up the SHOT Show meeting between me and the M&P Product Manager that led to the test that kicked off a staple of the pistol-training.com website. (photo at right is Ernest shooting the 30,000th round through the endurance test gun in August 2008)

But while Ernest has played a big role in my career, that is dwarfed by the overwhelming influence he’s had on my shooting style.

It would be arrogant to say I shoot like Ernest Langdon. But I certainly strive to shoot like him. Taking classes from Ernest and shooting along side him for years completely changed my technique. What sets Ernest apart from many of his peers in the competition world is the practical nature of his background… and thus the combat-oriented nature of his shooting foundation. He is the first to admit that some of the techniques he teaches and uses are less than optimal for winning matches. But rather than compromise in the name of one more trophy, Ernest instead manages to excel using the same real world skills he has taught to countless Marines, soldiers, cops, and civilians for going in harm’s way.

While I’m sure there are little nuances that have changed in my technique over the years, the fundamental core of my shooting style — from stance and grip to the concept of knowing the difference between perfect and adequate for making a shot — began with Ernest Langdon and was refined by his influence, his advice, and sometimes simply by osmosis over years of shooting together.

There is no question in my mind that without Ernest Langdon’s instruction and mentorship, I would not be nearly the shooter (or instructor) I am today.

It was with great happiness — though very little surprise! — that I announced Ernest had earned a F.A.S.T. Challenge Coin (#04) back in 2009.

While Ernest has moved on from the firearms industry to work as the Director of Military Sales for a high-tech robotics company, he continues to shoot competitively as time allows. Even more important, Ernest has recently started teaching open enrollment classes again. To say that I would recommend a Langdon shooting class without hesitation is an understatement. Taking a class from Ernest Langdon is guaranteed to make you a better, smarter, more capable shooter. Period.

Whether it’s been working together, shooting together, or teaching together, Ernest has played a pivotal role in every aspect of my shooting life. Whatever successes I have achieved, Ernest Langdon has always been there leading the way. I cannot possibly thank you enough for all you’ve done, Ernest.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

(F.A.S.T. coin photo courtesy of Julie Golob)

  1. 10 Responses to “Looking Back, Part III”

  2. Having had the pleasure and luck of being taught by Ernest as well, I can only agree with you 100% Todd. When Ernest came up here to teach our pistol course, we all thought we were good shooters, being the best we had shot with. Ernest so totally eclipsed us with his skill it was humbling. The shear volume of information I took in from him over those two days still resonates in my thinking and shooting to this day. I truly hope to get him back up here again for another course or 10.

    By Rob E on Dec 20, 2010

  3. Ernest is the man! I have known him for 25 years now, We were Marine corps Snipers in the same platoon together, and we both Marine Sniper instructors, he has helped me and my shooting so much. In the last 1.5 I started shooting agin after a 20+ year lay off, Ernest has been a huge help! He came and shot a match with me and actaully was more worried about what I was doing the entire time then he was about protecting his winning record (he still took high overall) He can see and explain whats going on better than anyone I have ever met when it comes to shooting! If you only could ever take one class take Ernest for sure!
    Ernest thanks for everything,

    By mik3 on Dec 20, 2010

  4. It is amazing talking with Ernest as he is so willing to share his experiences and open up about all aspects of his preparation and delivery.

    Mik3 and I shoot together often and he was lucky enough to harass Ernest to come out here (to Illinois) over the summer for the Illinois State Match and also for a most excellent 2-day class in late Fall! Boy did we learn a lot! I really fell like it helped me gear up for the New Mexico State Match…

    By Less on Dec 20, 2010

  5. Very well written Todd!!!!

    I hope to take a class from Ernest some day!!

    By Prdator on Dec 20, 2010

  6. Great article Todd! And again many thanks for pushing me towards Ernest this year. Both Ernest and Terry are great people. I’ll add that if you are an instructor you can learn a lot about teaching (not just shooting) from Ernest.

    By Spence W. on Dec 20, 2010

  7. I have never had to harass Ernest to do anything, or for any help he has always volenteerd his help 100%. Thats who he is. It was Ernest’s Idea to shoot a match together this year since I started shooting again, and he was the one who said he would travel out to Illinois to train my friends and I. Harassing Ernest is not a good idea and not required.

    By mik3 on Dec 21, 2010

  8. It would be of help to know what online venues are preferred by Ernest to announce his classes. I start scanning “the usual suspect” websites – FT&T, M4C, LF, 10-8 – by looking at “Training” sections and usually those cover most instructors I care to train under. However, if there were another site that Ernest uses for class announcement, I’d like to know.

    By YVK on Dec 21, 2010

  9. YVK — I know Ernest is planning to get his own website up and running shortly. In the meantime, forum posts are normally handled by the host, and get posted wherever the host decides.

    By ToddG on Dec 21, 2010

  10. I was just digging through some stuff in my desk and came across 7 new in plastic LTT sew on patches. I wonder if anyone would want one?

    By Rob Engh on Jan 9, 2011

  11. I would like one for sure if you still have them let me know please!!! mzik@comcast.net

    By mik3 on Jan 13, 2011

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