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It had been several years since I'd taken a handgun course at Front Sight. I have been concentrating on the various rifle and shotgun courses these past years. With some changes in Front Sight's course pre-reqs, I figured it was time to get back to practicing and see about wrapping up the defensive training course. While I've on real desire to pursue the handgun master prep training path, a distinguished graduate (DG) status is required for the advance rifle and shotgun courses. In those courses, the handgun is a secondary weapon, and with the changes a DG in handgun is required along with the DG in either shotgun or rifle (I hold a DG in both). There had also been a few minor curriculum changes and it's always a good idea to stay abreast of those. (or....I just forget more things as I get older and in which case, it's just like learning about something new and that is OK too!)
After arriving at Front Sight, Gary (my range buddy) and I hit the registration trailer and quickly got our range assignments. From there, it's a 15 second walk to the weapons inspection area. Front Sight instructors perform the inspections. They check for overly light triggers (with the exception of precision rifles), proper firearm functioning (without firing it), minimum barrel length (on long guns), holster, magazine holder, and ammunition. Bullets are checked with a magnet to ensure no amour piercing or steel core bullets are used. The steel targets are expensive and students putting holes in them is not desired.
After weapons inspection, we headed over to the main classroom where about 400 other students would be gathering for the 8:00 AM start time. They always say that the job isn't over until the paperwork is finished and so it is at Front Sight. Liability release forms were signed along with a Dry Practice form that clearly details the required steps to ensure safe dry practice, a technique that is used by Front Sight during and after the training is complete. The reason the dry practice procedure is explained in detail is because Front Sight encourages dry practice in the evenings. When staying in a motel/hotel, the safety of other occupants is of the utmost importance. If you follow the 9 steps that are carefully explained in the Dry Practice instruction guide, you won't have a negligent discharge.
With the paperwork out of the way, students were released to their range for the remainder of the morning. We had 3 staff members for our class of about 3 dozen students....our Range Master (Steve), another instructor (Vicki), and a line coach (Sanford). Steve provided the bulk of the instruction although Vicki presented a number of lessons. After staff introductions, we jumped into the first and most important topic at Front Sight, firearms safety. Front Sight has a very safety conscious culture. Aside from the obvious downside of letting students shoot themselves or other students, we all agree that going home with the same number of holes that your arrived with is the best way to wrap up the day.
To help ensure everyone is as safe as can be, a portion of the morning is spent on how to perform the function of a safety observer. The students are split into two relays for the duration of the class. While one relay is on the firing line, each shooter as a "partner" (from the second relay) that helps ensure safe firearms handling. We were encouraged to swap partners twice a day so as to get different input from as many folks as possible. It is a process that seems to work very well. There is always the occasional student that needs more feedback than others, but by the end of the class, they are demonstrating a good understanding of the Four Safety Rules.
Once the safety rules were reviewed and a thorough discussion about all of us being responsible for each other's safety, Steve moved on to some of the basics of shooting a handgun....sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger control. As the company's name implies, shooting with a strong focus on the front sight is heavily stressed.
Amazingly, we had no resolver shooters in our class. There were a lot of Glocks, Springfield XDs, a few Sigs, and 1911s from various manufacturers. I keep several Springfield XDs in the gun safe and two of them came with me for this course. I have a full sized XD9 (4" barrel) and a XD9 sub-compact (3" barrel). Not having a backup firearm when attending a training course can easily result in a waste of vacation time, transportation, lodging, food, etc. Granted, Front Sight has rental firearms available but I would rather complete a course using my own firearm and support gear.
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