This is my review of the 4 day tactical shotgun course at Front Sight in Nevada that I completed on February 11th. My background is I am prior military and lawenforcement and mainly trained with a glock and AR15's, but I rarely shoot shotgun. I had a half-day class on shotgun, shot skeet and trap a couple times, and shot at the range a couple times on my own. This was my 7th class at Front Sight and 1st shotgun class there. I went to the course equipped with:
Mossberg 590 12ga 20" pump shotgun with a bead sight & 2pt sling
Plastic 4 shell side saddle
Safariland 4 shell carrier mounted to the belt
325 rnds birdshot
125 rnds 00 buckshot low recoil
65 rnds slugs low recoil
The trip - I packed everything into my Storm iM3100 case which is only 39" long, but meets the 62" case length to avoid oversize luggage fees at the airlines. I had to take the shotgun apart everyday so that it fit into the case. I bought birdshot at Las Vegas Walmart and saved about $20. I bought the slugs and buck at Front Sight as it was a little cheaper than the stores. To save money, I bought ramen noodles and microwaveable meals for lunch. Front Sight had microwave ovens, but they took away the hot water makers. Budget cuts I guess. They also have the lunch wagon that sells sandwiches and salads.
Day 1 - Registered and went through the lectures (for the 5th time) of color code of awareness. There were 11students taking the 4 day course, and 6 students taking the 2 day course and half had pumps, other half had semiautos, and 1 guy had a Saiga. Some were prior law enforcement/military, some are repeating the class, some competative shooters, and some recreational shooters. 2 guys were formerly from Hawaii. A short 4'10" woman was using a 20ga semi-auto which was still knocking her around. Front Sight attendance was a little low at about 100 students for all classes while in the past I've usually seen 250 to 400 students. Maybe too cold. It was unusually warm this week with mornings at about 50 degrees going into the 70's. Range Master Cress went over the 3 ready positions: low, high, field. Practiced emergency and tactical reloads (loading the port and tubes). Fired birdshot for the firing drills at steel silhouetts in the standing position. After action drills.
Day 2 - Lectures for the day were civil and criminal liability, and tactics on pieing corners and entering doors, types of equipment & firearms. On the range we went over the kneeling and prone positions. Then select shot slugs standing at the 35/50/100 yard lines standing. Zeroed with slugs at the 35 yard line. Patterned the buckshot at 5, 15, and 25 yards determining A/B/C zones. Shot multiple targets, up to 4. Practiced type 1/2/3 malfunction clearing.
Day 3 - Practiced pieing corners and entering doorways. Conducted live fire and malfunction drills under time pressure. Shot around barriers. Went through the test
The test was conducted in the standing position and consisted of shooting a steel silhouette with at least 4 pellets hitting with each shot:
50yd Shell select - fire 1 Slug 5 sec 3 iterations
35yd Shell select - fire 1 Slug 4.5 sec 3 iterations
20yd fire 1 buck (low/high/field ready) 1.5 sec from each ready
15yd fire 1 buck (low/high/field ready) 1.3 sec from each ready
15yd fire 1 buck/port load/fire 1 buck/port load 4.2 sec 2 iterations
15yd fire 2 buck 2 targets 1.6 sec
15yd fire 3 buck 3 targets 2.1 sec
15yd fire 4 buck 4 targets 2.6 sec
Type 1 malfunction ???sec 2 iterations
Type 2 malfunction ???sec 2 iterations
Type 3 malfunction untimed 2 iterations
Day 4 -practiced the test a couple times before the record test. Competed against eachother on the last man standing event hehostage scenario targets. Shot at paper hostage scenario targets.
Out of the 11 students taking the test, only myself and another 3-gun guy with a semi-auto passed with a distinguished graduate. I barely passed due to getting a peripheral hit on a target during the port load test (2 pellets), missing target #2 on the 4 target test, and missing a step on a type 3 malfunction. Some of my shot times barely made the cut. But I still passed...with a pump shotgun at that.
The semi-autos shot faster and smoother especially on the multiple target engagements.
The pump shotguns took more effort to operate and had more recoil than the semi-autos.
It was difficult making time on the multiple engagements with a pump.
The Saiga was awkward tooperate and tore up the guys hands.
My federal 00 buck has a effective range of 20 yards. Slugs at 100 yards or so.
The safariland shell carrier worked great. Easy and fast to pull rounds out that were properly indexed.
My side saddle was difficult to use due to it gripped the shells too hard.
My shell pouch was great for admin reloads as I could hold about 35 shells in it.
Rack the pump quickly & constantly do your emergency/tactical reloads.
Did I mention pumps took more effort to operate?
Bead sights are best for the class and self defense. They are quicker to use than other types (ghost rings, red dot, etc)
Remember to use holdovers with bead sights. I kept forgetting.
My shoulder was a bit tender after days 1 & 2, but got used to the recoil from day 3.
Range staff were great, pleasant to work with, and gave me good tips to speed up so I could pass the test.
Use birdshot instead of buck for cheap practice running the gun.
Don't shoot steel targets closer than 15 yards for bird/buck and 35 yards for slugs to prevent riccochets.
Low recoil shells are good.e
The instructors showed me good techniques on how to rack the pump properly and how to properly index and port load shells which cut down on my times a lot.
I'll stick with my AR15.