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I don't know where to start. I have never experienced such an intensive (and fun) 4 days of training in my life....period, end of discussion! The 30+ years worth of military, college, and work related training courses don't begin to compare with the quality of instruction I received at Front Sight. It was a highly motivating experience that I will never forget. If you carry concealed, you owe it to yourself to take the 4 day defensive handgun class. If you don't carry concealed, you owe it to yourself to take the 4 day defensive handgun class. Did I mention you really need to take Front Sight's 4 Day Defensive Handgun class?
A large group of us from work were guests at the Front Sight Firearms Training Facility the first weekend of November, 2007. We all owe Gary, one of our co-workers, a big thank you since we came as his guests (a result of Gary's Front Sight membership upgrade). Several of us caravanned our way to Pahrump, Nevada the day before class and settled in to our motel rooms for a good night's sleep. Gary had warned me that my butt would be dragging by the fourth day and that I would have enough time to eat, sleep, dry practice, and shoot at the range....and that was about it. His prediction was quite accurate.
We arrived at Front Sight on Friday AM, about 7:30, for sign-in and weapons inspection. Our registrations and background checks had been processed several weeks before. By 8:00, about 350 students were assembled in the main classroom to handle administrative paperwork and receive the first in a series of quality lectures and presentations that would occur over the next four days. By mid-morning, we were on range #5 where we met our range master and the other two instructors that would provide us with the hands on portion of the training. Their resumes were nothing less than totally impressive.
Safety is #1 at Front Sight and it was something that was stressed and implemented all the time. We never once had a negligent discharge in our group. Considering we had 39 students comprising 15 to 60+ years of age, with some being new shooters, that was great.
The afternoon of our 1st day was made up of two lectures and several more hours of range time. Range time at Front Sight is a team effort. NO one sits on their back side when the range is hot. We split up in to two relays (#1 and #2). We then selected a partner from the opposite relay who would be our "coach" while we shot. When the relay #1 was done, relay #2 began their shooting while the coaches from relay #1 assisted. The coaches primary responsibility was to help ensure the firing line was always safe and that their "partner" didn't perform an unsafe act with their firearm. The coaches also assisted in helping the shooter remember to correct specific things that were causing them problems, such as improper positioning of the support elbow or maybe jerking of the trigger. I must admit that it really helped to reinforce the techniques that the range instructors were teaching. The instructors constantly moved up and down the shooting line giving one-on-one guidance, as needed. They pointed out the things you were doing well and provided help to correct those things that needed improvement.
I was pleased to see that Front Sight provided more than just the hands on training for defensive handgun use. Lecture time also focused on the moral and ethical decisions associated with the use of deadly force. We received instruction on the criminal and civil liabilities involved with using deadly force as well. Your decision to carry a handgun is, in my opinion, a life changing event. Knowing the legal and ethical issues involved are just as important as knowing proper gun control and safe handling practices. Front Sight does a great job of providing you with the entire picture, so to speak.
We spent our 4 days on a 75 meter range but used just the first 25 meters of it. Here is what it looked like from the far end. Sure glad I didn't have to shoot my XD45 from way back here. Those targets look a little small.
Day #2 found us on the range all morning (about 4.5 hours worth). We also had another afternoon range session along with more classroom presentations. The day concluded with a supplemental lecture on Tactical Shotgun and Practical Rife.
During the first day of the course, the range instructors would remind you to
fill magazines, etc. It wasn't very long before each person was
responsible for their own ammunition management. 5.11 pants or some other
tactical type pants is worth its weight in gold. I operated comfortably with 4
magazines (two 10 round and two 13 round) for my Springfield Armory XD.45 ACP. I kept a loose
box of .45 rounds in my support side pants pocket and the XD's mag loader in one
of the leg pockets (along with a magazine). The magazine holder on my
Instructor Belt kept the remaining two magazines. Running a
magazine empty (resulting in your slide locking back) was considered a bad
situation to be in. Bad guys will take advantage of that when given the
chance.....don't allow yourself to fall into that situation....tactical reloads
are a way of life on the range and will save your life on the street.
The 1911 owners were constantly reloading which made me appreciate my double
stacked XD magazines all that much more.
Here is "AJ" running relay #2 on the line at 5 meters. If I remember correctly, we started running a hot range about half way through day #2. A hot range is when everyone's weapon is loaded (a round in the chamber and a full magazine) and you no longer load and unload each time you come to the firing line. When you leave the range for lunch or a lecture, everyone unloads. This is a safety protocol that all Front Sight students follow during their training courses.
Day #3 was a long day, but in my opinion, the best of the four I spent at the
site. We arrived at 7:00 AM for some dry practice. All of our
instructors were there to help us move to that next level. Up until this
point, we had been drawing from an unconcealed holster, but later in the
morning, we started practicing presentations from a concealed holster.
With dry practice wrapped up, we all headed over to the big classroom for our
Tactical Movement lecture. The lecture focused on how to properly
clear rooms in your house. Techniques for opening and entering a door, coming around a
corner, the funnel of death, etc. were all discussed and demonstrated.
After the conclusion of the tactical lecture, we headed down to a different range for tactical dry practice. Upon finishing the dry practice segment, we moved to the tactical training simulator (often times referred to as a shoot house). Front Sight has several of these and I was able to apply the tactical skills I had learned while clearing several rooms and hallways. I was surprised at how real the entire situation was. Granted, there was no one returning fire as I progressed around the corners and through the doors, but the bad guys and hostage targets were more than enough to ramp a person up to the next level.
After a lunch time lecture on selecting a defensive handgun, we spent the remainder of the afternoon on the range doing a variety of timed drills and skill building. Tomorrow afternoon was our evaluation and everyone was working on improving their speed and accuracy.
What made day #3 completely different than any other (other than the tactical simulator) was the low and no light shoot that we performed after dinner (yes, we brought an extra sub sandwich for our dinner). We had another lecture in the big classroom that covered tactical flashlight use and then we hit the range to practice what we had just learned. SAFETY was HIGHLY stressed given the lack of light. The muzzle flash from some of the handguns was quite high. It became obvious that some thought to a low flash signature self defense round is also something that warrants consideration. We finished the night shoot with no problems. It was about 9:00 PM when we got back to the motel room. Day #3 was a long but very informative day indeed.
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