Three things happened ten years ago that have a profound impact on my life.
- I went to my first SHOT Show, and saw what the firearms industry was really like
- I met my now good friend and mentor Michael Bane
- I did a four day defensive handgun class at Front Sight
SHOT Show has become a regular thing for me, and Michael and I are still good friends, but the Front Sight class was the first time I had travelled to take a class. It wasn’t my first class: I had about 24 hours worth of NRA classes under my belt from a decent instructor, so I had an inkling of a clue what do on the range. On top of that, I was a regular shooter of USPSA at the time, so I was/am pretty decent at solving situations with a gun in my hand under time pressure.
The problem is, I was about halfway up Mt. Stupid on the Dunning-Krueger curve when I went, and as is usually the case with that concept, I didn’t know I was on it at the time. My review of that class disappeared when I sold my old blog, but I remember saying that taking an NRA Basic Pistol, Personal Protection Inside The Home and Personal Protection Inside the home class would be a better way to spend your money rather than paying the full price for a four day class at Front Sight.
Talk about damning with faint praise…
Now, ten years later, a few things have become very clear about Front Sight:
- The training there ain’t bad, but it ain’t great, either. They were still trying foist off isometric Weaver on the newbies but allowed the people like me who were using Isosceles to keep using that stance. Compare that to my Gunsite 250 in 2020, which was all Isosceles, all the time. When it comes to training, Front Sight is, in many ways, what people say Gunsite is: Behind the times and out of touch.
- The facilities are quite nice. The bays are clean, the building new and inviting, and the staff all wear uniforms so you can know who they are. That’s a level of professionalism I’ve seen at Gunsite and pretty much nowhere else outside of high-end gun ranges.
- They train a LOT of people at Front Sight. Like hundreds every month. My 4 day class in 2011 was just one of many classes going on, and there were 200+ in the main lecture that week. Why? The essentially free training probably has something to do with it (I paid $6 for my class coupon on eBay plus another $50 for a background check), but even still, that is a LOT of people going through the door every week.
“Ah-HA!,” I can hear you say, “That’s because you’re going to get sales pitches shoved down your throat all day long!”
Well, no. In my 2011 class, the pitch for membership was a 20 minute video and a quick speech during lunch, plus a pitch at the end of class to take the next class in their series, the soooper-advanced Defensive Pistol and then Four Gun Combat Master patch, or whatever. They dangle a lure in front of their good students, and sonuvagun if enough of them don’t bite down hard enough on it to get hooked on what Front Sight has to offer. I want to take a good, hard look at how they market themselves to their customers while I’m there, as they’re succeeding in a way that few other training schools are succeeding, and I want to know why.
The real reason why I’m going, however, is because two close relatives are going with me. Both of them have owned a firearm suitable for concealed carry for quite some time, but neither carry on a regular basis nor have taken any training whatsoever. I figure if they start to carry and get a good grip on the safety-based mindset, it’s worth two days of my time and 200 or so rounds of ammo.
Let’s see what happens.