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
IndustryFirearms Training
FoundedBakersfield, California, U.S. (1996)
FounderIgnatius Piazza
HeadquartersLas 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 twofold: 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. It claims to have grown to be the largest gun training organization in the US, and larger than all the others combined (as measured in terms of annual students).[1]


Front Sight currently operates two locations, its main location near Pahrump, Nevada and a second location in Nikiski, Alaska.


The original Front Sight facility was located on rented property near Bakersfield, California.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

Front Sight acquired an extensive property on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska in 2004. This location, called "Front Sight Alaska", previously focused on outdoorsmanship and includes training and activities such as big game hunting, fishing, kayaking, and bear safety,[5] but from lack of student demand, has scaled back many of these classes. Front Sight Alaska has very little on-site development at this time except the ranges. There is no armory, gunsmith, 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.[6][7] Front Sight ultimately opted not to open a third facility but instead focused on completing the Nevada complex.

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 was expected to open in the summer of 2016.

The new ranges became operational in late 2017, and in January 2018 Front Sight released a "construction progress update" showing ongoing construction of the hotel and related resort buildings.[8] As of May 2018 no revised opening date has been announced.

Notable Events[edit]

Noted speaker and author on gun violence Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has lectured and taken courses at Front Sight, having graduated from the Four Day Defensive Handgun course.[9]

In 2006, Mark Wahlberg attended sniper shooting classes at Front Sight to prepare for the 2007 movie Shooter.[10] That same year, 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.[11][12] 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. District Court for Northern California ordered a temporary receiver be appointed to Front Sight. This case is related to the class-action suit, brought by plaintiffs, regarding a multimillion-dollar shortfall in the class-action fund.[13] 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.[14]


Since 2002, Front Sight has supported the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program,[15] offering gun training for pilots.[16]

In the wake of mass school shootings, Front Sight offers free firearms training for up to three teachers from any school.[17][18]


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 and are offered at entry level as well as more advanced levels of training. Classes typically run from 8am to 5pm with an hour break for lunch, and often include classroom lectures as well as practical training on ranges. Upon completion of entry level classes, students pass a Skills Test and can either be awarded a 'Distinguished Graduate' certificate, a Graduate certificate, or a 'Certificate of Completion' depending on their score, which is based on a combination of marksmanship and timed accuracy at shooting, weapons handling, and malfunction clearances.

Advanced classes usually have prerequisites requiring intending students to have first attended and possibly to have either earned a Graduate or Distinguished Graduate grade in the Skills Test for the prerequisite class.[19]

Other training includes empty hand defense, edged weapons, rappel and climb, child safety, youth achievement, corporate team building, and armorer's courses. Some of these classes are only available by invitation or to those who have completed necessary prerequisite courses.[20][21]

Two new classes were added in March 2018 - a two day advanced tactical handgun class, and a one day tactical awareness class.[22]

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.[23]

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]

"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.[24]

Dry Practice Manuals in ammunition-less home practice are available via the website. These are soft cover manuals with black-and-white photo illustrations.[25]

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.[26]


  1. ^ Assorted statements in promotional emails and videos distributed by Frontsight, none of which I can directly find or link to right now.
  2. ^ Web Archive Snapshot - Front Sight in Bakersfield
  3. ^ NIEVES, EVELYN (May 15, 1999). "A 'Sun City' for Gun Enthusiasts". New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  4. ^ Front Sight Facilities Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  5. ^ Front Sight Alaska
  6. ^ Meyer, Brad (February 10, 2012). "Wakeboard park, shooting range coming to East County". The Courier of Montgomery County. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
  7. ^ Calvert, Cynthia (February 20, 2012). "A Disneyland for gun lovers". The Tribune. Houston.
  8. ^ Front Sight Early 2018 Construction Progress Update-Gun Training-Firearms Training-Pistol Training. 2018-01-29. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  9. ^ Grossman, Dave; Christensen, Loren W. (2007). On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace. PPCT Research Publications. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-9649205-2-1.
  10. ^ Mark Wahlberg interview
  11. ^ A Gun and a Dream KLAS TV report. Retrieved May 3, 2007.
  12. ^ Front Sight Litigation Attorney webpage. Retrieved May 3, 2007.
  13. ^ Pahrump Valley Times BUSINESS AS USUAL? - Front Sight assets seized
  15. ^ FFDO Program Archived 2006-12-15 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Centennial Journal Article - 120000 Pilots Still Not Armed in the Cockpit
  17. ^ Sierra Times Article
  18. ^ Cybercast News Article
  19. ^ See
  20. ^ Lewis, Jack (28 February 2011). "The shooting schools". Assault Weapons. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 78–79. ISBN 1-4402-2400-5.
  21. ^ Hilliard, Frank (9 June 2009). Home Invasion Prevention. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-557-04376-7.
  22. ^ Sourced based on personal knowledge, their website, and discussion with Frontsight personnel.
  23. ^ Beiser, Vince (March 1999). "Family Gun Fun". SPIN. SPIN Media LLC. 15 (3): 62. ISSN 0886-3032.
  24. ^ Front Sight Gun Training Reports
  25. ^ Michalowski, Kevin (2 August 2004). The Gun Digest Book of Guns for Personal Defense: Arms & Accessories for Self-Defense. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 15. ISBN 1-4402-2673-3.
  26. ^ Front Sight Blog

External links[edit]