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Greetings NW Firearms folk (et. al) I decided to post this review of the Four-day Tactical Shotgun class because I couldn't find any recent reviews. This review will be done on a day-by-day basis as I complete each day in the class. I'm not going to go into detail about things one needs to know if they've never been to Front Sight. There's plenty of info out there on that subject.

Rather, this will be in regard to the shotgun class only.

Day 1

As I started this class on a Monday, the total class population wasn't as large as if it had started on a Friday. After checking in, going through firearm and ammo inspection, we sat through the morning intro video and signed release forms. (Just FYI, when bringing your firearm and ammo for inspection, they require that you bring a full box of your birdshot, buckshot, and slugs).

We then proceeded to our assigned range, stowed our shotguns on the rack, met our instructors, and spent quite a while on administrative things. Our lead instructor then went into housekeeping issues regarding things like loading and unloading, stances, basic operation of pumps and semi-auto's, and the ready positions, ie: Ready Position, High Ready Position, and Field Ready Position.

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We then proceeded to the range where we dry-practiced all the things we had just been taught. When were comfortable with these, we then proceeded to live-fire drills making sure that we practiced good safety at all times. As with all the other classes at Front Sight, we ran these drills in relays with our partners watching out for us at all times to make critiques and do safety checks.

We then proceeded to after-actions drills, learning about situational awareness, and what to do AFTER shots have been fired. This is mostly to break the students of tunnel vision that may occur after a self-defense shooting.

More drills, more shooting, and then we started in on port loading and taking shots. Honestly I don't even remember at what point we broke for lunch, but everyone was ready for a break.

After lunch we started in on shooting from kneeling, sitting, and prone position. Although this was part of the curriculum, our lead instructor emphasized that shooting from position (other than standing) with a shotgun is almost irrelevant. I happen to disagree with him on this issue, but that's just me. We used just three slugs to shoot once from these three positions. (Or was this when we broke for lunch?).

At any rate, the afternoon consisted of more drills, more shooting, and everyone getting tired. By the end of the day we had expended 80 rounds of birdshot, and three slugs.

I'd like to talk about some equipment issues now. There were some reviews online of what to bring with you for the shotgun class. I'm not going in to detail, only things that you may be curious about:

1) Shell pouch- necessary. You will go through a crap-ton of shells over the course of the class, and having some sort of shell bag will be of huge benefit for administrative reloads.

2) Shell caddy for shotgun- Necessary? No. Useful? Yes. I bought a Mesa Tactical shell caddie for my Benelli, and I found that it made indexing rounds right into the magazine tube quite easy.

3) Belt mounted shell caddy/carrier- Necessary? No. Useful? Yes. I bought two of the California Competition four round caddy's, and I think it would have been better to have the six rounders, although they were hard to come by online. They also make it easy to grab shells and index them to the mag tube.

4) Sling- necessary. You have to have one on your shotgun for the class. I would not recommend one of those cheap Uncle Mikes slings that you loop over the barrel and the comb of the stock.

5) Nike Dry Fit UV Solar Sleeves- Not necessary but VERY useful! I like wearing t-shirts. I got these solar sleeves to wear over my arms so I didn't have to slather sunblock all over my arms every day, and I love them!

I'll wrap it up here as I'm whipped- more tomorrow!
 
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Looking forward to more of this- went to front sight years ago for pistol training and had a great time, would love to go again if the quality is still good.

Have you taken other Front Sight courses? If so, how did you like them?

(edited for question + beacuz i cant spel rite)
 
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Syz, I've taken the four day defensive handgun class twice now. As far as I'm concerned, the training in the shotgun class is quite good so far and still top-notch!
 
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Great to hear- I really drank the kool-aid and grabbed a membership package back in 2009, then almost immediately joined the Navy and haven't had time to go back yet. Now that I'm settled in the PNW I'm hoping to take proper advantage.
 
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Day 2

Hello again folks! Day 2 started right in with zeroing with slugs at 35 yds. Although we spent some time on this, the instructors weren't IMO really prepared to truly assist students to adjust sights (if they had them).

Next came more single shot drills from the three ready positions, ie: ready, high ready, and field ready.

After that we moved on to malfunction drills. The instructors taught us about Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 malfunctions. If you'd like me elaborate more on this just let me know.

Around 10:30 am we did more single shot drills from the 3 ready positions, only this time they added in the element of calling out a head shot from time to time. After each string we were required to do tactical reloads.

We then moved on to emergency reloads- starting with empty magazine, taking one shot then port loading another round, take a shot, port load another round, etc.

Next up was patterning our shotguns for buckshot. Depending on the gun and whatever choke we may be running, the patterns were really all over the board. Some (like me) had very tight patterns while others were pretty spread out even from short range.

Shotgun%208_zpsjksuu2tq.jpg Shotgun%203_zpsrkzzweze.jpg

The select slug drills started just before lunch. This involved doing a standard load (1 in chamber, 2 in mag). We'd then load in a slug to the mag, eject the 1 in the chamber and then fire the slug.

After lunch we had more single shot drills from ready positions with the occasional head shot called out.

By mid afternoon we moved on to shooting paper targets in order to pattern our shotguns to establish our A, B, and C "zones." We shot 1 round of buck from 7, 15, and 25 yards.

At the end of the day we did a fun drill. We shot six (possibly 7) rounds of buck from behind a simulated wall. Shot 1 from standing, left side. Shot 2 kneeling right side. Shot 3 prone (shooting under the wall left side, and then essentially shooting 3 times more in the same way, different sides.

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That was end of day 2!

I'd like to talk a little more about equipment. I mentioned yesterday that we shoot from standing, kneeling or sitting, and prone. Some students are not able to do all three, but if you are then I would say it's absolutely necessary to have knee and elbow pads. There were some guys who got down to kneeling and prone who were really in pain after getting up because you're down on the hot ground, AND there's jagged rocks to contend with too.

I'd also like to change my stance on the side saddle. Yesterday I said it was useful but not necessary. It's necessary. Having the side saddle loaded up right next to the mag well makes tactical reloads way faster than drawing from belt mounted caddy's or shell bags, or, as some folks were doing, from their pockets.

It may also be helpful for folks to have lightweight tactical gloves, preferably fingerless. It helps a lot with transitions to prone. There's one fellow who's using full finger gloves on both hands, and he seems to be fumbling around with reloads more than he should.

Lastly, I started yesterday using a PAST recoil pad on my shoulder, but the damn thing kept slipping around so much that I went without it today, and my shoulder seems fine. YMMV, especially if you're using a pump gun.

See you tomorrow, and as always, if you have any questions then please feel free to ask them here!
 
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As of this morning, my shoulder feels a tad achy, but I'm still going to shoot day 3 without the recoil pad and see how things go. I imagine if I were shooting a pump gun my shoulder would feel significantly more sore.
 
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Day 3

OK folks, day 3 is in the books, and there's not quite as much to say about it. We started the day with roughly half the students as the preceding days as that half were only taking the two-day course.

This class is physically taxing, more so than the 4-day pistol class for sure, and it showed among all of us! The weather is hot and dry, and everyone is needing to stay VERY hydrated in order to stave off muscle fatigue and headaches. I did pretty well myself, drinking just over a gallon of fluid during the class alone.

Today we essentially worked on repeating everything we learned over the previous two days. Lots of single shot from ready positions, malfunction drills, port loading and emergency reloads. Early in the day we went to the door simulator to do the "Pieing the room" drill. This was actually the most disappointing drill of the day because the instructors seemed really blase about it, and we only got to do it once. We REALLY should have been allowed to go through it at least twice. Still not happy about it. Instructors added in shooting multiples. This is starting with a full mag and one in the chamber, and shooting two plates, three plates, and then four plates under timed pressure.

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Another thing that was different, we did a 5 round string with slugs from the 100 yard line. This was difficult for most of the students as they either had only bead sights to work with, or they had no experience in shooting at longer distances with a rifle or such. This is where Appleseed training really helped!

I landed 4 out of 5 shots on target from the prone position in Hasty Sling configuration, and I only missed the one because I knew from the moment I pulled the trigger that it was a forced shot rather than from my NPOA (Natural Point of Aim). After that shot I readjusted my sling, relaxed again, found NPOA, and landed the last shot on the plate with a satisfying ping. Many students in the class also shot from standing, the least stable position.

We finished up shooting a pretty varied mix of bird, buck, and slug, and then called it a day around 4:45 pm.

One thing I found is that I didn't even use my belt mounted caddy's today, and opted instead to use my shot pouch. I'm also really appreciating that my Caldwell shot pouch has two sections to it which is handy when the shoot boss calls for mixed rounds for the next string.

I also didn't use the recoil pad, and I still seem fine. Again, I'm using a semi-auto shotgun with much less felt recoil than a pump action gun. YMMV.

I used the side saddle on the shotgun a LOT today. Depending on the drill I'd either index the shells in the saddle brass high or brass low.

One last thing on equipment, the large majority of students and even some of the instructors are using the Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic ear muffs. They're low profile and work very well for all classes at Front Sight.

Alright folks, see you tomorrow for the final report!
 
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Ok folks, I'll have to postpone my final day report until I get back home. I was absolutely exhausted after class ended yesterday, and now my laptop is packed away for the trip home. Suffice to say for now that this was the most physically taxing class I've done at Front Sight. I cannot imagine any other class taking more out of you than this one!
 
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Alright folks, I think I've recovered from the trip enough to fill in the final day's training.

Day 4

Day 4 started out with drills, drills, and more drills. We did, a LOT of drills. All of which were leading up to the final skills test.

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Around mid morning we finally did the man-on-man steel challenge. Although there was a good mix of people running pump and semi-auto shotguns, the man-on-man challenge offered no benefit of one type over another. In order to win the challenge, you had to shoot three rounds against an opponent at four separate targets with buck shot without hitting a "hostage" target next to each one. You started with one round in your chamber, and you had to port load every follow up shot. Port loading rounds was the great equalizer for the pumps and semi-auto's. In fact, it was a student with a pump gun that won it. I was eliminated in the second round mainly because I couldn't hear the shoot boss when he said, "Fire", so started my string too late. Ah well.

After that, more drills, then lunch.

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After lunch we did some dry practice, another drill, then right into the final test.

First up was select slug drills at 50 and 35 yards. Starting with standard load, eject round in chamber, port load a slug and fire at target at 50 yards under time. Three shots. Then, move forward to the 35 yard line and do three more shots.

Next was shooting multiples drill. Two targets under time- reload. Three targets under time- reload. Four targets under time- reload.

Then came port load drill. Empty gun, port load a round- fire at one target. Port load another round- fire at different target. Port load another round then finish pointed in with finger on trigger without firing, all under time.

Easiest of the drills was emergency reload. This was emergency reload of one round under time, but honestly there was enough time to do two, almost three.

Lastly was the malfunction drills.

Type 1- empty chamber. Rack/roll, point in with finger on trigger under time.

Type 2- Brass high FTE- Look, move to the side, rack/roll, point in with finger on trigger under time.

Type 3- Brass low FTE- Look, move to side, rack/roll, trip action or bolt release, rack/roll, point in with finger on trigger, NOT TIMED.

We did the entire test twice. It was pretty brutal by the very end. We were all exhausted. I graduated the class, but unfortunately I didn't score Distinguished Graduate. I had too many performance errors, and a couple missed shots. BUT, I still had a lot of fun in the class.

Shotgun%209a_zps9zdv7w0n.jpg

My final thoughts on equipment for the class:

Semi-auto shotguns had a small but distinct advantage over their pump counterparts. They generally have less felt recoil. They're much faster cycling than pumps, and they're less prone to operator error when it comes to ejecting shells. Many students with pump action guns had FTE's based on the way they cycled their actions after each shot. Some were clearly better at it than others, but this is true for all things. In the entire class, I had a single FTE out of hundreds of rounds fired using my Benelli M4.

I started with a shoulder type recoil pad but didn't finish with one- I should have. By the end of the fourth day my shoulder was beat up pretty badly, and I think I may actually have some nerve issues- the bottom of my forearm is almost completely numb. I should have continued to use the recoil pad in spite of it slipping.

I started out using two belt mounted California Competition shell caddy's, but discontinued using them by the end of the second day. While others used theirs for the entire time, I found that it was unnecessary. My Caldwell shell pouch and the side saddle on my shotgun were all I needed for every type of load and reload during the whole class. It really helped that the shell pouch had two sections for when the instructor called for mixed rounds for the shooting exercises.

You have to have some sort of sling on your shotgun in order to do the class. It's not optional. I used a two point Vickers sling and in hindsight, I should have gone with a single point sling. A single point sling would have made things a LOT easier on my shoulder and back. By the fourth day I was holding my shotgun in between strings, muzzle down, close to my chest just to relieve some of the pressure from my right shoulder. The two point sling also got in the way when trying to grab rounds from the belt caddy or shot pouch. Single point sling is definitely the way to go for the shotgun class.

My Nike solar sleeves were great sun protection for my arms. You'd do just as well with any type of long sleeve shirt. People who wore just t-shirts were pretty dark, and even a little sunburned in spite of copious amounts of sunblock.

Elbow and knee pads are a must if you're going to shoot from prone and kneeling. If you can't or aren't going to, then don't bother.

I am the only one in the class who brought a cooler full of ice and sugar-free Poweraide to class each day. I stayed very well hydrated. They do have loads of ice water in big dispensers for every student in the class though.

Comfortable boots/shoes that give good support are an absolute must.

I got all of my bird shot at the Walmart in Las Vegas near the airport. They had the 100 round Federal packs that were perfect for class. They were $24 and change at the time of this writing. The Pahrump Walmart didn't even carry them.

Parting shots:

I thought the class was very well presented, but the thing that I noticed most about it was that the instructors, and especially the shoot boss Wyatt maybe seemed a little blasè- not quite all the way engaged with the class like perhaps his mind was on other things or he had done the class so many times that he was just bored. It wasn't this way all the time, but it was enough to notice.

I was very disappointed at the door clearing exercise as I felt this was where instructors really failed us. We were only allowed to do this exercise once, and because many students (myself included) did not attend the previous evening's lecture at the end of the day in the main classroom where door clearing was demo'd, we were very rusty. Our instructor seemed unsympathetic, did not demo the exercise for us, and did not allow us to do it again which was really weird because we had TONS of time to burn in between regular shooting exercises. I really would have liked to have done this multiple times, perhaps even on multiple days.

I was also very disappointed in that they no longer run students through the Shotgun Canyon exercise. This is due to construction on the Phase 3 shooting ranges which are located downrange from the canyon, and stray shots, especially slug shots could end up ruining someone's day. This I can certainly understand, but how about adding in some new content then? Again, we had tons of time in between the regular shooting exercises (because instructors were not allowed to end classes early in the day). At times we'd be sitting around for 10 - 15 minutes between exercises! IMO they really need to introduce something new to the class.

Overall I thought the class was still well worth the trip. I became SO much more familiar with my shotgun, and that alone made it worth it. I now feel very comfortable running my weapon, and I feel from what I learned in class that I am able to run it more safely which is quite important to me.

Would I do the class again? That's a tough one to answer right now. I tend to lean towards no at this time. However, knowing myself as I do I think the answer would be yes the further removed from the class I get. Do I think it's worth it for a student who's never done it? Absolutely yes, provided you take precautions to protect your shoulder, wear proper gear, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If I DID do the class again in the future, I'd sure as hell want to take it during a time of year when the weather is much cooler.

So there you have it. I hope this review helps with any new students who are wondering about taking this class. Again, if you have any questions then please fee free to ask them here, or just shoot me a private message. Cheers!
 
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Very nice, and thorough, write-up.
I just returned from a 2-day Tactical rifle course at Front Site.
My first visit to the operation, I was very impressed by the facilities and the high caliber of instruction. Less so, however, by the constant shilling of goods and services (they were even hawking BBQ vendors and ear protection outfits). Very aggressive marketing...
But again, in my experience, the level of instruction, and the knowledge and professionalism of the instructors, made it all worth while.
Glad you went...hope the shoulder heals.
 
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I know it's been months since my initial report, but I'd like to make another update since I was recently contacted via PM by a person who's going to take the four day shotgun class this coming January.

The advice is for people to make sure that whatever shotgun you're running down there for the Front Sight class, be certain that you know it and know it well. I was under the impression that my Benelli was just fine in bone stock configuration. I was wrong. There are two parts on the Benelli M4 that are major weak points IMO. One is the charging handle, and the other the action release button.

m4_charging_handle__85868.1439943907.380.507.jpg
As this photo shows, the stock charging handle on the Benelli is little more than a one inch post sticking out of the bolt assembly. By day three of the class I was having issues with the charging handle coming completely out when manually (and vigorously) cycling the action. In spite of the on-site armorer tinkering with it, he still couldn't make it so the stock charging handle stayed put when vigorously cycling the action.

The same photo shows the action release button directly below the bolt assembly. The button itself is small and was difficult to find/activate during stress/timed exercises in the class. While the charging handle issue was simply frustrating, the action release button cost me precious time when doing port loading exercises. I suspect my failure to get Distinguished Graduate was due at least in part to fumbling with the action release.

Speed%20Bar_zpsqz3ee94z.jpg

This is how my Benelli looks today. I replaced the stock charging handle with one from GG&G. It's a free-spinning handle rather than the ¼ turn stop style of the original. It's also much larger and easier to maipulate.

The action release button is now covered by a Dave's Metal Works Speed Bar which essentially increases the usable surface area of the action release about tenfold. Neither of these items required any modification to the shotgun at all.

So there you go. Make sure that the operation of your shotgun won't cost you precious time fumbling around with it!
 
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Very nice, and thorough, write-up.
I just returned from a 2-day Tactical rifle course at Front Site.
My first visit to the operation, I was very impressed by the facilities and the high caliber of instruction. Less so, however, by the constant shilling of goods and services (they were even hawking BBQ vendors and ear protection outfits). Very aggressive marketing...
But again, in my experience, the level of instruction, and the knowledge and professionalism of the instructors, made it all worth while.
Glad you went...hope the shoulder heals.
I just got back from the 4 day defensive hand gun course and there was absolutely NO shilling of goods and services except for a lady from the Pro Shop that mentioned a certain brand of in ear hearing protection they offer. She spoke for less than a minute. Once when I went into the class room ( which is a huge building) there was a video running in the background for the new additions they are planning (condos and hotel) but no sales pitch. Maybe they listened to peoples complaints and really toned it down.
 
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I just got back from the 4 day defensive hand gun course and there was absolutely NO shilling of goods and services except for a lady from the Pro Shop that mentioned a certain brand of in ear hearing protection they offer. She spoke for less than a minute. Once when I went into the class room ( which is a huge building) there was a video running in the background for the new additions they are planning (condos and hotel) but no sales pitch. Maybe they listened to peoples complaints and really toned it down.

They've been talking about the construction of "Patriot Pavilion" and the resort hotel for many years now. I take no stock in it whatsoever, and I absolutely will not pre-pay for any memberships or add-on's that guarantee preferential booking for rooms and such. Although I'm not from Missouri, I still say, "Show me."

That said, how'd you like the four day defensive handgun class? I'm tinkering with the idea of doing the same class in February. There's a bunch of people I know going down toward the end of March, but unfortunately it's too close to our Disney trip for me to go with them. Looks like I'd have to solo again!
 
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Glad to hear that.
How was the course?
Sore hands??
They've been talking about the construction of "Patriot Pavilion" and the resort hotel for many years now. I take no stock in it whatsoever, and I absolutely will not pre-pay for any memberships or add-on's that guarantee preferential booking for rooms and such. Although I'm not from Missouri, I still say, "Show me."

That said, how'd you like the four day defensive handgun class? I'm tinkering with the idea of doing the same class in February. There's a bunch of people I know going down toward the end of March, but unfortunately it's too close to our Disney trip for me to go with them. Looks like I'd have to solo again!

Here's a copy of a post I made in a different part of the forum:

I'm not going to go into an in depth review, but I was really surprised at Front Sight. This is a beautiful range, well maintained. The instructors and training were top notch. I wasn't sure what to expect, so I was glad to come away with a great experience. This was
a basic level course, so while I didn't learn anything new it's good to review the basics and you have to take it to take upper level courses.
I took the four day defensive hand gun course.
The bad thing is they teach the Weaver stance/grip.The good thing is I used my normal isosceles stance/grip and no one gave me any grief about it. Most people in the course had shooting experience except for a couple of people, and the instructors paid close attention to them and gave them the extra help they needed. Emphasis on drawing from holster, trigger control, trigger reset, malfunction drills, balancing speed and accuracy. The last day was fun stuff, a shoot house, shooting at targets with people on them, and a steel challenge. Oh, and the test you need to take and pass to take the more advanced courses. Went through 600 rounds over four days and the days were long and packed full of activities. Several lectures were given about the moral and ethical use of defensive handguns, how to conceal carry, what to do after being in a shooting, how to clear rooms, etc. I thought they were really well done.

There was no high pressure sales pitches like I have heard people complain about before. A lady from the pro shop spent less than a minute talking about some brand of in ear hearing protection they carry, and once I saw a video running in the background that mentioned the future improvements they hope to make. Maybe they learned from previous feed back how much people hated that.

There are other courses offered besides handgun, including hand to hand self defense, how to maintain control of your weapon, and they have some pretty incredible looking towers to learn to to rappel and do other "high wire" stuff. But I think I'll stick to handguns :)

Looking forward to checking what type of other handgun courses they offer and taking something else in the near future
 
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Glad to hear that.
How was the course?
Sore hands??
No sore hands, although other people were getting blisters. It's a basic course, but always good to review the basics. Since I am now a "distinguished graduate" I can take other courses. Probably will go back down in the spring with a friend.
 
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They've been talking about the construction of "Patriot Pavilion" and the resort hotel for many years now. I take no stock in it whatsoever, and I absolutely will not pre-pay for any memberships or add-on's that guarantee preferential booking for rooms and such. Although I'm not from Missouri, I still say, "Show me."

That said, how'd you like the four day defensive handgun class? I'm tinkering with the idea of doing the same class in February. There's a bunch of people I know going down toward the end of March, but unfortunately it's too close to our Disney trip for me to go with them. Looks like I'd have to solo again!
I agree, I doubt they will ever get the pavilion, condos, spa etc built. But maybe Piazza will surprise us, he has certainly built a beautiful range so far.
 
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That said, how'd you like the four day defensive handgun class? I'm tinkering with the idea of doing the same class in February. There's a bunch of people I know going down toward the end of March, but unfortunately it's too close to our Disney trip for me to go with them. Looks like I'd have to solo again!
I went by myself and it wasn't a big deal. Lots of nice people to meet, and you get teamed up with someone that you take turns shooting/supervising. Plenty of other solo people there to match up with.
 

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