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Dr. Ignatius Piazza
Dr. Ignatius(Naish) Piazza is a man of vision whose dream of a world-classfirearms training facility is turning to reality outside Las Vegas. He was thesecond man to achieve the coveted distinction of Four-Gun CombatMaster. This includes mastery of the submachine gun, and Naish is hostingfree submachine gun seminars for prospective students. Here he demonstratesproper technique with a MAC-11.

Now at a world-class facilitynear Las Vegas, this famous shooting school is giving free subgundays!


Dr. Ignatius Piazza is a man with a dream. More thanthat, he’s a man with a dream, a plan, and the resources to bring thatdream to fruition. Piazza’s dream is the town of Front Sight, Nevada,which is under construction at this moment. Situated on 550 acres about anhour’s drive outside Las Vegas, Front Sight is a planned community like noother you have seen. Centered on the shooting sports and world-class facilitiesto enjoy them, Front Sight is modeled after today’s exclusive golf resortcommunities.

There were already three huge and perfectly manicuredranges in place when I last visited in January of 1999, and Piazza reportsgreat progress on the general engineering, grading, and pre-construction, withall systems go for the next stages. Those phases will see the construction ofan airstrip and hangar complex, a 1000 yard rifle range, other training areaswith some more private than others for those who desire a lower profile, amartial arts gymnasium and training center, plus an armory and pro shop withrental storage lockers.

The final build-out will include a commercial center, acommunity center, a private school, and residences on 177 one-acre lotssurrounding a lake and greenbelt that also include membership in all thefacilities and programs with their Deed.

Memberships and privileges are available fornon-residents, and the engine that turns the wheels — Front Sight FirearmsTraining Institute—will be headquartered there, conducting classes on thegrounds.

Front Sight has a large array of classes available foreveryone from the beginning to the advanced shooter. These courses have beendeveloped and refined over the past few years of operation at their differentfacilities, all near Bakersfield, California.

Piazza runs an excellent school, and I speak fromexperience, having attended their four-day Defensive Handgun class and thegreat Alumni Appreciation Day which is a one-day hands-on and shoot-a-lotsubmachine seminar.

Naish, as he is called, is also a goodbusinessman and a great promoter, always trying to give the customer what hecalls an exchange in abundance for their time and interest. I thinkhe’s done it again.

Having finally cycled through all former students (thereare thousands), to whom he gave priority and a first look at Front Sight,Nevada, and its various programs, Piazza is now opening the door to the generalpublic. That’s right, the previous Alumni Day submachine gun session isnow the teaser to get serious shooters to this revolutionary newcommunity, and just as it was for the previous students, it’s allfree!

students on the firing line

Students participate at an earliersubmachine gun seminar. There is one instructor for every three or fourstudents. This is standard policy with every Front Sight class.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I find fully automaticweapons a literal blast to shoot, and an opportunity to do it for free was toomuch for me to pass up, so here’s a report on what you can expect if youchoose to take Naish up on his latest offer.

Arriving early, I got signed in and then was ushered intoa huge tent that was serving as the reception area. At the back of the roomwere tables full of rolls, bagels, fruits, and then beverages from hot coffeeto cold orange juice. Everyone was full and settled down by our 8:30 AM starttime, and Piazza began the day with a short welcome and an overview of theday’s program. He touched only briefly on the outline for the propertydevelopment, promising full details later.

We were next given a short history and an operationalrun-down on our firearm for the day, the suppressed MAC-11 in 9mm. Youcan’t deny that the suppressor gives an extra sense of allure to theclass, but it is really there for two other very good reasons. First, theMAC-11 is a handful of sub-gun, being essentially a high rate-of-fire machinepistol with a wire stock. The barrel protrudes very little from the blockyreceiver, and common-sense observation shows how easy it would be to get a handtoo far out in front of this little buzz saw. The suppressor provides anadequate, insulated fore-end for the shooter, and it extends that business endway out there so that gripping hands are safe and the firearm is that muchharder to turn around on oneself or bystanders.

Mac-11 and target

At the end of the day, students arepermitted to rock and roll, emptying two 30-round magazines, eachin a single long burst This nicely centered group was the result ofHantke’s day of training.

Second, the suppressor also (and obviously) attenuatesthe muzzle blast from powder and the crack of the supersonic bullet leaving themuzzle. This may not seem so important with 9mm guns, but it is. I have spenttime on the line with 30 Marines shooting non-suppressed HK MP5s, and theresulting sound is best described as a thunderous cadence. There seems to besome kind of positive resonance to the noise, and I believe the sum may be morethan the parts.

Moving to the range, we began the classroom and dry-fireinstruction that should precede any class, let alone one involving full-autofirearms. This portion was well covered, and I felt relatively safe on the lineonce we went hot and actually began shooting. This level ofconfidence came not only from thorough instruction and practice, but also fromthe fact that one of the Front Sight trademarks is an amazingly low student toinstructor ratio. There is typically an instructor for every three or fourstudents on the firing line. This translates into superior supervision ofsafety practices and a lot more one-on-one instruction when needed orrequested. It also means that the classes run along a little bit quicker thanmost, because there are so many hands on deck to help.

presentation pointers

Editor Libourel regards Front SightTraining highly. Here Dr. Piazza offers some pointers for improving hispresentation to the Weaver during a Handgun Master Prep course that he took ayear ago. Earlier he had taken Front Sight’s Defensive Shotguncourse.

We moved to the real stuff, and the instructors workedwith individuals on their stances while we practiced in the semi-automaticmode. The stance is one part of the two most important things to know aboutfull-auto firearms, the other being trigger control, In this case, we were ableto mechanically limit the guns to a single round per pull of the trigger,allowing us to work on one issue at a time.

A good sub-gun stance is essentially an aggressive Weaverposture with the elbows tucked down. The forward cant allows the entire upperbody to take the recoil, and puffing the elbows down helps to control thegun’s tendency to twist in your hands.

Getting that down, we took a half-hour break for rest andsnacks (provided), then it was back to the line to work on trigger control.Trigger control with a sub-gun means being able to tick off individual shots,pairs, or even triple-shot bursts. It also carries the more common designationof squeezing through without disturbing the sight picture.

The second definition is secondary by definition, andyes, I’ll explain. What I mean is that the trigger actions on mostsub-guns are far from match quality, as is their general design. These arefirearms designed by committee, built around a certain caliber to size andweight specifications and intended to cycle at some given speed. Accuracy,while held to some standard, is way down on the list of desirable or mandatoryattributes.

Good trigger control of the first sort is necessary withthese guns, because you cannot obtain any sort of selective shot placementwithout it, and ammo expenditure becomes horrendous, not to mention the obviousbarrel wear.

It took a good amount of time before all the shooters onthe line became proficient with their individual firearms. The different ratesof fire achieved by guns in various states of wear or spring balance proved asignificant factor. The guns are all inspected before each class and certifiedwithin armorer’s specifications before use, but that leaves a wide marginin real operation. Cycle speed, trigger characteristics, and even the fit ofthe wire stock to the receiver made a difference, and the staff addressed allas they worked with each student during this part of the class.

Weaver stance adjustment

The editor fine tunes his Weaverstance with a Red Gun under the capable instruction of FrontSight’s staff. Both he and author Hantke have been impressed by thecompetence, patience and courtesy displayed by the Front Sight trainingstaff.

When a problem was discovered, the instructor would firsttry the gun to see if it was something obvious. If not, they would then try tocoach the student through the issue. If unsuccessful, an immediate switch offirearms was made, and somewhat surprisingly that made the difference for most.It was that personal, especially for beginners.

Once everyone was comfortable with his specific firearmand the instructors were comfortable with everyone’s ability to exercisetrigger control, we went on to do lots of defensive drills, working our way allthe way back to 25 yards on some. This gave us all a look at why the sub-gun isregarded in the real world as a very short-range weapon, m spite of what yousee on screen or tube.

We used two relays of shooters, with one set on the line and the others at the rear table, stuffing their magazines full of free ammo. This helped to keep up the pace of the shooting and minimize administrative time during the class, packing a lot of trigger time into a single day.

Our drills consisted of normal defensive fire to center of mass from the varying distances and on command, using a two-shot burst. We also did failure-to-stop exercises involving follow-up head shots on command, all the while exercising proper trigger control.

Finally, at the very end of the day like puppies with ourtails a-waggin’, we were given our treat. We were finally allowed to loadup a whole magazine full of ammo and then just let ’er rip! TriggerControl be damned! Actually we got to do it twice. The first magazine full wasjust to see what it felt like, and the second was fired on a fresh target,which most retrieved for a souvenir. Mine hangs on the inside of my garage dooras a reminder of a really fine day of shooting.

Back in the reception tent, the tables at the rear werenow covered with pizzas of different descriptions, salads, and all sorts ofdifferent beverages. Munching on the free dinner, we now got the frillsales pitch, which was really more informational in nature thanhard sell. Piazza talked about the background of the project, how it hadevolved and was progressing, and the different properties and memberships thatare available.

Unlike other real estate presentations whereyou have to squirm your way out of a closing booth to escape, interested parties are invited to stay after and speak directly with Naish or one of his representatives. Some folks gobbled some pizza and made a hasty exit … it’s up to you! For shooters who have no interest in real estate or are like me and have all their money tied up in a tank of gas and some groceries, this is still an excellent way to preview a shooting school. You can not only do it for free, but you also get to do it at a sub-machine gun seminar! Beat that.

Seriously, one of the most common inquiries we receiveconcerns shooting schools and our opinions of them. While I rate Front Sight very high on my list, here’s a chance for individuals to go and see forthemselves how the classes are conducted, the level of instruction, and the progress on the facilities.

It doesn’t hurt that Front Sight is so close to Las Vegas, either. That city has undergone tremendous changes in the last fewyears, and continues to transform itself into a very family-oriented place.This gives one the opportunity to package a personal day at Front Sight while traveling with the family unless you are fortunate enough to be a shooting family in which case Naish says, The more the merrier.

For all details contact Front Sight.