Guest writer and friend to looseorunds Lila recently went to the Front site gun school and wrote an AAR detailing her time there.
I recently attended Front Sight’s 2 Day Defensive Handgun class and before I went, I searched all over the web for forum and blog posts in order to get prepared for my visit to Front Sight. The most recent detailed posts that I could find were a couple of years old, so I thought I would post my experience, with the best tips I have found. Front Sight is a place in the desert of Pahrump where you can receive training for a multitude of weapons such as handguns, rifles, machine guns, edged weapons, etc. When I realized I would be moving to Las Vegas, I bought a Diamond membership from a Calguns forum member for a really reasonable price (whereby taking one class would be worth the price of the membership). With a Diamond membership, you can take any class you want (that you qualify for), for your lifetime. You can also find discounted memberships from other gun enthusiast websites such as Nevadashooters and AR15. You might as well buy a membership rather than pay the full price of each course on the Frontsight web page.
I anticipated a grueling and hot weekend and it was – with temperatures as high as 102 in the afternoon. You will need to use strong sunscreen a couple of times at least, to make sure you don’t burn. Don’t worry if you forget to bring sunscreen – they provide several bottles of 50 rated UVA/UVB sunscreen for your use and encourage you to reapply as needed. I applied sunscreen at least 2-3 times each day and did not get sunburned.
Here is a list of the equipment/accessories that I brought:
H&K USP 9mm with 8 mags (bring high capacity if you can, to avoid having to reload as often)
Holster (non Blackhawk Serpa) – I used a Safariland 568 holster and it worked great
Uncle Mike’s Tactical Kydex Double Stack Double Magazine Case
Maxpedition Rollypolly folding dump pouch – medium sized – is really helpful to carry extra mags, ammo, gloves
ESS Ice eyeshield sunglasses
250 rounds of Remington UMC 9mm – I had a few left over, but if you only bring 200 you might be short
Bianchi velcro belt – got this from a law enforcement supply store. The velcro belt worked great – easy to remove and put back on and was very sturdy.
A baseball hat
Electronic ear muffs – Howard Leight R-01526 Impact Sport Earmuffs
HKS Speed Loader
Isotoner unlined driving gloves with leather palms
Hex tool to adjust my holster if necessary
Range bag to carry the gear
I read a lot about how you might need hiking boots, long pants, long sleeves, etc, but I also read that some people were fine with shorts, short sleeves and sandals. So, because of the weather, I decided to wear medium length shorts, short sleeve shirts and running shoes. This gear worked out fine for the 2 days. You do get hit by some brass, but it was not a big deal. There are lots of gravel to walk on, but I didn’t have any problems. Running shoes are lighter, have more air flow (mesh sides) and are more comfortable than hiking boots, but wear what you prefer.
I didn’t know how bad the drive would be and how exhausted I would be after each class, so I rented a cottage from Wine Ridge RV Resort at about $75/night with a Front Sight discount. The drive from the cottage to Front Sight (FS) was about 25 minutes. If you are coming from out-of-town, I would highly recommend staying here. The cottage is spacious, with a living room which had a recliner, small sofa and cable tv. There was a small dining table with 2 chairs, a kitchen with microwave, toaster, oven/stove, and good sized refrigerator. The bed was a queen size. The bathroom had a standup shower, but the water flow was not very adjustable, although adequate. I didn’t have time to sit on the attached porch but it looked nice. My friends rented an RV and were a couple doors away. They tried to book too late and they ran out of cottages. So, book early!
In regards to food and drink – I brought a rolling cooler each day with at least 4 bottles of water, a couple of juices and a soda. I brought snacks of dried nuts/fruit to keep me going throughout the day. I also brought my own lunch, which consisted of a sandwich, fruit, and chips. You can pre-order the boxed lunches for $13.95, or get food from the trailer. My friends ate the boxed lunches and thought they were good. They do provide big containers of water and cups for you to drink from, but I preferred to know where my filtered water came from.
The first day, we arrived at 6:10am and the line to the gate was not too long (see below). The gates opened at 6:30am and you need to have your gear on and i.d. ready. In the photo you can see people getting their gear out of their trunks. After the gate opens, they will point you to where you need to park – it is very organized. First thing you do is go to Sign-In; they will assign you to a range and then you go to another area and have your weapon and gear inspected. You need to be wearing your belt with holster, empty gun in the holster, your 2 mag holders, and a box of ammo. After that, you can find your seat in the classroom for the first half hour lecture.
The classroom lectures were done in a huge room that held probably 300-400 people and they get filled up, so try and get a seat early to choose your spot. The room was air conditioned so it was nice to get a break from the hot sun. For the 2 day course, you will have lectures on “Welcome, Signing of Liability Release, Dry Practice Release”, “Color Code of Mental Awareness and the Combat Mindset”, “Moral and Ethical Decisions Associated with the Use of Deadly Force”, and “Problems 2 and 3: Criminal and Civil Liability”.
After the half hour lecture, you then proceed to the range that you were assigned to. We were assigned to Range 6, which is fairly close by. Range 4 is where the bathroom facilities were, so that was convenient. On the blogs there were lots of mentions of port-a-potties but those were for the ranges that were further away. You don’t need to worry about those in the 2 day and 4 day defensive handgun classes.
From 8:30am – 12:30pm, you are on the range listening to lectures and practicing. Topics were the 5 steps of drawing a weapon, weaver stance, check, load, unload, fire, and using front sights. One thing I liked about the structure of the class was that you were paired up with someone for the entire 2 days. Your partner would always watch what you were doing and tell you if you were doing something wrong or if you forgot something. First, they had veterans of the class stand up on the line first. Then they had newcomers stand behind them. I was paired with a guy who has had a CCW since 1985 and I felt comfortable knowing that I was with someone who knew what they were doing.
From 12:30pm – 1:30pm was a lunch break. You did have the option of shooting some full-auto’s like the Uzi, Mini Uzi, Thompson MP-5 and M-16, where you just have to buy the ammo to participate.
From 1:30pm – 2:00pm there was a classroom lecture “Color Code of Mental Awareness and the Combat Mindset”
From 2:15pm – 5:00pm there were range activities. We covered being at the ready position, shooting, stepping to the side, clearing the area and going back to the ready position. Also reloading and shooting in controlled pairs, among other things. The people with Glocks had the easiest times because they didn’t have to worry about messing with the Safety (like on my USP). The guns got really hot in the afternoon due to the extreme heat and shooting, so I was glad I had my gloves with me. When it came time to pull the slide back with my hand to eject the round in the chamber, the slide was too hot to touch with my bare hands.
From 5:15pm – 6:00pm there was a classroom lecture “Moral and Ethical Decisions Associated with the Use of Deadly Force”
I brought my own folding chair because I like having arm rests and somewhere to put my drink. I asked and they didn’t mind if you want to bring your own chair. Otherwise, you will sit on a hard plastic armless folding chair for hours each day. There were about 40 people on each range. The second day there were less people as some decided not to come back for one reason or another. They missed out though, because we covered a lot the second day with much more shooting practice.
These two guys in the back were part of the 3 instructor team for our Range 6. The instructors were friendly but made sure everybody followed proper safety procedures.
On Day 2, the front gate opens at 7:15am. I didn’t arrive until about 7:35am but still made it on time to the range at 8:00am. (No need for sign-in or weapons check today.)
From 8:00am – 12:30pm – there will be range activities including dry practice, tactical reloads, clearing malfunctions, thoracic cavity and headshots, and shooting from a holster.
Lunch is 12:30pm – 1:30pm.
From 1:30pm – 2:15pm there is a classroom lecture “Problems 2 and 3, Criminal and Civil Liability”
From 2:25pm – 5:00pm there are more range activities with lots more shooting practice. At the end of the day, you will receive your Certificate of completion of the course.
I signed up to come back for the One Day CCW Course, which is the Tuesday following the 2 Day course held on Friday and Saturday. I decided to just drive in this time and from Las Vegas, it was only about a 45-55 min drive. The schedule was as follows:
7:15am – 7:45am Sign-In and Weapons Inspection
7:45am – 9:00am Range Activity: Shooting the Nevada CCW Qualification Course
For the CCW test, you are required to shoot 30 rounds from 3, 5 and 7 yards. I hit 3 outside of the thoracic cavity, but I did pass the CCW test.
9:00am – 10:30am Classroom Lecture on State Statutes covering Nevada, Utah and Florida
10:30am – 12:00pm Classroom Activities: Applications, fingerprint cards, and Nevada Written Test. It takes a while because they go over each of the 3 State’s application forms.
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch (but nobody took a lunch break, we just waited in line to get our test scored and the applications signed off)
I was out of there by 1pm but there were still about 10 people behind me. Tip – get in line while you’re finishing up your paperwork.
In summary, I was really glad that I finally made it out to Front Sight to take the classes. The only thing I regret was taking it in 100+ degree weather. I feel that I learned a lot from the classes that I would otherwise not have learned on my own or from friends. Everything they taught us was in a well structured manner, so that those with no experience at all, would feel comfortable learning each step of the way. There were many veteran shooters and law enforcement people attending, and they wouldn’t come back if they felt the instruction was not worth the trip. I personally feel that everybody who owns a handgun, should take at least the 2 day class, in order to be safe and know how to properly handle the weapon. All of the personnel at Front Sight were very friendly and helpful when you had questions. I definitely plan to go back for more classes.