Front Sight Resorts Interviews Student – Dr. Gary Cecchi
July 14th, 2006
Interviewed by Jim McMahon
Dr. Gary Cecchi has been a Front Sight First Family Member from the very beginning. Back in 1996, Gary was one of the first students to purchase a membership, and he has seen Front Sight evolve from its very first days back at the Bakersfield facility to its present state.
As a Hematologist/Oncologist living and working in the San Francisco Bay area, Gary had virtually no experience with firearms before Front Sight. He has brought to Front Sight as many as thirty friends and associates over the years, which he pilots in himself with his private airplane.
As one of the first Platinum First Family Members, Gary possesses an incisive viewpoint on the necessity of Front Sight’s role is in our American society today.
Gary was kind enough to give me time out of his busy schedule to interview him, and as I was lucky to discover, he just loves to talk about Front Sight.
FSR: What event or reason prompted you to search out firearms training?
Gary: I always wanted to take my airplane up to Alaska. I fly, my wife and I both fly. One summer, 1996 I believe, I planned on going up to Alaska, and I try to get things pretty scoped out ahead of time. I got to the survival kit, because I wanted to go up past a certain latitude. I needed two survival kits, one acceptable to Canada and one acceptable to Alaska. Alaska required a firearm. And Canada didn’t allow a handgun, so it was either a rifle or shotgun.
I never shot anything before. I was always interested in it, but I was a city kid. Never had any experience. So I went down to a gun store and told them what I wanted, and the proprietor sold me a Mossberg stainless steel shotgun. The storeowner was an NRA instructor. He took me out to the firing range and showed me how to shoot it.
I threw the shotgun in the airplane, and made the trip. And when I returned, I decided if I’m going to own this thing, I’d like to figure out how to use it. Because obviously, with the instructions I got from the gun shop, it just wasn’t going to cut it.
FSR: Did you have any previous firearms training experience prior to attending Front Sight?
Gary: Except for the gun shop owner showing me how to shoot the shotgun, zippo. Nothing. And before that I never even touched a gun.
FSR: How did you find out about Front Sight?
Gary: I searched the Internet, that’s how I found Front Sight. At that time I think Naish was in business for six months or something. I sent him an email and he sent me an email back, and then Naish actually called me. I told him what my problem was and he suggested that maybe I should just take a handgun course to start. And that’s how I got started in it.
FSR: What made you choose Front Sight over all the other choices in the firearms training industry?
Gary: I had actually talked to a couple other places. Naish wasn’t the first person I talked to. These other places treated me like I felt, like a total idiot. Naish was somebody I felt had a little bit more of an education orientation, rather than just being some hot shot. You know, I wasn’t going to train to be a Navy Seal. I was training to be able to use a shotgun.
Every place else made me feel uncomfortable, like they were doing me a favor. Whereas Naish’s program seemed oriented toward someone who had no experience, and he was interested. He was interested in what I wanted, and he wanted to provide me with that. And so that’s why I decided to go with Front Sight.
FSR: What course did you first attend?
Gary: I took a defensive handgun course, the Four-Day Defensive Handgun Course.
FSR: What was your impression of your first course?
Gary:I was sold. I just thought the instructors and Naish were really interested in teaching me not only how to use the weapon, but how to use my head too.
Meaning not just capable of using it, but when to use it, how to use it, being really honest about the consequences of using it. I just thought that he had an unbelievable program. I was incredibly impressed.
I spent 30 years in training programs, in medicine, and I just thought this guy really had it wired. I was pretty sold, and I basically joined his First Family program right on the spot.
Back in the Bakersfield days, all Naish had was himself. He had himself, and a philosophy that he seemed to personify, and he had a very, very good instructor staff, those were the original guys. And that was basically it. He was renting space in a gun club in Bakersfield, and that’s all he had.
But it was really impressive to see how professional and how inclusive Naish had designed the program, even at that early point.
FSR: How did the initial training impact your life?
Gary: I wanted to participate in absolutely everything Naish offered. I tried to get involved in everything Naish did from the beginning. I really felt Front Sight gave me a license to learn, aside from some pretty decent fundamentals of handling the gun and understanding it. I went to a couple NRA courses and meetings after I returned from my first Front Sight course, and it just became really obvious to me that there was nobody close to the quality of education Front Sight had. Naish really wants people to learn responsible gun handling. I could see that Naish really cared about his students in a variety of ways.
I really believed in the guy. In some ways I didn’t think Naish could do it, not that I didn’t have a tremendous amount of respect for him, but it was such a monumental task. I mean here we are in the people’s republic of California trying to do this gun thing, and I just really felt that it was nearly impossible. Nobody could do it. How could anybody do that in this kind of climate? But if anyone could do it, I believed Naish would.
I wanted to support him. I believed in him, and I wanted to be part of it. I just watched the guy conduct himself in such an incredibly directed way, and he had such a responsibility to these people that had invested in him. And it’s been a riot, it’s been terrific. And now, it’s a reality. I’m incredibly impressed at what Naish has achieved with Front Sight. It’s no longer a question of can he build it, it’s a question of where else he’s going with it.
FSR: What aspect of the training have you found most valuable?
Gary: I like the didactics. I like the package. The package is the intellectual component, the dry practice, the dry drills followed by the live firing. I like the attentive nature of it. I like the fact that there are no short cuts, that it was long. That it was very arduous, I kind of like that.
FSR: Have you used any of the training to protect yourself, family or friends in a real life situation?
Gary: I got a carry permit, but I rarely carry the weapon. I have had the gun out a number of times at my home, and up at my winery on the property because of concerns. But I never, fortunately, have had the chance to have to use it. I hope that never happens. But, I’ll tell you when things go bang in the night, I have a new level of comfort. If anything ever did happen, my wife or I could barricade the door, call 9-1-1, and while we wait for the cavalry to come, anyone coming through the door is going to be in a world of trouble.
I actually have taken a number of women down to Front Sight who have been attacked. Some of them told me they couldn’t stand to be alone in their home any more because of the fear. Front Sight was the cure for that. And for two ladies in particular, Front Sight completely changed their life. One of these people saved her own life consequent to Naish’s training.
FSR: How many courses have you attended at Front Sight to date?
Gary: Oh, quite a few. I’ve been to 20 courses over the years at Front Sight. I’ve done the shotgun course once, Four-Day Tactical Shotgun. I’ve taken the pistol course, the basic Four-Day Defensive Handgun Course twice, and quite a few two-day tactical handgun courses.
I did the four day rifle course many times. I wanted to be able to pass that course with iron sights on an AR-15. I must have taken that rifle course 7 or 8 times over the years. I was partially paralyzed for a while, have lousy knees, and had some eye problems that impaired my shooting. But now that I’m somewhat better, I will resume my quest to pass that course with iron sights on an AR-15. I’ve done the M-16 course, and some of the submachine gun courses. I want to do some of the handgun skill builder courses to get back into the handgun. I can’t wait to do the armor’s courses. And the list of courses is getting so large, the opportunities are just incredible. It’s a Disneyland for gun enthusiasts.
Then I’d love to take the martial arts courses, the driving courses, etc. etc. etc.
FSR: How many other students have you directly or indirectly referred to Front Sight?
Gary: I’ve brought about 30 people over the years. My wife and I fly them in. I talk about it everywhere I can.
FSR: What is the biggest challenge you find in trying to encourage friends to attend a course at Front Sight?
Gary: Just ignorance. Total unfamiliarity. You know, if you grew up in a gun culture, if you grew up on a farm, in the Midwest, or you are around it, that’s one thing. But for people who have never been around it at all, they are so biased in an uninformed way. It’s getting past that bias. And the way to get past it is education. Once they get down there to Front Sight and attend Naish’s courses, that crap goes away. They have a whole different attitude about it. The problem is getting people over their prejudices, to try to get them to go down there.
I live and work in the San Francisco Bay area. This is not favorable country for gun ownership. Front Sight’s program is an absolute cure to Second Amendment problems, and any of these prejudice issues.
FSR: When did you become a Front Sight First Family Member?
Gary: I was sold on my first course. I signed up right then.
By becoming a First Family Member you were allowed to take courses for life. The only deal was, if you had a family member, they could get in for half price. So after I took the first course and became a First Family Member, I started working on my wife to go and take a course and become a First Family Member. It took me four or five months to get her down there to take a course, and once she took the course, we signed her up for First Family.
FSR: What level membership did you purchase?
Gary:Back in the early years Naish didn’t have any levels of membership. At that time there was only one way to go, there was a First Family Membership.
There was just only one membership. When Naish sold you a membership it allowed you to take all the courses Front Sight had. He didn’t have any fancy courses; he had a handgun, a rifle and a shotgun course. And I think a submachine course, which was it. There wasn’t even a handgun skill builder course or tactical courses. But as the course list expanded, Naish just added them onto your First Family Membership – for free – gratis!!! That was pretty amazing.
When you think about it, the First Family Membership at that time was $5,500. All that seemed like a lot of money then. When you’re out in the desert with a bunch of guys you don’t even know, and you come home and tell your wife you just spent $5,500 for a membership in a gun club 300 miles away, she thinks you got way to much sun.
I then upgraded to Platinum, I was one of the earlier Platinum members. And recently my wife upgraded to Gold.
FSR: Why did you choose to become a member?
Gary: It was the right thing to do. I believed in Naish, and I wanted to support him in what he was doing.
FSR: What is the purpose of the Front Sight Organization?
Gary: If you would have asked me back 6 years ago I would have said the purpose of the Front Sight organization is to teach responsible gun ownership and handling, and to spread a philosophy about Second Amendment rights, and what it means to be an American.
Now I think it’s much greater than that. I think Naish’s philosophy is really beyond that. It’s more than guns. I think it’s more of an orientation towards family. It’s an orientation about giving things back to people. I think it’s about what America used to be like, and what America could be again. I think it’s much greater than firearms now.
I think it’s a philosophy toward family and organization that really is beyond just about any other situation you can imagine. I can’t think of any other organization that has a purpose towards its clientele, like Front Sight does.
I think that the real value that Front Sight can teach anybody is what it’s like to have value-oriented organizations. An organization that has a principle of giving more than it’s taking. I think that spreads far beyond firearms. I think when I bring people down to Front Sight, they see more than a gun school.
FSR: What does Front Sight and your participation with it, really mean to you and the future of firearms ownership in this country?
Gary: I think it is the only barrier to prevent the United States from becoming like England and Australia. The NRA isn’t a barrier. The gun companies aren’t a barrier. Front Sight, and Naish Piazza are the barrier. Because when you bring a biased, ignorant person to Front Sight, and they are exposed with proper education to the “doctrine”, and they see the type of student that attends Front Sight, they have their eyes opened. The “doctrine” is the orientation that Naish has towards education, towards helping people, and towards giving more than you take. It is these individuals, in increasingly expanded numbers, who will defend us from losing the right to keep and bear arms.
Coming to Front Sight and seeing all kinds of people from all walks of life, being educated in an incredibly responsible way, I think that is ultimately the only way that our rights will be protected and America will remain strong. It sends a message. It’s not about guns, it’s about principle.
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?
Gary: A course at Front Sight is more than learning about responsible gun ownership. It’s more than learning gun handling, the proper time to use a gun. A course at Front Sight is a philosophy. It’s a philosophy towards educating yourself, becoming consciously competent, instead of unconsciously incompetent. It’s a philosophy towards life. It’s a philosophy in a lot of ways about being an American, and I think that it’s a way of opening your life to a whole new way of thinking about things with an organization that‘s dedicated to doing that.
FSR: What course are you going to attend next?
Gary: I’m going to do a handgun skill building course, an armor’s course, a martial arts course, an edged weapons course, AND THE RIFLE COURSE WITH AN IRON SIGHT AR-15!!!
FSR: Thank you Gary. See you at Front Sight!