Front Sight Trip Report
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Thread: Front Sight Trip Report

  1. Front Sight Trip Report

    I'm sure this has been done already but I thought I'd share anyway.

    In March 2010, my friend John and I signed up for training at Front Sight. The deal was you get a 4 day Defensive Handgun Course, 1 day Concealed Carry Course, and a FREE handgun all for $1200.00 (I think the price recently went up). I just couldn’t pass up that deal and, since I’d never been farther west than Indianapolis, the whole thing would be an adventure I refused to pass up.

    Paperwork and background checks completed, John and I had our pistols transferred into Maryland so we could shoot a little before flying out to Las Vegas. Then came the first hurdle – walking into BWI Airport with pistols in our bags! Laugh if you want, but I was more frightened of this than any other part of our trip. It was interesting to watch the expression of the lady at the check-in counter when I said I have a gun! FWIW, you can fly with a handgun. It has to be unloaded (duh), inspected by the airline/TSA, be separated from any ammo (though, both can be in the same bag), and in a locked case inside the bag to be checked. It really ended up being a non-event, for the most part, but walking into a major international airport in one of the top five most firearm repressive states in the nation is not something to be done lightly. The flight home was a total non-event as we were old pros at it now and handguns in Nevada are like car keys to everyone else.

    We flew out in May for our class. The flight to Las Vegas was pretty boring. We had clouds most of the way but as we were descending the clouds started breaking up and we would first see snow capped mountains and then, just a few minutes later, desert and deep canyons. That’s when I knew, this was going to a cool trip. Las Vegas Airport is just plain gorgeous. It really puts BWI to shame. And I knew better but was still surprised by the slot machines in the airport. We got our rent-a-wreck (actually a 2010 Charger with about 300 miles on it . . . SWEET!) and started out for Pahrump, a town about 40 minutes west of Las Vegas and the closest town to Front Sight. Neither John nor I were prepared for the scenery and once we got out of town it got real quiet in the car. We were both rendered speechless by the stark beauty of the landscapes that unfolded before us. It was a half hour before either of us could close our mouths and then we turned into little kids. “Look at THAT!” “Look, a CACTUS!” “OMFG, LOOK AT THAT!” We checked into the Saddle West Casino in Pahrump and were pleasantly surprised when we got into our rooms. Clean, nice, and comfortable. We ate dinner in the casino restaurant and turned in early because tomorrow was going to be a long day.

    1st day. We got up about 4:30 (yes, in the morning) and had breakfast in the restaurant (continental breakfast, comes with the room, good food). We got out to Front Sight early, we thought, but there was already a line at the gate. They run a tight operation. Check in at the gate, yep, we’re on the list. “Follow the car in front of you.” “Park here.” “No, pull up farther.” “That’s good.” John and I can only follow simple directions, though, and at this point we had to make a decision. Do we put on our gear and guns, or not. We carefully studied others around us hoping for some unspoken advice on what to do. Moments later, we realized they were studying us for the same reason so we said, “Heck with it, let’s strap’em on.” That’s when we found out Front Sight is REAL touchy about having magazines inserted your gun (it wasn’t loaded but they can’t tell that). Ooops! Check-in, range assignment, and weapons inspection was done with almost military precision but with a friendly, helpful feel to it that is very easy to get used to. Front Sight, +1. Next was a mandatory welcome and don’t shoot yourself lecture and then we went to our range. We spent the morning getting acquainted with our guns and the other types on the range, range rules (pretty standard rules), and then it was on to DRY PRACTICE, baby. Practice drawing from the holster, SAFELY re-holstering, reloads, etc. Then it was on to loading and unloading with live ammo. On our range alone, we had students from 14 to 81 and about evenly split male to female and not one pistol went boom when it wasn’t supposed to. Front Sight, +1. We didn’t fire for real until an hour after lunch. What a rush. Even with hearing protection, the sound of 23 9mms and 45s wailing away in unison is impressive. Another mandatory lecture, this one about what they call, “The Color Code of Mental Awareness,” and then back to the range for more shooting. The day ended and we were dead tired so it was back to the casino, snarff down some dinner and try to absorb what we’d learned during the day, and back to the rooms for some sleep.

    I digress but I have to tell this story at this point. The temptation is to dry practice in the room at night. Front Sight discourages this and Saddle West Casino REALLY doesn’t want it happening for obvious reasons. One ooops and a round goes sailing through several rooms before taking out the windshield of a BMW in the parking lot and that’s about the best scenario you can hope for. Is the potential to end your trip and the lives of a lot of people worth the risk of getting in some practice when you’re so tired it will do little to no good? Front Sight and the casino both say no. I did anyway, of course, but I was very careful to unload all magazines and place ALL my ammo in a specific drawer. Anyway, I was practicing the second night with my flashlight (we had a night shoot the next day) and had all but one light off in the room. I quickly and expertly drew my trusty 45 while smoothly bringing up my support hand, light held just so, for support. I thumbed the light on and, of course, light and sights lined up perfectly on the far wall by the bathroom. It was then that I saw what could only be seen in this manner. There was a 4” diameter patch in the stucco right where my sights were lined up! I secured my weapon and, giggling like an idiot, went and pounded on John’s door. “C’mere, c’mere. Look, look.” So, they weren’t kidding about the danger of dry practicing when you’re tired. That was the best lesson I got the whole trip!

    2nd day. Now it really starts getting intense. When we weren’t eating lunch or in a lecture we were shooting. We had a morning lecture, “Moral and Ethical Decisions in the Use of Deadly Force.” An awesome lecture almost worth the cost of the course all by itself. Then more shooting before lunch. After lunch, like we really needed more of a challenge, they started with turning targets. Oooo, now that’s a new wrinkle. From 3 meters (doesn’t sound like much till you try it) draw from the holster and place two, controlled shots in the thoracic cavity (aka. center of mass) in 1.6 seconds. As you move farther out, all the way to 15 meters, the time gets bigger but not by much. At 15 meters I think the time was 2.8 seconds. Too slow and the target turns away. And it’s not like there’s a thousand holes in the target, either. The only holes were usually my first shot and a four inch gash where my second shot went through a mostly sideways target. There was a lot of head shaking going on, to be sure. The second lecture was about what to do and what not to do after you’ve been forced to shoot someone. Another excellent lecture if a bit less poignant than the first. Then it was back to the range and chasing those annoying turning targets. By this point it was apparent that there were three types of students on the range. There were the ones who just wanted to have fun (nuthin wrong with that!), the newbs like John and me who didn’t have a lot of experience but improved with every shot, and the shooters who were already very good shots but looking for a little more training. John and I were a little discouraged and overwhelmed driving back to the casino. We were improving by leaps and bounds but the realization of how much more there was to learn was sinking in. We hit fast food this time for variety and then back to the casino for some well earned rest.

    3rd day. This is when it really gets revved up. Except for lunch we shot from 8am to 5:30pm. It was the hottest of the four days and we got to shoot from concealment the whole day. Oh rapture! You never feel like your sweating but with temps in the low 90s and wearing a concealment garment (sweater, jacket, long tailed shirt), in full Nevada sunshine, if you don’t pound down the water and Gatorade you aren’t going to make it more than a couple hours. I drank close to two gallons and didn’t sweat or pee the whole day! Drawing and shooting from concealment is a whole nuther ballgame. Like we needed more of a challenge. It was windy and the shirt I was using kept getting in the way till I got the idea to put a little weight in it. I slit the seam about four inches up from the bottom next to the buttons and button-holes and slid 4 rounds into each seam. The weight was almost perfect and I got much better at it. We were still having trouble with the turning targets when we started training malfunctions, or simply put, what to do when the gun doesn’t go boom. This turned out to be the greatest challenge of all for John and me. We can do it, to be sure, just not anywhere near the time limit. I still can’t, but I’m working on it.

    5:30 comes and we get two hours for dinner and then it’s back for the night shoot. The night shoot was the most fun but also the creepiest part of the class. Think about it. John and I were pretty overwhelmed at this point, tired as all get out, and frankly a little shaky with our newly learned skills. In addition, we had to assume most of the rest of the class were in the same condition. Now, there are 46 of us out there, in the dark, fumbling and bumbling with loaded guns, and the instructors and range master can’t see us! It actually went pretty well, all things considered.

    4th day. Test day. OMG. We’re not ready. OMG! We get the good news right away. All shooting, including the test, will be with concealment. It was windy as **** and whipping in all directions, lowering clouds that looked like they would open up at any second, AND WE WEREN’T EVEN CLOSE TO BEING READY in the best of circumstances. The morning was all shooting from concealment with turning targets and walking through each part of the test. In short, it wasn’t encouraging. Still too slow with the second shot or the first one is rushed and “not terribly accurate”. Concealment garment is still getting in the way. And the malfunctions? Well forget it. Not a chance of doing them in time. We weren’t embarrassed at all, just amazed at how much skill was required to graduate, let alone graduate at the Distinguished Graduate Level. The test went pretty much as we expected and neither of us graduated. We got a certificate of achievement, though, which is okay by me because I know I left with way more comfort and skill than when we walked in the first day. We continue to shoot and practice and already are planning a return trip next year. Out of our class of 46, there were five graduates and one distinguished graduate.

    We had some fun shoots to break things up and keep everyone interested. At one point they set up four targets for each of us and we had to shoot each one (only not in order) as quick as possible. It was hard to move, point in on the next target, shoot accurately, and then move again. It was a fun challenge, though. Then we got to shoot at steel targets. There’s something very satisfying about hearing “plunk” when your round hits steel and then to see the steel hit the ground. But it wasn’t just step up and shoot. This was a single elimination, man on man competition! And my first time up . . . yep, I got to shoot against John! The idea was first to hit three targets wins. The first target was a hostage shot (shoot the bad guy cowering behind a hostage) and the other two were longer shots at steel silhouettes. My first shot at the hostage target was a clean miss and, a split second later, John hit his. I concentrated like never before and was only dimly aware of what John was doing and hit my hostage target dead center. I moved my focus to the long targets and realized john’s first was just hitting the ground. Careful press and my first long target goes down. I hear John’s next shot but didn’t see his last target drop so I pointed in on my last target knowing John won’t miss again and I only have moments to get my shot off. Hard concentration on the front sight, smooooooth press of the trigger. I hear the oh so satisfying plunk as my round hits my last target and as I watch my last target fall inexorably to the ground I hear another plunk as John hits his last target dead center. For a split second, both our targets were falling at the same time but mine hit the ground first. I won by the narrowest of margins and John was eliminated. On my next round, I shot against a mother of twelve (yes, twelve). I got my clock cleaned but good. She was done and working on child thirteen, I think, before I hit my second target. Holy Cow!

    The other fun shoot was a little more sobering. It was a hostage target, paper this time, but before we shot we had to go up and in great big letters write the name of a loved one on the hostage. Then it was back to the 7 meter line and I was shooting at a target a little smaller than a 3x5 card right next to my wife’s head. That kind of puts things in perspective REAL quick.

    5th day. Concealed Carry class. I have to say I wasn’t real impressed with this class. The approach felt like, “We think it’s stupid so don’t ask any questions and we’ll get through it as fast as possible.” We had a lecture, about three hours I think, about laws and methods of concealment. Then out to the range for the qualifying shoot for the Florida permit. We took one look at the targets we were supposed to shoot at and started laughing. They wanted us to hit a dinner plate sized target at 3, 5, and 7 meters with no time limit! By comparison, we’ve spent the last four days trying to split the butt cheeks on a flea in under 2 seconds! Are they kidding? That done, it was back in the classroom to complete all the necessary paperwork for concealed carry permits in Nevada, Utah, and Florida. With reciprocity agreements in place, I can carry concealed in 34 states. Not Maryland, of course, 34 OTHER states.

    Conclusion. I’ve owned guns almost my whole life, both mine and, after he passed, my father’s, too. Mostly long guns, but I’ve had a cheap 1911 clone since I was old enough to purchase it. Let’s just say I’ve had it for while. I would take it out and shoot it now and then shooting maybe 50 rounds a year on average. I never really felt comfortable handling it or keeping it loaded for home defense. As I’ve gotten older and (I hope) wiser, I‘ve discovered it’s not enough for me to have a gun. I need to know how to properly use it, too. So when the chance for this course came up it was a no brainer for me. I won’t tell anyone you should or shouldn’t own a gun, but what I would suggest to anyone who does or is thinking of owning a gun is, please, please, please get some quality training with it and train with it often enough so you don’t get rusty. Front Sight, or someplace else, it doesn’t matter. The idea is to become more of a danger to the bad guys than you are to yourself or your loved ones. Would I recommend Front Sight? Absolutely. But it’s more important, in my opinion, to get the training than where you get it from.


  3. #2
    Nice, Glad it worked out good..

    It's funny that you posted your report today, Was talking on the phone with an ol' dude about that place this afternoon...
    Semper Fi

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Pennsylvania, Delaware County
    Nice trip report! May I ask which gun you brought with you to front sight?

  5. #4
    that was an awesome report, I was there in may and didn't remember all that..thanks. I took G27, but should have brought a full size.

  6. #5
    Great read thanks!

    I have had the itch to go there for some time, reading just took that itch up to a compulsion.

  7. #6
    Thanx for posting this!!!

    Gulf Coast, Floriduh
    Sccy is the limit

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Charleston, SC

    Great report!

    Thanks for posting a great report! My wife and I were at Front Sight over the Memorial Day weekend. Your description of the experience is perfect. It brought back details I had forgotten (repressed?).

    Your report also rekindled my resolve to get the fundamentals down pat and go again. Nothing that was required of us was particularly difficult, there was just so much of it at one time. Also, for and old guy with a lifetime of habits, some bad, some just differrent, there was as much unlearning as learning. It would really be fun to go back and breeze through the course.

    You didn't mention shooting in the house. Most of our group thought that was even more fun than the night shoot. I performed better on the night shoot than in the shooting house but the shooting house was a hoot!

    With no basis for comparison, I can't say Front Sight is the best training available but I learned a lot and enjoyed the experience - well worth the time and money. On the fourth day, virtually everyone I talked to was planning to return.
    The Founders Got It Right - Back To The Constitution
    NRA (Life) - GOA (Life) - NAGR - GOSC (Life) - GrassRoots GunRights SC

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Florida Panhandle

    Exclamation Great trip report

    Good job and good training!!!

    Help teach others and keep the fire burning!

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ricbak View Post
    Nice, Glad it worked out good..

    It's funny that you posted your report today, Was talking on the phone with an ol' dude about that place this afternoon...
    Geez, talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Yeah, I"m the old a lifetime Frontsight member. I'd like to see a USAcarry convention at Frontsight. Lukem?
    Prov. 27:3 - "Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both"

  11. Ricardo, I opted for the XD45. It comes with two mags and I bought a third before going out there. The holster came apart on me, too, but it made it through the four day course before breaking. I bought a Blackhawk CQC Holster in the ProShop and couldn't believe the difference. I've been kicking myself ever since for not buying it the first day.

    Boomer, I know that compulsion now, too. I'm trying to get another class in before the end of the year. And I made the decision on the flight home the next time they advertized one of those foreclosed Legacy Memberships I would jump on it. Well, my brand new First Family hat is right next to the pooter! I got the bug bad.

    Kudzu, love your name. I have family in wester SC and absolutely love the area. I can't believe I forgot the shoot house. I got a compliment from the instructor at the doors. The wind caught the door as I went through it, whipped around, and smashed my right arm. Didn't drop the red-gun and finished with my left hand. He said he was impressed. I know I was! And Monsters Inc. was COOL! I don't know why but my sense of humor kicked in. To the first female target I said, "Hi honey, I'm home." It went fine till the long shot. Two clean misses. At some point I switched to all head shots. I don't know why and I didn't do it on purpose. The hostage target got a perfect head shot on the BG and then another one on the hostage. The instructor asked about it after and I said, "She's not my wife, she's behind me. But she is prettier and I figured if I didn't drop her my wife would!" And I just couldn't hurt the little gomer at the end.

    Festus, consider it done. I showed the guy that runs the range near my house what I'd learned and he was impressed. He's given me permission to draw from the holster (unheard of for non-LEO) and even had me help someone else that was having trouble (she was pulling everthing low/left).

    What I didn't include was that once we were a little bit comfortable, John and I OCed EVERYWHERE (except the casino). WalMart, the Grocery Store, Carl Jr, even Hoover Dam. I thought sure with it being a federal facility and a major landmark that Homeland Security would have a fit, but we stopped a DOI Cop and he said it was fine as long as we didn't try to take a tour with them or carry more than 1000 rounds. We had a good laugh about the ammo restriction and nobody batted an eyelash. It was just an unreal experience for someone born and raised in MD. The only time anyone said anything to us was in the grocery store when a lady asked if we were Bounty Hunters!

    Flash, I'm no spring chicken, myself. Is there a group for us or something? And I'm proud to say as of 2 weeks ago I, too, am a Lifetime Member of Front Sight.


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