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Front Sight – 2 Day Defensive Handgun and 1 Day CCW Class – My Experience

Guest writer and friend to looseorunds Lila recently went to the Front site gun school and wrote an AAR detailing her time there.

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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

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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!

cottage

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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.

line to the entrance

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”.

classroom

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.

lecture

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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.

instructors

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.

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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.

ccw

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.

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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.

TAVOR review , Fast and dirty

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Today I got to handle one of the much hyped and anticipated TAVOR  Israeli rifles.  I have not been excited about them because I am not much of a bullpup kind of guy.  I don’t hate all of them, but the AUG was about the only one I like.   Ever since the thing was first shown, people have been wanting a legal version for the civilian market, and hype has just increased over the last months. A lot of gun rags have called it the next evolution in the 5.56 rifle or something to replace the M4.  And of course there are those that believe with their entire heart that anything from IMI is  the best.

If you have been waiting  like a 9 year old kid at christmas for the TAVOR to come here so you can toss out all your M4s and AKs, I got some bad news for you.

After being handed the piece I was immediately shocked at how terrible it felt. The balance is so bad. It is not like an AUG or even the absurd FS2000.  I hate the  FN 2000 but I would be happy to take it if my only choice was between it and the Tavor.

The manual of arms for the thing is a major problem in my opinion and the other party there with me.  It is very awkward. I am sure it can be developed and some one with an airsoft version will probably be ready to show me a video of how fast then can reload it, but airsoft is not real life and this gun suffers from bad control placement and it hurts your ability to run the gun.

Here is a picture demonstrating the contortionist position used to lock  the bolt back.

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Yes, he had to brace then gun against his hip, push up and hold in the bolt release and take his  firing hand and reach over and pull the bolt back.   Neither one of us has spent days or hours training on the weapon, but its pretty evident how strange these controls are.

A reload is not as bad as it would seem. It may be easier to get to the mag during a combat reload then the AUG and some others.

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As you can see, you could  dump a empty and insert a fresh mag without removing the gun from the shoulder after some practice.

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Above is a view from both sides of the weapon when shouldered for firing.  It is not a natural feeling due to the odd balance of the gun. After looking at the barrel without taking the gun apart, it appeared to have a barrel profile that if not a HBAR, it is very close to being a HBAR profile.

Now, on to some of the other features that really stood out to me.

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The top rail.   Have you ever had any experience with the Weaver scope and ring bases?   The ones for mounting mediocre optics to mediocre ( or less) rifles using mediocre rings.  They feel like cheap aluminum painted a shiny black and can be easily damaged or cracked. Well, that is what the rail made me think of as soon as I saw it and handled it.  It is a shiny black and looks like it is painted on.  I have no idea what type of aluminum the rail is made form, but it sure as hell is not the same quality as a KAC rail, or DD or upper on a flat top AR15 or most other weapons meant for fighting that any of us would take seriously.  I was honestly surprised by this. It has TAPCO reek coming off it so much I would have thought it was a TAPCO  product if I did not know better.

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Next up are these high quality iron sights.  Hey, no BS, these things are a joke. I don’t care how bad you want one of these or love it, ( or at least think you do) this is a terrible set of iron sights.   On the bright side, they do fold down inside the “rail” and hide away nicely and are easy enough to pop up. But that is about all the good I can say about them..

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The barrel is marked that it is made in Israel on one side and it is  CHF with  a1/7 twist on the other.  That will soothe a lot of nerves I guess.  I have never understood why CHF is somehow now “the best.”  When I first started shooting years ago, CHF was known to be a way to make cheap barrels fast and save a lot of money.   Marketing is like coke, It’s a helluva drug… But I digress..

You do get a CHF barrel in the proper twist rate for a 556 if you really think you may need it for fighting.  At least they did not pull a bushmaster ACR move and send the thing out with a 1/9 twist.

One of the worst things on the gun was the infernal trigger.  I am not the kind of guy who will complain about milspec triggers not feeling like a National Match bolt gun trigger, nor do I think that there is anything wrong with military triggers. They are often the safest and best bet for a gun meant to fight with.  But,  wow. This things trigger was the strangest thing I have ever seen. I pulled and pulled as it ..moved..?  And then it seemed to want to hang up, then it snapped. I really do not know how to exactly explain it to you.  It would take a long time and serious training to be able to do fast accurate work with this guns trigger.

The magazine the Tavor comes with is not a Pmag….

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But it sure is trying to be.  It has CAA or Mako quality written all over it.  You can draw your own conclusions on that.  It did drop free from the weapon though, so thats a good thing. The follower to feel smooth as well.  Not having tested it, it did not appear to be a terrible mag. After all it is a pretty close copy of everyone’s favorite mag, so it may work fine.  But it is still not a Pmag or Lancer.

One thing to impress me and that was the well thought out , complete cleaning kit that can be stored in the gun.

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I comes with chamber brushes, bore brush, tiny soft hair barber type brush, a small bottle for oil or solvent . the rod and that giant white nylon brush I have no idea what it is for other then to maybe choke yourself to death with after you feel how bad the trigger is on the gun you just bought.  I keed I keed..   It comes in a nice little pouch that holds everything nice and snug with velcro.  It really is very nice. I would buy this kit  on its own if they offered it.  It is a lot like the kit I would put together for my rifles for the field.  I really liked it.

One last thing is the manual that came with the gun.   The cover lists the manual working for the 5.56 Tavor and the 5.45 and 9mm models.  So maybe they plan on releasing some extras in the near future. I have no idea. I checker around and no one has any answers on it.

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I was not able to shoot then gun for you since it was going up for sell. I wish I could have , but, thats life.  It may be super accurate or not.  I can not give any details on accuracy or reliability either sorry to say. I know it is not a very satisfying review but I did everything I could with a gun I could not fire.    This was all my opini0n and impressions based on not shooting. It may shoot so well a lot of people can over look all the points I feel make the gun a dog.

I was indifferent over the TAVOR and had no opinion on it before looking this one over.  After handling it and studying its quirks, I just can not understand the hype and desire for the gun. It is like the people talking it up do not live in the same world as the one this Tavor exists in.   I know there are a lot of people out there that consider anything that is not made here or not a M4 better. Guys who want a SA80 for instance , would probably want one of these. And of course the IDF  fetishists out there will tell you it should replace everything else. But I do not see it.   Accuracy is not the only consideration for a fighting gun and I have no idea how accurate these may be.  But ergonomics and handling and manipulation added in, this thing is not anything I would  want to have to work with.  But that is just me.

If you want this gun, the gun store owner and my friend will have it up on gunbroker very shortly. I will add a link to the bottom of this post as soon as he has it up for bidding.   So you can check it out as soon as its ready.  I am not sure how common the FDE version is to find because I thought they only would come in black.    But, it will be up for anyone who has to have one or just wants to collect the tavor.

 

 

Not happy with my review?  Read the review of an end user IDF soldier  guest submitted here

 

Tavor X95 Review

 

be warned the IDF user does not think much more highly of it then I do.

COUNTER AMBUSH By Rob Pincus ( My Book report)

In case you have lived under a rock some where in a third world country or on Mars, you probably know who Rob Pincus is.  the industry being what it is and the flood of so called “expert trainers” being what it is, I will give a bit of an introduction of the Author.

Mr. Pincus has been a trainer in the industry for a while now.  If you watch anything on TV about shooting and training to save your life or saving the lives of other people as part of your job, you have seen Rob. For years he had been on the TV show Best Defense ( which was my first intro to Rob) among others, he was the host of the 2 televised and now 1 internet only seasons of SWAT Magazine TV.

To use the blurb on the back of the book.

Rob Pincus is the owner of I.C.E. ( said as EYE SEE EEE) Training company and the developer of the Combat Focus Shooting Program. Rob Leads a team of expert instructors to train military and LEO as well as civilians  and security personnel.  He has written and taught on the subject for over a decade and is the busiest trainers in the industry.   I paraphrased a little, but thats the gist.   I would add that I personally feel Rob Pincus to be a true modern day Musashi Miyamoto.

Everyone loves the trainers who show us some sexy move or style that just oozes super gunfighter SOF killer.  Often with  gear so outrageously pricey or hard to find that more people then you would believe watch or go to them as a type of gear or gun porn.  In my opinion, Rob Pincus is not about fluff and flare.

The biggest reason I have always gravitated to What Rob has to say is that its stuff that is common sense and is meant to just work.  He dos not fixate on gear, he is not always shilling some new gun that is so expensive the gov would turn down spending money on it and, well, I believe he communicates and explains on a level that makes even the newest shooter or most salty shooter listen. On top of all that, Rob is endlessly sharing his knowledge all over the place to help  people, and many of those ways he does it does not cost you a penny and he is a endless defender of the RKBA. Anyone who “likes” his Facebook page will see his endless work ethic.

Now, on to the matter at hand. The book.

The Book is COUNTER AMBUSH and it is the best most honest down to earth training guide I have ever read, and I have read a great many.   I was sent the book a month ago and I have read it three times before starting to to tell you about it because I wanted to really sink into what I was reading. What the book tells you is that important. Its something I recommend you study and re read over time. It is not meant to just read once a throw away.  It is a book of the modern American martial art just as the intro says it is. And anything worth doing is worth studying.

Of note is that the  introduction forward of the book is from none other than the much respected LT. Colonel Grossman, author of the book “On killing” . the  LTC’s book are a worthy companions to this book and are invaluable. You could even say that they would make a comprehensive statement when bundled together with each other.

The book is broken down into sections( chapters) that guide you through the things  you need to save your life.  Everything is explained in detail. Not just training gimmicks, but more importantly, the process the body goes through and how the training is used to exploit the body’s natural reaction.   It is as much science as art. Don’t worry that it becomes bogged down into esoteric  mumbo jumbo though.  Everything and every example is explained to you for a purpose and it will become clear. Once you understand this, you will see why it applies. In my mind, this breaks down some of the pride or legacy things we are taught that do not have a basis in reality.  For example, Rob mentions the weaver stance and how a lot of people say its the only position to use in a fight. He then goes on to talk about after watching hundreds of gun  fights caught on dash cams and security camera footage, he has never seen some one take up this stance. He even offers some one to prove him wrong. No one has yet.  ( for the record, I have never used the weaver).

The book goes on to break down your reactions to a fight from your awareness levels through the order of more and more things going wrong explaining the stages along the way and how to react to them.   Once you understand this stuff, you can take advantage of your own natural reactions and use the to your advantages using cues and learned reactions.

One of the things the book explains is something I knew would be in there, but I was glad to see anyway.  That is the subject on how unimportant dwelling on your equipment really is. Sure, you have to make sure your finger can reach the trigger and you can use your weapon  and the common sense basics, but your mind and training with the weapon and deploying it in the best possible way is what the focus is on, as it should be.  We all love our neat toys but fighting is the point. You can work with anything when you reach certain skill level.  This is explained in a scale of skill and your ability to recognize this.

Some of what you read will be stuff you have read or  have been taught before, but you will be instructed in a fresh way will make you re think some of the old legacy myths of our world.   Taking the focus off of gear and driving home the point of just how close in, violent and out of control a life threatening event is, are just two of the things I highlight to people when telling about the book.  It is a wake up call to a lot of people and this gets attention. Rob does this very well before he goes on to tell you how to start making your self as ready as you can be for a fight. Or even how to realize you do not always have to fight.  The book may not drone on about what guns or calibers are the best, but it does answer the question of what techniques work best under the stress of a fight and helps you use them in the way that your bodies reaction wants to use them. That , is more important then if you are using a .9mm or a .40 S&W  no matter what you may think.

I want to give you a chapter by chapter detailed break down of this book because I am so excited about what it teaches on how it will open so many eyes. But, I can’t because then you wouldn’t buy it and because I am too lazy to type that much and would rather be shooting and applying what is in the book.

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I think everyone serious about defending their life or others lives should buy this book.  It really is the common sense, mixed with hard scientific facts  training manual you can find. It is not expensive. It is authored by one of our greatest thinkers and teachers of the art and science of the gun fight and violent encounters.  I would do so far as to call Rob Pincus. “America’s Instructor ” because he really is. No one works as hard to make sure you have the skill and knowledge to keep you safe.  He can train you and lecture you and give you all the tools you need to safe you need to save your own life but no one is going to be there to do it for you if the time comes. That is why it is important to study these things and have the written and spoken to you in a way you can easily understand. This book does that for you.  Of course, you should still seek further training from some one who is not  full of crap, but this book is a must have to go along with all other aspects of training.

If you want to buy the book, and you should. You can find it here.

www.icestore.us

You can also find Rob on his Facebook page here.

https://www.facebook.com/RobPincusPro