Front Sight Firearms Training Institute

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Front Sight
Firearms Training Institute
IndustryFirearms Training
FoundedBakersfield, California, U.S. (1996)
Founder(s)Ignatius Piazza
HeadquartersLas Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
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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)
Founder(s)Ignatius Piazza
HeadquartersLas Vegas, Nevada, U.S.

Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, also known as Front Sight, 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.


Originally, Front Sight was located near Bakersfield, California.[1] In 1998, a 550-acre (220 ha) property in Nye County, between Las Vegas, Nevada and Pahrump, Nevada, 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 Bakersfield facility was closed in 2002.

Portions of the Front Sight Nevada property are still under development. As of April 2008, the facility includes a 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) classroom area, 12 shooting ranges, a rifle range, live fire simulators, underground training simulators, a SWAT tower, a pro shop, a gunsmithing facility and armory, a martial arts area, and a secluded VIP training space.[3]

In early 2004, Front Sight also acquired an extensive property on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. The Alaska location, called "Front Sight Alaska", has focused on outdoorsmanship and includes training and activities such as big game hunting, fishing, kayaking, and bear safety.[4]


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".[5] In addition, over 200,000 students have attended classes so far in the history of the Institute.[6] In April 2010, they trained more than 3000 students.[7]

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.[8][9][10]

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 a day of free activities including shooting automatic weapons, catered food, and fireworks.

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. [11]

Since the first class in 1996, they have doubled every year.[12]

Since 1999, there have been fifteen self-inflicted gunshots wounds during instruction at Front Sight. All incidents resulted from safety rule violations on the part of the student.[13]

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.[14]

In 2006, Mark Wahlberg attended sniper shooting classes at Front Sight to prepare for the 2007 movie Shooter.[15]

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.[16][17] A settlement was reached in 2007.

On July 4, 2007, a person died in a collision while using a "Zip Line" from the rappelling tower.[18] This is the only fatality that has occurred at Front Sight.

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.[19] Previously, the land on the facility was intended to be used for a housing development[20] expected to be "the safest community in America", but due to the results of the 2006 class action lawsuit, the plans were changed.

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.[21] 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.[22]

Over the weekend of April 10, 2010, Front Sight had over 800 students training at Front Sight.[23] This broke their previous record of 673 students on November 6, 2009.[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 is supported by the Friends of the NRA.[32]


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; and these are available as one, two or four day series. Other types of training include: empty hand defense, edged weapons, rappel and climb, child safety, youth achievement, corporate team building, and an armorer's course (all at Front Sight Nevada)[33] and big game hunting, bird hunting, fishing, children's outdoors safety, kayaking, and bear safety] (at Front Sight Alaska).[34]

Some of these classes are only available by invitation, or to those who have completed necessary prerequisite courses.

Before a student can begin a 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 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.

Approximately 10% of people attending a course at Front Sight become lifetime members.


Front Sight offers lifetime memberships in what is called the "First Family" with varying degrees of entitlement.[35] Various types of memberships have been offered since 1996, some of which are no longer available. Most current memberships are available through the website, but some are only offered to those on the Front Sight e-mail list newsletter.

As of July 2013, there are approximately 70,000 households who are members of Front Sight.

Generally, these lifetime memberships include course certificates which allow a student to take their first course at Front Sight for free. Commonly, these certificates are given to family and friends, raffled off in fundraisers, or donated to local law enforcement or other charities.

In addition to receiving highly discounted or free training for life, members also generally receive guaranteed enrollment in courses, discounts on firearms and ammunition from the Front Sight Pro Shop, access to the members section of the website, and invitations to the 4th of July "reunion" every year.

As of January 1 2012, Lifetime memberships were no longer offered by Front Sight for a period of time. Front Sight is enrolling "Ambassador Members" to promote and enroll new lifetime memberships. Primary levels of memberships are still available on the FrontSight website, but Ambassadors are able to provide generous discounts on memberships and training certificates.

In October 2013, Front Sight offered the top 500 First Family members an opportunity to become "Executive Unlimited Lifetime Members", which provided additional entitlements such as free hotel stays and RV space at a to-be-constructed resort facility, travel and vacation discounts, exclusive use of Front Sight Executive-only facilities, first in-first out Executive Privileges, and select no-cost additions and upgrades to the Executive Unlimited Lifetime Membership. These members could fund that higher membership level by trading in assets (such as memberships for sale, courses for sale, financial credits, etc.) that those members had acquired over time.

Other services[edit]

At Home Training is a localized 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.[36]

Dry Practice Manuals in ammunition-less home practice are available via the website. These are soft cover manuals with black-and-white photo illustrations.[37]

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.[38] 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.[39]


  1. ^ Web Archive Snapshot - Front Sight in Bakersfield
  2. ^ A 'Sun City' for Gun Enthusiasts New York Times Article retrieved April 5, 2008.
  3. ^ Original plans for Pahrump facility expansion Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  4. ^ Front Sight Alaska
  5. ^ Front Sight Promotion - >10,000 students. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  6. ^ 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!"
  7. ^ Front Sight May 4 Facebook Post Front Sight Firearms Training Institute trained over 3000 students in the month of April.
  8. ^ Front Sight monthly report January 1998
  9. ^ Free Submachine Gun Course June 2000
  10. ^ Free Submachine Gun Course August 2002
  11. ^ Small Arms Review Article Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  12. ^ October 2009 Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  13. ^ Unintentional Gunshot Wounds Retrieved April 17, 2008.
  14. ^ 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."
  15. ^ Mark Wahlberg interview
  16. ^ A Gun and a Dream KLAS TV report. Retrieved May 3, 2007.
  17. ^ Front Sight Litigation Attorney webpage. Retrieved May 3, 2007.
  18. ^ Zip Line Fatality Retrieved April 17, 2008.
  19. ^ "Real Pahrump Article - March 2008" Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  20. ^ Las vegas Facility Retrieved April 17, 2008.
  21. ^ Pahrump Valley Times BUSINESS AS USUAL? - Front Sight assets seized
  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. ^ Front Sight Nevada course listing
  34. ^ Front Sight Alaska course listing
  35. ^ Membership Types
  36. ^ Front Sight Gun Training Reports
  37. ^ Front Sight Dry Practice manuals
  38. ^ Front Sight Blog
  39. ^ Front Sight's 100th Blog Post

External links[edit]