Welcome to Front Sight

March 10th, 2006  

Welcome to the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute and Resort’s blog. This first post seems that it should probably start with the introduction that Ignatius Piazza himself gives to new students. This is a direct transcript from the live introduction given by Ignatius Piazza, Front Sight’s Founder and Director.

Front Sight’s Purpose and the Five Levels of Competence.

Thank you and welcome to Front Sight.

At this time what I would like to do is share with you Front Sight’s purpose and introduce the range masters that will be working with you this weekend.

Here at Front Sight we believe that in order to distinguish ourselves above all others in this industry, we must be driven by a purpose that is greater than just
making money or a name for ourselves. And this purpose must always remain bigger than the organization otherwise the reason for existing can become rather self-centered or egotistically.

Now those of you who are new to Front Sight and are not familiar with the term Purpose Based Organization, you’ll know when you’re in the presence of one when you witness those individuals working with you performing their tasks with an enthusiastic Sense of Duty and a Moral Obligation to those the purpose is meant to serve. And by those I mean YOU, the students.

I believe you will find this weekend that Front Sight is such an organization with a group of highly dedicated instructors and support staff that are all brought here
for the same reason. And that is to serve you and to make you as good as you possibly can be during the time that you spend with us.

With that said, what is our purpose? Well it is a large one. And the easiest way to explain this is to review something that we call the Five Levels of Competence.

The lowest level of competence is what we refer to as the II. That stands for Intentionally Incompetent. These are the people that know they need training but they lack the courage and the motivation to get it. They actually avoid training because in exposing themselves to training, they expose their inadequacies to their peers and they fear that greater than death itself. Fortunately we don’t see the II at Front Sight very often. I can count on one hand the number of times we have in the last 5 years. In each case they were sent to us by their department or by someone who was concerned that this person needed training and they just weren’t getting it.

The II does not want to be here. They waste our time, they waste your time. I tell you about them simply because they are out there and you should avoid them like the plague. Because if you count on the II when the chips are down, they will take you right to the grave with them.
Then for no fault of their own there is the UI. This stands for Unconsciously Incompetent. These are the people that do not know that they do not know. And unfortunately it makes up about 95% of the gun owning population. Now I realize that’s a shockingly high figure for many of you to comprehend. When we provide our one day courses, we tell our students that a one day course will not bring them to a full understanding of the Five Levels of Competence. The reason it does not is because in a one day course we do not put those students into a live fire tactical training simulator. A simulator that’s as close to a real gun fight as we can make it without anybody getting physically hurt.
And it’s in those simulators that students begin to understand that in a real gun fight, you’re only going to be about half as good as you are in the best day on the training range simply from the stress of someone trying to take your life. Unfortunately, 95% of the gun owning population does not know this.
Let me give you some examples of the UI:

  • The police officer who only fires his weapon for mandatory range qualification two or three times a year is Unconsciously Incompetent.
  • Military personnel, especially the Reserve Units and National Guard who have not trained with their weapons or live ammunition for 6 months or a year and then are quickly called up and sent off to some foreign part of the world to fight a police action, they too are Unconsciously Incompetent.
  • Then there is the hunter who buys the brand new high powered rifle, books the African safari and when the guide places him within 75 yards of a trophy animal, he misses the shot, or worse wounds the animal and now you spend the rest of the day tracking large, dangerous, wounded game. He too, is Unconsciously Incompetent.
  • Then there’s the gun owner, who thinks that without having any type of training like we offer here at Front Sight, simply having a pistol and a box of ammunition is all he needs for protection should he hear breaking glass in the middle of the night. He too, is Unconsciously Incompetent.
  • This even extends to all those people out there who have a Concealed Weapon Permit. Who’ve only taken that mandatory 8 hours course that the county required. Six of those hours spent talking about where and when they can legally carry a gun, a couple hours with some very minimal training in a
    very minimal skills test and now they’re out there on the street carrying a gun thinking that should someone step up to try to take their life, they have all the tools they need to protect it. They, too, do not know what they do not know.

Now why is it that I know so much about this UI? Well it’s because I was the biggest UI. I was the gun shop owner’s best friend. When a new gun came out on the cover of Guns and Ammo, I would immediately run down to my local gun shop and buy two; complete with all the accessories they could sell me. And I viewed these guns are collectables and art objects, not as tools or weapons. Then one day a relatively minor incident made me aware of my incompetence
and I immediately graduated to the next level. I was now Consciously Incompetent. I knew I did not know and I knew I needed training. Well not everyone is as lucky as I was. Sometimes that sudden realization that you do not know is quickly followed by your opponents attack. And if that attack involved lethal force, the only reason you’ll survive is because on that day, at that time, your opponent was a bigger UI than you were. Who wants to bet their life on those odds? I certainly did not.

So Front Sight’s senior purpose; the reason we exist, the reason we’re building this facility, the reason we invite you all to come out and experience what we have to offer is to reach this 95% of the gun owning population and bring them here to Front Sight where they can safely and immediately reach the level of knowing that they need training. Becasue here at Front Sight everyone is a student and this is where we can help them.

Now, once students arrive at Front Sight our next purpose is to validate their awareness that they need and want training and provide them with a curriculum that will quickly bring them up to the level of Consciously Competent because at this level they are now better than 95% of the gun owning population but must consciously think about everything that they do with their weapon. Further practice and training will elevate their skills to the next level, the highest level, and those of you in the room here who are the ultimate achievers; Front Sight’s purpose extends to assist you in reaching your highest level of competence. That would be Unconsciously Competent. And at this level your weapon craft skills, your tactics, your mindset all become reflexive. Now please realize that even at the Unconsciously Competent level, in a real gunfight you’re still only going to be about half as good as you are in your best day on the training range simply from the stress of someone trying to take your life. But half as good at the Unconsciously Competent level is miles above that UI that you’re likely to meet on the street. And that not only ensures you’ll survive; it ensures that you’ll win and that’s why we’re here. To make sure that our students, should they ever need to use a weapon to defend their lives or the lives of their loves ones, will in fact win!
Now if any of you are sitting there wondering or worrying that we’re speaking of you when we describe this UI, don’t worry. Whatever level you are presently at, I have been there. In fact I tell the story of my first course (at another school) to illustrate this point.

I showed up for this course as a complete novice. It was a handgun course. I was wearing my newly purchased and pressed desert camouflage fatigues. I had a Miami Vice shoulder holster on, just like the one Don Johnson wore in the television show- because up to that point “Sonny Crockett” was my firearms training mentor. And I had a high capacity 9mm pistol up under my arm and I had enough magazines on my belt to last the entire first two days of the class without even thinking about reloading. So I was quite a sight. Then the founder of that school walked into the classroom. There were about 20 students in the class and he looked at me and he said, “You, man, stand up.” And I thought, “Wow! This is going to be a great day. Here I am, just fifteen minutes into the class and the
founder is recognizing me.” The founder looked to one of his instructors who was seated in the back of the classroom and then he looked at me again and said,
“Take that man outside! Get him squared away.” So there I was, standing up feeling rather foolish and exited the classroom to spend part of the morning- justifiably so, I might add- getting squared away.

Well don’t worry, that situation won’t happen to you here at Front Sight because it does not matter to us. I’ll say it again; it does not matter to us where you
are at the start of the class. What matters to us is where you are at the end of the course. And Front Sight’s staff and curriculum will take you from whatever level
you’re presently at and significantly improve you during the time that you spend with us.

Now I know some of you are questioning how can I be so confident to make that statement not knowing your individual abilities? Well it doesn’t matter. In any
class that we offer, whether there are 20 or 200 students, there are students that have never shot a gun before. There are students who have been shooting for 20 years. There are returning students. There are firearms instructors. There are law enforcement instructors. All training together and everyone improves significantly!

There is a reason for this. Having attended the other schools in this country multiple times I became astutely aware of not only what makes a great curriculum, but more important, what makes a great instructor. And I’m quite proud to tell you that Front Sight has the finest instructional program in the industry. We maintain the highest standards in the industry and we achieve amazing results with each and every student at every course and we will achieve amazing results with you as well this weekend.

Understand that we have a VERY important business philosophy here at Front Sight, and that is that YOU the student are the product of Front Sight. Not the facility that we’re building. Not the curriculum. Not the instructional staff. Not anything that we might sell in a pro shop. You! You are the product.

When you leave us at the end of this course, you will take with you the gun handling, the marksmanship, the mindset, and the tactics that we teach. And we look at it as you now represent Front Sight.

So when you walk into a gun shop and ask the clerk to see a gun and he hands it over to you and you keep it pointed at the deck. You chamber check it. You clear it before you begin manipulating it. You keep your finger off the trigger. You don’t cover yourself with the muzzle. You don’t cover the clerk with the muzzle. You don’t cover everyone in the store with a muzzle. They look at you and they say, “Wow, there’s something different about this person. They’re not like everybody else that comes in here.”

When you go to a shooting range and you’re rapidly presenting your weapon from the holster, you’re firing accurately, performing after action drills and other
techniques that we teach, and you happen to have a malfunction and you reflexively clear it, they see this too. And when they finally have the courage to walk up to you and say, “Excuse me, where did you learn how to do all of that?” What do we want coming out of your mouths?

Front Sight. Absolutely. We take this very seriously and that’s why we do everything we possibly can to make you as good as we possibly can during the time that you spend with us. With that said, allow us to introduce the Range Masters that that will be working with you this weekend. As they proceed up to the front of the room, please understand that Front Sight maintains a ratio of one instructor for every four-to-five students on the firing line and one-on-one instruction in the live fire tactical simulators-sometimes two instructors per student depending on the simulator. This is the highest standard in the industry. Not only do we maintain it, we advertise it.

There are two paths to become an instructor at Front Sight.

The first path is to be a seasoned law enforcement or military instructor. Take a course at Front Sight on your dime so we can get a good look at you and you can get a good look at us. If there is a match, we will invite you to our Instructor Development Course on our dime and we will teach you the training doctrine we offer at Front Sight. Upon successful completion of the course, you will come on board as part of Front Sight’s stellar instructional staff.

The other path is to be a student. Distinguish yourself in our courses and we will invite you to our Instructor Development Course. Upon successful completion, you will come on board as either a line coach or instructor. If you wish to continue to improve your skills and work toward Range Master status, then we will pair you up with a seasoned Range Master and you will co-range master courses until you can take a group of students, a group of instructors, and the course curriculum and run it with the same efficiency and results as myself or any of the other seasoned Range Masters would. You are then part of the Front Sight’s Range Master staff.

Those two paths are represented in the men standing before you. They will most definitely take you from whatever level you are presently at and significantly improve you during the time you spend with us this weekend.

They will now briefly introduce themselves to you.

Entry Filed under: Dr. Ignatius Piazza,From the Mail Bag,Front Sight,Interviews,Monday Blog Posts.

Ignatius Piazza
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