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My third trip to Front Sight (FS) was directed towards improving my handgun handling skills. I had taken the tactical shotgun course last fall and the defensive handgun course prior to that. It was time to spend some training time with my Springfield XD9 pistol. Gary, my shooting buddy, and I scheduled a pair of two day courses and headed off to Nevada to have a good time before the weather turned summer hot. Two of our coworkers, Wayne and Bill, joined us for the handgun skill builder course. We were all looking forward to some quality trigger time with the Front Sight staff.
The handgun skill builder course is intended to help
you polish those skills you previously acquired in either the 2 or 4 day
defensive handgun course. Assuming you have kept up on your dry practice
and gotten in some good range time, the instructors are there to help you
improve your presentation time and improve your trigger control. If you
haven't been keeping current on your skills, then they will quickly get you up
to speed so you can move on. The 2nd day of the course is taken with your
handgun in a concealed carry setting. A cover garment is required, such as
a jacket, vest, or sweater for this day. I found that my vest, much more so this time
then my first trip to Front Sight, made little difference in
presentation speed. I do believe the muscle memory is improving.
Here is a view of our range before we got started on day #2 of
the course. Fresh targets (they are changed for us multiple times per day) were
setup on the rotating target stands. This range had 20 lanes available.
The plywood you see in the foreground was put down for two of the students who
were using wheel chairs. Dave and Dusty, two new friends, did their
shooting sitting down. However, don't let that fool you. As I told
Dave after seeing his group from a ragged hole drill...."I sure don't want to
meet you in your hallway in the middle of the night." He informed me that
if I did, it would be his shotgun that I would see first and not his handgun!
The other end of our 2 day skill builder range. The morning sun was peaking over the berm (behind me) when I snapped this photo. It was the start of another great southwestern spring day!
The Front Sight instructors are very aware of the dry desert climate we shoot in. Their constant reminders to stay hydrated (note the large orange water coolers) helped those folks that don't live in the Southwest. Late March was perfect weather with high temps pushing to the almost 80 and lows in the 40s. While some of the shooters picked up a good sunburn, I found it quite pleasant and simply improved on my tan (grin). Did I mention I had spent the previous weekend at an Appleseed shoot that was shot outdoors both days? Six days of shooting in a two week period.....could anyone be so lucky?
Safety is a prime concern at Front Sight and we (the students)
are always reminded of it. The instructors stress it and for good
reasons.....with several hundred students in attendance on a typical weekend, no
one needs or wants to go home injured. On the firing line, everyone is a
safety observer and has the right and responsibility to stop any potentially
unsafe act that may occur. I'm good with that and wouldn't want it any
Sally, one of our 3 instructors, has the range at this time and
conducting firing drills for the 2nd relay. The class splits into two
groups (relay 1 and relay 2) and alternates time at the firing line. For
our handgun skill builder class, we had 1 range master, two instructors, and one
line coach (an instructor in training). Each relay had about 15 students in
it. This allowed three staff members on the firing line to assist
individuals with one on one instruction during any firing session. As
usual, Gary and I teamed up (for most of the course) and observed each other
while providing feedback on stance, grip, trigger control, safety, follow
through, etc. While we shot, the instructors moved up and down the line
and provided comments as appropriate. Any areas for improvement were noted
(as was good shooting) and by the end of day #2, I was quite conscious of my
elbow position and "don't squeeze the thumbs".
Dave works his semi-auto (sorry, I don't remember
what he was shooting) on the first lane while Bill (retired military) observes.
Bill is very typical of the folks you find at Front Sight.....polite, good
natured, great sense of humor, and a love for the shooting sports. It's
not only the staff that makes Front Sight a great place to polish your shooting
skills....the student and members are equally a great bunch of people too.
I've yet to meet someone in any of my classes that I wouldn't gladly share
another course with in the future.
Here is Gary (center) moving back to another firing position during one of the many skill tests practice session we shot. Did I ever mention what the shooting portion of the skills test includes? Here is a quick run down. Note that these are all timed and done from concealed carry. Each shot is worth a maximum of 5 points. You can also score a 2 (close but not quite) and 0 (a miss).
|Description||Range||Time (sec.)||Max Points|
|Controlled Pair from holster||3m||1.8||10|
|Controlled Pair from the ready||5m||1.4||10|
|Controlled Pair from holster||5m||2.0||10|
|Controlled Pair from holster||7m||2.1||10|
|Controlled Pair from holster||10m||2.6||10|
|Controlled Pair from holster
|Controlled Pair from holster
|Controlled Pair from holster, (failure to stop), followed by an untimed head shot||7m||2.1||30|
|Single head shots from holster||5m||1.9||25|
I dropped 6 points by drifting two of my 25 shots into the lower scoring "2" zone vs. the higher scoring "5" zone. One of these was a head shot and the other was a thoracic cavity shot. Unfortunately, I dropped 9 points during the malfunction drills which left me with a total of two points short for a distinguished graduate seal on my graduation certificate. The DG rating indicates you scored in the top 10%. When I did my initial 4 day handgun course, I missed graduating by 5 points. To graduate, you need a score of 70%. As you can see, my improvement was significant, in my opinion. I owe a lot of it to Gary's and my practice sessions at the range. Unlike riding a bicycle, you really can forget many of the fine points. Gary got his DG during this course....he's been working on it for a couple of visits and was always just a few points short. Congrats Gary and nice job!
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