Front Sight touts its training standards to be above that of the military and law enforcement. They stress, however, that they are not a boot camp. And that’s probably why you’ll see kids and people in wheelchairs at their pistol ranges and diminutive, grey-haired little old ladies with ARs at the rifle ranges. I was lucky to get my whole family in on a lifetime Diamond membership through a childhood friend recently. So, I was eager to get to the 4-day Practical Rifle class just a week ago . . .
A gun owner since ’94, I really tooled up after the Newtown tragedy was exploited by the nouveau Marxists coast-to-coast to advance their disarmament agenda. I did it as a political statement as much as a hedge against some pretty certain bets. Nevertheless, I have always known that I live in a water-starved desert, densely inhabited by a large population dependent on public infrastructure and one overdue for a major seismic event. Oh, and I was here for the Rodney King verdict riots, too.
Then, there is that alarming statistic that something like 20% (or more?) of gang members have some level of combat training (direct or second hand). So, it occurred to me that I ought to be at least functionally proficient with the assortment of tools in my fireproof, rather crowded toolbox. You know, homestead defense-in-a-natural-disaster context. No zombies. No Russians (or North Koreans). No jumping out of helicopters in full gear and night vision. Just making sure my kids have shelter, water and food until infrastructure and law and order are restored.
The Pahrump campus is about 20 miles south of said city whose theme song ought to be Tom Wait’s “Burma Shave”. It sits on 500-some acres of land (purchased or leased from the BLM) within clear eyeshot (if not hiking distance) of California.
If you’ve never tasted full firearms freedom, bring a change of underwear for your first day. Weapons and ammo check means people are walking around slung and strapped. If it’s not like a military base, then at least like the bad guys’ lair on the season premiere of The A-Team. Either option is pretty cool.
There are tons of videos and reviews of Front Sight on the interwebs and the YouseTubes, so I’m not going to do all that here. Watch those videos and read those blog posts. I do want to address a few things, though, and they all boil down to the fact that my four-day Practical Rifle class was a demanding, challenging, humbling reality check.
A few takeaways:
– You’re not as good as you thought you are. Really. Bench/range shooting is not tactical shooting. It just isn’t, even if you occasionally stand or go through the basic positions. I reached a vicious self-propagating cycle of deteriorating performance leading to frustration leading to further deteriorating performance. It could have been the heat. It could have been fatigue. Maybe I’m too tough on myself. It could also be that I’m 43, physically awkward and I suck.
2 – Your gun/gear is not as good/cool/reliable/useful/necessary as you thought it is. Basic is good. More is not gooder. Even IF you are SWAT or Delta Force or Seal Team 6, or GI Joe or whatever. Corollary 2a: You don’t have to clean your rifle every night, but a few drops of oil will save you $35. I wanted to push my New Frontier polymer lower based AR as far as it could go. I ended up buying the Armorer’s last extractor spring on day 3.If my money was limited, as it was, I’d invest in good reliable solid irons instead of optics. An AR should be accurate to 400 yards with irons. Since my rifle is a flat top with picatinny from charging handle to just past the gas block (mid- or carbine-length) I went with MBUS sights. Not bad for under $100 for the front and back set.Extras – especially those with batteries and glass – can break when you can least afford it. They should not be your primary devices. Same goes for lights, lasers and picatinny-mounted toothpicks, rear view mirrors and cell phone holders (j/k).
3 – Clearing malfunctions under pressure is hard. Especially when you have to execute a stop-failure to stop (two to thoracic cavity plus a one to the cranio-ocular box) in a set amount of time.
4 – You are not as safe with your weapon as you thought you were. Yes. Four Rules. But there are a few additional things that seem mindlessly procedural that you learn such as chamber checks before and after shooting/loading/unloading that actually make sense. Then there is the art of conducting after-actions (checking behind you, scanning side to side and back to your target/opponent) without Dianne Feinsteining the entire range.
5 – You are probably not doing enough dry practice. It should be the 70% dry/30% live mentioned in a recent post here on TTAG. Another way to look at it is that live fire confirms or validates your dry practice. And it’s cheaper. Much.
6 – It’s easy to kill the wrong person. Day three: tactical canyon. Your family member has been abducted and is being held by a gang of bad guys. You must negotiate a course of targets to rescue your kin (likely by way of a hostage shot, but I’m not sure. Read on). Iron targets are shooting at you. You have to determine if the paper targets are a threat or an innocent. A phone held in an extended arm at about a 30 to 40 degrees can look a lot like a gun. Have a lawyer on retainer.
7 – Shooting in 100+ degree heat for eight hours (even without a rig) is a good way to make you appreciate what our guys in the sandbox deal with.
Front Sight’s founder and director, Ignatius Piazza is a good marketer. He seems to be a staunch Second Amendment supporter, too.
So I wanted to know what actions and public positions Front Sight takes as a company to help secure or advance Second Amendment rights (or in states like California, reclaim them).
I asked Piazza what his current contribution to the fight to defend and extend is and he replied:
Through hundreds of thousands of students who attend our courses, subscribe to our e-mails and actively participate in contacting their political representatives, and forward our e-mails and blogs to other gun owners, we create a political force of millions of gun owners.
He’d headed up a an effort to to get shall issue CCW on the California ballot and made the error of yielding to groups who wanted to litigate the issue. Now I’d get arrested and put on a 72 hour hold for carrying a banana in a holster to Starbucks.
I mentioned safety earlier. One of their mottos (besides “Any gun will do as long as it’s an AR”) is “We’re positively changing the image of gun ownership”. It’s a no-brainer that by training safe, accurate, well-informed and skilled gun owners, Front Sight helps foster a positive public perception of gun ownership. The longer I’m involved in this game of gun owner cat hearding in The Golden State, the more I realize that efforts must be subtle, behind the scenes and long-term goal-oriented. Public perception is key in battleground states like California. And the way gun owners conduct themselves is instrumental to that.
So, please, you don’t have to get training at Front Sight. It could be Appleseed or any other group. But, please, get training somewhere.