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4-Day Defensive Handgun

Front Sight Course Review

Scott L. & Dan C. (March 2013)

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

  • Student: Scott L. & Dan C.
  • Occupation: Commercial Real Estate Agent /Paramedic
  • Range Master: Steve Campbell and Bill Monroe
  • Instructors: Mike Zollicoffer and several others
  • Weapon: Colt Combat Commander (4 1/4" 1911)
  • Rounds Fired:
    I used 592 rounds:
    83 on day one,
    156 on day two,
    178 on day three,
    175 on day four

    Dan used 588 rounds:
    Day 1 morning: 16
    Day 1 afternoon: 68
    Day 2 morning: 80
    Day 2 afternoon: 74
    Day 3 morning: 96
    Day 3 afternoon: 79
    Day 4 morning: 112
    Day 4 afternoon: 63
  • Number Course Taken: This was my first time taking this course and my first course at Front Sight. Dan had been to this course once before.
  • Student Rating: 10/10
  • Course: Front Sight
  • What were your reasons for taking this specific course?

    I took this course because I wanted to improve my proficiency with a handgun and gain a basic understanding of tactical movement (something not taught in most concealed handgun courses). Dan has a lot more handgun experience, but he really wanted to get a "Distinguished Graduate" (90%) or "DG" score on the final shooting exercise. This way he could move on to other handgun courses offered at Front Sight

    General Comments

    I went into this course not knowing what to expect – (Was it going to be a pseudo boot camp, a fantasy camp for Soldier of Fortune types, or a training camp for competitive shooters?) – and could not have been more impressed by with the experience. The course takes a serious, fact-based approach to defensive handgun techniques that go far beyond what I've experienced in the half-dozen or so concealed handgun licensing courses I've attended. The instructors are knowledgeable, friendly, and extremely competent. They neither act like drill sergeants nor waste time stroking students' egos. Front Sight has recommended/preferred ways of doing just about everything, from stance to malfunction clearance, and I was particularly impressed with the way the instructors explained the rationale behind each preference. For example, I'd always been taught the tap-rack- bang method of malfunction clearance; however, the instructors made a very good point about how that technique engrains the follow-up shot as a reflexive action, rather than a conscious action, which can be very dangerous in a real gunfight in which the situation is ever-changing. Too often in other courses, I've simply heard instructors say, "This is the method I teach/prefer" and leave it at that. Hearing the rationale behind various techniques made me stop and seriously reconsider – and, in most cases – change the way I'd been doing things. With that said, my friend with whom I attended couldn't get comfortable with the Weaver stance, and the instructors didn't protest when he decided to go back to his more-familiar isosceles stance.

    The instructors did a great job keeping things moving at a brisk but manageable pace, and their personalities were such that the course was always engaging, often humorous, and never boring. Brad Ackman, Front Sight's operations manager, was a great host, and everyone I encountered was friendly and helpful. I was especially impressed with the armourer/gunsmith, who repaired a loose front sight on my 1911 and replaced the grip safety in about 90 minutes one afternoon. That is quality service.

    The Front Sight facility itself is quite impressive. Most of the reviews I'd heard/read were from Front Sight's pre-indoor-plumbing days, and I was very pleased to find a large restroom facility near the main classroom. The ranges on the outskirts of the property are still equipped with portable toilets (commonly referred to as the "brown rooms" due to their brown color), which were a nice alternative to jumping in the car and driving up to the main building.

    The course includes four lectures: one on the five color codes of awareness, one on the moral and ethical consequences of using lethal force, one on the criminal and civil consequences of using lethal force, and one on tactical movement. The first three were basically retreads of information I'd learned in previous concealed handgun courses, butit's all good information. The fourth and final lecture (tactical movement) was extremely interesting and beneficial. It prepared us to practice tactical movement, which constitutes about a third of day number three.

    Here is a rough breakdown of the focus of each day:

    • Day 1: Safety and technique
    • Day 2: Malfunction clearance and shooting/accuracy practice
    • Day 3: Concealment, tactical movement (including the shoot house), and improving speed
    • Day 4: Putting it all together, man-on-man speed/accuracy competition (against steel targets), final shooting test, and a hostage drill (a fun drill to end the course so that you don't end on the test)

    This course definitely taught me how far I still have to come, but I am extremely happy with how far I progressed (in both speed and accuracy) in just four days. I hope to attend again in the near future and bring my wife.

    On a fun note, I want to add that I definitely enjoyed shooting the fully automatic Uzi and Mini-Uzi, during lunch on the first day. I was really excited to find out that that was offered. For more information on my First Sight experience, check out my review of the 2-Day Practical Rifle course on Gun Training Central's website.

    Did you go through the shoot house? What were your thoughts about it?

    The shoot house was fun but of limited benefit, because we only got to run it once. It took less than a minute to go through the house; and when we were done, an instructor told us what we did right and what we did wrong. This could have made for a great learning experience if we'd had the chance to run through the house a couple more times and work on those areas that needed improvement. Because we only got to run the house once, it came across as more of a novelty than a legitimate training tool.

    How would you improve this course?

    In my opinion, the only way to that the course could be improved is by finding a way to let students run the shoot house one or two more times. I understand that simple logistics make this a difficult proposition, but I definitely came away from the course feeling as though that was the one addition that could have benefited me.

    How do you rate this class?

    This class is absolutely top-notch. My handgun proficiency improved more in four days than in the previous decade.

    What you do differently next time you go to Front Sight?

    I took the 2-Day Practical Rifle course immediately following this handgun course. Next time, if I plan to take more than one course, I'll schedule some down time between the courses. Six straight days of training in the desert sun takes a physical toll.

    Would you suggest this course to others?

    I've already recommended this course and Front Sight as a whole to several people and will continue to do so.

    How did you get there?

    We drove in and stayed at the Extended Stay America in Las Vegas with a weekly rate.

    Did you go with family or friends? If so, what did they think about the course?

    I went with my friend Dan. This was his second time taking the course, and he seemed to enjoy it every bit as much as I did. He actually DGed the course.

    How did you handle the lunch situation?

    We brought a sack lunch each day.

    Do you have any dinner suggestions?

    El Jefe Restaurant – an excellent Mexican food at an affordable price Stockman's Steakhouse at the Pahurmp Nugget Casino – a very good high-end steakhouse

    What other courses do you plan on taking in the future?

    I'll definitely be taking this course again. I also plan to take the 4-Day Practical Rifle. When I can find the time, I'd also like to take one of the shotgun courses, a couple of the hand-to- hand courses, and possibly an Uzi or M-16 course.