How to Shoot Straight at Front Sight: Part 2

Jim takes a Shot at Shooting Lessons

Rations of jerky and pop tarts were just one difference between Red Oxx co-owner Jim Markel’s tours as a U.S. Marine and a tour at Front Sight’s Firearms Training Institute. In this Part 2 of 2 installments, Jim lights up the range in a night shoot. His story of good times adventuring with a good friend is shared in the spirit of earlier adventures in Zambia, Costa Rica, and

You learn something new on every adventure and on this one I learned that yes, you can live on convenience store food. Since we had to be at the range before they fired up the resort kitchen, David took to dining at the convenience store. He was absolutely convinced that it had everything we needed to survive, including beef jerky by the pound.

David expressed a Londoner’s amazement at the selection of food in a typical American convenience store.

"Too bad they don’t sell ammo," he said.

"They do in Montana," I replied.

In a stiff accent, he answered: “Well, isn’t that proper?”

I love the way those Brits have a way of saying things; it cracks me up!


On the commute to Front Sight’s Nevada range, I fished out some Lava-Berry pop-tarts emblazoned with Darth Vader on the packaging.

David starts to tell me of his upcoming adventure: racing in the Round Britain Challenge. Twelve days of fun and stormy seas in the North Atlantic in October, sailing around the scenic isles of Britain and Ireland. Sounds like a real pleasure cruise!

As David munches on beef jerky, he assures me that on the Challenge, freeze dried cuisine is the table fair. It’s to be a test of endurance and skill and definitely not a pleasure cruise. (Bulletin: Last we checked, 7 days into the race, David’s team SAIC La Jolla was in the lead).


Arriving at the range with the other shooters, we begin the ritual gear check.

“Nice bag, where did you get that?” asked a guy.

“We just happen to make these in a little factory in Montana,” I said.

“How much will that thing hold?”

I had stuffed my bag with 500 rounds of .45 ammunition and I still had room for the rest of my shooting gear. A fairly decent load for any bag – but the Gator is not just any bag. I have two of these with me and could easily use another. The Gator not only makes a great shooting bag, it’s perfect for digital cameras. The Gator also stands in as a diaper bag that any dad is unashamed to carry in front of his friends.

We had a full day of shooting ahead of us and it was going to be a workout.

With a slight breeze and beautiful spring day, we set about the task at hand. As each skill set was added the instructors would carefully regulate the time and targets increasing the difficulty progressively. While the time was being tightened the shots were basically the same. This allows you to develop your shooting skills in a very practiced and structured manner. Before long, my fellow shooters and I had settled into a rhythm of loading and firing. Then “Cease Fire” came the call. We made safe our weapons and called it a day.

In my never ending quest for great Mexican food, David and I headed into Pahrump for dinner and were not disappointed. Finding a great a place to eat while traveling is one of life’s great pleasures. As we exchanged stories about the day’s events, my friend from across the pond was clearly having a wonderful time. Something that we Americans take for granted is the freedom to pursue a hobby like shooting. David had traveled a long way to enjoy his hobby. Life in England it is a totally different reality for gun owners.


The third day we had another full day of shooting and a bonus night shoot! Call me a geek, but there is something really beautiful and quite awe inspiring when you fire a weapon in the dark. The daylight hides the true power that comes blasting out of the muzzle. Shooting at night can cause a host of problems, one of which is night blindness from a muzzle break or poor light discipline from one of your fellow shooters.

This is where having the proper kit and training comes together. I have been using the Z3 Combat Light from Surefire. This awesome little light has accompanied me on safari in Zambia and my Costa Rican dive trip I think it’s a must have little travel accessory for your next adventure.

After midnight, we finished shooting and headed back to Bonnie Springs for a shower and late night weapons cleaning session.

The sound of peacocks crowing has me up early the next morning, so I get up to see what all the commotion is about. Watching the peacocks strut in the morning sun, I can see what they were all excited about. The canyon walls around the motel were lit with the red glow of sunrise.

The final day of shooting involved a bit of competition between the shooters. The game: knock over two steel plates faster than your opponent. The rules: single elimination with the winner from each range taking on the overall winner from the other range. After taking down half a dozen opponents I was done in by a malfunction! Goes to show you that you have to test your gear or do your research before heading out.

Wrapping up the class, David and I rolled towards the airport to catch our flight back to Montana. David would be joining me for a few days of high adventure in Big Sky country…

Cheers, Jim CEO

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