Richard Guerra Cabral fires an Uzi
9 mm submachine gun at the Front
Sight Firearms Training Institute near Pahrump
on April 20.
Uzi 9 mm submachine
guns sit on the ground at a firing range at the Front Sight Firearms
Training Institute near Pahrump.
Signs at the range instruct visitors on how they
can store their firearms. One of Front
Sight's business niches is storing assault
rifles and weapons for Californians and others
who are worried that their state governments might
someday confiscate their firearms.
Pat Pelzer, a range master at the Front Sight Firearms
Training Institute, provides some instruction
on how to safely handle an Uzi 9 mm submachine
gun. The class is free for most people at the
planned resort community outside of Pahrump.
OASIS FOR GUN LOVERS: Resort aims to change view
Shooting ranges, firearms central to
Front Sight mission
By GLENN PUIT
It wasn't the gambling or Hoover Dam
that brought Richard Guerra Cabral from Los Angeles
to Southern Nevada last weekend.
It was the Uzis.
On April 20, Cabral stood in the desert
near the Clark and Nye county borders and held in his
hands a forbidden fruit for many Californians -- a fully
automatic Uzi 9 mm submachine gun capable of firing
600 rounds per minute.
"I call it therapy," said Cabral, just
moments after he pulled the trigger, letting loose a
barrage of bullets at a shooting target.
Cabral wasn't alone. Standing next
to him at one of the training ranges at Front
Sight Firearms Training Institute were an attorney
from California, a school secretary from Reno, a college
administrator from New York and a real estate professional
They all had come to get the feel of
firing an automatic machine gun at the institute, located
about 15 miles east of Pahrump.
But this is not just another shooting
In one of the more interesting concepts
to hit Southern Nevada in recent years, the institute's
founder -- California chiropractor Ignatius
Piazza -- is in the process of building an elaborate,
multimillion-dollar resort that's centered on shooting
ranges and firearms.
The 550-acre resort plan is built on
the premise that 24-hour access to shooting ranges will
attract law-abiding citizens and even the rich and famous
to a gun lover's oasis in the desert.
If Ignatius piazza
pulls it off, a desert area about 4 miles off state
Route 160 will be host to a $40 million resort community.
"A resort that has no rival," Piazza says of his dream. "This is a resort where law enforcement
and private citizens can train together and enjoy it."
Over the long haul, Piazza hopes that Front Sight
-- with its proposed palm trees, shopping community
and school -- will do more than just train people on
how to shoot a gun. Decades from now, he expects that
Front Sight will
have changed some of the nation's negative views on
gun ownership and the Second Amendment by providing
gun training to America's policy- and decision-makers.
"Is it because we want to rub elbows
with all those celebrities?" Piazza said. "No. We want to educate them on who the real gun
owners are in this country."
The idea of a resort for gun owners
-- a so-called Pebble Beach for firearms -- may sound
ludicrous. But considering how many states are passing
more restrictive gun laws, Piazza believes he's onto something from both a business and
"It's a unique and very exciting idea
for people who support the right to bear arms," said
Alan Korwin, a co-owner of the California Gun Owner's
Guide, a book documenting gun laws.
Korwin said word of Front
Sight's resort plans spread quickly among the nation's
"For people who like this American
pastime, the demand (for the product) is high," Korwin
In California, owners of certain types
of high-powered weapons such as an Uzi are now required
to register their ownership of the firearm with the
government. The vast majority of gun owners in California
are not doing so, Korwin said, because they fear that
registration will be followed by confiscation.
"They fear the tyrannical abuse of
power that is strictly prohibited by every fabric of
law in this land," Korwin said.
That is where Piazza steps in. Part of the Front
Sight business model includes offering any gun owner
who feels threatened a place to store their weapons
without fear of seizure.
If gun owners sign up for at least
$500 worth of firearms instruction at Front
Sight, they can store their guns there for free.
Piazza said he first got into guns following a drive-by shooting
in his Southern California neighborhood. For years,
he treated guns as "art objects," and thought simply
because he owned guns he was an expert.
However, after taking several firearms
training classes, he realized he was only a novice.
Given that the vast majority of the 80 million gun owners
in the nation have little or no formal firearms training,
it dawned upon him that there was a need for a training
institute and community like Front
He chose the Nevada desert because
the state is more accepting to the idea of average citizens
being able to fire and train with high-powered weapons.
Piazza envisions a community that can cater to a family's every
need. There will be paved roads, a 6,000-foot conference
and classroom area, and a pro shop. A 7,200-square-foot
armory and gunsmithing facility is planned as well as
a gourmet restaurant overlooking a desert vista and
Also on the drawing board are a 177-acre
luxury home community, a commercial center, a private
K-12 school and an airstrip to fly celebrities and politicians
in and out of the resort's "Celebrity Training Center,"
designed to train the rich and famous.
Through the training center, Piazza believes he can change the opinions of the country's
leaders when it comes to gun legislation.
"We need to reach the opinion-makers,
the Fortune 500 executives, the Hollywood crowd, the
media," Piazza said.
"They may be thinking they'll see Bubba
and his militia buddies out here, but who will they
see?" Piazza continued. "They'll see doctors, lawyers, businessmen."
And of course, there will be the gun
ranges. Piazza said the Front Sight
Resort will offer at least 20 state-of-the-art shooting
ranges where residents and trainees can shoot 24 hours
vision is fully realized, Front
Sight will also have 400 yards of underground training
tunnels, a SWAT tower, a repelling and ropes course
and underground rescue training.
Piazza has found a marketing niche. More than 10,000 people
have taken the classes in the past four years, and they
are continuing to come.
Last week, more than 200 people were
on hand for the classes. And, since the resort's inception,
more than 40 of its highest memberships have been sold
at a price of $300,000 each.
That price includes use of the shooting
ranges for life and a one-acre lot to build a house
The endeavor has not been without its
setbacks. The resort, to be built in three phases, is
still in phase one. That contradicts earlier estimates
by Piazza and Front Sight,
which had phase one being completed by the end of last
Piazza attributed most of the delays to disputes with the project's
original contractor, Martin-Harris Construction. Frank
Martin, owner of the company, said last week that Piazza has paid only $455,000 of a $2.4 million construction
Piazza disputes that, saying Martin-Harris caused extensive
delays in the project because they did not secure the
proper permits. Martin says that is simply not true.
Regardless of who is right, Piazza said the dispute led to Front
Sight feeling the wrath of the Bureau of Land Management
and Nye County, which expressed concerns about whether Front Sight was
following proper procedures to ensure permit and environmental
compliance. The firearms training facility is located
in Nye County, while the master-planned community is
across the border in Clark County.
The contractor and Front
Sight are in litigation over the matter, but Piazza said he has since appeased both the BLM and Nye County
regarding any of their concerns.
"We are now in good standing with all
of them," Piazza said.
"It is not a question of if its going
to be built," Piazza said. "It's only a question of when."
And, even though the resort is far
from finished, gun enthusiasts are coming from across
the nation to train. On April 20, more than 200 people
filled Front Sight's
ranges for training.
Some came for the two- and four-day
defensive handgun classes and handgun combat master
prep classes, which range in price from $500 to $1,500.
The ones who came to fire an Uzi stood
before Pat Pelzer, Front
Sight range master, as he rattled off safety measure
after safety measure to a group of 26 students.
"Bolt. Magazine. Safety," Pelzer yells
out time and again, making sure they have the procedure
It is Pelzer and his three other instructors
who make sure there will be no safety problems when
their students are ready to fire the weapon.
"It's safe," said Phoenix computer
services professional Jack Wilson. "It's an hour and
a half before you even have the weapon with ammunition."
After the safety course, the students
fire the weapon on semiautomatic. It is not until eight
hours later that they get to unload a full clip from
an Uzi on fully automatic.
"It's a kick," said Ann Morello, a
school secretary from Reno, who at the urging of her
husband, Rick, decided to spend a part of her school
spring break firing an Uzi at Front
"I didn't feel intimidated at all,"
"There's absolutely no reason a citizen
shouldn't be able to do this," said Uzi student and
Los Angeles resident Manny Fernandez.
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