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Practically Shooting

Instructor Louis Awerbuck is Dead


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I wouldn't say I was close, and don't know if anyone was except for his long time girlfriend Leigh. I'm probably being presumptuous by calling him a friend. I've had several classes from him and shared some meals.

He was the odd combination of being probably the most closed off person I've known, yet one of the most helpful.

He'd do anything for you at the drop of a hat except talk about himself.

Louis was the most gifted teacher I've known or heard of. And I mean gifted.

He had all the required attributes plus some extra abilities that were almost eerie.

His was known for his diagnosis skills, and he could indeed spot the smallest things immediately. I've used the example before that he'd give a command like "fire 2 to 6 rounds to either head or body", give the command to shoot, and by the first shots fired he would give at least three corrections.

"Bill, that safety came off a little early; Tom, you got a sloppy grip on your pistol in the holster, didn't you; George, you're about to mash that trigger..."

I can't see things happen a that fast. He could see it, analyze it, get the words out, even while calling people by name (when I couldn't remember the name of the guy next to me). And I'm describing things happening all across a line of 12 shooters, not three people standing together.

People said he had eyes in the back of his head, and he must have. He'd see things while looking the other way. I don't know how many times I've heard people ask "How the F did he see that?".

I heard a good story in that realm this week. It happened at a Gunsite rifle class. Louis was walking away and heard someone run their rifle's bolt. He stopped, turned, and said "You short stroked that one. Better check the chamber." Sure enough, the chamber was empty. He knew from the sound, and he hadn't even been listening for it.

That came from his knowledge of weapons. He didn't just know the 1911, Glock, AR, and 870. I don't think I ever came to his class with a very common gun, but he was always familiar with them and taught me things about using them.

And his mindset/tactics/procedures were almost so simple and straightforward they would leave you feeling stupid if you hadn't thought of it before.

He had the remarkable ability to say a lot with very few words. Any correction he made was done with only a few words but told you everything.

His mind was always working. "Devious" is a word I often heard applied to him.

He forced you to think.

He could come up with the simplest drill to get you rattled. He'd get super secret ice-in-the-veins "operators" so shook up they'd freeze, and do it with nothing more than a steel target or a plastic coke bottle stuck in the ground. The point was always to make you think.

You never expended a ton of ammo in his class, but each shot had a specific purpose.

He could discuss the 1911 vs Glock vs XD vs whatever, the tactics used in the tank battle of Kursk, quote Shakespeare or classic literature, or tell you the history behind a symphony. Jeff Cooper was like that, but he came from money and much of these things were part of his formal education. Louis just picked it up out of the desire to learn.

All the while, this skinny little 130 lb, graying man was probably the last person on earth I'd want to fight.

His steely glare was enough to make one realize they'd done something stupid and prevent it from happening again.

I don't know a lot about his past. He was born in South Africa and served in the South African Defense Force in a Special Services battalion, which I take it is sort of a special forces like unit. I believe he fought in that country's Border Wars in the 70s. I know he saw combat. He came to the US around 79 or 80, and attended Gunsite. He became an instructor at Gunsite and eventually Rangemaster there. Gunsite' shotgun program is basically Louis' program. He loved dogs, motorcycles, and 12 gauge slugs. He was a US citizen. He had no living relatives.

In the last couple of days, people have said there aren't many like him. That's a massive understatement. I don't think there is anyone like him.

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