Front Sight Resorts Student of the Month Interview:
Master Gunnery Sergeant USMC Scott Anderson
Interviewed January 8, 2004
by Jim McMahon
Scott Anderson is a Master Gunnery Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps. He has 26 years in the Marines, and has been a reserve police officer for 11 years.
Scott has been an active shooter, as well as shooting competitor, since he was a teen, and has been a Front Sight First Family Member for the past three years. He has recently returned from active duty in Iraq.
I caught up with Scott in his office at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, in California, just in the nick of time before he returns once again to Iraq.
FSR: What event or reason prompted you to search out firearms training?
Scott: I had been in the U.S. Marine Corps for 23 years, and a reserve police officer for 8 years. I wanted to continue my firearms training journey external to the doctrines I had already learned. That’s when I found out about Front Sight.
FSR: Did you have any previous firearms training experience prior to attending Front Sight?
Scott: Aside from NRA and CRPA instruction, I have attended the FBI firearms instructors course, and many military courses of instruction during the last 26 years.
My father has served with the LAPD for 55 years, and in the military during 2 wars prior to that. He exposed me to firearms when I was 10 years old. In my early teens I won my first shooting competition in a community shooting contest in Santa Monica, California. The competition was held at the range in the basement of the Santa Monica high school gymnasium.
My dad was a competition shooter. When I was 18 he bought me a lifetime membership in the NRA and the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA). Just like my grandfather did for him when he turned 18. Owning firearms, and continually improving skills with handling firearms, has always been a tradition in our family.
FSR: How did you find out about Front Sight?
Scott: I first heard of Front Sight years ago, when they were in Bakersfield. Later, a friend invited me to go with him to their Free Submachine Gun Class.
FSR: What made you choose Front Sight over all the other choices in the firearms training industry?
Scott: After the Free Submachine Gun Class, I signed up for a Copper Membership immediately. That should tell you that I was definitely impressed. Because I saw the value in repetitive training. Not only learning a skill, but possessing a skill.
Lots of people take a course and they think they possess a skill. They don’t possess the skill without repetitive training. There is no end state. There is no owning a skill. There is coming up to a level of proficiency to have the skill, but it must be maintained. This takes multiple times through a course before you can say you truly possess the skill.
FSR: What course did you attend after the Free Submachine Gun Class?
Scott: After the Sub Gun Class I took the Four-Day Handgun Course.
Front Sight teaches so much in their Four-Day Handgun Course. Each time you attend the course you are obtaining more, honing your skills more. Front Sight instructors look at you individually, and guide you individually to increased capability.
FSR: What was your impression of your first course?
Scott: It was like the blinders were taken off. I realized what I didn’t know. Nobody talked down to me. The instructors didn’t demean me. Which was completely different from what I was used to in military training with firearms.
But Front Sight exposed my inadequacies. And the instructors worked to groom each step of my skills and still do today.
FSR: How did the initial training impact your life?
Scott: It helped me refocus on the perishable skills in life. Not only firearms, but medical skills, communications skills, driving skills, and martial arts. These skills are perishable, and they need to be continually honed.
I personally believe that every warrior, from an old lady who is a prayer warrior to a Combat Marine, should possess firearms, communications and medical training. These skills are essential to living.
The first courses I took at Front Sight really impressed upon me the necessity for repetitive training in all the important skills of life, and not just firearms.
FSR: What aspect of the training have you found most valuable?
Scott: I was working at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. I was actually in the Pentagon at the time the terrorists crashed the plane into the building. During all the chaos I watched U.S. fighters flying air cover over the capital, and the White House. It struck me how vulnerable we had become as a nation, how we all had let our guard down. I remembered how important it was for each and every one of us as individual citizens to be prepared for a potential confrontation or disaster. September 11th really pushed it home to me that we were not as prepared as we needed to be.
The foundational firearms training and repetitive firearms training that I have received at Front Sight, has kept me prepared, and kept my firearms skills from perishing. The instructors at Front Sight, and their ability as instructors to observe, define, and constructively critique and assist me to become better at my firearms handling, have at the same time made me more prepared for any potential confrontation, armed or unarmed.
FSR: Have you used any of the training to protect yourself, family or friends in a real life situation?
Scott: Every day in Iraq. Before that, Front Sight’s training assisted me in my personal firearms manipulation, in my day-to-day duties as a reserve police officer.
In Iraq, the biggest thing going was improper weapons handling. Weapons manipulation. I watched many have frequent negligent discharges in Iraq (thank the lord for the loading barrels filled with sand). People improperly handling firearms. I’m talking about Army soldiers, foreign national soldiers and US Marines. Many troops, senior enlisted and officers on command staffs alike, having to load their firearms and feeling totally awkward on what they were doing. As most never had carried a firearm loaded before in their day-to-day duties.
Often I was sought out because they observed me loading and unloading with precision, confidence and speed with my presentation. I was decisive and deliberate with my actions. I and another First Family Member who deployed with me, where asked continually how to do things with firearms. How to handle them properly. We where noticed because of the way we handled our weapon systems. When you know, you know. It’s not the tools that make the man. It’s the training.
There where daily negligent discharges into the loading and unloading barrels. U.S. Army personnel in Kuwait were not allowed to chamber a round in their pistols because of the frequency of negligent discharges. It was epidemic for a time. So the answer in Kuwait was to not hamber a round.
Not Special Operations, they had ranges set up in buildings and ran dry practice and live fire drills often. But we have few with this knowledge and training. The military personnel coming and going on and off bases that make up the mass of military personnel in theater, had no training at all but the few days on the military range a year. Disconcerting? Well yes, VERY.
Every day in Iraq is a potential dangerous situation for all military personnel. You are a potential target. Awareness of your environment, knowing what to do immediately when a threat arises, and an unquestionable level of firearms handling skills, are critical capabilities that can make the difference between life and death.
Because of my training at Front Sight I not only am better equipped, I feel, to deal with this hostile environment, but I’m able to impart what I know to others, to help other warriors to handle their weapons safer and with more confidence.
FSR: How many courses have you attended at Front Sight to date?
Scott: I’ve attended between 18 and 20 courses. I recently bought a piece of property in Pahrump so I could have closer access to the ranges, and in a state that is gun friendly.
Keep in mind, I have been training with firearms all my life. I believe you can never be too good when it comes to learning the techniques that could one day save your life.
FSR: How many other students have you directly or indirectly referred to Front Sight?
Scott: Referred over 100, and 23 of them have arrived for courses so far. Sometimes they take a while to arrive. 20 of the ones I’ve referred have become First Family members. One a Silver and Two Platinum.
This tells you that the guy who is serious about firearms sees the value in repetitive training. He also recognizes that Front Sight has the premier program for attaining the skills required.
FSR: What is the biggest challenge you find in trying to encourage friends to attend a course at Front Sight?
Scott:Time. That’s the main one. Money is second. But I remove that as an obstacle. I give them a certificate, and tell them to try out the course and if they like the course, to pay me $250 for the certificate, but not to pay me until they return from class. If they don’t like the course I tell them not to pay me anything. So far I’m batting a 100%. I don’t have to sell Front Sight, it speaks for itself.
Front Sight’s courses are over weekends, which help on the time issue. Other schools aren’t, which is a problem.
Part of getting military people to arrive, is getting them to realize the need for education more than the military gives you. The military provides firearms training to the masses, only to a certain level. The bar is set high on firearms training in the Marine Corps. It’s better than the Army with the exception of Specials Operations Forces. The Marines are head and shoulders above average military personnel. But Front Sight makes it very easy for all warriors to greatly excel in their firearms handling skills. Once they arrive at Front Sight, they see for themselves where they are at and what to do to reach way above the average man who carries a rifle.
FSR: When did you become a Front Sight First Family Member?
Scott: I became a First Family member 3 years ago.
FSR: What level membership did you purchase?
Scott: I purchased a Copper membership. I’ve upgraded to a Bronze membership, and just recently to a Silver membership.
FSR: Why did you choose to become a First Family member?
Scott: I saw the value instantly. Being able to become a member, and then train with a consistent curriculum with foundational values, with a positive mindset instilled by the instructors, consistently leading me toward bettering myself every step of the way.
I know the perishable nature of firearms handling. I tell everyone they should get a membership at Front Sight, because the training value you get in the necessary foundations of firearms safety, presentation, and being able to put rounds on a target in the shortest time, is not offered anywhere else. You can’t get this level of repetitive training in the basics, and grow to the point of man-on-man scenario training, with one membership, anywhere but Front Sight.
FSR: What is the purpose of the Front Sight Organization?
Scott: To teach all of the gun owning public how to utilize their firearms to the best of their personal ability. With this happening, everybody will become safer. Safe firearms handling is critical for anyone who owns a gun. People think they know how to use their guns, but they don’t.
Just like the soldier who shoots himself or another person over in Iraq. These are people with some training, but they are still not allowed to chamber a bullet, so not to hurt themselves or others. What about the millions of people back here in America who own and carry a gun, they need training even more. Front Sight serves that purpose. Nobody else is going to do it.
FSR: What does Front Sight, and your participation with it, really mean to you and the future of firearms ownership in this country?
Scott: I believe we have the chance to de-demonize and de-mystify firearms ownership. It is a tool to use to defend yourself. The Marine Corps Martial Arts program’s motto is One mind, any weapon. That is really the same mind-set as Front Sight: Any gun will do, if you will do.
Combat mind-set really should be a huge portion of everybody’s life. Droning or drifting through life without focus or direction is not a good way to live for anyone. The bad guys will see it and you will be targeted as a victim right away. Front Sight teaches not just firearms instruction, it teaches a passion and discipline for life. This is applied to your awareness as well as your firearms skill.
As our country looks for leadership and grows, what do people see and feel about their ability to protect themselves and their families? There is clearly a vacuum out there. Front Sight brings affordable classes, on a growing number of subjects, to us all. The training is out there if one just looks.
FSR: If you were standing at the speaker's podium in a large stadium, addressing 100,000 people, and you only had one minute to tell them why they should attend a course at Front Sight, what would you say?
Scott: The courses at Front Sight will bring you to a place of understanding of your personal capabilities, and the instructors will guide you on your journey. They will show you techniques that you can learn to become more aware of your environment, and the techniques that will save your life if trouble comes to you. These techniques are totally in addition the technical skills of firearms manipulation.
The training is very mechanical, very foundational in the beginning. I believe firearms handling is an art. But with any art it is based on technique, it is based in what has worked time and time again. The proven fundamental elements are what all or us need to keep in mind. This is what takes the skilled shooter from the foundation of technique to the artist. Fluid growth without forgetting the basics is the answer. Front Sight will help you do just that.
Front Sight provides the best platform, the best environment at the best price to learn these skills. This is the only place that delivers this type of consistent training with great location, cost effectiveness and constructive repetitive mentorship. I would urge all to see what Front Sight can do for their training and skill.
FSR: What course are you going to attend next?
Scott: My January training schedule is the Glock Armor’s Course, the Two-Day Advanced Tactical Handgun and the Four-Day Select Fire M-16 Course.
FSR: Thank you Scott. We will see you at Front Sight!