I recently attended my first course at Front Sight, in March of this year. A few weeks later, I see this opinion piece, entitled “4 Reasons I’ll Never go to Front Sight.” I disagree with Caleb’s assessment in a few ways – but I don’t disagree with his conclusion. If he never wants to go to Front Sight, that’s totally fine – it’s discouraging other shooters that might benefit from the program that I don’t like.
His first reason for decrying the ways of FS is the “doctrinal Weaver” stance that is taught.
So we all know that the “Weaver” stance was developed by LA County Deputy Sheriff Jack Weaver, sometime in the 1950s. Jeff Cooper wrote about it in some of his articles, and Gunsite was originally built around the Weaver stance.
Of course, there are other stances out there. Isosceles, Modern Isosceles, and more…but which one is right? I don’t think any of them can be “right” – it is probably more like “whatever works.” But there must be something to this Weaver stance, if it is still being taught not only at Front Sight, but somewhat recently at Gunsite, and by others…
But it seems Caleb’s real problem is that FS teaches Weaver as “the only way.” Well, a class has to have a curriculum, and I don’t think it is a good idea to teach a group of beginners a bunch of different stances from the beginning. My feeling is that you should learn one stance well, and then try others, and then shoot whatever works for you. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and Weaver seems like an ok place to do that.
“…go to Gunsite. They started it.” Asserts Caleb. Well, that’s fine as an opinion, but I disagree with the idea that only the group / person that “started” a method can teach it. That seems like kind of a crazy rule, right? I mean…I ride (horses) modern “hunt seat,” but I’ve never trained with Bill Steinkraus or George Morris. Not that I claim to be very good, but I certainly get the idea of how that style of riding is supposed to work!
But it sounds like even the lauded Gunsite teaches some form of Weaver, so learning it as a foundation can’t be that horrible of an idea!
Caleb complains that Front Sight’s “prices are insane.” Well, the fully refundable airfare rate on your favorite airline is pretty crazy, and so are most hotel “rack rates,” and so is the MSRP on your car…list price on your favorite backpacking tent…need I go on? Front Sight’s 4 day defensive handgun class is advertised at $2,000, against Gunsite’s “mere” $1585. With a little research, it is pretty obvious that you can get that FS price down to at least $500, or even less if you buy a membership. So the price isn’t really a great argument.
Well, for me, BFE Nevada is driveable – and Washington is not. InSights is out for me because I’d have the cost of airfare and a hotel much more expensive than the one in BEF Nevada. Caleb seems to speak favorably of Gunsite – but that’s in BFE Arizona, so I don’t really see the difference, other than an extra 2-3 hours of driving for me. FS is actually closer to the Las Vegas airport than Gunsite is to the Phoenix airport. So…what? Nevada is BFE and Arizona isn’t? I think it depends on where you live!
3. Quality of Instruction
Caleb complains that the FS alumni that come into his classes are just mediocre and have to be re-taught how to shoot – and the same with the instructors. Well, that’s pretty anecdotal evidence, but I’m sure that was the case with those individuals. There were several in my FS class that came in as scary shooters, and left as scary shooters. Some came in horrible and left mediocre – and that’s ok! No one is expecting FS to produce an expert shooter in 4 days, right? So that doesn’t really convince me.
Of course it is better to learn from an expert. But when? Probably not from the ground up. It’s kind of like buying a really expensive match-grade 1911 when you’ve never shot before. Do you really need that $4000 1911 as your first 1911? (Well, yes, but that’s beside the point)
4. Dr. Ignatius Piazza
Well, Caleb’s got me here. Piazza has serious litigation in his recent past, and has employed some litigation tactics himself that I, as an actual litigator, vehemently disagree with. It is almost enough for me to boycott the place. Piazza has made some serious missteps in creating his “dream” of a shooting resort, but after actually spending some time out there, it looks like the “shooting school” part of the operation is just fine.
I have read the documents from the 2005 class action suit, and does put a huge question mark in my mind. That litigation was specifically about the sales of those “home sites,” which were purchased for up to $300,000. Piazza settled this one out for about $8 million, without admitting or being convicted of any wrongdoing.
Is he a Scientologist? I’m sure he is. Do I care? Not really…there wasn’t a hint of “recruiting” anywhere to be found in the FS curriculum. As long as you leave me out of it, you can be whatever religion you want. But Caleb seems to be really stressed out about supporting Scientology…but I wonder, how many Tom Cruise movies has Caleb seen? Do you watch the Simpsons? Because Nancy Cartwright is a Scientologist. So was Isaac Hayes…and we also have John Travolta, and I’m sure, a BUNCH of others.
The better point, though, is that, believe me, Scientology has its own money. Your $500 FS membership isn’t that exciting to the church.
The marketing? Yes, it reeks of Ponzi scheming used car salesmen. It goes into my spam folder and I never see it. So, is the 4 day defensive handgun class worth $2,000? Probably not. Is it worth maybe $200-$1000 to buy a lifetime membership that lets you go out and play in the pretty decent catalog of classes offered at FS? YES. Will that hotel ever be built? I have no idea, but for the price I paid for my membership, in 4 days I’ve already gotten my money’s worth. But I don’t think they’re going under tomorrow, either.
I, personally, felt that I got excellent instruction. I went from not being able to hit much at 10 yards, to being able to (given enough time!!) make the bullets go where I want them to go – including a nice headshot. I couldn’t do that before. A few days after my FS class, I went to a local gun club meetup. At 7 yards, we had a little competition – who could rack up the most points, with one shot to each tiny bullseyes on the page. Guess who won? ME. One other guy tied my score, but I won by number of Bullseyes. These are all experienced shooter so…well, you be the judge.
Now I think Caleb probably knows what he is talking about. I’ve read his other blogs and really enjoy them, and I’d LOVE to have him come train me for 3-4 days, one on one. My only point here is that FS serves a real purpose – and I think it’s a good one. We could definitely do without the crazy, Piazza style spam emails, but if you get a membership for a good price and actually use it, it is a good deal.