Let me start here by saying that there are very few things in life that I would categorize as life-changing experiences.  Certainly, when I planned to attend a handgun training course in the Nevada desert I didn’t expect to have one.   I’ve owned handguns for nearly my entire adult life and shot at the expert level in every training course in the USAF which I attended.  So I was pretty sure that there wasn’t much anyone could teach me.

I had heard about the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute some time ago.  Front Sight purported to train its students at a level which exceeded law enforcement or military standards.  While I had purchased a membership there, largely to receive the training materials for research purposes, I didn’t know if I’d ever really go to a course there.  But as I got into writing Colin Pearce’s third adventure early this year, and realized that he’d have to have some pretty kick-ass handgun skills to prevail, I scheduled myself to attend the Four-Day Defensive Handgun Course at Front Sight if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity.

So last Monday, on the 18th of June, I arrived at Front Sight to begin my training and proceeded to have my life changed.  Over the next several days of intensive training (9-10 hours a day folks, no kidding), I learned how to present a handgun from a holster (the technical concern is “present,” not “draw”) and engage targets with a controlled pair of shots to the thoracic cavity of an assailant at ranges of 3-15 yards in just a few seconds and, where required, to also engage with a designated head shot.  I learned secrets of sight alignment and trigger control that make the difference in not only delivering rounds on target accurately, but doing so quickly AND accurately.  I learned how to clear malfunctions in minimum time and how to clear doorways and houses where required.

I was struck by two things continually as I went through the course.  First, I was stuck by how much I thought I knew about using a gun that was just plain wrong, and second, I couldn’t believe how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know.  That’s not a typo or unintentional word repetition.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  One particular example was the exercise in which the scenario was something like this: “You’ve just seen a guy with a gun enter your house with your family inside.  You’ve called the police but they won’t be on scene for several minutes and you’ve just heard shots and screams from inside the house.  What do you do now?”  The answer involved me entering a mock-up house, gun in hand, and engaging targets where required and avoiding shooting innocent people where required, all with only a few seconds to make the decision to shoot or not.  If you think you know how to do this and you haven’t been trained, trust me, you don’t – you’ll be shot within seconds by the bad guys, or worse, you’ll shoot the wrong people on the inside.

But the staff at Front Sight didn’t stop there.  They also taught how to avoid confrontations, how to stay aware of your environment and how to stop an attack from an assailant before arms may even be necessary.  They spoke extensively about the moral and ethical ramifications of engaging in a gun fight and continually emphasized that the use of arms was an absolute last resort.   Anyone who tells you that trained gun owners are a bunch of cowboys spoiling for a fight has never been to a course like this.

So now that the training is over, I can tell you that my life is truly changed.  If I’m put into a position to defend my family, I KNOW I can do it.  Quickly, decisively and accurately.  And I want to get back back to Front Sight again, as soon as I can, to improve my skills or learn new skills with a different weapon.

Sure, Colin Pearce will be a bigger bad-ass now that this training has occurred.  But Chris Broyhill will be a more responsible gun-owner and able-bodied defender of his family as well.

And that alone was worth the price of admission.