Front Sight Resorts Interviews Student David Lodarski
June 30th, 2006
Interviewed by Jim McMahon
As the infamous California fires were burning their path of destruction throughout Southern California, Dave Lodarski, a Fire Captain and arson inspector from Colton, California, was on the front lines for weeks fighting the inferno in San Bernardino.
Dave is a Front Sight First Family Member. A Gold Member, as well as his two sons. When Dave is not fighting fires he can pretty much be found at Front Sight sizing up his aim and honing his skills. Dave has taken between 15 and 20 courses at Front Sight, and has Distinguished himself in both rifle and handgun. And when Dave is not at Front Sight, he can pretty much be found hunting big game in Africa, or here in the States, or planning his next big game trip.
I interviewed Dave at his home, where he was kind enough to give me some of his time away from his obviously very busy schedule.
FSR: What event or reason prompted you to search out firearms training?
David: Over the last couple of years I’ve taken on an additional duty of being an arson investigator. And I carry a gun for that. That’s really prompted me as far as personal safety.
You’re on the streets, and the streets are a bad place. You have the realization that at any time you may have to actually use your weapon. It’s not like the one you set at home in your night stand, thinking you’ll probably never have to use this. On the street you have the feeling that you might really have to. It spurred me to work more on the handgun portion of my training.
An arson inspector is actually a peace officer, and the crime of arson is a felony, so I am interviewing prospective felons. I am a cop for the time that I am out there investigating. We inspectors do get left in burnt out buildings by ourselves, or follow-ups going to interview witnesses or suspects, which may not be in the best neighborhoods. And most bad guys don’t like be arrested.
But I also love to hunt. I’ve gotten to hunt in quite a few places in the world. The Front Sight training also sparked from that, wanting to be a proficient and ethical hunter.
I like hunting big game the most, in Africa. I don’t think there’s anything that compares to Africa. I’ve been there three times, and I’m getting ready to go in May again, my fourth time.
I got to hunt lion, Cape Buffalo, and lots of the big plains game. Africa has got a pretty good variety. Most of Africa has been done with a 375 H&H rifle. I don’t carry a pistol. I figure if you can’t stop them with a rifle, I don’t really need a pistol.
On safari, all of it is guided. You are in a foreign country, and all the countries there require that you have a licensed guide to outfit you. And really they are not the safest countries in the world. You want to be there with somebody who knows his way around, speaks the language, and knows the laws. You are hunting on government lands that are set aside for hunting. Some of the countries that we hunt in, if you’re not authorized to be there they actually will kill you on the spot.
I’ve been to Tanzania, which was definitely my favorite place. And I’ve been to South Africa twice. In May I’ll be going to Zimbabwe. An African safari really is exotic. All I ever thought about when I was a kid was going to Africa.
Over here, I like to hunt deer and elk. My youngest boy and I are going to Alaska this year, and we’re going to do a caribou hunt and fishing trip. I do a little bit of bird hunting, but really like the big game hunting.
FSR: Did you have any previous firearms training experience prior to attending Front Sight?
David: Gee wiz, when I was about seven or eight years old I started out rabbit hunting. That was about 40 years ago. This was with my dad going out in the local hills shooting rabbits and quail.
It was years ago when I first starting shooting a handgun, as a kid. I had never been really proficient with a handgun until I started going to Front Sight. It was never my weapon of choice.
I’ve been a hunter safety instructor for about ten years. Mainly to kids, to expose them to hunting and shooting, and make sure that they do it safely, that they are not afraid of guns. I think it is much better to train them on how to handle one, and how to use one, than tell them not to touch the thing and be afraid of it. So, I have taken courses to prepare me to teach the class. But, nothing compared to what Front Sight teaches.
FSR: How did you find out about Front Sight?
David: I got a post card and a phone call about a Free Sub-Machine Gun Class. I couldn’t believe it. It sounded too good to be true. I thought “You want me to come up there and shoot a machine gun, and you don’t want to charge me for it? Well, OK, sign me up.” This was back in 1998 in Las Vegas.
FSR: What made you choose Front Sight over all the other choices in the firearms training industry?
David: I didn’t look at any others.
FSR: What course did you first attend?
David: The Sub-Gun course, it hadn’t been available very long, I think I got in on some of the first Sub-Gun classes that they had in Las Vegas. It fact, Front Sight’s Bakersfield facility was still open, because I went back there in 1999, a year later, to do my first rifle class.
FSR: What was your impression of your first course?
David: It was Fantastic. Great class, great instructors. Probably the best thing was how good I felt with my rifle after the class. I shot the best I ever shot. The most confident. I really did feel like Front Sight says, “If you can see it, you can hit it.” The machine gun course was good, plain fun, there’s no doubt about that. I think the rifle course was what impressed me the most. They just made you proficient with a rifle. Their drills, their patience. I’ve been shooting for so long I’ve built a lot of bad habits. They were patient enough to stand there and correct all those habits for me, even if it took them 30 times, or ten hours to do it. Those instructors are going to stay there and make sure you get it right.
FSR: How did the initial training impact your life?
David: Wow! I got to think about that one for a second. It showed me what I didn’t know. It showed me the need I had for training.
I felt so confident with the rifle after the class, and that was all from the program, from start to finish. You know, starting out thinking you can shoot OK, and walking away feeling like, “Wow, I can handle a rifle!”
FSR: What aspect of the training have you found most valuable?
David: I’d say just the confidence that I have with the weapon. When you pick up a weapon, you make sure it’s safe, you load it, you shoot it, and you hit your target. It becomes more of a reaction than having to think about what you’re doing. The drills, the training, it just becomes part of you.
FSR: Have you used any of the training to protect yourself, family or friends in a real life situation?
David: No. As far as protection, I would say not. But it sure is nice to know that you have the skills there if you need them.
FSR: How many courses have you attended at Front Sight to date?
David: I wish I knew! I would guess probably pushing in the 15 to 20 range. My goal is to go once a month. I can’t always do that during fire season, but there’s several months where I go two or three times a month. I try and make up for it.
I’ve done Two- and Four-Day Practical Rifle; Two- and Four-Day Defensive Handgun; Two-Day Shotgun; CCW; the M16 course; and Skill Builder for handgun. I have so much fun with the rifle and handgun it’s hard to find time to do it all.
I’ve earned Distinguished Graduate certificates in rifle and handgun.
FSR: How many other students have you directly or indirectly referred to Front Sight?
David: Two of my buddies that I sent up have signed up as Gold Members, and one of their girlfriends. Once you bring them up there they’re hooked. I donated some of my certificates to our arson unit, then our Chief sent up all the guys that hadn’t shot before.
One of the guys I had taken up, a fire investigator, was actually afraid of his own loaded gun. He didn’t like to carry it loaded, he didn’t even want to load it. After that Four-Day course, you talk about 180 degrees. That guy was confident with his gun. If you knew the guy and saw what he transformed to in four days, you wouldn’t have believed it.
FSR: What is the biggest challenge you find in trying to encourage friends to attend a course at Front Sight?
David: I think trying to explain to them what’s it’s all about. They just have to go there to see it. I wish there was a quick, easy explanation, but I haven’t found one yet. It’s something that you really have to spend some time with, there’s just so much to try to explain in a very short amount of time. But when you explain it to someone, they want to sign up.
To me it’s the greatest place in the world. I don’t know how to describe it, other than to show I’m enthusiastic about it.
FSR: When did you become a Front Sight First Family Member?
David: About three years ago.
FSR: What level membership did you purchase?
David: I started with a Copper. Upgraded to Silver. Then with this latest deal I couldn’t resist the Gold.
I bought both of my two sons Copper Memberships, and this last Christmas I gave them Gold Memberships. I figure a father couldn’t do anything better than that for his sons.
The greatest thing in life for me is to spend time with my sons. That’s something that we’ve always done with our hunting, they both enjoy hunting, it’s father-son time. And it’s really nice with Front Sight because that kind of extends it all year round. It’s just nice to go spend a weekend with my teenage sons.
FSR: Why did you choose to become a First Family member?
David: You can take the courses as many times as you want for the rest of your life, and believe me I’ve pushed the limits on that one!
FSR: What is the purpose of the Front Sight Organization?
David: To train people. To provide the training, to educate the non-gun-owning public that guns are a part of our freedom. That they are not a bad thing. Especially if you live in California, guns are looked at as such a bad thing, and people just need to be educated. And I know a course at Front Sight would probably do that for them.
FSR: What does Front Sight, and your participation with it, really mean to you and the future of firearms ownership in this country?
David: It is something that I’m going to look forward to for the rest of my life. I’m not going to stop shooting until I stop breathing. There’s just no way.
I think Naish really has a vision. You have to be impressed by the guy. He has an overall goal to change the way people look at guns. I know people that go up there are changed. It’s just a matter of getting them up there and showing them that that guns aren’t a bad thing, and that people that own them aren’t bad people.
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?
David: To me, it’s the greatest place on Earth. Where else can you go and have that much fun. That’s what it is to me, it’s plain fun. I love going there, the instructors, those guys are like my very good friends. They are some of the nicest people that I’ve ever met. They are more than happy and patient to work with you for hours. If you’re not doing something right, they will slowly and surely change your habits. I can’t say enough about those instructors. That’s part of the fun of going there, getting to see those guys again, because they are really super people.
FSR: What course are you going to attend next?
David: Precision Rifle. The four-day course. I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve always enjoyed long-range shooting and to actually have a course that instructs you on that, wow! Also, I’ll be taking the Skill Builder for rifle. Every time I go I get better. There’s never any doubt about that. Every time I go I feel better about what I’m doing. I can’t say enough good about the place.
FSR: Thank you David, we’ll see you at Front Sight!