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4-Day Defensive Handgun Course

Front Sight Course Review

Mackey M. (March 12, 2012)

Editor's Note: This is a review for the 4 Day Defensive Handgun Course class offered at Front Sight.
  • 4 Day Defensive Handgun Course

  • Student: Mackey M.
  • Occupation: IT Specialist with IBM
  • Weapon: Springfield XD-9 Sub-Compact
  • Ammo Used: Approximately 550 rounds
  • Number Course Taken: First time
  • Student Rating: 9.5/10
  • Course: Front Sight
What were your reasons for taking this course?

I am a frustrated quail hunter. Owing to the natural collapse of the quail population during the exceptional drought of 2011 in Texas, I didn't get to hunt this past season. On top of that, I got a Texas CHL in January 2012. These two factors, combined with the fact that I had been given a free Front Sight course certificate, persuaded me that I should go to this class; I'm glad I did.

What are your General Comments?

I really liked the instruction, both the content and the methods. I thought that our Range Master and instructors did a really first class job. I thought that the pace of the class was good, as well. We had just enough time to master the concepts they were teaching us; as soon as we had mastered one, we were moving on to something new. In that sense, there wasn't ever a dull moment, and I'm glad there wasn't. I was favorably impressed with the "Buddy System". They would have the first relay up on the line, and the second relay would act as a "coach" to make sure you were being safe and using the techniques properly, as taught at Front Sight. Even though I may not have had the skills to correct all the faults that I saw, it was nonetheless helpful to have an extra set of eyes on every shooter. The person next to me was having difficulty with safety issues, such as muzzling people and keeping her finger on the trigger (even while returning the loaded Glock to her holster! Yikes!). But, between the instructors, her coach, and me, we were able to keep an eye on her and make sure we corrected her mistakes. I got corrected a few times myself, and I was grateful for it! I was pretty impressed with the coaching system. Because I am a Hunter Education instructor, I appreciated just learning about this teaching technique.

The instructors were very good. I certainly wouldn't say I was getting over-assisted by the instructors, but I did get assistance from time to time. A lot of the time I was getting assistance second-hand from other students, but I did get some attention from the instructors. I think that most of the time I wasn't doing anything egregious enough to merit one-on-one attention. Also, I was situated next to someone who needed a lot of attention,; so, perhaps, that's another reason why I didn't receive more one-on-one attention. I don't feel slighted though. I learned and improved a lot. The next several times I came back to the range, after the course, I could drill the center of the target at 21 feet. I was very proud of that. My wife pointed out to me that there were people in the other lanes poking their heads out like "Who the heck is that?" Their shots, in contrast, looked like a blast from a 12-gauge shotgun with buckshot, but mine were dead center every time.

There wasn't really anything I didn't like about the course. I would have liked to shoot some more steel. I know that they used to use turning targets in this course but don't any more, and I would have liked to try that out. As far as the testing goes, I was kind of surprised that so few people are able to achieve Graduate, much less achieve Distinguished Graduate. I knew going into the test that I could not maintain my accuracy at the test-level speeds, so I sacrificed the speed knowingly to make sure my shots were good. I think I only dropped maybe 4 points on accuracy, but the rest of the points I dropped were for being late. Because I lost so many points on the time, I wasn't able to graduate. I'm a little disappointed about that, but I was knowingly pacing myself. My nephew, who was with me, felt he should have graduated. But, again, while his accuracy was great, but his speed was an issue.

I actually did have one equipment failure there on the range, which is probably one reason why I only shot about 550 rounds. My nephew shot about 600, which is closer to the course average. I was using the XD Gear paddle holster, which is fitted with an adjustment screw, O-ring, and nut. The nut came out completely, allowing the two sides of the holster to separate. When I inserted my pistol, it overshot the bottom of the holster. The now detached screw protruded through the end of the trigger guard, and I was unable to draw my gun back out of the holster. (My nephew actually captured this incident on video.) This happened on the last day of the course, while we were practicing for the skills test. Fortunately, we were able to do the repair right there on the range. I took a nut out of a different piece of XD gear my nephew had, and we were able to fix it in about 10 minutes or so. After that, my holster retention adjustment was off, and my holster was a lot tighter than it should have been. It made pulling the gun out the holster a lot harder. Yea…that's it! That's why I didn't DG.

I was not at all disappointed with the class. I thought that the course was really good. I accomplished what I wanted to, and I had a lot of fun. I also got to spend some quality time with my nephew doing something that we hadn't ever done.

Do you have any tips for first-time students?

I read though Gun Training Central's Travel Guide after our trip, and that would have been helpful, had I known of it, beforehand. The airport at Las Vegas is an unmitigated disaster! Make sure that you get there for your flight AT LEAST 2 hours early. I almost missed my flight, and I got there early. I didn't have any trouble with the baggage handlers or with my gun. I DID have trouble getting through airport gate security, and I even had a Priority Access ticket. The lines were insanely long! I made it to my gate just in time for the "last call for boarding". The pucker factor was wa-a-a-y too high, for my taste!

Would you suggest this course to others?

Yes, I would suggest this course to others, especially anyone who is a new CHL holder.

How did you get there?

I flew from my home in Texas. My nephew drove from NM and picked me up at the airport.

Where did you stay?

We stayed at the Best Western. The accommodations were fine. I don't really have any big complaints. Every night, when we got back to the room, we were tired and ready to just go to sleep.

How did you handle the ammo situation?

I was only able to fly with 11 pounds (about 300 rounds) of ammo in my baggage with American Airlines. My nephew brought the rest of it with him on his drive from his home in New Mexico.

How did you handle the lunch situation?

We went to the grocery store and made sandwiches on site.

Do you have any dinner suggestions?

Not really. We had pizza at the hotel, one night. We did discover a Chinese restaurant, but I don't remember the name of it. It was located behind the Wal-Mart. It was a buffet, and it was OK. We also ran into one of the Front Sight instructors there.

What other courses are you planning to take in the future?

My wife and I are planning to take a vacation across the western US, and I want to work in another 4-Day Defensive Handgun, taking her with me, this time. I intend to take the 4-Day Practical Rifle course, possibly next spring. I have an AR-15 sitting here on the desk that I just finished building this week. The reason I bought it was that I felt it was the kind of rifle that I would need to bring to a Front Sight course. As a result of my first experience at Front Sight, I became a Diamond Lifetime member—I will definitely be back!