Family Handgun Shooting at Front Sight

A time back, Edward and I planned another trip to the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute between Pahrump and Lost Wages, Nevada. This time, his sister Anna and younger brother Jonny would be joining us for our Four-Day Defensive Handgun Course. We picked a Friday through Monday class set to start a week and a half ago. I set about arranging transportation, lodging and ammo (our only costs as lifetime members of the Institute). Anna and I would fly into Lost Wages from Houston and SeaTac, respectively. Jonny would fly from Denver to Los Angeles to meet up with Edward. We would assemble at our hotel in Pahrump Thursday evening.

As it turned out, Edward was called back for another day of shooting on a new TV show – a 911 spinoff – and would miss the first day of our class. Jonny then caught a bus and three of us somehow connected in Vegas. Edward joined us a day late, thus unable to partake in the shooting and instruction. Anna, Jonny and I were the family’s active students.

At 6:15 a.m. Friday morning, we drove onto Front Sight ground, in the desert between Las Vegas and Pahrump. Anna and Jonny had a bit of handgun handling experience, but nothing like the more formal, rigorous, and great fun family adventure to come.

After check-in, gun inspection and ammo pickup, we joined other like-minded men, women and youngsters in the classroom for welcome, orientation, introductions, and signing of various releases. We then assembled at the ranges to which we were assigned.

Twenty-six of us (most new, some previous students) moved out to Range 3, to meet our Rangemaster Cope and his training team. Our cohort included a group of nine family and friends, a family of six (a 12-year-old boy, two teenage sisters, a young adult brother and both parents), a family of four with young adult brother and sister, two husband-wife couples, and my gang.

Our instructors explained the skills we were to gain, starting with safely loading/unloading, chamber checks, and presenting (drawing) our guns from the holster. We would be in two relays of 13 – alternating shooting and coaching. Jonny was teamed with Don, a very skilled mid-40s guy, and Anna was my partner. Silhouette targets would be shot from 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15 yards.

The course involves a lot of shooting, of course, under the watchful eyes of our Front Sight team – some 650 rounds over the four days. However, it also involves several critically important presentations and discussions about aspects of gun ownership and use. After our Day 1 lunch, we examined legal liability issues, and heard a lecture on levels of mental awareness (finding an always-alert mindset).

After that it was safety discussion, skills review, “dry practice” (handling and presenting an unloaded firearm), more on dealing with types of malfunctions and reloads, and shooting from various distances. After each shooting round, we examined targets, got coaching and taped holes. The last hour was a lecture on moral and ethical decision-making in using deadly force.

Days 2 and 3 started at 7:30 with supervised dry practice, then skills review and live ammo practice. Timing was introduced to our shooting. After-lunch discussions covered hearing protection, criminal and civil liability, and proper behavior after presenting a gun in public or actually shooting, and the tactical movement principles involved in clearing a home. Work on safety skills and shooting filled out both days, with each student given an opportunity to practice clearing a mock house with shooters.

Day 4 started with supervised dry practice, then prep for the timed skills test over all the skills practiced and learned. The test led us to lunch, after which we worked on dealing with multiple assailants, decision-making in the chaos of gunfire, and an exercise involving precise shooting of our final six shots. After a bit of frustration over several inconsistent shooting rounds, those six rounds were my best of the course. (Whew…)

It is easy to describe our daily schedule. It’s another thing to describe the rich pleasure of safe and accurate shooting among all those family members coaching and encouraging, as each became more skilled and confident. In our group, Anna was a great coach and a fine shot, Jonny was a top three graduate, and Edward supported us all. (Who raised these guys, anyhow?)

We worked with a well-tuned Front Sight team. Rangemaster Cope and every coach or employee we met was skilled, professional, supportive and smiling. (If you want to know more, Gary Brown at 509-607-0084 can help you figure out how to get involved with your own Front Sight.

In our cohort, by the way, we had one distinguished graduate (perfect score on the skills test), five graduates skilled enough to qualify for advanced handgun training and 20 of us skilled enough to earn certificates of achievement.

This experience is not about knowing how to grab a handgun and start shooting. It’s about having enough confidence and presence of mind to take in an entire situation and make a conscious decision about whether or not to turn to that handgun, knowing that you have the skills and knowledge to use it properly, if necessary. It’s about confidence. Wisdom. Training.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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