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  #1  
Old 01-19-2005, 11:02 PM
tallengnr tallengnr is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 14
Another Front Sight Review




I attended Front Sight's 4-Day Defensive Handgun class last weekend. I was asked for a review of what my experience was like so I thought I would post it here if anyone else would be interested.

Some background...
I am very new to shooting handguns. I have shot rifles in the past but do not consider myself proficient by any degree. I wanted to attend a class that would show me some basics in safety, technique, marksmanship without being too intense or advanced beyond my capabilities. I read as many reviews of schools around the country that I could. Several items sold me on Front Sight.
1) They had a class that was coming up and I did not have to take many days off of work.
2) I was able to obtain a $200 certificate from www.fscerts.com. This saved me $1,000 off the regular price of the class.
3) Reviews of Front Sight seemed to indicate that they could educate someone new to shooting handguns like myself.

I packed up my Baer Concept 1 and my Springfield (they recommend bringing a backup weapon), my range gear and some clothes and made the 7 hour drive out to Pahrump, Nevada. First things first, Pahrump is not the most glamorous place on this planet. The SaddleWest hotel room was comfortable and reasonably priced, but the restaurant was best substituted with McDonalds take out. The one benefit was that SaddleWest would provide you with a sack lunch to take with you each day ($9 per lunch...). I was told by other Front Sight students that staying in Las Vegas (Silverton Hotel) was a more comfortable and culinarily superior to Pahrump. Silverton Hotel is about an extra hours drive each day, which after a long day on the range makes me think twice about driving more than I have to.

First Day at Front Sight...
You arrive at Front Sight (literally out in the middle of nowhere) and an instructor meets your car at the gate with a smile and a friendly wave. He instructs you where to park and points to the sign-in table that you need to go to. After signing in and getting a range assignment (and the proverbial "hi my name is..." taped to your shirt), an instructor tells you to get your weapons, ammunition and gear and take it to weapons inspection. If there are other classes going on that weekend, you will see all manner of weapons that students are bringing in for inspection. The instructor inspecting my Baer noticed that the magazine was not falling free and said I would have problems in the class. This surprised me because the magazine/weapon had worked perfectly the day before. By the way, Front Sight will rent you guns if you do not have any to bring. The instructors stress very strongly to drink plenty of fluids on and off the range. It was cool while I was there, but there were a few people feeling the effects of the dry air and having to sit out a few range sessions. Take advantage of the water they provide and drink often!!

From Weapons inspection you are then told to go to the one and only classroom. There is about a one hour presentation/orientation where they have you sign liability releases and Dr. Ignatius Piazza does a presentation (he indicated that there is a reality television series set to air sometime this year based on Front Sight and students that attend). Then you are released to the range around 9:00am.

The only other times you will return to the classroom for the next four days are to eat lunch (during lunch they invite you to watch the optional videos on the memberships they have for sale), and to attend 5 ninety minute lectures on issues concerning the use of deadly force, mental awareness, criminal and civil liabilities with deadly force, tactical rifle and shotgun, and stopping power.

While at the range, they do indeed start the students off slow. They teach the students how to hold their weapon, safety, sight picture, trigger press, and recovery techniques from failure to fire. Each new skill is built on the last skill learned. By lunch time on the first day, a student my have fired only one or two magazines worth of ammunition...by the last day, the student is firing 400 rounds of ammunition a day. I learned very quickly the value of having a dehorned weapon as my sharp-edged target sights took several bites out of my hands. By the way, there were no revolvers in my class, nor did I see any in the other class.

When I was at Front Sight, there were approximately 70 people taking the handgun class. They divided the seventy in to two groups (each group had their own gun range). Each group was divided again into two relays of approximately 15 students. If you were not shooting, you were reloading mag's (I recommend a belt-magazine holder that can accommodate three magazines) and watching the other relay shoot, and learn from them. There are approximately 4 students for every instructor on the relay team. The instructors will often show how to perform a specific lesson themselves and shoot their handguns in demonstrations. They are professsional, courteous and patient. It really seems to be their mission to make you a better shooter, no matter what your skill level was ehen you arrived. Classes run from 8:00am until 7:00pm-ish...a long LONG day. One of the days they will teach you how to shoot with a flashlight at night, so that day ends about 8:30pm.

Each student will learn to draw from a concealed holster and fire two shots at the thoracic cavity (chest) of a target in just a little over one second from 3 meters out to 25 meters. There are also single "head-shots" taught if the two thoracic cavity shots do not stop an attacker. Being so new, I thought it would be impossible to accomplish this rapid draw and fire, but I managed it easily and was having alot of fun learning each new skill. Students will learn how to clear rooms, doorways and hallways of bad guys. There are also tactical simulators that teach these techniques with pictures of bad guys springing out at you and you have to make the decision whether to shoot or not.

There was a man-on-man competition that everyone enjoyed. It put student against student in speed and accuracy shoot-offs. The last day, Front Sight conducts a "skills test" where no one fails, it just assesses your abilities and what you have learned over the four days.

Ultimately my primary weapon did break. The trigger/sear leaf spring broke in two pieces and that is what was causing the magazine to seize in the weapon, and eventually the trigger would not reset after firing. I swapped it out with my backup gun's spring late in the evening and everything worked out fine. I had a great time at Front Sight and will definitely return for more classes (I hear a shotgun calling my name because the shotgun class looks like fun!)

So, all in all I believe my class was a great value ($200 for the certificate, $300 for the hotel, $200 for ammunition, and 14 hours worth of drive time and gas...I will probably fly next time). I learned a tremendous amount that I believe will stay with me for a long time. Since I have not attended any other firearm schools, I did not want this to be an endorsement of one school over another, it is just my review from a newbie shooters perspective.
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  #2  
Old 01-20-2005, 03:15 PM
Bulldog Six Bulldog Six is offline
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Very Helpful Review

Thanks very much for posting this detailed review of your experience. I'm planning to go in March or April, and this was very helpful.
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  #3  
Old 01-20-2005, 04:11 PM
Tim Burke's Avatar
Tim Burke Tim Burke is offline
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Thanks for the review.
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