Ignatius Piazza and Front Sight in
Playboy Magazine German edition

Playboy magazine (German edition)

Theory and practice
Aspiring shooters are taught how a submachine gun works and Front Sight.



Author: Andreas Wenderoth
Photography: Engel and Gielen

In the early morning, fifty miles southwest of Las Vegas, an illustrious group gathers in the middle of the desert. This is just a bunch of ordinary men wearing mirrored sunglasses. They are trying to learn more about a subject which - although potentially of critical importance - tends to be neglected in civilian life - how to shoot a sub-machine gun correctly. Included among those that have made the trip here are a wide variety of businessmen, a police trainer, a private detective and a Japanese student that is wearing a martial arts T-shirt depicting a masked anti-terrorist fighter at work. The Japanese student mentions that he is studying international relations.

Dr. Piazza takes aim
Market gap insight
Dr. Ignatius Piazza is creating a "Disneyland" for weapons fans near Las Vegas.

Dr. Ignatius Piazza, has recognized the need for such training and has established the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. Dr Ignatius Piazza confidently states that "We are a part of the solution to gun violence." Dr. Piazza is a man with vision. He has invested approximately10 years and millions of dollars, with which he is looking to create "the most secure residential estate in the world" - located amongst the shooting stands and simulators, and covers an area larger than two million square meters (~500 acres). It will be a "Disneyland" for weapon fans, a city for shooters, which will provide a combination of the utmost in modern creature comfort with a meaningful activity. Essentially, this means shooting and being prepared for those that can shoot. It is expected that this gigantic project of over 25 million dollars will be under construction until the end of the year 2002. Nevertheless, it is already possible to shoot here. Today, a free introductory course is taking place.

Ordinary family men travel to the desert to learn how to shoot submachine guns.

Dr. Piazza is standing under a provisional white tent, wearing a military uniform and clasping his hands behind his back. In a soft voice, he describes the various levels of shooting competence. The lowest level contains the" unconsciously incompetent", meaning those that are unaware that they know nothing. In a "duel" with such a person, you would only have a chance of survival if your opponent were to possess a still greater level of unconscious incompetence. Survival chances are far better once the third level- which the doctor refers to as "conscious competence" - has been reached. However, one should aspire to achieve the level of "unconscious competence". At this level, all procedures become fully automatic. "What you have learned here, you will take home with you."

Student fires a burst
Rapid fire
Course participants wear safety glasses to protect them from flying cartridge shells.

Dr. Piazza next explains that he needs to cover some theoretical ground. The weapon available at this course was the Cobray M-11 9mm submachine gun. It is a relatively inexpensive and easy to operate weapon, says the doctor. (Free submachine gun courses in 2000 now feature Uzi 9mm submachine guns.)

When he starts to cover general safety information, the course participants begin to look as if someone in an airplane were explaining the use of life jackets. Dr. Piazza explains that there can be serious problems if the finger remains on the trigger when it should not be on the trigger. He goes on to explain "If you cover your leg with the muzzle of the submachine gun and inadvertently press the trigger, by the time you notice the pain from the first bullet and remove your finger from the trigger, you will already have five more in your leg". Over 3,500 people attended the free submachine gun course in 1999 with only a single safety incident which actually happened in this class when a student received a cut on his forehead from a piece of flying brass. Front Sight claims the finest safety record in the world.

Entrance sign
Desert camp
Although there are only tents there now, an entire city will be built on more than two million square meters of land.

Later in the training, six instructors "with a military background" take over the group. One explains that the goal is "To stop the individual". Efficiently "immobilizing the opponent" means that the bullets have reached the target chest or headarea in a sufficient density. The trainer explains that only in exceptional cases is it allowed to shoot the opponent in the head. The instructors also note it is generally bad if you hear the shots of your opponent first. The say, "In a gun fight, it is better to give than to receive. Andit is better to give first!"

On the firing line
On the yellow line
Course participants line up on the yellow firing line. They begin with learning to clear the weapon.

The yellow line is the firing line. Standing at a 30degree angle: the magazine in the left outside pants pocket, the knees are slightly bent, the silencer is slipped on with the left security hand, the chamber is checked, felt along with the finger, the magazine is inserted, the safety is released, elbows firmly pressed to the body, steel against the cheek, intercept recoil with the stance, quick check, left, right, back to the target ("What is the wounded opponent doing?").

In the only safety incident in 1999, one of the most ambitious course participants received a cut in the forehead due to apiece of flying brass cartridge that made an impressive wound above his safety glasses. Dr. Piazza explains the wound will simply be sewn up with a couple of stitches. The student and the rest of the group remain in a good mood as the next rounds were already being fired into the "criminal" targets.

proud student
This course participant hits the marked chest area with almost every shot on a single, full-auto burst from an entire magazine.

By evening, most of the participants saw a significant increase in the number of hits. The Japanese participant was glad that he was shooting much denser than a month ago. Only the German journalist, who was apprehensive almost the entire time, was politely reprimanded because he continued to shred legs, while he was being asked to aim for the chest area.

As the final exercise, all participants are allowed to fire an entire 25 round magazine with one press of the trigger. Many of the students are able to keep all of their shots within the chest in one burst of full-automatic fire. Students leave the course enthusiastically talking about when they will return for another course at Front Sight.



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