Front Sight is a massive firearm training complex in Nevada. We’ve all seen the ads and many of you have taken training classes there.
For me, things always felt a little off about the marketing, but since I wasn’t likely to travel that far for training anytime soon, I never really worried about it. Besides, I’ve felt that way about a lot of marketing that turned out to be for legit goods or services.
However, a lot of people who became members of Front Sight are now feeling something is more than a little bit off.
The owner of a mega-firearms training center near Pahrump says he is restructuring following a lawsuit that’s left the business financially strapped amid a multi-million dollar expansion of the 550-acre facility that was set to include a hotel, food court, retail shops and more.
In a 15-page letter to its members on Saturday, Front Sight Firearms Training Institute owner Ignatius Piazza claimed a “con man” defrauded the company and is attempting to acquire the shooting range and academy, which boasts more than 250,000 members at several facilities across the U.S., and is purported to be the largest of its kind in the world.
“He represented that he was one of us, a pro-gun patriot who wanted to assist Front Sight in positively changing the image of gun ownership in our lifetimes by helping us complete the resort with low-interest money he would source from his vast pool of overseas investors,” Piazza said. “He promised he would raise all the funds needed to complete the resort and do it quickly if we covered all the administrative costs and some initial marketing costs.
Now, Piazza has been at this game long enough one might question how he fell afoul of a con man. Personally, a good con man can get anyone, but especially someone who has been doing something for a while and has a great deal of confidence in what they’re doing. Con men take advantage of that confidence.
But while some might accept the “con man” explanation, some of Piazza’s decisions since then aren’t sitting well.
But members of the institute are balking at the owner’s restructuring plans and calling “foul” after Front Sight on Saturday announced sweeping and immediate changes to many of its policies and fees.
One Front Sight member told the Pahrump Valley Times that Piazza issued a letter to her about its new “use-or-lose” policy that would essentially divert account assets that she had paid upfront to help save the business from foreclosure.
“Many feel there is breach of contract with their memberships,” said Karen Zahn-Anderson, who told the Pahrump Valley Times that a Facebook group had been formed this weekend to protest changes at the mega range.
Those changes include a new $50 monthly maintenance fee and an additional $25 daily “staff support fee” introduced for all students and members who attend a course at the facility. Front Sight announced on Saturday it would also immediately suspend many of its longtime membership programs that offered discounts and perks to loyal customers.
“Piazza has essentially wiped out everyone’s membership, overnight instituting draconian monthly charges, daily charges and other measures to members that had lifetime free courses,” member Joe Madas, of Cherry Valley, Calif. told the Pahrump Valley Times.
Now, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I only just learned about this late yesterday and here I am writing about it first thing.
Piazza claims to have filed a lawsuit against the con man he blames for this misfortune, who he claims diverted construction funds into his personal accounts, but no criminal charges have been filed. He also claims that the judge in the case has thus far failed to provide any summary judgments, which may or may not mean anything.
But for the members who are basically facing their memberships being wiped out, none of that actually matters. It’s one thing to try and save Front Sight, but to screw over the people who have stood by the facility for all these years doesn’t strike me as a particularly wise move.
And yeah, I get why people are calling it fraud.
Piazza may have felt he had no choice if he wanted to save Front Sight, but this was probably not the best way to go about it.
However, Piazza faced a lawsuit from members of Front Sight’s “First Family” for failing to deliver on certain promises for that particular membership group. That lawsuit was settled in 2007, but I can’t help but think the company is about to get hit with yet another lawsuit if this persists.
For their sake, I hope Piazza takes a step back and recognizes that this is probably not a brilliant idea.