Last year, my wife and I took advantage of Front Sight's offer of a free training certificate in exchange for posting their advertising on our blogs. We did not actually have blogs, so we each created a MySpace account with a blog entry and posted the advertising there. We received our training certificates shortly thereafter. Before I go any farther, I need to let you know that I've always been a bit turned off by Front Sight's marketing. Its a bit too late-night infomercial for my taste and comes off a bit smarmy. That impression, combined with some things I read on various forums made me wonder if the place was any good. With free training, I figured I had nothing to lose. My wife and I went for the Four-Day Defensive Handgun class last weekend. The first myth I need to lay to rest is the hard sell. The sales pitch for life memberships was a video shown during lunch one day, a hand-out and a QA session. There was no pressure, no pushing and no "hard sell." We did not hear much of anything about it outside of that presentation. The second myth I'd like to kill is the Scientology thing. It is completely untrue. We did not hear a single word about Scientology the entire time we were there or receive any literature that so much as mentioned it. Chalk another one up for the Internet rumor mill. Now to the important stuff. The training was fantastic. Most of the instructors had pretty impressive resumes in military, law enforcement and security contracting, but there was nothing para-military about the place or the program. The instructors were very professional, but also very patient and very nice. My wife is a complete newbie who really struggled and they gave her a TON of one-on-one help. They took what could have been an extremely frustrating experience for her and made it so positive that she wants to go back. The training was very technique intensive, especially for the first couple days. I've never performed so many chamber checks and magazine checks in my life. Safety was absolutely paramount, as it should be. Moving into the last couple days, we started shooting under time pressure, did a night shoot with flashlights, got put through a tactical simulator and worked a lot on presentation from concealment. By the time we took the final assessment test, I was able to consistently make thorasic cavity hits at 5, 7, 10 and 15 yards in under 1.5 seconds from a concealed holster. I've got some work to do on head shots. In order to count, the shot has to go in the 3x4 inch box that represents the area below the eyebrows and above the bottom of the nose. At 3, 5 and 7 yards, I was only able to make that shot from a concealed holster about half the time in the 1.5 seconds allocated. I scored well enough on the test to get a Graduate certificate, but nowhere near well enough to receive the Distinguished Graduate required to advance to the next class. Their standards are pretty tough, but I cannot argue with the results. I went from skeptical to unabashed fan in four days. I think the biggest problem with Front Sight is that they need to fire their marketing people. The image I had of the place before I went and the experience I had when I was there were completely different things. Oh, to keep things on topic, I shot the entire course with my XD-40 Service in a dusty, windy desert environment without ever cleaning the gun and had zero malfunctions.