Since I spent the time to break down my Front Sight experience into two posts (covering both the 4-day Practical Rifle and 4-day Defensive Handgun courses), I figured I would devote another post strictly to my thoughts and opinions a week after attending. First things first- prior to joining Front Sight, I looked them up online. There is an incredibly wide spectrum of information available online regarding Front Sight, both positive and negative. Feeling largely confused, and having received a great deal on a Diamond Membership, I felt compelled to simply see for myself.
I have always complained that the internet can often produce a one-sided forum for discontent. I think this is natural, as people do not feel compelled to write about something unless they absolutely hate it. The fact is, Front Sight must obviously be working, as it expands in membership and facilities every year. It’s hard to ignore the fact that there were literally hundreds of attendees during my 8 days of courses. I see the negative reviews online to be either isolated incidences or simply mindless haters.
I must say that I enjoyed the rifle course more than the handgun course. While I did like the rifle instructors more, the quality of instruction in both courses was far beyond my expectations. I do think there is more of a life philosophy when it comes to rifles, and I have always subscribed to the, “rifle first, rifle always!” mentality. If I had the opportunity to choose my weapon in a gunfight, I would likely choose a handgun only as a last resort.
In terms of the rumored unsustainable financial atmosphere at Front Sight, I have some thoughts. The question of sustainability was raised most recently because lifetime memberships are becoming fairly cheap, and they are transferable. This (theoretically) makes it tough for Front Sight to continue to pay overhead costs while incurring decreased revenues. Disclaimer: I have not seen their books and I am not an accountant, so I can only speculate as to what I think is going on based on my experience. First, Front Sight is expanding. Every returning shooter I spoke to said the place was bigger and better than the last time they attended. This is a great sign. Second, there are a lot of new members. Clearly the momentum that Front Sight has established is not slowing down. I do acknowledge that some of the marketing tactics employed at Front Sight seem a little suspicious and sometimes even invasive. But the results speak for themselves- they have doubled attendance every year for 14 straight years.
The Front Sight Pro Shop has competitive pricing on ammunition and gear (at least with the 40% discount entitled to Diamond Members), and shooters go through a lot of both. The course hours do not really allow students to shop at other gun stores, so they have a near-monopoly on all firearm-related sales in the Pro Shop. Since many of the courses could be purchased as business expenses, gifts, prizes, etc., many people may become members and never attend a single course. I have no problem with this, as it means more funding for a facility that I will be using. The last financial asset that I have not heard broached is the goodwill that Front Sight provides. They sell firearms, gear, and gun-related products through their philosophy and courses (I’m not just referring to what’s in the Pro Shop, but the things they inspire people to buy before and after attending their courses). While that goodwill may not be easily quantifiable, there is no question that Front Sight is good for both gun owners and the firearms industry as a whole. I can only hope that Dr. Piazza recognizes this and uses this goodwill as leverage to get money from those in the gun industry that he helps to profit- I think he deserves it.
In conclusion, I learned more than I had expected to, and I already want to attend again soon. I respect the courses, materials, and the instructors. I agree with Dr. Piazza’s philosophy about changing the image of gun ownership- in our lifetime. I never felt like I was being taken advantage of, and I always felt like I was getting value from my expenses. Lastly, I feel compelled to fully disclose to my readers- I was not paid to write this review. I did not receive any special treatments nor any discounts for writing this review- in fact, I did not even disclose to anyone there that I was writing it.