Interviewed January 21, 2004
Rick Kaufman has been an avid shooter for well over 20 years, and involved with Front Sight since its very inception. Not only was he in the very first class Front Sight offered, back in 1996, Rick was with Ignatius “Naish” Piazza back in the early 90’s where they trained together in a firearms class.
Rick has a unique perspective on the development of Front Sight that few others have experienced. One that spans the entire development of the Front Sight organization.
I caught up with Rick late
in the night, off duty from his position as an aircraft mechanic with
American Airlines here in Los Angeles.
Rick:I started training for self defense. No matter where you live, crime will follow you. If you have a nice house, live in a good neighborhood, you instantly become a target for someone who wants what you have. The better the neighborhood you live in, the more you become a target. I work hard for what I have, and at one point in the early 1980’s I made the decision to become proficient in defending myself, just in case.
I am a mechanic for American Airlines, and I have always been security conscious. It just goes with the territory in this business, well before 9 -11. So it became natural for me to want to apply a higher level of security to my own personal life. That’s really when I took my first firearms course in about 1982.
Rick: I first began shooting at the Beverly Hills Gun Club, and I did this on a regular basis. I was also working as an independent contractor for the club reloading ammunition. Around that time I got my FFL, and became a firearms dealer. I had my license for ten years.
I had attended a number of other training facilities and trained with well known instructors before I met Naish in a submachine gun course.
Rick: I knew Naish before Front Sight was started. I first met him in a submachine class we were both taking, and we got to be friends. I believe that was 1990 or 1991.
Naish shared his dream for with me way back then. He had a vision for a firearms training institute that would be like nothing else. A place where anybody could train to an incredibly high level of skill. He talked about it all the time. He was completely determined to do it. It was a never-ending motivation he had. This of course, was what was to become Front Sight.
But, back then, these were Naish’s ideas. There was no Front Sight yet. Except in his mind. And it was clear, he had a very sharp vision as to what his firearms training institute should be.
Naish originally was planning to put Front Sight in King City, California. That’s in California’s central valley. The first real incarnation of Front Sight was taking place right there. But after a year of red tape and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent jumping through hoops, the bureaucrats in San Benito County couldn’t see the dream and would not approve a use permit on the land he purchased, so Naish leased a facility outside of Bakersfield. And that is when Front Sight actually got started.
It was a fantastic thing at the time, to see this man talking about these pretty lofty ideas, and then actually go and do it. I recall it was quite an amazing feat, I was quite impressed.
Rick: The first course I did at Front Sight was the Two-Day Handgun Course. This was in 1996. In fact, this was the very first class Front Sight delivered. This was in Bakersfield, of course.
Rick: The course made me realize that even though I thought I was proficient with a handgun, I really wasn’t. I had been around handguns for a long time, and I really thought I knew what I was doing with them. But I didn’t.
Front Sight wasn’t kicking me in the head either. The instructors weren’t demeaning me like I had been used to with other places. They simply got me to learn how to do it correctly.
I was also struck by the realization that Front Sight was set up in such a way that it could provide firearms training to anyone. It was accessible to anyone. Not just law enforcement or military, or just the experienced shooter. This is different from other places, where if you are not quite experienced enough on the range, you begin to feel the pressure.
Not so at Front Sight. Naish designed Front Sight to train anyone, from the new shooter to the very experienced. I realized this on this first course. It struck me over the head that this is a way to train the many Americans who own a gun, but are deficient in its proper and safe usage.
Rick: It had a big impact. The personalized training. The close supervision. The constructive, positive method of building skills. There was nothing else in the firearms training industry that even came close to this unique level of professionalism. And I was really impressed. It made me want to be there, to be part of it. I wanted to come back for more.
The whole feel of the place, and the purpose, just kind of grabbed me. I told Naish I wanted to do something to become more a part of this. I was there, it seems, almost every weekend. Building targets and simulators, doing anything I could to help.
Rick: For me, I would say the lectures. The understanding I have gotten on how to deal with so many situations that you can be confronted with, is incredibly valuable.
I have a whole wall of certificates from the various firearms training courses I have taken, from so many other schools. How much of this training has been useful in real life? Sometimes not much. But what I have gotten from Front Sight is information I can use in real life situations.
Rick: I am lucky to not ever have had a confrontation. But don’t think that’s just luck. One of the things that I’ve learned through the training is to see threats ahead of time. To be conscious, and alert of my environment, and what’s in it that is a potential threat.
Criminals look for easy targets. And they stay clear of those that look sharp and act like they know what they are doing. And Front Sight graduates are trained to not be easy targets.
What you do before you get into a situation, to keep you out of a situation, is part of what is taught at Front Sight. Nobody else teaches this. Eliminate the problem before it happens. And if you do get into a problem, Front Sight gives you the tools to deal with that. What I’ve learned at Front Sight, I use every day. And I’ve kept myself safe with what I’ve learned.
Rick: I don’t know for sure. But I’ve taken many of handgun, rifle and shotgun courses over the years.
Rick: There have been quite a number, but again I can’t tell for sure.
Rick:The general public does not understand the truth about guns. There is a lot of negative hype about guns, and a stigma with them. Like they are politically incorrect. This is a hurdle to cross with many people when I talk with them about coming to Front Sight.
Rick: To make the public aware of their own vulnerability, and self defensive options, and to give them a place where they can go to train. A place where they can actually learn the real-life skills of self defense. Where they can learn these skills without intimidation, in a friendly environment.
Front Sight, I believe, is meant to be a place where anyone can come to get trained. Any law abiding American. And get trained with the most meticulous and detailed curriculum, the best instructors, and an unbelievable level of personal attention.
Rick: Without training, and without people who can use firearms competently, we will lose our right to own firearms. Training is the key, I believe, because this is the only thing that will disarm the negative image that firearms have.
If people continue to be ignorant about how to competently and safely use their guns, then the image will never change. And our Second Amendment rights will continue to erode.
Naish Piazza knows this, that’s why he’s put together such an extensive training program. I couldn’t agree more. Everyone who is associated with Front Sight is supporting this purpose. Everyone who enrolls on a course at Front Sight is aiding this purpose. Every First Family Member is taking a major step to moving this purpose forward.
And behind it all, we’ve got Naish Piazza, who has set the goal to get every law-abiding citizen trained, and continues to push Front Sight forward.
Front Sight has expanded so fast since those days in the beginning. I remember when Naish took me out to the desert near Pahrump. We were standing on a little dirt trail, and Naish said this is where we are going to build the world’s finest firearms training institute. I looked around the sagebrush and sand, and the miles of open-land, and asked him how in the devil he was going to build a firearms training facility out here? And Naish proceeded to show me how everything was going to be laid out, to the very detail. He had it all figured. Months later, Naish had earth moving equipment out there, lots of it, building Front Sight’s road and the facility. And, then, of course, the students came, and they continue to come in droves to this place in the desert that is the world’s finest firearms training institute.
I truly believe that Front Sight is our best hope to secure and maintain our Second Amendment rights.
Rick: Front Sight is a world-class facility that will teach you the necessary techniques you need to defend yourself from criminal victimization. There is no better place, there is no better staff of instructors, there is no better curriculum to help you achieve the skills you desperately need to protect yourself, your family, your children and your friends.
Front Sight is different because you learn only what works. What has been tried and proven. What you can really use, real techniques that will save your life.
Front Sight is for everyone, men, women, teens, and from every occupation and walk of life. Front Sight is for you, so you can learn the skills to protect yourself, and not become a target for attack. Nobody is going to protect you, but you, and there is no better place to learn than Front Sight.
Rick: Next course I’ll be doing at Front Sight will be the Hunter’s Rifle Course.