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4-Day Defensive Handgun

Front Sight Course Review

Herb S. (March 2013)

Editor's Note: Contains account of student who shot himself through both legs.... read and learn.   Safety rules for firearm handling are very important.
  • 4-Day Defensive Handgun

  • Student: Herb Smith
  • Occupation: PD/Sheriff
  • Weapon: Sig 226, 40 S&W
  • Rounds Fired: 600 rounds (+-)
  • Number Course Taken: 14th courses taken at FS. Previously taken Advanced Tactics and Handgun Combat Master Prep. Took 4-Day Handgun to be with Family members.
  • Student Rating: 10/10 (Awesome)
  • Course: Front Sight

My wife and daughter and five other friends from our church enjoyed another mid-week Basic 4-Day Def. Handgun course this last weekend, March 25-28. We stayed at the newly built Wine Ridge Resort Cottages, just off Winery Rd. from the main highway. Very nice places, well equipped and affordable with FS Student price breaks. Check out their web sight. We rented out three of them for the week. It's a nice alternative to the Saddle West if they're booked up, or you have a group or family and you'd like to prepare your own meals. Each cottage comes furnished with a complete kitchen, separate bedroom with a Queen, and a fold-out sofa in the dining area. The management, Don and Phyllis, are wonderful folks, and you'll thoroughly enjoy your stay. It's also on the south end of Pahrump, so just a bit closer to FS. A great place to stay.

I brought my Sigsaur 226 to town this time, with both my .357 and .40 barrels, shooting the .357 Sig. the first two days, and the .40 S&W the last two days. I enjoyed both, but preferred the .40; just a tad more controllable and accurate. My wife Debbie shot her SA XD .40 S&W, and my 17 year old daughter Christa her Glock 23, .40 S&W. We brought 2200 rounds with us, and came home with about 380, so shot a little over the 1800 rounds at 600 apiece for the course. Bring a few boxes extra as the course may go over just a tad. But our range master was very good about monitoring the consumption of our ammo. Always good to have a bit extra on hand just in case. Stockpile Defense had ammo for sale, but .40 S&W was $21 a box, 9mm was $17, .38 was $19.50, .45 ACP was $23.50, .38 Special was $19.50, and .377 Sig. was $24. So, not cheap, and they like you to sell back what you don't use. Understandable. They need to have ammo for folks who run out or can't fly it in from the east coast. Glad we live closer so we can haul it there.

FS anticipated a record breaking attendance on Monday morning, and they weren't mistaken. Over a thousand people where there, but not so surprising, FS was prepared and handled the logistics of it all very well. There was a bit of a stack up at the front gate in the morning, but we all entered in fairly good order. The registration line was extremely well managed, with hardly any line up before personnel would walk down and pick off individuals and groups, check off their reservation, register and place them on a range with an e-notepad, and direct them to the equipment-check tables. We were there and processed within five minutes, believe it or not. The only thing that made it longer was glad handing and chatting with all the friends we see when we come, mostly range personnel that we've gotten to know over the years. It's always good to reconnect with everybody, even some attendees that we coincide with who we've practice with previously... and of course, starting to make yet new friends and acquaintances. That first morning is always such a crisp and joyful atmosphere, with the anticipation of shooting and practicing and learning for the next several days, and making new memories. This was no exception.

The morning orientation was the same happy routine. We found some seats, brewed up our coffee, tea and cocoa, relaxed a bit as we perused the Pro Shop and then started filling out the disclaimer sheets. Brad Ackman gave the morning briefing. He's always good at bringing everyone up to speed with what's happening at FS these days, and getting us all off to a good start. We then shuffled out to our ranges, visiting the restroom pavilion on the way, and transferred our equipment from the car. We checked in with our Range Masters for the week, this time Phil Maldonado, King Strecker and Sanford Nagel. We scored. They were just great all weekend long; all you'd want for a great course. They were knowledgeable, helpful, easy-going and quite humorous. Phil has a self-acclaimed Master's Degree in sarcasm, and he demonstrated that wit throughout the course, to our delight and amusement. All three were impressive with their shooting skills, and left no doubt with any of us that they were proficient with their craft. Phil kept us on schedule all week, and even through in some extra stuff (not off script, but supplemental to the material that helped to drive home what he was teaching us).

For those of us who were returning, we skipped the lectures (though I hung on with some of them, as they're just too rich with information) and did dry-fire practice during lunch breaks. One thing we like about FS is that when they find what works, whether it be scheduling, instruction, logistics etc., they stick with it. We know what to expect when we arrive, and we enjoy the routine that has now become pleasantly familiar. We were fortunate to have Range 5 for the first two days, which is just a short stone's throw from the restroom pavilion. We've been on the "Echo" ranges in the past, next to the lecture hall, and it's quite a hike when you need to break off and go. I wish they had retained a few of the "Brown Rooms" near those so it wouldn't take so much time away from the range when you need to go, but it is what it is. Our last two days were down on the rifle ranges, where there are a plethora of the brown comfort rooms, conveniently located on each range.

Monster's Inc. and the Sim. Rooms went great... each time we do those you learn to just think better, do your tac-reloads, don't forget about your front sights, try not to get rattled when you see the monster face guy, and remember to do your after-action drill FS Dance when it's done, so you aren't the negative subject of critique the coaches give to the range class afterward.

One sad incident occurred on the third day at a range just down from ours. Late morning we heard the ominous wapa-wapa sound of an approaching helicopter and looked up to see Life-Flight headin' our way, and behind us a Paramedic Van and Fire Truck just across the lot from our range, on the opposite side of the road. We all took a collective gulp and wondered what was up, if someone shot themselves, how bad it was and... if it was anyone we knew. The chopper landed adjacent to the Paramedic Van and shortly thereafter loaded up a stretcher with a fellow on it from Range 11. We were on 17. Word reached us that it was in fact another student who was not exercising the third rule of gun handling safety; that part about when you place your finger on the trigger. We were told it was a 60's 'ish fellow, everybody's favorite grandpa on the range, who was a second or third time student with his family and grand kids. He came out of his holster canted in with his finger on the trigger. The predictable occurred, with the round entering his thigh (!), passing through and then catching his left leg calf where it lodged in his muscle and had to be surgically removed. Fortunately, it was a ball round, and providentially did not strike any bone, artery or tendons. This relatively fortunate fellow got the flight tour w/out sight seeing ticket to the hospital in Las Vegas, but was released a few hours later, much wiser and a bit gimpy for a while. FS really means it. You find that trigger too early, and the most expensive chopper flight you've ever had will be promptly called up. I hope he has good medical insurance... What a disappointing end to a happy family vacation. We need to be paying serious attention when we're on the line. These aren't air guns we're shooting...

The forth day was nice and busy with lots of live fire and malfunction practice. Then before lunch, the steel target man-on-man competition. That 's always fun, with the person who was the most patient and focused usually winning. I rose this time to the final four, pitted against my 17 year old daughter... a win-win! We drew pretty simultaneously, and she knocked around the hostage taker a half-second before me. The blues and reds came down in quick, similar fashion, and she beat me by a hair. It was wonderful! She went on to eliminate the final guy, having just magazine and a half left. The test monkey hoped on her back, and both contestants couldn't hit that white bad guy for love or money. Finally she knocked him around, then missed (!) her first shot at the blue. She knew she had only two rounds left in her final mag, and made them count. Down blue, down red, with her slide locked back and not another round on her shapely frame. Winner! All us men clapped with a bit of chagrin that we got whipped by this little lotus blossom, but she won it square. That's a very special challenge coin she carries now.

The afternoon's skill test was the expected thrill of victory and agony of defeat. Only one DG on the range this time. I managed to choke that monkey out this time. About 70% of the class received the certificate, the rest graduated. I'm taking my lotus blossom back after her finals in school for a show-down with that test monkey. She was close, but let her nerves mess with her mind. She's a DG and knows it... just needs to make it so.

We all went out to El Jefe's in Pahrump for our traditional celebratory meal and had a raucous good time. Another memorable week of good times, more jokes, fresh stories to tell, new friends made, and a tad more confidence about our next "Firing Drill!" Oh Front Sight, we're counting the days to our return. AMERICA!