Las Vegas 2001: Best Bang for Your Buck

Las Vegas Life — Best of 2001
December 31, 2001

You're standing in we middle or nowhere, cradling a loaded uzi. Joining you on a makeshift firing line are 12 strangers. They're just as armed as you are, and eager to open fire. The mind races. What If the guy next to me lost his job yesterday, the day after his wife left him for his best friend? And what about the gal down the line? She looks mighty tense; what If she’s enraged over the violent state of the world and ready for payback? You can only speculate, because you don't know a thing about the mental state of this army. All you know is one careless move by one of ’em — or one crackpot who slipped past the background check — and you're a goner.

Then this armed guy called a range master shouts, "Ready … fire!"

By now, you're likely asking a question that begins, "Who in their right mind …?" We can't blame you, because we would've asked the same thing before we lived this scenario during an exhilarating - and highly educational - day at Front Sight Resort, a state-of-the-art firearms training facility and future master-planned community in the middle of the desert just south of Pahrump. "This isn't Bubba and his buddies showing up with a six-pack and shooting things up," says Ignatius Piazza, a chiropractor, four-weapons combat master and gun enthusiast whose vision became Front Sight. "And there’s no overthrow-the-government talk."

No, but there are several hours of top-notch instruction on gun safety and operation, followed by a half-dozen trips to the firing line for target practice (breakfast and lunch are also thrown in). And it’s all free, a $500 no-strings-attached value that Piazza views as a long-term investment: He’s banking on you either parting with big bucks to become a Front Sight member or recommending the free submachine course to a friend, who might part with big bucks to become a member. (So far, Piazza’s gamble has paid off; more than 15,000 people — police officers, military personnel, surgeons, teachers, even a Catholic priest — have taken the course, and 862 have signed up for one of four memberships that range in price from $9,500 to $350,000.)

Even if you're not interested in a membership — or even if you're not a card-carrying member of the NRA — Piazza invites you out to Front Sight to learn what makes a machine gun — and those who operate them — tick. (The free courses are offered two weekends each month.) "We teach how to shoot to stop, not shoot to kill," Piazza insists. "We're part of the solution to gun violence. And by the time you leave here, I promise that you will have received better training in how to handle and operate a gun than your average police officer."

And we promise that you'll have a blast!