Front Sight Firearms Training Institute

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Coordinates: 36°01′48″N 115°52′59″W / 36.03°N 115.883°W / 36.03; -115.883

Front Sight
Firearms Training Institute
Industry Firearms Training
Founded Bakersfield, California, U.S. (1996)
Founder Ignatius Piazza
Headquarters Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.

Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, also known as Front Sight and as Front Sight Resorts was founded in 1996 by Dr. Ignatius Piazza. It is a privately owned and operated organization whose purpose is to two-fold: 1) to provide training, mostly on how to safely operate firearms in self-defense settings, also referred to as providing "comfort of skill at arms", and 2) an activism goal to "positively change the image of gun ownership in our lifetimes" by repudiating unfavorable views of gun owners put forth by various private gun control, and political, organizations.


Front Sight currently operates two locations, its main location near Las Vegas, Nevada, and a summer facility on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.

The original Front Sight facility was located on rented property near Bakersfield, California.[1] and operated from 1996 until 2002.

In 1998, a 550-acre (220 ha) property in Nye County, between Las Vegas, Nevada and Pahrump, Nevada (near Nevada State Route 160 and Tecopa Road) was purchased and the operation gradually moved there. This location, called "Front Sight Nevada", provides facilities for training in firearms as well as climbing, rappelling, and other forms of self-defense.[2]

The Front Sight Nevada facility is still under development. As of June 2014 the facility includes a 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) classroom area that can seat 450-students, 24 shooting ranges for handgun, rifle, and shotgun (with both static and moving targets), 8 live fire simulator ranges with shooting house, underground training simulators, a gunsmithing facility and armory, a martial arts and edged weapons gym, a rope, rappel and climb facility including zip lines, a pro shop, and food service for breakfast and lunch. An additional 26 shooting ranges are currently under construction. These ranges will expand Front Sight’s capacity to 50 total ranges capable of training up to 2000 students on the property at the same time[3]

In early 2004, Front Sight also acquired an extensive property on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. The Alaska location, called "Front Sight Alaska", previously focused on outdoorsmanship and includes training and activities such as big game hunting, fishing, kayaking, and bear safety.,[4] but from lack of student demand, has scaled back many of these classes. Front Sight Alaska has very little onsite development at this time except the ranges. There is no armory, gun smith, pro shop or food services.

In early 2012, Texas news sources revealed preliminary agreements had been signed for a Front Sight Texas campus, to be located in East Montgomery County.[5][6] Front Sight ultimately opted not to open a third facility at this time but instead focused on completing the Nevada complex.


In the first class offered in April 1996, Front Sight trained ten students. Since then, it has grown substantially. As of April 2008, the corporate website says that the institute trains "tens of thousands of students per year".[7] In addition, over 200,000 students have attended classes so far in the history of the Institute.[8] In April 2010, they trained more than 3000 students.[9] For the first several years, the number of students attending Front Sight doubled every year.[10] During 2013, nearly 32,000 students attended classes at Front Sight.[11]

From 1998 to 2002, Front Sight periodically offered free sub-machine gun courses at the new Nevada facility to gain exposure for the quality of the training offered.[12][13][14]

Every year, Front Sight holds a "First Family Reunion" on July 4 to celebrate Independence Day. Front Sight lifetime members, called "First Family", are invited to attend. Previously, these included a day of free activities including shooting automatic weapons, catered food, and fireworks. For the last several years, this has changed to offering night classes (running from 6 pm to 1 am) followed with a fireworks show in the early morning hours of July 4.

The targets used at Front Sight were invented by Piazza, reportedly based on his experience with human anatomy obtained while a practicing chiropractor. The targets are meant to present a view of human anatomy that would enable a Front Sight student, facing a life-threatening opponent, to effectively stop that threat by concentrating shots in two particular areas: the thoracic cavity, and the cranial-ocular cavity.[15]

In late March 2014, Front Sight broke ground on 26 additional ranges (in the "phase 3" area), in preparation of temporarily shutting down "phase 2" ranges to build the Front Sight hotel. The hotel is expected to open in approximately two years.

Notable events[edit]

Noted speaker and author on gun violence Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has also taken courses at Front Sight, having graduated from the Four Day Defensive Handgun course.[16]

In 2006, Mark Wahlberg attended sniper shooting classes at Front Sight to prepare for the 2007 movie Shooter.[17]

In 2006, Piazza and Front Sight were sued in a class action by certain members of the "First Family", an exclusive membership to the Front Sight facility, for failing to deliver on expectations made when the memberships were purchased.[18][19] A settlement was reached in 2007.

On May 11, 2009, due to Front Sight's legal counsel failing to appear to a hearing, Judge James Ware of the U.S. Discrict Court for Northern California ordered a temporary receiver be appointed to Front Sight. This case is related to the class action suit, brought by plaintiff's, regarding a multi-million dollar shortfall in the class action fund.[20] On May 18, 2009, Front Sight’s legal counsel appeared at a settlement hearing and Judge James Ware discharged the interim-receiver leaving Front Sight in control of all aspects of its business. The termination of the receivership was made after the court received a copy of the receiver's report and based upon evidence presented at the May 18 hearing.[21]

On April 18, 2011, Front Sight had 1,112 students onsite taking classes,[22] beating the previous records of April 10, 2010, (over 800 students) [23] and November 6, 2009 (673 students).[24]


Front Sight's purpose is to "restore the second amendment"[25] by "positively affecting the image of gun ownership in our lifetime."

Since 2002, Front Sight has supported the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program,[26] offering gun training for pilots.[27]

Front Sight has also made the news after several school shootings offering firearms training for teachers.[28] .[29] Front Sight offered free firearms training to three teachers per school.[30]

Front Sight is supported by the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and the Gun Owners of America.[31] Front Sight also supports the Friends of the NRA.[32]

In 2012, Front Sight supported and endorsed Dave Clark's California Shall Issue Proposition and worked to help gather signatures to get it on the November 2012 General Election. When Mr. Clark decided to postpone his CA Shall Issue ballot initiative until various California court decisions (including Peruta v. San Diego among others) could be reached, Front Sight agreed to postpone until 2014.[33]


The majority of Front Sight courses involve firearms training, but there are many other classes available. Among the firearms courses offered are handgun, shotgun, rifle and submachine gun; these are available as two or four day classes. Other training includes empty hand defense, edged weapons, rappel and climb, child safety, youth achievement, corporate team building, and armorer's courses at Front Sight Nevada [34] and big game hunting, bird hunting, fishing, children's outdoors safety, kayaking, and bear safety at Front Sight Alaska.[35] Some of these classes are only available by invitation or to those who have completed necessary prerequisite courses.

Before a student can begin a firearms course, they must pass a background check in excess of Federal requirements and may require a reference from an existing Front Sight member or previous student. People wishing to take courses who do not know a Front Sight Member or previous student may use upstanding members of society as references. Lifetime members must renew that background check once in every calendar year that they take a firearms course.

Part of the training includes a lecture series on Jeff Cooper's color code of mental awareness, and extensive practical advice and role playing on what to expect, what to do, and how to behave, should one become involved in a self-defense shooting.

Students can either bring their own firearms, or rent from the facility’s Pro Shop for the duration of their courses.

Course Costs and Membership[edit]

Front Sight courses have a retail cost which must be paid prior to attendance. As of July 2014, the courses are valued at $500.00 per day. Currently, there are three ways to pay for a course; paying the retail cost, using a course certificate, or attending as part of a lifetime membership.

Front Sight sells various discounted single use 'course certificates' that can be used for various 2 or 4 day training classes.

Front Sight offers lifetime memberships in what is called the "First Family" with varying degrees of entitlement.[36] These lifetime Front Sight memberships allow you free entry into any class covered by your membership although you still must meet any prerequisites required for certain advanced classes. Members also receive guaranteed enrollment in courses (with minimum of a 2-week notice), discounts on Front Sight Pro Shop merchandise, and other current and promised future benefits.

As of July 2014, there are approximately 100,000 households with Front Sight members, having grown from approximately 70,000 households in July 2013.

Other services[edit]

At Home Training is a localized dry practice firearms course following a half-day specific format and is held in local communities. This course is intended to provide an introduction to safe gun handling.

"Gun Training Reports" are provided free of charge for those who join the non-exclusive Front Sight emailing list. These "Gun Training Reports" are written by Dr. Piazza and consist of Gun Training Tips, news stories about or relevant to gun owners, and Transcripts of some of the first time attendee's classes.[37]

Dry Practice Manuals in ammunition-less home practice are available via the website. These are soft cover manuals with black-and-white photo illustrations.[38]

The "Front Sight Blog" is published every few days. Every Monday's post is written by Dr. Piazza and is relevant to "gun ownership, firearms training or Second Amendment issues." The blog is where comments and email responses sent in to Front Sight by gun owners are posted.[39] On March 15, 2010, Dr. Piazza wrote his 100th Monday Blog and asked his readers to print off and mail Gadsden flags to their US Representative, US senators and the White House.[40]

Safety Record[edit]

Between 1999 and June 2014, there have been twenty self-inflicted gunshots wounds during instruction at Front Sight. All incidents resulted from safety rule violations on the part of the student.[41] There were five such incidents in 2013, and with nearly 32,000 students attending in 2013, this is less than .015% of students are involved in a negligent discharge

On July 4, 2007, a person died in a collision while using a Zip Line from the rappelling tower.[42] This is the only fatality that has occurred at Front Sight.

Facility Development[edit]

Since Front Sight Nevada was purchased, the property has been in continual development. Improvements has been made as cash flow[43] has allowed.

In March 2008, Front Sight received zoning, planning, and tentative map approval from the Nye County Planning Department and Nye County Commissioners for a destination hotel and interval ownership condominium development on a portion of the 550-acre (2.2 km2) facility in Nevada.[44] The Late-2000s recession delayed start of construction of the hotel and condos until 2014, although development continued during this time. For example, plumbed bathrooms (referred to as the "comfort station") opened in April 2011.[45]

Front Sight Nevada layout as of 2014

Development plans have continually been revised and changed since the land was first purchased. For example, land on the facility was intended to be used for a housing development[46] with 177 one-acre home sites, 350 condominiums, an airstrip, and a K-12 school expected to be "the safest community in America".[47]

Plans currently (July 2014) call for 40 one acre home sites, a hotel, 2,066 unit time-share condominiums, 279 spot RV park facilities, retail shops, food court & fine dining restaurants, 8 classrooms for 250 people each or open up to provide convention facilities for 2,000 people, pool and spa, and a heliport.[48][49]


  1. ^ Web Archive Snapshot - Front Sight in Bakersfield
  2. ^ A 'Sun City' for Gun Enthusiasts New York Times Article retrieved April 5, 2008.
  3. ^ Front Sight Facilities Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  4. ^ Front Sight Alaska
  5. ^ The Courier of Montgomery County, February 10, 2012, "Wakeboard park, shooting range coming to East County", retrieved July 5, 2014
  6. ^ Tribune article Feb. 20, 2012 – East Montgomery County Improvement District announces preliminary agreement with Front Sight Firearms Training Centers.
  7. ^ Front Sight Promotion - >10,000 students. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  8. ^ Front Sight's Blog Post on April 12, 2010 "...if EVERY student who has ever taken a course with us were to show up ... there would be over 200,000 Front Sight students there!"
  9. ^ Front Sight May 4 Facebook Post Front Sight Firearms Training Institute trained over 3000 students in the month of April.
  10. ^ October 2009 Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  11. ^ Pahrump Valley Times, "Front Sight expansion plans include new shooting ranges" June 11, 2014, retrieved July 1, 2014
  12. ^ Front Sight monthly report January 1998
  13. ^ Free Submachine Gun Course June 2000
  14. ^ Free Submachine Gun Course August 2002
  15. ^ Small Arms Review Article Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  16. ^ Front Sight members mass e-mail sent March 25, 2008, which stated "As you can see from his message [included in the mass e-mail], Lt. Col. Grossman is a great friend of Front Sight. He is also a graduate of our Four Day Defensive Handgun course."
  17. ^ Mark Wahlberg interview
  18. ^ A Gun and a Dream KLAS TV report. Retrieved May 3, 2007.
  19. ^ Front Sight Litigation Attorney webpage. Retrieved May 3, 2007.
  20. ^ Pahrump Valley Times BUSINESS AS USUAL? - Front Sight assets seized
  22. ^ Front Sight’s Monday Blog (April 18th, 2011): New Record, New Bathrooms, New Food Service!, accessed July 5, 2014
  23. ^ Front Sight's Blog Post on April 12, 2010 "Over 800 students are training at Front Sight as I write this blog."
  24. ^ Front Sight e-mail sent November 7, 2009, which stated: "On Friday, November 6, 2009 Front Sight had 673 people arriving to attend our training. This is not only a record breaking weekend for Front Sight, this is a record for the firearms training industry!"
  25. ^ Survival Blog
  26. ^ FFDO Program
  27. ^ Centennial Journal Article - 120000 Pilots Still Not Armed in the Cockpit
  28. ^ Sierra Times Article
  29. ^ Cybercast News Article
  30. ^ Courier Press Article
  31. ^ Video - JPFO, GOA Support
  32. ^ Friends of the NRA Letter Retrieved April 15, 2008.
  33. ^
  34. ^ Front Sight Nevada course listing
  35. ^ Front Sight Alaska course listing
  36. ^ Membership Types
  37. ^ Front Sight Gun Training Reports
  38. ^ Front Sight Dry Practice manuals
  39. ^ Front Sight Blog
  40. ^ Front Sight's 100th Blog Post
  41. ^ Unintentional Gunshot Wounds Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  42. ^ Zip Line Fatality Retrieved April 17, 2008.
  43. ^ [1]
  44. ^ "Real Pahrump Article - March 2008" Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  45. ^ Front Sight’s Monday Blog (April 18th, 2011): New Record, New Bathrooms, New Food Service!, accessed July 5, 2014
  46. ^ Las vegas Facility Retrieved April 17, 2008.
  47. ^ "Family Safety Training", accessed July 5, 2014
  48. ^ "New Front Sight Facilities", accessed July 5, 2014
  49. ^ Pahrump Valley Times, "Front Sight expansion plans include new shooting ranges" June 11, 2014, retrieved July 1, 2014

External links[edit]