Editor’s Note: Recently two members of the On Target editorial team, Randy Terbush and RN Price, had an opportunity to visit Front Sight Fire Arms Training Institute in Nevada. It proved to be a memorable and productive experience for both of them. Randy, founder of Forge Mark Arms gives us a full-on evaluation of the four-day Defensive Hand Gun Training course at the facility.
For Hawaii residents, where visiting the California Hotel in Vegas seems to be a bi-annual event, a foray over to Front Sight could easily be part of a vacation. Read the review and decide for yourself…
Here’s Randy’s account:
I recently returned from my second training experience at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. My first experience at Front Sight was in April of 2012 when I attended their 4-day Tactical Shotgun course. A year later, I participated in their flagship course, the 4-day Defensive Handgun Training. As any good handgunner knows, in order to be accurate with a handgun, you need to “focus on the Front Sight” and that is exactly what we are going to do in this review.
What is Front Sight?
On your way to Pahrump, Nevada, about one hour west of Las Vegas, you will pass the unmarked turn in the heart of the Nevada desert for the eight mile driveway to the gate of the Front Sight Training Institute, The deserts of the southwestern United States are dotted with oases, and as these past two experiences at Front Sight has proven, Front Sight is an oasis of firearm knowledge and training that provides an impressive image of responsible gun ownership. But before you write me off as authoring yet another gun nut’s diatribe about a military boot camp Disneyland for preppers, let me get to some specifics about the training. I won’t get into the pricing of the various courses in this review. With a bit of a look around the Front Sight website you can enroll in the 4-day Defensive Handgun course for as little as $250.00. There are many other membership levels that allow for unlimited and other packaged training
Four days in the Nevada Desert
In a four day training course at Front Sight, you start your first day with at least 1000 other students at 6:00 am course check in. There are people participating in courses from every walk of life. Husband and Wife, whole families, groups of male friends, groups of female friends. Kids as young as 10 years old along with people well into their eighties. Everyone excited about the experience ahead of them. Helpful and friendly. The check-in process is well orchestrated, taking all attendees through equipment rentals if needed, weapons checks for safety and appropriateness to the training and ammunition purchase for the four days ahead. Most four day classes will shoot at least 600 rounds of ammunition, be it handgun, rifle or shotgun, so managing the ammunition purchase is challenging in itself. Especially in these days of low supply.
After check-in andrange assignments, the students gather in a large meeting hall where you will eat your lunch and listen to other firearm training lectures throughout the next four days. After the initial walk through of some basic gun safety rules and the necessary legal paperwork typically associated with this type of training, students are dismissed to their assigned ranges. It is at this point where all handgun training students will put on their holsters and magazine carriers, holster their firearms and report to their range. From this time forward, every handgun student will move about the multi-acre facility with UNLOADED handguns in their holsters. While eating lunch, moving between training ranges and every other bodily function throughout the day. Many people would look at this as a recipe for disaster but I can confidently say that in both of my four day experiences at Front Sight, it is one of the friendliest and smoothest running high population environments that I have ever experienced.
Over the four day training, I have experienced in myself, and witnessed in others an amazing transformation of skill at handling a firearm. I’ve watched people I would have never imagined even considering shooting a firearm go from complete novices to very accurate and fast shooters over those four days. Many of them achieving a skill they could have never imagined before those four days in the desert. In this most recent experience, I watched as two siblings, 10 and 13 became very safe and proficient handgunners that were outshooting many of the adults on the firing line. Even with the laser focus on building skill in using a firearm, there is an equal focus in the lectures on educating you on the likely consequences that follow using a firearm in self defense and educating each participant on the decision process and possible scenarios that would allow you to avoid having to use a firearm to save yourself or a loved one’s life.
Keep in mind that this is the desert and even in April, it can get quite hot. The Front Sight facilities are very good about keeping plenty of water available and making sure that everyone is taking time to cool off and stay hydrated. Lunch in the lecture hall is a great break from the sun and offers much needed downtime to regroup and get ready for a busy afternoon on the range. Each day is a full one starting at 6:00 am on the first day, 8:00 am on subsequent days and not ending until 5:30 to 6:00 pm.
Quality of Training
My second attendance at Front Sight offered a unique opportunity to compare this recent experience to the first. Coming away from the first experience, I was really blown away by the professional training experience and surprised at just how different the experience was from what I expected.
Front Sight is NOT a firearm boot camp. While the facility does run with a military precision, and the instructors and staff are well starched and professional, the facility does make an effort to not make the training intimidating or painful. While there is the occasional “stressful” situation where a range master is frantically making the point that you need to hurry to complete that emergency reload, it is all in good humor and meant to simulate some of the urgency and stress you might be feeling in a real life situation.
Having the opportunity to compare the two experiences was invaluable to me. That comparison allowed me to judge first hand just how consistent and methodical the training is at Front Sight. For example, in the recent handgun training, one of the instructors that was sharing some of the lecture and range master workload with the primary instructor was also helping out to a lesser degree in the tactical shotgun course one year earlier. This instructor came off very competent one year ago and a year later had obviously developed his training skills further. This amount of preparation and training for instructors appears to be the norm in developing these training skills and results in a precise and safe curriculum. As an example, during one of the shooting house drills I participated in, I went to another range and was exposed to a new instructor I had not met before. Instantly, his range commands were consistent with all of my other instructor experiences and made it easy and safe to move between ranges and training experiences.
The Dichotomy of Front Sight
While I have clearly raved about the Front Sight training experience, there are some detractors that I feel compelled to disclose. The impression taken from the marketing machine of Front Sight…
I have yet to meet anyone who is not turned off by the constant bombardment of email and phone calls coming from a source that claims to be Dr. Ignatius Piazza, founder of Front Sight. I do respect Dr. Piazza’s vision for Front Sight, but I cannot help but think that the marketing tactics are creating a headwind for the organization. The approach is that which seems to be common in the firearm industry and lobby groups these days and I have to say that it really turn me off. From speaking with other Front Sight members, I do not think that I am unique in this viewpoint.
From the very outdated and overly dense website to endless emails claiming “just one more day”, I personally believe that the organization is getting some very bad marketing advice. If you can overlook this behavior, I am confident you will not regret it.
For a very accurate view of the Front Sight experience, take a look at this video:
Planning the next trip
After my most recent experience at Front Sight, I am convinced that the level of training I am receiving is very high and am confident in the product I will receive for my time spent there. Choosing from a 4-day rifle course, 2-day handgun skill builder, etc. is the next challenge. Since I am not a fan of the desert heat the window for attending training at Front Sight for me is probably from October through April. The whole experience is even more fun with a group of friends so I will be lobby that group over the summer to make plans for that next trip.
Until then, safe shooting and be sure to contact your legislators to help them understand what it means to be a responsible gun owner.
by Randy Terbush
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