Let the games begin...
Father in laws friend does some instructing there, and is really pushing us to go. He is offering some really good deal, but I don't think its the price as much as the time commitment for me.
Anyways, i thought that some of you high speed operators and hobbyists alike might know something about this place. I looked it up, and it seemed really sales pitchey to me.
Anyone been there?
hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and make hay while the sun shines!
Let the games begin...
- Tom Aiello
...I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me...
Everything I've heard about it seems to be all over the road from great place and instructors to ideological hot bed. I love the ads where they advertise they "give" you a gun. Other than that I don't know much.
HONOR DUTY SERVICE
Someone in our club (the DSC) wrote a AAR of a 4 day pistol course which I have included here (Wednesday, November 10, 2010):Frontsight Four Day Handgun Class
Although not perfect, this was an excellent four days and I would go back in a heartbeat. Frontsight's four day is designed to bring a shooter from never having seen a gun before to being proficient at shooting from concealment, and for the most part they succeed with a very large number of shooters….there were about 450 shooters there during our shoot.
Over the four days, we shot about 600 rounds, this might seem like a low number for four days of shooting, however you probably get somewhere between 800 and 1200 draws from the holster, and that is a lot.
At the end of the course you shoot a qualifier, controlled pairs from 3, 5, 7, 10, and 15 yards. Then at 7 yards you shoot a failure to stop, a controlled pair and one to the head, then at 5 yards, 5 head shots, and finally from 7 yards 2 head shots. These are all done from the holster with the exception of the failure to stop head shots. Frontsight uses the mechanical flipping targets. These are really tough, I really got to see how fast times are. I am not sure I can articulate this effectively, but here goes. Shot timers allow you to get the shots on target even if you miss the time, so you can see your holes in paper and are happy, when the target rotates out of sight, you don't get the holes, so you really get a much better realization that you are not making the times. I do not have the times they use, but a buddy believes that at the 3 yard mark they are giving you 1.3 sec to draw from concealment and get off a controlled pair, that is really fast….headshots from 5 yards are somewhere around the 2 sec time, so again really really fast.
To pass the course you are given 125 points, and each hit is -0, each in the body but outside the zone is -3 and a miss is -5, I shot a -24, missing a few head shots mostly.
They also have a very very aggressive timed malfunction drill test, 2 of each of these, type 1, type 2, type 3, tactical reload, and speed reload. Again I don't have the times, but when you make it, your hands have to be pretty much a blur to make it. I missed the tactical reloads, and one type 3.
Final score for me was -34, so I managed to squeak out a graduation, they have distinction where you are allows a -12, and a graduation which is somewhere arount -35 or -36.
Quick summary, great skills course, hard days, and stresses speed on the basics. Would I go again, YES.
Below are some notes on the challenges we saw with, some great ideas we also got, and a few lessons learned.
Frontsight has standardized on the Weaver stance, on day one they were very adamant that we switched the weaver stance since it was the "best" combat stance. When I refused to switch they rode Daphne and I pretty hard to switch, including some subtle pushes in the lectures with pokes at those who are not accepting their coaching. I chose not to challenge them on an intellectual level on the different stances because I did not want to in front of the whole class of 20+ shooters undermine their positions. I just stuck to my stance and refused; Daphne eventually yielded and tried the weaver stance. By the end of day one I was pretty much ready to challenge them and point out all the challenges the weaver presents to a combat shooter, as was Daphne. It was a pretty rough day from that perspective. By day two they had cool off a bit and accepted that I was not going to change, and by day three all the instructors were remembering that I was shooting Isosceles and were no longer telling me to turn to a 30 degree stance, something that happened a number of times on Day two, until I reminded them I was not shooting weaver, once I did they allowed me to remain square to the target. One quick side note, on day two and part of day three I wore the shirt I won at the front shoot, it clearly says "infidel" on the front, I thought it was pretty funny because by then all the instructors knew I was the non-believer....
Frontsight is really training for the masses when it comes to safety, and given they had 450+ shooters there this weekend, there were times I was glad they were. That said, the do teach you a few things that we potential issues long term from my perspective. The most irritating one was the number of chamber checks that require. They pretty much work off the premise that you most of the time do not "know" the condition of your gun. So when you are running a dry firing drill, they have you do a chamber check, ok that makes sense, but when you load and make ready (for them a firing drill), they have you do a chamber check after your draw before you load, verify an empty mag well, load a mag, rack, then do a chamber check and mag check, not sure why the first one, seemed excessive since you know you gun is empty since that was the way you put it away. When you unload, they would have you chamber check before you unload, unload, then chamber check again and check the mag well again, again not sure why the first one. What ended up happening was chamber checks scattered all through out people's gun handling, because people could not see the reason for them, so they did them when in doubt. An example was I saw people doing after a tactical reload, after a malfunction drill, etc….
"Stop or I'll shoot you" and Brandishing:
Frontsight did are really good job of articulating the need to not be a aggressor, and only draw a gun when you or an innocent is in fear of grave bodily harm. Having said that, they promote a three step response, first step is to yell "stop" or something similar to get a stranger from coming near, if they persist, draw to a low ready and yell "Stop or I'll shoot", if they continue to approach point in and shoot. Pretty much they are promoting that you give up the element of surprise in favor or brandishing, with the hope you can discourage the attacker.
Did not tactical reload after loading:
This was a little thing, but after loading the gun, they did not promote the idea of a tactical reload to get the +1 possible
Did not adapt to my supertuck easily:
On day one, along with being encouraged strongly to surrender my Isosceles stance, they tried very hard to get me to surrender my Supertuck IWB holster in favor of a OWB holster. Their only reason was that mine was not what they train with and they were worried I would flag someone in my draw, in retrospect, I think they were worried about the flagging and the challenge of the class was all about the basics and I was at a bit of a disadvantage because of the slower draw of the IWB. I was again allowed to stick with the IWB, but mostly because I did not have an option, that was all I brought, I actually think I was luck because they could have made me borrow a OWB if they really wanted.
Low position of support hand:
During the draw, they promote having the support hand much lower than we liked, their reasoning was it should be in the sternum so it is right there when you move fro position 3 to 4.
Draw to a low ready as part of the ready process:
There were two draw strokes that they taught, one was to the low ready and one was to "pointed in". If you believe in the idea of brandishing then this might make sense, but to me it seemed that they were creating a dual muscle memory issue. If they had a relaxed draw to the low ready I would have been happier, but it was not, it was a full speed draw, raising the risk of someone drawing to the low ready when they wanted to be on target.
What can I say, the teach you to verify that you have a full mag, drop the mag in the gun and put it into your front pocket, then insert the full mag. Lots of time when the gun is a single shot gun, and the partial mag is now in your pocket (actually ok with me since I train from my pockets, but it should go back to a mag pouch if you use them. Plus for some reason they train you to do this at a very rapid speed, basically as fast as you can. If there is a lull in the fight, you can move slower and reduce the risk of error and make better decisions. They used to teach the DSC way but changed, I suspect to many people could not manage two mags in a single hand, so they abandoned it.
The trained response to a double feed is pretty much standard, they added a move off line, and a visual check to the drill, probably a good idea. There is no consideration for keeping the "bad" mag, they strip it out to the ground. No mention of the "Glock" quick fix….
All the drills are done with the gun at arms length as if you were pointed in, the justification is that the bad guy might not even realize you are having trouble. This is really a lot harder to do, however I will say that they stress speed, and with practice you can get really really fast. One other thing that bothered me was, with Glocks you need to release the trigger on many of these drills after you have set it up, they did not require the shooter to get a sight alignment and sight picture before you pull the trigger. I worry that they are building some muscle memory that will one day later trip some one up in to an ND, pulling the trigger with the gun casually pointed at the ground.
Controlled pair focus"
A controlled pair to the body, wait and see the effect at low ready, and if there is a failure to stop take a head shot. Pretty much not what I would be doing, but that is what they teach, and they never suggest that more than two to the body is appropriate.
Speed reloads, type 1, and type 2 malfunctions:
These were all done with the gun high, it really is a lot more difficult than bringing the gun in tight. They also train on type 2 that you should rotate the gun so it is pointing up and you can see the chamber (they do this as well for type 3 and a empty gun with slide locked back), not a bad thing in general, but there was no acknowledgment that you should get to a point where you can "feel" the malfunction and react without the need for the peek. If you do the peek really fast it does not slow you down very much….
Low ready is at 45 degrees:
Low ready is a 45 degree angle, and not gun pointed just low enough to see the waistband and hands. So you have a longer distance to bring the gun on target.
Scan with the gun:
They have a great after action drill, quick look left and right, step off line either left or right, then verify the bad guy is down for about 2 seconds, then scan. My only issue was the use a tank turret style scan, gun and eyes more together as you scan rather than point shooting.
This is not so much the mag pouch itself, as much as it was the experience. On our range we had a pretty cool range master, and after the initial Weaver/Isosceles battle, I was pretty much left to train the way I wanted to, Ico and mags in pocket. Frontsight designates a floating coach to walk the ranges, in our case it was "Mr. Moon" (his real last name). On day three, I was the victim of Mr. Moon, he insisted that I use a mag pouch, pulled me off the line and walked me to the pro shop and had the rental office issue me one. It was not a happy time for me, however it did force me to adopt the mag pouch, and it was not a bad training exercise for me for the rest of the weekend to try one. I might even buy one….maybe….it does speed up the malfunction drills, but did cost me in the skills test, I totally flubbed the tactical reloads because of the mag pouch….
The instructors were really very good, once they accepted my commitment to the Isosceles stance, they were giving me as much coaching as the next person. Like so many coaches, I have a huge respect for their ability to be patient with the slowest learner, and push the fastest learner.
When not shooting you are directed to stand about 1 foot behind your partner and act as their coach, both for safety reasons and coaching reasons. This was really good for two reasons, first it helped ease some of the stress of having so many new shooters around, and it really did provide good feedback.
Instructors to active shooter ratio:
There were about 40 shooters on the ranger we were on, and there were 5 instructors. This coupled with the coaching lead to a very good learning environment. At no time were you ever really shooting without someone watching you and helping you identify any issues. As a side note, this also resulted in having to convince a lot of people and instructors that I was not shooting Weaver….the instructors were mostly there full time, only a one rotated out, and they have a few roaming instructors who visit the range.
Solid example of what not to do base on their personal experience:
During the lectures they gave great examples of situations to illustrate these points, and in most cases, the speaker closed the talk with a realization that each and every example given where from their lives, this really added some punch to the lessons given.
They work you hard, this was no vacation, every day started at 7:30 and ended no earlier than 6pm. The day is a mixture of lectures and shooting. There is no time in the schedule that is dead time, there is always something scheduled, so you are busy and tired.
Yellow dot Game:
They presented the color conditions, white, yellow, orange, red and black as part of the class. They suggested a great game to play with your significant other or house mate. One of you is the player the other sets up the game, for what ever time period you choose, the non player takes some of those yellow round stickers and places them around your world, in you car, in your nap sack, in your gun back etc…where ever you might find one, when you find one you assess if you where in condition yellow or white.
Certified letter notarized"
They suggest you send a certified letter that is notarized in your own hand writing to yourself establishing frame of mind. Including things like your training, your realization that you could loose everything even if there is a justified shooting, etc….basically the idea is to document that you understand the consequences of taking action, so if you are involved in a shooting, you did so knowing what you could loose and took the shot because you feared for your life enough to overcome the risk.
Not Selling Too Much:
There was a great opportunity for Frontsight to make this an full time sales pitch, they do not. There is one lunchtime dedicated to their program, and that is it. They tell you its coming, and you can opt out if you like. High marks for creating a comfortable atmosphere.
They have great shoot houses, these are walled shooting ranges with movable walls so they can set up a house clearing exercise with real doors and real walls. This was really enlightening, I did pretty well except I did extend my muzzle into the door reveling my position. I think if I was able to use a close ready, or a suel position I would have been ok. On the funny side, they used the photo target we use of the cop in a blue shirt holding his badge as a bad guy but they used a marker to color out the badge, so when I saw him, I asked the instructor if he was still a cop or now a bad guy? This got the instructor to laugh….plus on most of they bad guys I did a very fast pair, and got scolded that I was doing double taps not controlled pairs, kind of funny since my pairs were about an inch a part, and in the 3 yard test you have to get two shots off in under 1.3 seconds. I can see a lot potential for these houses.
Flashlight dual mode:
During the night shoot both Daphne and I used a Surefire E2DL flashlights, these have dual modes, high light and low light. This was actually a problem, because the light alternates between the two modes if the button is pressed with less than a 2 sec pause. This caused us to very often have the flash light in low mode, a real issue if there were real bad guys in your world.
Electronic hearing at night:
We have a set of electronic hearing protection in our house incase we need to defend ourselves, the theory is you are not as disoriented after a shot indoors, and you can have amplified hearing, all good, except at night, I realized we also have a glowing red bullseye on our head, so if you are going to do this, be sure to black out the red lights on the headsets.
Stay in Pahrump:
We stayed in Las Vegas, and it added about an hour on either end of our day, and we never got to Vegas with the time or energy to do anything more than eat and sleep, so next time we will stay in Pahrump, it is way closer.
It was hot and really cold, and it rained, so come prepared to anything
We bought the lunches from Frontsight, they are really good lunches and a great value.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. - Proverbs 18:2
Wow, seems like a lot more bad than good, at least the stuff that matters.
My instructor when I received my NRA credentials pushes the weaver. He says that the average person doesn't wear body armor so they shouldn't get in the habit of squaring up with the target. I say shoot in whatever stance that allows you to hit first and fastest.
From the sound of that AAR it was a very basic class (which was explained in the beginning) and probably wouldn't be much fun for even most hobbiest out there.
Don't confuse enthusiasm for competence
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Having never done anything like that, I thought it would be fun. But shooting isn't enough of a priority to me to take time out and go to a class, I'm a homebody. I want to go to his house and shoot at his range with him instead.
So that's about as close to a gardening class I will probably come. I did think about it though. I'm afraid the deal he was offering didn't include all the gear as well....
hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and make hay while the sun shines!
I've never been to Frontsight myself, but I have several associates who took a trip over a few years back. I don't recall the specifics of how they described their experience, but the general idea was that it wasn't an overly pleasent experience. One said that taking the course at Frontsight was the reason they bought soft body armor. Take of that what you will.
When I die, I want to go peacefully like my Grandfather did, in his sleep -- not screaming, like the passengers in his car.