In January I went to the Front Sight Institute (near Las Vegas) for a four day tactical shotgun class with my good friend Dave. He scored us certificates redeemable for the classes for next to nothing on ebay, so we only had to pay airfare (cheap), hotel (split it, cheap), rental car (split it, not too bad), and ammo (ouch). I had a bit of work done on my Remington 870 before the trip, including a recoil-reducing stock that seemed to work pretty nicely and a magazine extension. It was my first time flying with guns, which actually worked out quite smoothly.
The school is about 45 minutes West of Vegas, so we stayed at a hotel in Pahrump, NV. Small town, but very friendly. As a NYC native, Dave got a big kick out of open carrying my SW1911 around town without having the SWAT team called in.
Fortunately I didn't have to drag the 625 rounds (60+ lbs.) of 12g ammo out with me, I was able to have it shipped straight to the hotel room from Midway.com.
We arrived a couple days before the class started so we could do the whole Vegas thing, which was a ton of fun. We hit a few of the Casinos and Dave taught me the elements of blackjack strategy, and I ended up doing fairly well. We ate well and drank plenty, and slept very little :)
The school was located out in the Desert. It was truly beautiful country. The class itself was intense. Because it was so cold in the mornings we started most days in the classroom for lectures and discussion. They did a great job covering the basic principles of self defense, ethical/legal issues, and tactics. They kept my interest even though not much of the information was new to me and I was dead tired from partying in Vegas during the nights.
After the classes got out, we would head straight to the range.
We started off sighting in and testing the patterns on our shotguns. This would be about the only paper we'd use the whole time, most of our shooting would be on steel.
We kept going out to Vegas for the first couple nights, but we got to be so tired that we had to chill out and stay local.
We worked on basic marksmanship, engaging multiple targets, reloading, malfunction clearing, shell selection, etc. for most of each day, and we got to run through shoot houses and simulators several times.
Reloading was really emphasized. In some drills, like this one, we started empty and had to keep running through it, loading as we went while using cover.
January in the desert looks pretty, but it was COLD most of the time we were there.
We got to run through some simulators like this one, where we'd walk through a trail and engage standing and pop-up reactive targets.
Dave resting before we ran through a shoot house on the second day. I did pretty dismally inside, killing a girl holding a hairdryer, a guy holding a powerdrill, and a lady fishing her phone out of her purse... Got all the badguys, too, though...
There were about a dozen of us in the class. The handgun classes were much bigger.
On the third day we practiced for the timed drills we would do tomorrow.
Dave got this one of me with brass in the air
We also stayed on the range a bit later and did night shooting. The sunset was amazing.
When it wasn't freezing it was baking hot... (the glove wasn't a fashion statement, it was to protect a serious blister I got on my hand from rubbing it against a burr near my triggerguard I'd never noticed before. ouch.)
On the last day we took timed tests for all of the things we'd done.
The added pressure of the timer brought out my best performance.
It was amazing how much our skills had improved over four days.
After the final test, we did a bit of action shooting style drills, and Dave and I went head to head... If I remember he edged me out by a fraction of a second.
All in all a great trip. Learned a lot and had great fun. We'll definitely do it again someday.
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