Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day One

Preamble: Even though I am an NRA Instructor and CCW permit holder, Front Sight requires a signed character witness from a friend who’s known you for five or more years to be FAXED into them. Yes, faxed. Did I go to sleep and wake up in 1992 or something? So I did that, and called them about a month ago, wanting to know if they got it. 

“We don’t do that anymore”, said the rather brusque customer “service” rep on the phone. “Just log on the website with your member number and you’ll see everything there.” 

I semi-patiently explained to him that I was not a member, this was my first class, and I wanted to know the status of my application. He seemed taken aback that a mere applicant would be wasting his time in this way, and told me to fax it in again. 

Apparently, scanners and email attachments freak out some people. 

Once that was cleared up, I stayed the weekend after SHOT in Vegas and drove out to Front Sight, arriving at their gate at 6 bloody 30 in the bloody am after an hour and 15 minute drive from my hotel in Vegas. 

First up was confirming my reservation (which was easily done, in marked contrast to my previous engagement), and a “Safety Inspection” where my pistol was checked for function and placed in my holster by the RSO: I never touched the durn thing. For someone who’s used to the rigorous safe area rules and “Unload and show clear” environment of practical pistol, the safety procedures at Front Sight, while thorough, are tripping me up. More on that later.

A word on my equipment for the week. As this is a defensive handgun course, I’m shooting it my CZ P07 in (for now) a BladeTech OWB holster and BladeTech mag pouches. I’ll switch to my SuperTuck once the concealed carry part starts on Wednesday. 

Then it was into the main classroom for our paperwork and welcome speech. This place is BIG, and it easily held the 200 or so people with me today. 

Front Sight Classroom

After an hour or so in here, it was out to the range. There are 5 pistol ranges near the classroom, and pictures of them will come later as the weather today SUCKED. It was cold, windy, and rainy and most of us were chilled to the bone after a few short minutes outside. 

Our instructors were pleasant, outgoing and helpful, but you could tell their training experience was mainly with Front Sight and not other schools. Look, I don’t care if you’re a Front Sight Super Dooper Deluxe Member or not: I want to know how long you’ve been training students and what your firearms teaching background is, and as far as I can tell, only 2 of the five instructors had any instructor training outside of Front Sight, and that was with the NRA. 

Now, about those safety rules. Any competitive shooter will tell you the commands of USPSA/IDPA: 

Make ready! (Load your pistol and get it in to the designated start position)
Standby! (Here we go, folks!) 
And, at the end of a course of fire, “If you are finished, unload and show clear. If clear, hammer, holster, range is clear!” 

These are not Front Sight’s commands. Instead, they do, 

“Make ready for firing!”, which is…
Unholster the pistol
Present to low ready
Press check (with their own rules on how to do that)
Magwell check 
Load magazine
Charge pistol
Press check (again)
Mag check (again) 

And at the end of a string, do much the same. 

I’m certain it’s safe, it’s just tripping me up a bit because I’m expecting totally different commands. 

The drills started out simple, with basic grip and stance work. If you come in here knowing modern isosceles or Chapman or some other stance, forget it, as they WILL force you to shoot Weaver. Is that a bad thing? Not really. It may mess up my usual isosceles for a few weeks, but I’m finding the Waver to be beneficial to learn. 

The first rounds were sent downrange about 3 hours into the range time, with an emphasis on controlled pairs using the three Front Sight “secrets” of good marksmanship, which are: 

Sight Alignment
Sight Picture
Trigger Squeeze

If those are secrets, I’d hate to see what they consider to be common knowledge… 

During lunch there was a video playing about the history of Front Sight and Dr. Piazza’s philosophy of armed citizenry. Nothing outrageous, about par for the course for any corporate video. 

After lunch there was a lecture on the combat mindset and the situational awareness colour code. You’d think with a topic like that, they’d mention Col. Jeff Cooper, the originator of both those concepts. 

Wrong. 

And that, so far, has been my major beef with Front Sight. It’s as if firearms training didn’t exist before the berms went up in Pahrump. No mention of Gunsite. No mention of who created the Weaver stance (and why), no mention of any other training facilities at all other than Front Sight. I get the need not to cross the streams and promote other schools, but Front Sight is built on the Colonel’s legacy: Without him, there’d be nothing to teach at Front Sight, nor any reason for Front Sight to exist at all. 

Now, as far as the teaching itself goes, so far, it’s been pretty basic, just work on presentation, controlled pairs and “getting off the X”. One thing that has surprised me is the quality of the shooting. With my background in competition and training, I came to Front Sight expecting to be The Smartest Kid In The Class, but so far, I’d say I was in top third or so. There are 3 law enforcement officers, 2 women, and 3 total newbie in my class of 32. Ages are anywheres from the mid to late 20′s on up to senior citizens. 

I’ll have more pics and reports tomorrow. Right now, I gotta get some rest, it’s a long drive from Vegas to Pahrump. 

 

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