AAR Larry Mudgett Basic Defensive Pistol Class

Not open for further replies.

Dave Williams

Dec 28, 2002
I had the pleasure of attending a Basic Defensive Pistol Class in Pittsburgh this past weekend with Larry Mudgett. For those of you who don't know who he is, here are a few paragraphs about him:


(from www.gunsite.com)

"Larry Mudgett served as an Infantry Sergeant in the 1st Air Cavalry in Viet Nam from 1967-1968. He retired from the Los Angeles Police Department after nearly 35 Years. Larry was a S.W.A.T. team member and an instructor for the team for fourteen years. He was also the Chief Firearms Instructor of Training Division for thirteen years. He has taught revolver, pistol, rifle, carbine, submachine gun and shotgun for the L.A.P.D. and other police and military organizations. Larry has trained both foreign and domestic Special Ops Units, as well as local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. He was an Adjunct Instructor for the D.O.E. Central Training Academy for ten years. Larry is a competitive Cowboy Action Shooter. Larry teaches pistol, carbine and rifle."

From Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, March 2006:

"Larry Mudgett, distinguished paladin of the Los Angeles Police Department, has retired from law enforcement and has come to Gunsite as an intermittent staffer. Larry's record is too great to be touched upon in a note, but it has to be said that he understands pistolcraft, both in theory and in practice. Additionally, he is an outstanding teacher. He will be a credit to the enterprise."

From Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, Jan 2005:

"We invite all members of the family to note the retirement of Larry Mudgett, one of the distinguished pistoleros of the age. Larry's outstanding service was with the Los Angeles Police Department, and he not only shot expertly in competition but also in various street fights. Among other things, Larry was the first man to employ the Harries firing stance in action in full dark, achieving a one-shot stop in a restricted sector. He was also awarded the Medal of Valor for rescuing a wounded comrade under fire. We need more like him, but I fear we will not find many."


Needless to say, Mr. Mudgett has Been There Done That. Few Instructors will have the credentials to match his. Sieze the opportunity to train with people like this!

On to the class - This was a 20hr class sponsored by the the Pittsburgh office of the US Marshals Service. They have been bringing Mr. Mudgett in for the last 15yrs for various training programs. Oh what a good shooter I would be HAD I KNOWN THIS and had been training with him during this time period. Private Citizens are welcome to these classes and were present in this class. Mr. Mudgett is a strong proponent of the RKBA, and encouraged everyone to leave the class legally armed.

This was billed as a basic class, and would focus on Marksmanship. We met up on Friday night for 4hrs of lecture. Mr. Mudgett discussed Safety (in the best Safety lecture I have heard in all my years of firearms training), Eye Dominance, 7 Elements of Marksmanship, Dry Practice, Ball and Dummy Drill, and The Modern Technique of the Pistol among other things. This was a 4hr lecture that was over before you know it, a sure sign of a teacher who "owns" the material.

Specific areas of interest were the trigger drills that Mr. Mudgett is known for. These are drills that involve the shooter and the coach sharing responsibility for aiming and firing the handgun. I first came across these drills in a two part article in the Spring and Summer 1995 issues of the now out of print publication FIGHTING FIREARMS(the best firearms magazine EVER) by Gregory B. Morrison and Larry Mudgett. These drills basically allow you to determine very quickly whether the student is having trigger management issues and/or sight alignment issues. These drills are the reason I've wanted to train with Mr. Mudgett for years.

The class consisted of 18 students, and a cadre of volunteer Assistant Instructors including Mrs. Mudgett, a former LAPD Officer who is very skilled with a variety of weapons. Instructors were a mix of armed private Citizen, and Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement and Security. All the students except one, and all the Instructors were utilizing the Glock weapon system in various models. I was shocked by the Glock dominance, but was advised that this part of PA was "Glock Country" with few exceptions.

Saturday we trained from 0900-1800hrs, in the intermittent rain from the hurricane. It was like 150% humidity due to the extreme heat of the day combined with the rain. First thing we did was zero our handguns with the help of the Instructors. Some of us found out that our guns either shot high/low/left/right, or that our sights needed to be adjusted. This was very eye opening for me, as I found out my rear sight needed to be drifted to the right. Luckily one of the Instructors was "the Glock guy" and was able to drift my sight for me. My gun is now zeroed. Mr. Mudgett gave us several examples from his database of gunfights in which a zeroed handgun was critical. Frequently during class, Mr. Mudgett would cite a real world scenario he was familiar with to drive home a teaching point. Far from "war stories", these were teaching points, and really got the lessons across.

This taken care of we moved right into the 4 Trigger Drills. In Trigger Drill 1 the student aims the gun and the Instructor presses the trigger. In Trigger Drill 2 the Instructor aims the gun and presses the trigger, on top of the students finger - the student monitors the press. In Trigger Drill 3 the student aims and the Instructor presses the trigger over the students finger. In Trigger Drill 4 the student aims and presses over the Instructors finger. It sounds complicated and I haven't explained it in detail due to the complexity, but suffice to say these drills show clearly any errors in students' trigger control and/or sight alignment and teach the student how to aim and press.

Then we moved into Ball and Dummy Drills. This is mixing live rounds and dummy rounds in the magazine, by a coach, so that the shooter does not know the order of the rounds. That ended out the day. Every shot counted, and we never shot on a target that wasn't taped first. We were shooting on paper plates, by the way, from 15yds and 7yds only. We had to explain any errant shots. This is a tough way to train, and requires a lot of concentration. Mr. Mudgett describes Ball and Dummy Drills as the bridge between dry practice and live fire. It is done with a coach who imposes penalties of extra dry presses on you for jerking the trigger or excessive movement of the gun at the end of the press.

Sunday training was the same hours, but no rain Thank God, and there was also a slight breeze and little humidity compared to the sauna on Saturday. We continued with variations of Ball and Dummy Drills with various ratios of live rounds to dummy rounds.

We then moved into One Handed Shooting(Dominant and Non-Dominant). We then trained in the Double Kneel, as though we dropped our Sidearm, and picked it up and went to work One Handed(Dominant and Non-Dominant). We also worked on simply placing the Sidearm into the Non-Dominant hand, as if shot in the strong arm with a hand that couldn't press the trigger. I consider One Hand shooting to be critical, and when I found out that this was included in the basic program, I was very pleased.

Oddly enough, some trainers do not consider One Handed shooting to be critical, despite the body of evidence that proves it is. The reasons given for including One Hand shooting were that it shows errors in trigger control and sight alignment that two handed shooting won't and crap happens, you may end up having to shoot one handed and you better learn how to do it (paraphrase).

He showed us the LAPD Tactical Reload method, which is similar to the one shown in THE MODERN TECHNIQUE OF THE PISTOL by Morrison, except the spent mag is retained between the ring and pinky finger of the Non-Dominant hand and the two hand hold is resumed, and gave us a nice simple explanation of Tactical Reload vs Speed Reload: "If time is more important than retaining the rounds in the magazine, Speed Load. If retaining the rounds in the magazine is more important than time, Tactical Reload." (paraphrase) Pretty simple.

It makes me laugh when I think about all the debates on Tactical Reloads on the internet over the years. Oh if I would've spent all those wasted hours I spend reading those threads on dry practice. Also, Mr. Mudgett said that tiny recruits with mouse sized hands could manage this reload great, but I'm sure I've read that people with small hands can't manage this type of Tactical Reload. Hmmmmm don't believe everything you read. All it takes is practice. He also showed us the LAPD load/unload sequence, a very common sense way to manage your sidearm, with built in redundancy safety features.

We then moved into man vs man drills. We did six different man vs man drills, each involving a different course of fire that had to be followed. Some of these drills also involved a dry press, and a fellow student was assigned to monitor the press for any movement. Mr. Mudgett is a huge believer in the value of such competition. He mentioned a friend of his who believed man vs man competition in front of your Peers/Instructors was more stressful than actual gunfights, and this Officer evidently had the experience to have that opinion. This is not the first time I have heard that competition is good for gunfight training, and I'm sure it won't be the last. I am a believer in this.

We rounded out the class with two more Ball and Dummy Drills, the first with two live rounds and many dummy rounds, the second with 4 live rounds with many dummy rounds. Mr. Mudgett states that you identify a problem with a high ratio of live rounds to dummy rounds. And you fix a problem with a low ratio of live rounds to dummy rounds. So the first drill trained us to align the sights and press the trigger properly, and the last drill tested us to see if we did it properly. Everyone in class shot a tiny group on this last drill, and went home on a high note. This is the way to end a class.

Some of the shooters in this class made tremendous strides in the two days of class. I was very impressed by the quality of shooting by my classmates. This class had a lot of people with extensive training under their belts. Also, it was a great group of people who all got along great, a common theme in the firearms training classes I have attended.

It may seem odd that we were doing so much accuracy work in this class, not much high speed/low drag stuff. But people like Mr. Mudgett believe training like this is critical for beginning your training and keeping your skills sharp. There is no point doing the tactical stuff if you can't hit what you aim at. EVERY SHOT TAKEN IN THIS CLASS COUNTED.

I have found that the more "high speed/low drag" people are, the more they emphasize the basics. Perhaps that is a clue?

This class is a prerequisite to further training with Mr. Mudgett.

It was a great class at a good price, and I am looking forward to training with him in the future.

As far as I know, Mr. Mudgett will come to your location and do a class, if anyone is seriously interested in that, PM me and I can probably put you in touch with him.

At least two other members of THR were at this class, hopefully they will chime in.

Dave Williams

Thanks for the AAR. I know you've wanted to train with Larry for a long time and it sounds like this was well worth the wait.

Larry Mudgett is one of the best. If you have the opportunity to take training from him, sign up; you won't be sorry.
Mr. Ayoob, thanks for the input. I've learned alot from your writings, thank you for all you've done to advance the art over the years. There were some LFI students in the class.

Dave Williams

Thanks for an excellent AAR. The good ones always make me jealous 8^).

Sieze the opportunity to train with people like this!

Too bad we don't have any stonework around here to have this engraved into- it would be fitting!

Thanks Lee,

You do a great job here, I always have learned alot from your posts.

Dave Williams
Nice AAR Dave.

I was fortunate enough to attend the training with Mr. Mudgett. The class was everything Dave made it out to be and was well worth the inventment in money and time. I will make it a point to train with Larry in the future.

Larry has a straight-forward method of presenting and instructing the basic fundamentals of marksmanship. His lecture and safety briefing, along with appropriate and timely anecdotes, made the classroom portion fly by in what seemed like only a fraction of the time it really took. I took over 5 pages of notes the first 4 hours and I'm sure I missed a few things. Larry has just a ridiculous amount of real-world experience in both tactical application and instruction. He has had years and years to sort out what is important and what is not as well as what works and what does not. As Dave pointed out, Larry "owns" this material.

Two days on the range drilling the basics might seem a little... well... pedestrian, but until you really spend time mastering your sight alignment and trigger control you might not appreciate how important these things really are. My formal pistol background started in NRA Bullseye and PPC over 12 years ago, so precise shooting was something I learned early on. However, over the past several years I got away from my roots and started "action" shooting. I didn't want to believe that my marksmanshiop skills had significantly degraded, but this past weekend I learned differently. I had unknowingly sacrificed some accuracy for speed. I suppoes I knew this in the back of my mind but really didn't want to believe it. The recent wakeup call was much appreciated. I found religion again, so to speak. I will be vigilant to make sure that not only will I continue to work on my speed and movement, but I'll make sure to do so without degrading accuracy. Oddly enough, Larry gave us drills to work in our own training routine to help accomplish this.

The trigger drills and corrective techniques used by Larry will be extremely valuable when training and diagnosing other shooters. Being able to absolutely separate sight picture from trigger manipulation will pay dividends in the furute. Larry's drills allow shooters to understand proper trigger manipulation by actually "feeling" the pull of the instructor (assuming the instructor knows what they're doing). They also allow shooters to work on sight picture/alignment while not being distracted by trigger manipulation. Finally, they allow the instructor to "feel" what is going on inside the trigger guard and diagnose potential problems. Of course, I will have to thoroughly practice these diagnostic drills with a training partner before trying them out on new shooters, but I'm really looking forward to putting them to use.

Overall, this was a fantastic class and exactly what I needed right now. Again, it was time and money well-spent and I'll definitely do my best to train with Larry somewhere down the road.
Speaking of, does anyone know where we might find a training schedule (outside of whatver classes he teaches at Gunsite)?

Thanks for the AAR, Dave.
Not open for further replies.