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12/6/2019 7:27:02 PM
Posted: 3/14/2005 5:27:16 PM EST
How does a gun nut spend his vacation? Shooting of course. I wanted to improve my shooting skills and after a bit of research, I decided on a 4 day defensive handgun course at Front Sight, just outside of Las Vegas NV.

The first thing that needs taken care of is ammo. Front Sight is a great place, but they don’t exactly have cheap ammo. Based on the recommendation of some folks on AR15.com, I contacted Bill’s Buy and Sell. They’re easy to find on Freemont, just North of the Strip (703) 382-1133. He had some pretty good prices on ammo and I was able to purchase a case of .45 PMC for $215. Its not quite as cheap as you can find if you look on-line, but very good for a retail store. He has a pretty decent shop anyway and its worth a look.

My next piece of advise is to NOT stay in Vegas. Without traffic, its only about 45 minutes from the Strip to Front Sight, but the morning drive can be a disaster. Blue Diamond Highway has a huge amount of new construction and its only 2 lanes for quite a while. The 45 minute drive turned into a 90 minute drive one morning. Front Sight recommends staying n Pahrump and that’s a good suggestion. I thought staying in Vegas would have better entertainment in the evenings after class. That may be true, but by the end of each day, I was so exhausted, all I wanted was a bed and room service.

First, I’ll give a description of the facilities. It’s a work in progress. The ranges are awesome. There are 8 bays for pistol and shotgun classes. They have shooting positions out to 50 yards and have a covered area for classes. The bays are cut into the desert with walls about 12 feet high. At the end are 20 positions with electronically activated target positions. On the shotgun ranges, they’ve got a number of reactive metal targets as well. There are also a number of ranges where they hold the tactical scenarios and at least one rifle range. I also saw what looked like a sniper alley built into the ravine. I honestly don’t know how many ranges they have, nor the complete use for each, but it was a sight to behold.

They don’t yet have running water nor plumbing. The only permanent structure is the classroom. The pro-shop is in a large tent-like structure. Roads are not paved. There is a good bit of construction going on and its obvious they are on track to have things a bit more complete in the not-to-distant future.

The class itself is fantastic, although not exactly revolutionary. Almost every part of the class was a direct recitation of Jeff Cooper’s principles of pistol shooting. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, its one of the reasons I choose Front Sight. Throughout the class, I only noticed one deviation from Cooper’s teaching on pistol shooting and that is the fact that Cooper prefers keeping both eyes open, while Front Sight has you closing the non-dominant. Cooper isn’t vehement n this issue anyway.

What was really neat was that they teach in such a way that the class can handle all skill levels at once. Within our class, there was a number of law enforcement folks, one SWAT instructor, an IPSC shooter and at least 2 people who had never handled a gun before in their lives. There were several of us with skill levels between those extremes. There were some elderly folks and in an adjacent range there was a 16 year old kid who was top gun on his range. Even with this complete disparity in skill, age, speed and motivation, everybody seemed to come away better than they had started.

I was impressed that they were able to develop a curriculum where this was possible. They really started at the beginning, but advanced very quickly. They took things in small but rapid steps. Everything from malfunction drills, tactical and emergency reloads, grip, stance, sight picture, trigger pressure and after action drills were covered.

Between range time, there were lectures on legal, ethical, civil and moral issues regarding use of deadly force. These were excellent. They were brief enough to not be boring and were quite though provoking. It is a great reminder of just how serious all of this really is.

By the end of day two, all the basics were covered. By day three, things got interesting. The firing stroke was covered, along with tactical movement and the speed of everything increased. We also did some night shooting with flashlights. There was a man-on-man competition (I placed second in my group of 34) and finally, a skills evaluation.

Let me tell you about the skills evaluation. It ain’t easy. Not at all. The first part is shooting at targets that only appear for a short time. You have to draw from concealment and place two shots to the thoracic cavity before the target disappears. The first shot is at 3 meters and the last is at 25. The time ranges between 1.5 and 4 seconds, depending on the range. There are also some called head shots. Any shot outside the center thoracic and you drop 3 points. Hit outside the man shaped target and you drop 5 points. You shoot 25 shots for a total potential of 125 points. Then, there are timed drills where you are clearing all manner of malfunction and you can’t gain points, but if you fail, you loose 3 points. The times to clear these are not generous.

At the end, there is an award ceremony. For those who score 90% or better, there is special recognition as a Distinguished Graduate. 70% plus is Graduate and less than that still gets a certificate of completion. The 90% thing is a bitch. You can only drop 13 points and make it. With the times involved, that is no small feat. In my group of 34 students, only 2 made 90%. I dropped 14 points in the shooting and did the malfunction drills clean, leaving me a single point out of the DG category. Yeah... bummer I know. I’ll get over it.

So what did I walk away with? Well, I discovered that my stance was wrong, my elbow extends out too far, I can shoot better and faster with one eye closed, and that there is still a lot more that I need to learn. I discovered that checkering on the front strap of a 1911 is a bad thing and that night sights are a great thing. I shot my USP on days one, two and four, plus the night shooting on night three and shot my GSR on day three. I learned that both are excellent guns and I had no malfunctions of any kind with either pistol. I learned that Wilson mags hurt when solidly bumped into the pistol and that Novak mags are much more comfortable for changes. I learned that DA/SA pistols are nearly impossible to shoot well in a controlled pair at high speed. I learned that Glocks are not impervious to malfunctions (I witnessed several failures by other students). Finally, I learned that I really enjoy this kind of education.

In all, it was an awesome experience. I plan on going back. I had intended to take a rifle class, and I may still do that, but now I think I might just do the 4 day pistol again. As much as I learned, I have a feeling I could take that same course 10 times and learn something new each time.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 5:37:42 PM EST
Wow! Glad you had fun and learned a lot from the class. I too am thinking of taking their class one of these days. How much did it cost you for the 4 day class?

556man
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 5:43:32 PM EST
The best deal is at www.fscerts.com. For a first time student, you can buy a gray certificate for $200, plus you pay a $50 background check fee. Regular price for the class is $1200 and the certificates are real.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 5:59:04 PM EST
Thanks cliffy109 for the link. $200.00 for a 4 day class is not bad at all and shooting 800 rounds sounds like a lot of fun. I'll definitely go and take the class.

556man
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 11:53:18 PM EST
Hmmm. This looks like a good deal. Not that far away either.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 3:48:41 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/15/2005 4:47:11 AM EST by gotm4]

Originally Posted By cliffy109:
I learned that Wilson mags hurt when solidly bumped into the pistol and that Novak mags are much more comfortable for changes. I learned that DA/SA pistols are nearly impossible to shoot well in a controlled pair at high speed. I learned that Glocks are not impervious to malfunctions (I witnessed several failures by other students). Finally, I learned that I really enjoy this kind of education.




Wilson would hurt with that much mag changing in that short of a time period just as if you're not used to jogging and then you go out and run 5 miles one day you will also hurt. It's a good kinda pain!

DA/SA well that depends upon who's pulling the trigger . If you recall at the last IDPA match we shot together I was the fastest AND most accurate in the 1 stage of the match. Remember the 3 to the chest and 1 to the head (until the target falls) weak hand only? I beat Travis the former Force/DET1 Marine by .86 seconds on that. He was shooting a Glock 17 and I was shooting my Beretta 92G Elite.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 4:57:43 AM EST
Yeah yeah... but you have admitted that you're faster and more accurate with a 1911. Besides that, your DA pistols are not exactly off the shelf now are they? Finally, you use a technique that can get a DA up to speed, but its not a technique for the feint of heart. To properly manage a DA/SA in a speed situation, you start the trigger pull well before the sights are lined up. By the time you are on target, you've just got a small amount of pull left to trip the sear. With a lot of practice, this can be done, but personally, I'm not comfortable with that when talking about shooting at anything but paper. Your results may vary.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 5:58:38 AM EST
Actually I don't really ever completely stop the trigger, it's stays in motion but sometimes I have to slow it down a bit if my sight picture isn't perfect. It's a timing issue to get it down. Here's a good read by probably the best DA auto shooter in the world Mr. Ernie Langdon beretta.squawk.com/fear_not.pdf. You have to start pulling the trigger early since it has to move about 12 or more times the distance of a tuned 1911. If you've ever seen the man shoot, you would think his Beretta was doubling. I believe guru revolver shoot Jerry Miculek uses the same technique and all his shots are DA.

My left eye dominant, right handed backasswards ass shoots:

For speed I shoot 1911s, Beretta, SIGs and Glocks (in that order fastest to slowest).
For accuracy I shoot SIGs, Berettas, 1911s and Glocks (most accurate to least accurate).

Lately I'm finding during rapid fire that I'm actually waiting on my Beretta Elite (heavier than stock slide) and G21 to stock cycling before can fire the next round. I want to start using the Vertec in IDPA which cycles quite a bit faster. I'm experimenting with a heavier recoil spring in the Elite to see if that'll get it back to battery faster.

I also suffer a little from what Langdon calls the 'now syndrome' and I think that's why I can shoot SIGs and Berettas more accurately than 1911s because I don't know exactly when they'll fire (in DA or SA), so it's very much a suprise break with them. It might be a side effect of being cross eye dominant I don't know.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 6:49:15 AM EST
More than likely, its the trigger reset. One thing I learned at the class is that all trigger resets are not equal. On the Sig and HK, after you reset the trigger, there is quite a bit of rearward travel before the slack is taken up and its ready to fire again. On Glocks and 1911s, the reset is right at the sear break point.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 8:50:46 AM EST
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 8:57:43 AM EST
I've always shot Weaver, but my feet were in more of a bladed position. They got my strong side foot farther up than I am used to. I also used to chicken wing my support side arm. Moving it to the vertical made a huge difference in control and getting back on to target.

The checkered front strap just friggin' hurts. You spend a lot of time gripping the gun at the ready position, so even though you're only firing 200-300 rounds in a day, it feels like a lot more. By the end of the day, it hurt just to hold the gun and I now have large caluses on the lower pads of my three fingers that grip the front strap.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 9:03:25 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/15/2005 9:07:13 AM EST by jualdeaux]
I know what you mean about learning a lot from proper teaching. I went and took the first 3 levels at TDI Ohio last year and that was a blast. I eventually want to go back for levels 4, 5, 6 and FIST. I also want to do the partner tactics class.


And you only shot 200-300 each day? I shot over 1300 rounds in those 3 days at TDI.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 9:14:54 AM EST

Originally Posted By jualdeaux:

And you only shot 200-300 each day? I shot over 1300 rounds in those 3 days at TDI.



Yeah, its 800 rounds in 4 days. I wouldn't mind more and a returning student can do more. The lectures are VERY worth while, but if you've heard them before, they let you back to the range during those times.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 11:26:10 AM EST

Originally Posted By cliffy109:

Originally Posted By jualdeaux:

And you only shot 200-300 each day? I shot over 1300 rounds in those 3 days at TDI.



Yeah, its 800 rounds in 4 days. I wouldn't mind more and a returning student can do more. The lectures are VERY worth while, but if you've heard them before, they let you back to the range during those times.



This is true. It's very nice to get some extra range time while the first-time students are in the lectures. The lectures are worthwhile, though.

Glad to see you had a good time. I go out there about once a month and enjoy it everytime.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 5:11:13 PM EST
I went to FS my first time in January.
I also liked it alot.
I went to the Glock Armorer's course on Friday and did the 2-day defensive course on Saturday and Sunday.
This was on the tail-end of a long roadtrip, so for once I had a really good time on the drive home!

Like other schools I've gone to, FS wants your stance a particular way. I was not corrected too much, and not over and over again, so it was not a bad class for me.
I don't care for instructors who keep hammering you about your stance even when you are shooting really well.

I agree that the facilities are still rough. It was snowing the first day I was there and raining the rest.
TALK ABOUT MUD!

I stayed at one of the hotels in Parhump that they recommend. It was a nice room and since I have no interest in gambling I wasn't worried about the night's entertainment.

I figured their proshop prices would be more than what I could pay on the road, but they are REALLY pricey on some stuff!
I don't need tactical gear so I only bought a new part for my Glock (that I lost during the disassembly part of the armorer's course...damn thing never did show itself up on the carpet the whole weekend!), and the drypractice manual.

I also split a membership with another guy (not that weekend) and I'll be going back to get my money's worth over the next couple of years.

Glad you enjoyed your class. I'll be taking the 4-day courses next time.
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 6:21:17 PM EST

Originally Posted By WSmac:
I went to FS my first time in January.
I also liked it alot.
I went to the Glock Armorer's course on Friday and did the 2-day defensive course on Saturday and Sunday.
This was on the tail-end of a long roadtrip, so for once I had a really good time on the drive home!

Like other schools I've gone to, FS wants your stance a particular way. I was not corrected too much, and not over and over again, so it was not a bad class for me.
I don't care for instructors who keep hammering you about your stance even when you are shooting really well.

I agree that the facilities are still rough. It was snowing the first day I was there and raining the rest.
TALK ABOUT MUD!

I stayed at one of the hotels in Parhump that they recommend. It was a nice room and since I have no interest in gambling I wasn't worried about the night's entertainment.

I figured their proshop prices would be more than what I could pay on the road, but they are REALLY pricey on some stuff!
I don't need tactical gear so I only bought a new part for my Glock (that I lost during the disassembly part of the armorer's course...damn thing never did show itself up on the carpet the whole weekend!), and the drypractice manual.

I also split a membership with another guy (not that weekend) and I'll be going back to get my money's worth over the next couple of years.

Glad you enjoyed your class. I'll be taking the 4-day courses next time.



Spring cup or firing pin safety spring?
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 6:40:52 PM EST

Originally Posted By gotm4:
Spring cup or firing pin safety spring?



Spring-loaded bearing from the extractor depressor plunger spring

Happy now?
It's not like I'm the FIRST person to ever do that!


I think

Go ahead and rub salt in the wound!


Right after the instructor suggested I get someone next to me to walk me through slide disassembly (I showed up a few minutes late and just missed that part), I'm all, "Naw! I've taken this thing apart before!"...
SpROinG!
I had half the class crawling around on the floor looking for that little shit!
I got a loaner for the class from someone there...very nice! ... and as soon as I could, I went to the pro shop to get a replacement.
Sometimes I can be just as big a dumbass as all the other dumbasses I meet!
Link Posted: 3/15/2005 6:45:25 PM EST

Originally Posted By WSmac:

Originally Posted By gotm4:
Spring cup or firing pin safety spring?



Spring-loaded bearing from the extractor depressor plunger spring

Happy now?
It's not like I'm the FIRST person to ever do that!



Damn haven't lost one of those but have lost about 3 firing pin safety springs that go sproing when trying to get time to snap in the firing pin safety (after polishing WECSOG style!). Spring cups I've lost for a few minutes before when working on someone else malfunctioning gun at a range, when I took the slide completely apart to clean out and replace the firing pin spring when they were having light strikes.
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