Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Wrapup

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Wrapup

Day Four is here

Day Three is here

Day Two is here

Day One is here

Wrap Up

A few random notes:

On Wednesday, a shooter to my right picked up a live round off the ground and loaded into his gun. Unfortunately, it was a .40 and his 1911 used to shoot .45. Having a KABOOM right next to you was… interesting.

The course description says 600 rounds are needed for the Four Day Handgun class. Bring at least 650.

The pitch for Front Sight memberships was VERY low-key, less than the pitch for NRA membership at one of their classes.

No, there were no pitches for Scientology. Tom Cruise didn’t show up and jump on any couches.

I did like the utter and complete lack of tacticool “Rex Kwan Do” talk at Front Sight. The instructors weren’t there to turn us into Rapid Tactical Force reserve units, they talked about how to protect our lives and the lives of our loved ones. A big plus, and one of the reasons why the women in my class seemed to be so relaxed (and good shooters).

The “tactics” part of the course dealt with primarily with securing your family in the event of a home invasion. A good idea, but why teach so much about concealed carry shooting if you’re setting up for a home invasion? Better to teach shooting on the move or shooting from retention if it’s a concealed carry course and teach home invasion defense as it’s own subject.

Ok, was it worth it?

As I said at the outset, the reason why I did this is to see if the Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun class was a good value.

The answer: Sorta.

If you’re like me (and I know I am), it’s not worth paying full price because I already know how to do a lot of what Front Sight teaches in this class. It was good as a refresher and good to learn Weaver and good to do some shooting drills and good to learn the malfunction drills, but as for actually stress training or tactical insights, I didn’t really learn a lot. However, given where I am in my training, I might get more out of their practical rifle or tac shotgun classes.

However, there were a LOT of first-time shooters there this week, and their improvement from Day One to Day Four proves this this class is just peachy for getting such people up to speed quickly.

But let’s look at the cost. You can buy Four Day Handgun certificates on eBay for $100 or less. Figure in six days of hotel ($500 or so) and meals ($100-ish) and that’s $700 bucks, without travel or ammo costs. Less than a GunSite class, but Front Sight ain’t GunSite.

That $700 buys a LOT of training. That’s every pistol course at my local indoor range, with $230 to spend on private lessons. And for stress-fire practice, well, that’s what IDPA or USPSA is for.

Or for that same $700, you can take an NRA Basic Pistol and both Personal Protection classes and have even more money left over for private lessons and do IDPA/USPSA for the stress fire.

Frankly, if I were a first-time shooter, I’d go with the NRA classes and private instruction with a proven teacher. Front Sight’s instruction was good, but their safety instruction, situational awareness training and after-action advice wasn’t up to what was taught in an NRA Personal Protection class. Plus, with an NRA class, you get a certification that is recognized nation-wide. With a Front Sight class, you get a certification that’s recognized in Pahrump, and bang for buck, I think an NRA class with a good teacher is the way to go. If you’re a new shooter and don’t know of a good NRA instructor in your area, then Front Sight is for you.

Front Sight has a good thing going, taking first-time gun owners and turning them into decent shooters and they certainly have a booming repeat business: Around half of the students in my class had a Front Sight membership of some kind or another. But are their Four Day Handgun Classes a good value for someone who already knows how to draw, shoot and hit center-mass twice in under two seconds?

In my opinion, no. But that’s just my body Thetans talkin’.

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day Four

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day Four

Day One is here

Day Two is here

Day Three is here

Day Four

Picking up from where I dozed off yesterday, after lunch on Wednesday  it was more drills:  Controlled pairs into center-mass from 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15 yards, and headshots / failure to stop drills from 5 and 7 yards, all repeated at least three times. The capper of this was their “ragged hole” drill: Five shots from the holster at five yards into a 1 inch square. Didn’t quite make it there myself, but I did pretty well.

And before I forget, here’s a pic from yesterday. This is the “Monsters Inc.” range, for practicing tactical movement.

Front Sight Doors

More on that, and their “tactical” teaching in general in Friday’s wrap-up.

Today started off with more drills: Controlled pairs into center-mass from 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15 yards, and headshots / failure to stop drills from 5 and 7 yards.

And then it was time for the head-to-head matchup. The course of fire was pretty easy: Headshot at a hostage-taker target at 10 yards, then one shot each at two torso-size plates at 15 yards.

Head to head

I did ok on this: I got into the third round, but my first shot on the next round went into the “hostage” target” and that meant it was over for me.

After lunch, it was more drills, and then the final test. I never did know the time we had for each shot, but it wasn’t short. C-Class shooter that I am, with my dead-stock CZ P07 and a Supertuck, I was able to ace the shooting part of the test, dropping only two shots out of 25 out of center mass / center-head.

The malfunction drills are where I blew it, though. Not THAT big of a surprise considering this was the part of the class where I had the least experience. I’m sure if I shot a 1911, I’d have more practice with them.

I kid. I jest. Mostly. 🙂

And that was that. I ended up at the “Graduate” level, one of 17 of our class of 32 who did so, which was apparently quite good, We had one person hit “Distinguished Graduate”, and I was kinda bummed it wasn’t me (durn my competitive nature!).

And the sunset on the last day wasn’t bad either. Here’s the view from “Sniper’s Point”.

Snipers Point

Final thoughts, and an answer to the big question (Was it worth it?) tomorrow.

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day Three

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day Three

Day One is here

Day Two is here

Day Three

Today started out on one of the ranges in “Phase Two” of Front Sight, and you begin to get an idea of how big this place is. They have two 200 yard rifle ranges, plus an arroyo dedicated to shotgun and another dedicated to rifle, plus “Snipers Point”, an overlook with steel targets set out along a wash. We were on Range 14, but we soon left it for “Monsters, Inc.”, a bay with nothing but a few dozen doors set up to practice door entry with blue guns, and then it was of to the simulation bay for a live-fire “Shoot house” run.

And you know what? I’m tired and I still need to do some dry-fire practice, so I’ll leave what was in the shoot house and the rest of today for tomorrow.

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day Two

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day Two

Day One Report is here.

Day Two

Finally, some training! The first day was a lot of safety drills, a lot of theory and some shooting. Plus the weather sucked, and that made me grumpy.

Day Two started off with (finally) drawing from a holster, then it was on to malfunction drills:

Type 1: Misfires and Light Strikes (hmmn, where have I heard that before…)
Type 2: Stovepipes and failures to extract (FTE).
Type 3: Double-feeds or faiure to feed (FTF).

I really liked the malf-clearing drills I learned today. They were simple, consistent and yet way beyond “Tap, Rack, Bang.)

Then it was on to reloding your gun (tactical reloads, slide lock reloads, etc.) and then Failure To Stop Drills, aka two to center-mass, assess, the one to the center-head. Again, simple stuff, but it started to ramp up the stress a bit.

After lunch, the photo-realistic targets came out. This was interesting for me because due to range rules, competition rules and NRA rules, I’ve never shot at a “realistic” human target before.

We then progressed into voice commands and one-shot Failure Drills, aka the hostage-taker shot, and I was please that I only dropped two shots out of the whole day’s shooting that wasn”t either in center-mass or in the center head.

I can dig it.

Speaking of shooting, Front Sight uses a “Shooter/Coach” method on the line: One guy is shooting and the other is keeping him safe and offering tips for improvement. The shooter I was paired with today had SERIOUS flinching/trigger mash issues, and I was pleased to see him improve as the day goes one. If the defintion of a good school is one that improves the shooting of it’s students, Front Sight is passing (so far).

And now for some pictures.

Pistol Ranges

This is the view outside the classroom. There’s five pistol ranges clustered around, and they’re very nice, with a western/pueblo exterior, gravel-lined bays and shade.

Pistol Range

Not bad.

Conex

This, unfortunately, is what the rest of the buildings on the range look like. Oh well.

100 yard range

One of the 100 yard rifle/shotgun ranges.

Line of cars

The gates open at 7:30 (6:30 on the first day), and there’s always a line of cars waiting to get in each morning.

Dry Practice

There’s ten minutes of optional instructor-supervised “dry practice” (aka dry-fire) drills before each class.

Training

Instruction is usually given right on the range, then drills and shooting practice follow.

More to come tomorrow.

 

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course Review, Day One

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.

Two Hits To The Body Thetan, One To The Head.

Two hits to the body Thetan, one to the head.

As I said earlier, I’m at FrontSight this week for a Four Day Defensive Handgun class. 

Why? 

1. Price. Class fees, ammo, lunches, hotels, gas, for FrontSight all add up to less than the class fees alone for other big gun schools. Yes, FrontSight ain’t GunSite, but not everyone goes to Harvard for their undergrad degree. 

2. Curiousity. Most of the online reviews of FrontSight start off with something like “I’ve not done any training before but…” or “I was in the military twenty years ago and…”. I’ve not seen a review done by someone who’s made defensive pistol shooting their passion for a significant amount of time, and I figure, why not me? 

3. Practice. Hey, what’s the worst that can happen? I put 600 rounds downrange, and don’t get any better. Worst case, I spend four days shooting. Eek. 

4. Skepticism: Bad internet marketing, rumours of vacation home pitches and Scientology aside, what is FrontSight really like?

I’m also curious to see what they’ve changed since they’ve opened. Paraphrasing Rob Pincus, if you’re not changing how you teach, you’re not learning, and you’re not teaching your students effectively as a result. 

I figure if it sucks, I’ll have done a big service to the gunblog community by falling on a grenade for all of you. If it doesn’t, I’ll come of out it better prepared to defend my family. 

Win-win.

 

Light Bright

Light Bright

Sometimes, you don’t need a laser for accurate shooting at night.

For me, the Streamlight TLR-1 on my SIG SAUER P226R projects a circle of light where my bullet’s point of impact is near 12 o’clock in the beam’s hotspot. I have shot many groups at the range and trust this orientation out to five yards.

The Surefire lights on my H-K MP-5 and Remington 870 were also “minute-of-man” at close range during actual shooting drills.

Where is this important? At CQB distances in room clearing, I am confident that, with the light on, punching out at the target and sending rounds into the beam’s focal point will give me center of mass hits.

I’ve found this to be the case with the Insight light I won at the NRA Convention and my Mossberg 500.

Mossberg 500 with Insight light

This is about the longest shot I’ll need to take in a defensive position inside my house: It’s the view looking down from the top floor to the front door, and the only reason I’ll need to do it is to watch over my kids as they pass behind me from their rooms into the safe room. If anything else happens, we’ll hole up in the there and leave the house-clearing to the cops when they show up.

Mall ninjas, have at it!

What’s interesting is that small circle of light in the middle of the door, or rather, the small circle of shadow caused by the bulb and reflector from the Insight light. It’s a little off off center from the barrel, so I need to hold slightly to the left, but it’s close enough for government work.

And sonuvagun if that shadow isn’t also about the same size as the buckshot shot pattern from the Mossie.

If (God forbid) I need to use the gun to defend my family, I know I can get it onto target quickly, thanks to the way the Insight light projects onto the target.

Neat.

Jump Into Harm’s Way, For Fun And Profit!

Jump into harm’s way, for fun and profit!

 Airsoft CZ

See that? That’s an airsoft CZ P07. It looks, feels and handles almost identical to my daily carry gun. I use it for draw practice and transisiton and movement drills in my backyard. It’s cheap, under a hundred bucks, and it won’t kill anyone downrange from it. 

The same cannot be said for these guys.

I’ve yet to figure out what having people downrange during live-fire does for a student, other than give him real-world experience with the civil and criminal court systems. 

Threats Analysis

Threats analysis

I’ve been thinking more about the comment I left in a post last week.

There are, as I see it, two kinds of violent encounters: Predatorial and Adversarial. 

The “sudden encounter” is a predator attack, be it mugger, rapist or Rottweiler. Those types of encounter require you to be on your game rightthisveryinstant and respond to the attack with enough force to end things.

The Adversarial attack is road rage or the loudmouth in bar itchin’ for a fight or the jealous spouse of a co-worker or the fight between friends that gets out of hand. Those happen on pretty well-defined patterns, and if they get out of hand, they get out of hand in predictable paths that can be countered (or better yet, de-escalated) in predictable ways. 

And as things are now, we spend a LOT of time preparing and training for the Predatorial attack: The mugger, the home invasion, the sexual assault. It’s not that these kinds of attacks aren’t real, it’s that for us law-abiding folk, they are just not that common. 

Predators tend to prey on the weak, and if you’ve taken the steps needed to secure your family at and away from home, you are not easy pickin’s no more. When such an attack happens, there’s little you can do to de-escalate the action, in fact, trying to de-escalate it will probably get you killed dead. Such an attack requires the immediate and swift application of force sufficient to end the threat. Anything less just ain’t enough.

Which leaves adversarial encounters. These differ in that we can and should control the level of force needed to end things. “A soft answer turneth away wrath” ain’t in the Bible because it sounds nice, it’s in there ’cause it works. 

Adversarial encounters can get out of hand quickly if no one choses to de-escalate. Ask any cop who’s had to arrest someone for a barfight or the murder of a friend and he’ll tell you the number one thing they’ll hear from the poor soul who’s now cuffed on the curb is “Why didn’t he just back down?”. 

I turn that around and ask “Why didn’t YOU just back down?”

Is an insult, a bad lane change or a loud remark worth twenty years of your life and the loss of your firearms freedoms? Is it worth not seeing your kids grow up or your friends? Is it worth a black mark on your record that will follow you wherever you go? 

We spend hours on the range and in the dojo preparing for the predator’s attack. How much time do we spend learning the difference between backing down and giving up? 

 

Eleventh Report

Eleventh Report

I needed to tune up for the Desert Classic, so it’s off to Rio for another practice session.

Dot Torture Drill (5 Yards): 39 of out 50 

Dot Torture Drill

Boy howdy, does that suck. Worst. Score. Ever. 

On the other hand, I can shoot it clean at 3 yards and that’s my first attempt at 5 yards, so it’s within my grasp. 

Besides, if it were easy, everyone could do it.

El Presidenté Drills

Run CZ75 1 CZ75 2 CZ75 3 P07 1 P07 2
Target One 3A C 4C 3A C A B 2D 2A C D
Target Two 2A C D 2A C M A 2C D 2A C M 2A C D
Target Three 4A 2C 2D 3A C A C 2D A 2C D

Time 9.95 7.64 7.65 9.55 10.32
A’s 9 2 7 5 5
B’s
C’s 2 7 4 8 4
D’s 1 2 1 3 3
M’s 1 1
Points 52 23 48 42 40
Score 5.23 3.01 6.27

4.4

3.88
Draw 2.15 1.79 1.52 2.21 2.51
Reload 2.51 2.51 2.69 3.53 3.26
Avg. Split 0.51 0.32 0.34 0.36 0.44

My fastest draw and fastest split times ever. I did the first CZ75 run at “Normal” speed with very good (for me) hits, then really pushed the next one, then dialed it back a notch for the last run, with excellent results. If I plug that 6.27 into CMCalc.com, it comes back with a 61%, good enough for B Class. 

I can dig it. 

The P07 was shot from concealment my SuperTuck, and this time I used an old Fobus paddle magazine holder I had lying around, with very decent results. I’m pleased that aside from my draw and reload, my times with my daily carry P07 are durn close to my times with my competition-only CZ75.

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