Distinguished Graduate

The most satisfying hunt I ever had did not involve me every pulling the trigger.  Actually, truth be told, I never even shouldered the rifle.  I was just a bystander.  The huntress was my daughter on her first mule deer hunt in Colorado.  She knew that the potential existed for long distance shots, but she had only ever shot out to 100 yards at our local range.  She practiced on our simulators using the rifle to hone her skills on trigger and breath control…. but the question remained, would that translate into the real world?

She proved that it did when she took her deer with a clean shot at 325 yards.

Fast forward to last weekend.

One of our favorite clients, Col. Jim Duffy (ret.)  A retired Special Forces officer had approached Sandy two years ago with a request.  He had purchased a membership to Front Sight in Nevada, but was concerned that his health would prevent him from going to the program alone.  Sandy agreed to accompany him.  Others found out and also wanted to go.  Soon there was a group of about twelve that were all going to head out together.

Unfortunately, the Col.’s health caught up with him and he was unable to complete the course that time around.

After a year of therapy, and frankly muscling through his ailments…  (after all he is a Green Beret)… it was time to try it again.  This time the group had expanded to 20.  It also included Chaney our fifteen year old daughter.

(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here:)

I was not able to attend myself.  We had law enforcement training smack in the middle of the four day course, so I got to be a bachelor while Sandy and Chaney headed out to Nevada with the group.

Front Sight’s training protocols differ a little from the methodologies we use at Artemis.  We encourage students to train with different methodologies and experience different styles.  The only way someone can be a master at skill at arms is to understand the complexities of the weapons systems and the different methods practitioners use to maximize effectiveness.  We instruct all of our students never to fight against another schools training style… (unless of course it is patently unsafe)…  Rather, they should embrace it during the class, then afterwords make a determination of its effectiveness.

One of the Front Sight traditions…. one that I frankly like… is the attainment of “DG” or Distinguished Graduate.  At the end of each class the students take part in a test to determine if they have the skill sets necessary to attend the more advanced classes that Front Sight offers.  Each student is “rated” during their time in the class.  The top of the rating scale is “Distinguished Graduate.”  Achieving this rating is not particularly easy to say the least.  In the class that our group attend there were a total of forty six students.  Of the forty six, four earned the rank of Distinguished Graduate.

To make it even more difficult, they performed their test in the rain.

This is a timed test that combines both speed and accuracy.  So less than perfect conditions can have a serious impact on performance.

Two of the classes Distinguished Graduates were Chaney and Col. Duffy.

As the Col stated, the two of them “bookended” the course… the oldest Distinguished Graduate and the Youngest.

Both were extremely proud… and they damn well should be.

Any shooting test like this has a binary result… you either succeeded or failed.  There are no assists, no “do overs” no “gimmies”.

There is a complete purity in the outcome.  The possibility of a lucky shot?  Sure… it happens.  Twenty seven lucky shots in a row?  Statistical impossibility.

The “DG” is awarded a certificate and a challenge coin.  That challenge coin has become something of a totem to our daughter.  The other night I could hear her upstairs struggling with her chemistry homework.  I went into her room to check on her.

Sprawled out on her desk were papers with various equations and charts.  She looked deep in thought and exacerbation as she glanced back and forth, looking for the “answer” to a particular homework problem.

“You ok hon?”

“Yeah Dad… I got this.”

As I left I could see placed at the edge of her homework her Distinguished Graduate challenge coin.

Yeah.. she’s got this.

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