Sunday, May 16, 2010

Front Sight

(I got a certificate too, I just didn't think to bring it up for our photo op.)

Short Version: Stan tricked me into going to Front Sight for their 2 Day Defensive Handgun Course. I was scared and didn't have any experience with handguns (and really none with any gun). The school is very safety conscious and taught Stan and me a lot of techniques and gave us a lot of knowledge on the ethical and moral issues of carrying or using a handgun for protection. The scenerio that we ran through at the end was the scariest. I'm really glad that I did it and that I succeeded to taking out the advesary and protecting my family. I would recommend Front Sight. (If you're interested in more detail about my Front Sight experience see the long version after the pictures.)

Doing a final check on the 75' that we're unloaded. I'm the 3rd one on the left.
Stan by our targets on the 5'. I was bad and never got a picture of him in action
On the 75' practicing tactical reloads and malfunctions.

Long Version:

You know how sometimes your husband (or wife) will ask you if you want to do something and you say, "um, sure, sometime" so they'll stop talking about it? Well Stan and I had one of those conversations back in February. It was about going to Front Sight for their 2 day handgun training course which he could get for 70% off. (He'd sent me some emails previously with links, but I'd only looked at one briefly.)
The next night he came home and said he'd signed us up for a course for the weekend of May 7th and 8th. I was a bit in shock.
"But you didn't even ask me"
"You said you'd do it sometime"

Still, I felt I'd been tricked into it, but decided it would be a nice weekend getaway for the two of us so long as I could convince him not to camp in the "no facilities and no water access area." I could just see us dripping sweat, tired, dirty, dusty and not able to shower- yuck.

Anyhow, here is my previous gun experience- Growing up I went shooting skeet 1 time with my cousins (I don't think I hit anything the 2 times I pulled the trigger. I do remember I thought it was fun to use the hand launcher though). Stan thinks I shot a rifle with my dad one time after we were married- I can't say either way on that one.
Handguns were always off limits in my home growing up. I had definitely never shot one.

So, I was about to go to this class surrounded by sharp shooters and rednecks. I was scared. I was certain I would look like a complete fool. AND I couldn't get out of my mind that I would probably accidentally kill someone or at the very least shoot my foot.
I kept looking at the website ( watching the videos. Stan convinced me that most of the class wouldn't be experienced and that red necks already think they know everything about guns- and they certainly wouldn't pay someone $1000 to train them.

Now for the gun situation. As most of you know I'm left handed, we went to a store so I could hold some hand guns and try to make them work- the safety, cocking, racking etc. It was really awkward and I got even more worried. The man behind the counter encouraged us to look at the revolvers- those I could handle. Put bullets in, pull trigger. If I have a malfunction, pull trigger again. This stuff my nervous mind can do.

I ended up using a Smith and Wesson model 60 .357 revolver. Stan used a Springfield XD- he really liked the safety and ease of use. I used Special 38 bullets and had 2 speed loaders and a 2 speed loader holster. I had to find a belt that fit me since I'm really not a belt person.

Once we got to the school (after going to the bathroom since it was a long drive to Pahrump, NV) we got suited up. The people at Front Sight are very professional and competent. I always felt safe and was happy with the pacing of the course. I also liked the very specific rules. Our hand guns could only be in 3 positions- our holsters, pointed down range at the ready, or pointed down range to fire. The rules for safety on the firing line were very specific. No bending over, gun of course always downrange, no muzzling anyone or anything we didn't intend to shoot, gun in the holster and hands by our side before turning around. Unless on the line for shooting drills our guns remained unloaded. And that was something checked and double checked. We worked in teams. One person on the line, the coach by their shooting shoulder, guiding, reminding, helping, and so forth and then we would switch.

Stan and I only worked with each other at the very end of the last day. We spent most of the time learning from others. C.J. a First Family Member and returning student worked with me all the first day. He was very encouraging and helped to build my confidence.

The hardest things for me- I'm cross dominant, so I kept using my right eye instead of my left. I had to close my right eye before I drew my gun. I tended to lean back, instead of forward in the aggressive weaver stance. My right elbow didn't like to be bent and pointing down.

We did a lot of dry practice. The entire first morning was only dry practice. How to present the gun to the ready (5 steps from holster to target) and present the gun for a firing. How to hold the gun properly to load and unload. We went through the malfunctions of semi-autos (1-3) but obviously for me I was always pull the trigger so I spent that time working on mastering the speed loader. I only have 5 bullets vs. 8 (in the 1911's) or up to 20 in the really cool semi-auto that shot body suit piercing rifle bullets. I tried to pay a lot of attention so I could use a semi-auto as well, but I was glad I'd chosen to learn first on a revolver.

We had 2 very funny and amazing instructors Malone and Eric. Eric was a great demonstrator. These guys put in a lot of practice and I felt safe learning from them. Our class had 28 students.

During lunch we ate in the air conditioned classroom and watched front sight videos followed by in door classes on ethics and morals from 1 to 3:30pm during the hottest part of the Nevada heat. These classes taught me so much. I think they were the most valuable part of the entire two day experience. When and if to shoot and the ramifications of our actions etc.. If it wasn't something worth dying for, don't pull your gun. Also, learning the 2 controlled shots to the thoracic cavity to STOP (no kill) the attacker. then if they're still coming one controlled and careful shot to the head. I don't know that I could pull a trigger to kill someone, but I definitely don't have a problem with stopping someone who was going to kill and harm me or my loved ones.

The highlight of the course was the most mind rattling. The "live scenario" when we went into a "house" and would have to shoot at the targets. I was really nervous (like that feeling during testimony meeting when you know you should get up and you're going to burst- that's how I felt waiting). Finally when it was my turn they took me to the room. For the 2 day course we don't move through the house, but stay in one location and only have a 180 degree shooting area. We have a coach attached to us via a large carabiner. He let me load and get ready and then told me I could not move my feet. I was surprised, but somewhat relieved. The more basic the better for me. The coach acted as the bad guy voice for the targets, kicking behind me on a wall to make it sound like banging on the door and demanding entrance. Then the door fell in and I encountered bad guy #1- I delivered 2 shoots to the thoracic cavity and was surprised that I'd actually done it. The targets we'd been using on our range only had a generic outline, so I was still nervous if I could shoot the picture of the real guy). 2nd target- good guy holding a power drill (no shot). #3- another bad guy through a different window (2 more shots to the thoracic). #4- another window, another bad guy. This guy got my last bullet, then I had to do a tactical reload. I was so nervous I fumbled it and I'm sure if that first shot hadn't done a good enough job taking him down I would have been dead. 2nd shot- more to his weapon than the center of the thoracic cavity (my front sight had been on the weapon not where it belonged). #5- and this one really threw me. I bad guy with a knife holding a blonde boy about 5 years old. We had not been trained at all what to do in a hostage situation, but I wasn't going to let him have my child. I tried to shoot the head but was too far to the left (the side away from the child- I hit in the white outside the target). I said "I don't know if I can do this" and the coach actually told me that I could (instead of still talking for the bad guy) I was able to shoot him just above the lips. A little low, but still a really good shot for me and very empowering. I now know that if I had to, I could do it. Then the exercise was over. Stan went after me so I got to watch him go through the same scenario. I'll let him share his experience if he wants to. One thing I will say, the coach talked a whole lot more trash and used a bunch of cuss words when it was Stan and not me.

For me the entire course turned out to be very empowering. I was no longer afraid of hand guns but recognized them as a tool. The danger is of course the person using the tool, not the tool itself. I don't feel competent to carry a concealed weapon or anything, but I am dry practicing at home and I am grateful that Stan signed us up without asking because otherwise I don't think I ever would have gone. I'd encourage everyone to take this course. They offer a huge range of courses and opportunities. Check out their website for sure. It's a bit of a strange site to navigate, but worth your time.


Brian and Michelle said...

Wow! I am really impressed. Brian has a gun, I think it's a 30-ot-6 rifle. I shot it once, but I don't really like it--too powerful and loud. But, we keep thinking of getting a handgun and getting concealed weapons permits. This course sounds pretty intense and educational.

Chuck and Diana said...

what was so special about those 38 bullets? :)