Sunday, March 25, 2012

Preparation and Tips for Frontsight 4 days Handgun Class

 Preparation & Tips for Frontsight 4 days Handgun Class 
  by Gianluca Zanna Frontsight Diamond Member

So you finally decided to come to Frontsight for your first 4 days Handgun Defensive Class... Congratulations, you are are part of the "elite" of gun owners that will have skills to a complete understanding of the defensive handgun and a level that surpasses 95% of those who carry a gun for a living! This will be the one of your best investment you will ever do when it comes to learning the skill of self defense for your persona and your family. If this is your first time coming to this unique weapon training facility, I would love to share with you my personal experience and tips of how to prepare, what to bring, where to stay and how to enjoy the most your 4 days handgun class. A little premise, I don't work for Frontsight, I am not even officially endorsing it... I am just a lucky former Italian, now proud American and proud Arizonian that had the chance to become a Life Diamond Member and I live "just" 3 hours away from Frontsight Nevada...
I go there to train as much as I can, according to my business and family schedule.
I did accomplish my Distinguished Graduate in handgun and I am here to share all the things I have learned of how to prepare for the 4 days defense handgun class.

Here we start...
How to arrive to Frontsight
I assume you are coming from Las Vegas...
From I-15 take the State Route 160 / Blue Diamond exit. Travel west on Rt. 160 for approximately 38 miles. Please drive safe, the road is icy during winter and in most points is one lane only.
After 38 miles you arrive to Tecopa Road. Turn left on Tecopa Road and travel approximately 4 miles to Front Sight Road. Turn right on Front Sight Road, and travel approximately 4 miles to the main gate of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. If you drive early morning when it's still dark... it is really dark... no lights... you are in the middle of the Death Valley desert.

When to arrive
Normally, for the 4 days class you must arrive promptly at 6:30 a.m. for the first day of course, and 7:30 a.m. for the remaining days. Please don’t arrive late. There is much to do in the morning (including weapons inspection and securing any ammunition or gear from the pro shop) before starting the class.
You will be greeted by a friendly Front Sight staff member at the gate who will direct you to the designated parking area and give you instructions where to sign in and where to bring your unloaded weapons to the weapons inspection area.
If you live away from Vegas, I strongly advice you to find a location where to lodge for the night before. Here are 2 options:
1) Camping outside the school
this is my Motel 6 :)
I normally do that... It's a little spartan, with a weather that can be very extreme (remember we are in the DEATH VALLEY), but it's fun and it's a great way to test your survival gear. You are on BLM, with no hook ups for your RV, but it's Free.
I camp with my truck just outside the gates of the School and You must bring everything you need to be self efficient. If you sleep under the stars, like normally I do, be sure that your sleeping bag is a good one. Winter nights I have slept in 10 degrees and snow :).... summer time is better at nite, but can be still warm till 1AM... then it cools off.
Watch for snakes in summer, and please don't leave garbage behind. If you do fires, be sure to do a fire pit and follow the safety rules by BLM. I normally cook with survival candle, or even better... I eat can food and dry meals.
About the Bathrooms. If you decide to camp outside, like I do, you can go to the Frontisight Bathrooms till the school is open (6:30pm) and then is called the desert... (just bring a shovel :)
2) Hotel in Pahrump 
Pahrump is about 30 minutes drive from Frontsight. There are 3 hotels. My favorite is the Saddle West Casino. The rates are decent (about $50 for night) and you can share the room with more than 1 person...
During the weekend they charge a little more... but if you are a Frontsight life Member you get discounted rates.  I suggest you to get the second floor... less noisy at night. They also offer you breakfast in the morning. Please do not enter the hotel and the casino with open carry... guns are not allowed in the casino.

Saddle West Casino Front
The Saddle West Casino Hotel at 800.433.3987.
Click Here for Front Sight Discount Information.

Saddle West Casino Side

Pahrump Nugget Front
The Pahrump Nugget is the newest hotel/casino at 866.751.6500.

Pahrump Nugget Side

Best Western Front
The Pahrump Station is a Best Western motel at 775.727.5100.

Best Western Side
The closest Las Vegas hotels are the Silverton Hotel Casino at 800.588.7711 and the Holiday Inn Express at 702.871.4453. The Silverton usually offers competitive rates because it is off the Strip.

Food and drinks
You need to eat and drink properly for 4 days class at Frontsight. This is not a recreational shooting session at Sunday afternoon at your range, from a bench while you smoke a cigar...
The good news, that this is not military school where you are under a drill sergeant... you can do whatever your body allows you... and the staff are very polite and professional.
But you need to eat and drink properly... to enjoy the full 4 days of class.
Here are the 2 options for food
1) You bring your own food, like I do... I am very picky and I eat mostly organic and mostly what I grow or cook... so, if that's the case, bring a big ice chest with enough food and water for 5 days. I suggest you to avoid heavy meals... get small meals that you can eat during the day.
I love the Pineapple cans and organic jerkey bison or beef... or power bars and sandwiches that I prepare...
You need to drink at least 3 liters a day during summer time... it's dry here... They offer free water during the class...  it tastes ok, but I am very picky and I drink mostly what I bring from home (water from my well). Do not drink sodas... you will crash, they will not be enough to keep you hydrated and they are bad for your health...
If you have a camelbak water reservoirs are the best for me. I load 4 of those (3liter each one) and I have all the water I need for the 4 days class. Otherwise get canteens or thermos.
No alcohol beverages during the classes of course... at night I love to drink a couple of beers (during summer) or wine (winter time)... but do not overdo it... you need to drink water to replenish it.
Avoid coffee... it is not good to keep you hydrated.
I suggest you to bring some multivitamin in powder to add with your water... I love those (you can find them for about $8 for a box of 30

2) you order your lunch at the Frontsight Beach Cafe lunches and at night you can shop in Pahrump at Walmart, Safeway, Albertson, or several restaurants...

The first day... the first hour...
Following Sign-In, you will proceed to the Weapons Inspection area. As you walk, make sure that you wear you handgun in your holster... gun empty, no magazine, no ammo in the chamber, no loaded magazine on you.
Bring on you a box of ammunition, an empty magazine, and your ID and go to the weapon inspection.
A Range Master will inspect all your equipment, including your weapon, holster, magazines, and ammunition.
Prohibited are pocket pistols because they are simply too small to train properly with.
Prohibited are Blackhawk Serpa brand holsters (and holsters of similar design which have a trigger guard retention device). Industry-wide, there have been numerous reports of injuries due to the incorrect use of these holsters.
Prohibited is ammunition with a steel jacket or steel core, unplated lead bullets, reloads, or remanufactured ammo.
Mandatory is electronic hearing protection. The Front Sight Pro Shop offers electronic ears for rent or purchase. You can get cheap one at for just $20 and shopping around on the web a very good one for about $90. I have both... and the $20 still works fine.

Upon completing Weapons Inspection, take your gear back to your vehicle and proceed into the classroom. Review the course itinerary and lecture materials at your seat as the course is about to begin.

A note personal note about the Ammo.
Please be sure that you don't bring reload,  and don't be tempted to collect from the ground the many rounds that you may find... they maybe defective and have been sitting there for weeks.... and they may  damage your gun... is it worth it the risk? No.
Also, if you use steel case ammo like normally I do (Wolf Russian 9mm), please remind the instructors at the check in, that the bullet is made of copper and only the case is made of steel...
You need at least 600 rounds for the 4 days class... but I always bring a little more, just in case. I would suggest you to bring at least 700 rounds, so if you want to shoot a little more, you don't need to stress.
If you are flying and cannot or do not want to bring the ammo from home, here are the 2 solutions.
1) Buy them at Walmart (but be careful, they may be out of stock because you are not the only one buying that weekend)
2) Buy them at Frontsight Proshop. If you are not a Diamond Member (we get 40% discount), you may pay a little too much, compared to what you can buy on line... but at least you can get what you need.

Your Clothing
This is desert, normally very hot and dry during the day, and cold at night.
Summer time I suggest you to wear long sleeves neutral color shirt made of cotton. I prefer those to the regular tshirts because it keeps your skin protected from the sun. Also bring a light jacket for the concealed training and final test. I mean light and if it possible with the short sleeves.
Winter time, be ready for every weather... it can snow, rain, wind, haze... the training does not stop. So dress in layers and bring clothing for every situation.
You must wear a hat and a pair of protective glasses... according to your budget and taste, you know what to do... I suggest you for the winter class to bring a wool hat.
Shoes... whatever is going to be comfortable to stay at least 8 hours training... each day.
Pants... get something comfortable with some side pockets... helpful to carry extra ammo or to stash extra magazines.
Belt... get a decent hard belt that it will support your holster in firm way.

Accessories and gun

Magazines  You need at least 3 magazines for the gun you are running for the class.... (I suggest you 4 or 5, so you will need to reload less)
Holster... you need a rigid holster.  Prohibited are Blackhawk Serpa brand holsters (and holsters of similar design which have a trigger guard retention device). 
Your Gun... I suggest you to bring the gun that normally you would carry... so you can learn it and practice with it. You will put a lot of repetitions in 4 days...
Remember Prohibited are pocket pistols because they are simply too small to train properly with.

A couple of personal tips...
Go with an open mind... put aside all you have already learned in the past, and like an empty blackboard follow their curriculum... put your ego aside... you are there to learn and have fun...
Don't be intimidated... this class is for everybody... and the instructors are very nice and professionals.
Ask questions... they are there for you. No question is too stupid.
Do not bend to pick anything on the floor when you are on the firing line! Start to memorize this concept...
and I am sure you will have a great experience.

The goal of this Class
The goal of this class is to improve your safety and gun skills... and you will... my word. Don't stress about the final test... for what I know, only 10 % of the first time attendees graduate and only about 3% Distinguished graduate... you don't go there to get a piece of paper to hang on the wall (you will get one no matter what, just for your participation), your goal is that Regardless of your experience prior to entering this course, upon completion, your gun handling, marksmanship, and tactical skills will be better than they have ever been and you will be able to safely and easily draw your weapon from a CONCEALED holster and fire two, sighted shots to the center of a target 5 yards away - all under 1.5 seconds! 
The average gun owner cannot even find his gun in less than 2 seconds...

See you at Frontsight...
Gianluca Zanna
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