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Posted: 5/2/2003 6:17:33 PM EDT
Thanks to board member and Las Vegas resident, Fingers, I was able to attend the Frontsight Practical Rifle course this past weekend. I am fortunate that I had something to compare it with since I attended a five day Basic Carbine class at Gunsite this past February.
After taking both classes, I intended to post a lengthly thread discussing them. But there is so much information, that I found I couldn't just sit down and do justice to the subject. But, since this whole thing started here, I will try.
First of all, I was impressed with Front Sight. It does have an air of marketing, sort of like SPAM e-mail, but after I experienced the product, I didn't have a problem with it. The students at Frontsight are a totally different type of people than I encountered at Gunsite. I didn't do a poll, but I think I would be safe in saying that most of the people at Frontsight were fairly well off people from California. Their were three classes going on at Frontsight when I was there; Practical rifle, and a basic handgun and shotgun class. There was over 100 people there and out of that group, only three guys were police officers. At Gunsite, I was only one of maybe three in my class that was a civilian. The plans for the Frontsight project are grandiose, and they are making good progress. There is a paved two lane road leading several miles into the facility that reportedly cost 1.8 million dollars. The ranges were very nice, although I didn't see some of the gadget targets that they had at Gunsite; like moving targets.
To the course: There were eight people in my class. Six were using ARs, two were using bolt action Remington 700 ADL rifles in .308 with scopes. These two guys were hunters, hoping to hone their rifle skills for that purpose. Out of the eight, there were two people that had never fired an AR before, and rented their guns from Frontsight. Only one other guy had a rifle that had all the bells and whistles that mine did; the rest were stock Bushmasters. I took my 16" Bushmaster flat top with a Wilson muzzle brake,  KAC RAS II, Aimpoint ML2, KAC vertical foregrip, wilderness single point sling, Daniel Defense attachment plate, Les Baer hard chromed extractor, and Wolff extra power extractor spring. This is the same basic rifle that I took to Gunsite although at Gunsite I didn't have the RAS II; I had a Surefire 500 series light/handguard set-up. In a nutshell, the course at Frontsite covered the basics of handling a rifle. If you learned these basics and could perform them without conscious thought, you would be a very good rifle shooter. The round count was fairly low. They advertise 500 rounds, but I fired well over 600. On the last day, there was a number of occasions when you could fire more rounds than required and I did. We started off by zeroing. We used the standard fifty yard zero and confirmed our zero at 200 yards. I guess the final exam would provide a good snapshot of what was learned. We made center of mass hits from I believe 7 yards out to 200 yards. I don't remember exactly but I think we fired at 7, 25, 50, 75, 100, and 200 yards in the final exam. We made head shots at 7 yards and 25 yards. These shots were timed and ranged from 1.5 seconds for a head shot at 7 yards to 6.9 seconds for a center of mass shot at 200 yards. In addition on the last day we did a shot simulator where you walk through the desert and engage targets as you find them from imporvised field positions at unknown ranges. We had a man on man shoot off on pepper poppers. We also finished up firing some shots on steel at 400 yards. We then continued the exam with the three malfunction drills, and the two reloads (tactical reload and emergency reload) . Please realize that I have attempted to condense a four day course into a few sentences.
Dispite the fact that we were on a dirt range with high winds, my rifle performed flawlessly. By the end of the course, my rifle was brown with dust and dirt. On the final exam I dropped a total of 12 points. In other words I had four shots that struck slightly low outside the vital area on the target. This was by far the best score in the class (sorry, but I have to brag a little bit). The shooting part was good enough to make Distinguished Graduate, but I blew it on my reloads (of all things). When doing the emergency reload, you are supposed to move as you reload. I didn't. So, I didn't get a Distinguished Graduate certificate. I also won the man on man competition, although I did shoot one target out of order. They had the pepper poppers set so they wouldn't blow over in the wind. I had one target that I hit repeatedly and it only went down after being hit several times. On the final shootoff, I shot that target, heard it ring, and went on to the next target however the previous target didn't go down. So after knocking down the last popper, I went back and put down the other one.
One interesting note is that after getting my good zero, I switched to Wolf ammo and ran 500 rounds during the course. No problems at all, just like the 3500 or so rounds of Wolf I have run though all my ARs. In fact, I fired an approx. 5 inch group from the prone at 200 yards using Wolf ammo. I also fired the final esxam, and man on man with Wolf ammo.
In summary, I considered Frontsight to be very worthwhile. If you have never had any formal training in shooting, you owe it to yourself to get some. Since this is close, you have no excuse (well maybe, but not much of an excuse). As a final comparison between the course at Gunsite with the course at Frontsight, I would have to say the course at Gunsite was more fun. We fired more rounds and did a lot more varied stuff. However, training isn't nessessarily about having fun. You have to establish that firm foundation of basic shooting skills to be good. And you can never be good without them. This isn't always a lot of fun. It is about repetition and can become a boring but nessessary evil. Frontsight will provide you with these basic skills. You can't make them a reflex action in four days, but with the information you learn at Frontsight, and a lot of practice on your part, you will be a much better shooter.
I am still going to take classes at Gunsite. I am already scheduled for their basic handgun course in July and the Advanced Carbine class in September. I am also considering the Tactical Medic class at the end of July. But, I was impressed enough with Frontsight to become a First Family member and can now take the basic rifle, shotgun, and handgun classes as many times as I want for my lifetime. This will be a great way to keep my basic skills tuned up, by taking these classes at least once a year each.
Fingers gave you a good opportunity to get some terrific training at low cost. Take advantage.
Link Posted: 5/2/2003 6:31:38 PM EDT
444, Thanks for the great review. I can't wait to get up there later this month for the course. Great shooting too by the way. That's sort of BS they denied you DG for not moving on a reload. They just recently started adding that to the drills. I haven't taken the skills test with a  rifle yet but having taken it twice with a handgun I know scoring in the DG range is very good shooting. I have yet to do it. That's great you picked up a FF membership. You should get the free upgrade as well, right? Hope to see you out there some time.

Link Posted: 5/2/2003 6:44:21 PM EDT
Yes, I will get the upgrade at the first of the year, but it won't really do anything for me. I could only afford a pewter membership which will be upgraded to copper. Same courses.

I have no problem with their grading system. I agree with the idea behind their drills and I didn't do it right. They should have rung me up for it. I was disappointed, but I agreed with them.

The next class that I make is going to be a shotgun class, I believe in October.
Link Posted: 5/2/2003 6:53:25 PM EDT
Good review, are you a Scientologist? Just kidding. Whatever happened to the law suits and threats of suits? That whole episode unfortunately turned me off Frontsight.
Link Posted: 5/2/2003 7:20:15 PM EDT
No, I am not a Scientologist. I have serious doubts that very many of the people there are either. That whole thing is one of those things that I don't care about as long as it doesn't effect me.
I agree, the stuff I read on the internet turned me off also. I don't know how much of it is true and how much is just more internet BS. But that isn't going to stop me from taking advantage of good serious training within 20 miles of my front door.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 3:15:33 PM EDT
the lawsuits appear to be about construction. you can see for yourself here, as it is all public record:


click on 'civil' and enter 'frontsight' in as a party name.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 3:55:50 PM EDT
02-A-458392-C 10/29/2002 Front Sight Management Inc

Hsieh, Diana M  ACTIVE  

Wasn't this the one related to her Scientology accusations?
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 7:24:40 PM EDT
Diana has stated she didn't say Front Sight was intertwined with Scientology, rather, that Piazza was.  She was/is a First Family member, too.  

A previous suit against a former instructor was dropped when an out of court settlement came through that the former gave up his membership and retracted any statements about FS.  

4 day rifle sounds alot like 4 day handgun, just different arms.  Probably good to do both if you plan on getting good with both.

FS is a great deal for training, but, is just one piece of a puzzle.  
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 7:55:36 PM EDT
Right, this whole lawsuit thing is none of my business. I am there for firearms training. I had never had any formal firearms training before this year. After I did it, I realized how much I needed it. This facility is close and that eliminates some of the expense. When I went to Gunsite, I of course had to drive there, get a hotel room, and eat in restraunts every night. Here, I can just go home. That also made it nice for gun cleaning, and I didn't have to carry all my gear for the whole course in my truck.
Are there better training facilities out there ? I don't know. Are there any more convienient ? No.
I don't care about these lawsuits. If this whole Scientology thing is for real, it doesn't mean a thing to me. I dont' even know what it is or what it is all about. I will however tell you something that I had issue with. You are not allowed to carry a loaded handgun at the facility. This seems very ironic considering their supposed pro-gun stance. The strongly advocate concealed carry and the legitiamate self defense use of firearms, yet you can't carry at their training facility. I have a CCW and can carry most places in the state. One place I can't carry is at a gun training facility. When I was at Gunsite, every night the last thing we did before we left the range was to all face the berm and put our handgun in whatever condition we wanted it in before we left. That is how they phrased it. If you wanted it cocked and locked, you cocked it and locked it. I personally very seldom carry and at this point I unloaded my handgun and put it in the truck. But I could have carried if I wanted. Many people in the course openly carried everywhere they went in Arizona. Another small snipet: On the day we had the night shoot, a bunch of us went to The Pahrump Nugget for dinner. While we were waiting on our food, security came over to our table and asked if we were from Frontsight. We said yes and they asked if we were armed. We said no and they left.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 9:48:22 PM EDT

Right, this whole lawsuit thing is none of my business. I am there for firearms training. I had never had any formal firearms training before this year. After I did it, I realized how much I needed it. This facility is close and that eliminates some of the expense.

Are there better training facilities out there ? I don't know. Are there any more convienient ? No.
I don't care about these lawsuits. If this whole Scientology thing is for real, it doesn't mean a thing to me. I dont' even know what it is or what it is all about.

444, Very well said, It's all about the training. If you haven't trained at FS then you do not have the info to make a decision either way.

I am from Las Vegas and due to the close proximity to FS, I am able to train out there once a month. Handgun, Shotgun, and rifle FS is a great place to solidify the basic fundamentals and more.

Before FS I had no formal training, but, FS has opened my eyes to a brand new world of firearms training. I am looking forward to training with all of the other schools and trainers out there.

That is one thing about FS that no one can complain about, the number of new people that are discovering the world of firearms training due to FS. All the other schools and trainers are going to benifit from the influx of new students.

Link Posted: 5/4/2003 10:47:49 PM EDT
Sounds like a very convenient way to get some decent training.  Even better that it's here and real close.
Link Posted: 5/6/2003 12:18:06 PM EDT
Basically Diana Hsieh was thinking out loud about a possible connection between Front Sight and scientology but stopped short of an actual claim.  The founder of Front Sight, Doctor of Chiropractic, Ignatius Piazza has confirmed that he has been involved in scientology and that he has incorporated elements in the Front Sight business operations.

Hsieh is claiming 1st Ammendment protections, Front Sight claims slander.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with scientology, it is the cult estabilshed by L. Ron Hubbard based on Dianetics.  The basic premise of their cult is that humans are inhabited by the ghosts/spirits of aliens from millions of years ago.  By paying huge sums to the "church" (hundreds of thousands of dollars) you are granted elevated levels of "enlightenment".  Much of what is accomplished is through typical cult brain washing.  Hubbard's own son has gone out and called his father a fraud and has admitted that the "case studies" used by Hubbard in Dianetics research were all fabrications.

As for the connection between Front Sight and scientology, perhaps it is only in the business model as Piazza mentioned.  If there is a direct business and financial partnership than I'm sure there would be some people who would like to know where their dollars ultimately go.

As for the quality of the instruction, I can't see how that would be impacted if there was a connection or not.  Quality of instruction is primarily dependant upon the quality of the instructor.  It's the ability of the instructor to understand and work with students, and the instructor's ability to teach the material in different ways and in different formats that different students can understand.

Link Posted: 5/6/2003 12:35:06 PM EDT
When I went to FS for the 2nd time (4dhg) the instruction was quite good.  No complaints there.  

I am wary of piazza's involvement w/scientology, since he's so reluctant to say anything one way or the other now about it.  

The certs are a good deal, though for some training.  There is a FS forum over in the Industry board, btw.
Link Posted: 5/7/2003 7:29:59 AM EDT
If in fact there is some connection to any religion or cult and the owner of Frontsight you will not see it taking training there. I've been there numerous times and have not heard a word or seen anything that would substantiate the rumors. Everyone is professional and focused on one thing, providing the best training possible for everyone there. If you want some great training and don't want to have to drive or fly many hours to get it or spend hundreds of dollars a day for it, try Frontsight.
Link Posted: 5/7/2003 8:20:27 AM EDT
I'm sure the instruction is good.  I would like to get out there some time and try a class of theirs.

As I said earlier, it's the instructors that make the difference.  Much like there are hospitals that are "owned" by religious groups, that doesn't mean the quality of care is any less.

As for Piazza's involvement with scientology, it seems odd that an intelligent man would get involved with scientology, however, the powers of propaganda and brain washing should never be underestimated.
Link Posted: 5/7/2003 9:59:41 AM EDT
I am having a hard time understanding how this thread about local firearms training got hi-jacked into a thread about Scientology. Totally non-productive drivel. I wonder if I can find out what religion the guy was that assembled my Bushmaster, that would be crutial for me to know. What about my ammo ? Isn't that white box Winchester made in Israel ? I wonder if they were jewish or muslim ? Why I need to know that I have no idea but maybe I am missing something here.
Link Posted: 5/7/2003 1:32:24 PM EDT
My thoughts exactly. Its great training. Go try it out. Email me and I'll let you know how for $200.
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