What started with lifetime memberships ended in bankruptcy after Nevada training facility Front Sight declared bankruptcy in May 2022.
Now the famed site may get a chance at new life under new leadership as PrairieFire steps in.
PrairieFire is set to acquire Front Sight in a potential $24 million deal pending bankruptcy process and confirmation, according to court documents filed in Nevada.
In an exclusive interview with PrairieFire’s CEO Bill Wilson, Pew Pew Tactical got all the information on PrairieFire’s business, potential plans for Front Sight, and what current Front Sight members can expect moving forward.
Front Sight: Lifetime Memberships & Bankruptcy
Founded in 1996 by Dr. Ignatius Piazza, a California Chiropractor, Front Sight was made famous by claims of lifetime memberships that included unlimited training.
Nestled in Pahrump, Nevada, on 550 acres of land, it boasted range facilities and hosted a variety of gun courses. But it wasn’t without controversy.
Front Sight and Piazza were embroiled in lawsuits in 2007 and 2018 over their business practices. The latest of which left the company in dire financial straits.
This came after promises of a multi-million-dollar expansion remained unfulfilled years after investors and members had been guaranteed a resort and other amenities.
In January 2022, a letter was sent to Front Sight members announcing a complete restructuring of the business. This plan included new fees and a loss of several membership perks. Infuriated, members lashed out against Piazza, even creating a Facebook group to collect complaints about the site and its founder.
Ultimately, Front Sight filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2022.
That’s where PrairieFire came in.
Who is PrairieFire?
Promising a completely overhauled take on training and membership, PrairieFire is, in essence, a training facility; but it’s not your average, run-of-the-mill range.
At the helm of PrairieFire is Bill Wilson, a former Navy SEAL who served as Platoon Commander at SEAL Teams One and Three. (It’s worth mentioning that, though they share a name, PrairieFire’s Wilson is not the same Bill Wilson that heads Wilson Combat.)
Under Wilson’s leadership, PrairieFire aims to revolutionize how people train by combining tactics from military, law enforcement, and the competition sectors.
“What Jeff Cooper did in the 60s and 70s was revolutionize the way people train. We want to be the second wave of that,” Wilson emphasized.
Wilson said that’s achieved through a three-pronged approach that balances training with a cadre of elite instructors adept at teaching to all skill levels, championships that offer an incentive for training, and fun experiences that leave people with a smile on their faces.
At its core, PrairieFire seeks to balance fun with quality training in a welcoming environment.
“The underlying philosophy for us is that we celebrate firearms ownership. It’s something that should be celebrated. It’s not something that should be hidden in the shadows. We think gun ownership should be balanced by the responsibility to use it safely and proficiently. We’re here to do that in a safe and welcoming way.”
PrairieFire is already hosting events around the U.S., with the biggest set for October 28, 2022. The winner will take home a $100,000 prize; next year, that jackpot goes up to $1 million.
It doesn’t stop there. The company launched a patent-pending RANK scoring system.
This newly developed system allows users to download a target, take it to the range, shoot two courses of fire at set yardage, and then upload their target for review. A mathematical score will be assigned, and shooters can see how they rank among other shooters.
“There’s no paywall. You shoot a target from a prescribed distance and get immediate feedback,” Wilson said. “We think this is going to be the catalyst for getting more people involved in shooting.”
An app is in development and will launch by the end of 2022.
PrairieFire’s Plans for Front Sight
The most obvious question is, what does PrairieFire intend to do with Front Sight and its facility?
Wilson said pending confirmation from the bankruptcy court, the company envisions a place for training, experiences, and competition for all outdoor enthusiasts under the new name, PrairieFire Center.
The company wants to offer a welcoming place for shooters of all levels. “We are going to invest millions in this property and turn it into the world’s preeminent destination for training competitions and experiences,” Wilson explained. “We’re assembling an extraordinary team, and our goal is to build out Front Sight. It’s a big, beautiful, blank canvas, and we want to take that to the next level.”
Though an RV resort and other amenities are in the works for the future, in the meantime, PrairieFire will use the existing areas of the Front Sight facility to host classes and events.
Wilson said Front Sight’s current three areas will fulfill different needs of various membership levels.
Members can expect to see ranges devoted to recreational shooting, private instruction, hardcore training, competition shooting, fun experiences, and precision long-range shooting.
There will be opportunities to do a wide variety of training. “We want as many people as we can bring into this industry. We want to provide them with something fun, something satisfying and continue to grow the sport. It’s vitally important.”
As for Piazza, the polarizing figure at the head of Front Sight, Wilson assured Pew Pew Tactical that Piazza would not have anything to do with the strategy or management of PrairieFire.
“Unequivocally, Dr. Piazza has no future employment in my company, period. He will not work at PrairieFire,” Wilson explained.
“This is a transaction. [Dr. Piazza] is not involved in any business making decisions or management. He will not have, nor will he ever have, any ownership or equity stake in the business. We’re completely independent from him,” Wilson said.
PrairieFire already has a team dedicated to turning the tides, including some notable names like World Champion Todd Jarrett and Olympian Lanny Barnes.
New to guns? Check out our online Beginner Handgun Course that teaches all the important stuff you need to know. “If you look at our team, it’s an incredible team of people that really brings something to the table,” Wilson said. “It’s just an extraordinary team. I say this very humbly; I don’t think there’s a team with that level of experiencing gravitas and diversity.”
As part of its revamp and pending approval, PrairieFire would introduce a four-tier membership plan.
At the base level sits the Frontier Plan. At $200 annually (plus a one-time $200 initiation fee), members gain unlimited access to two Frontier ranges as well as various discounts and 10% off the Pro Shop.
Resting above Frontier is the Nevada membership. Priced with a one-time $1,000 initiation fee and $1,000 annual membership fee, this tier offers full access to all PrairieFire Nevada ranges, courses, and experiences. This includes sniper ranges, helicopter shooting experiences, an invitation to the Monster Mash tournaments, and general admission to PrairieFire competitions. Like the Frontier Plan, the Nevada plan also comes with some discounts, including 10% off at the Pro Shop.
The next tier sees the National Plan, which grants access to shooting experiences at both PrairieFire locations in Nevada and Texas (and other future facilities). This level gets members full access to all Nevada ranges, courses, and experiences and includes events like the sniper range, helicopter shooting, and Monster Mash tournaments. It also includes access to Leadership Council events and a 20% Pro Shop discount. There is a one-time initiation fee of $5,000 with an annual membership of $2,000.
The Founder’s Club is the final tier and requires a one-time initiation fee of $10,000 and an annual membership fee of $5,000. Under this tier, members get exclusive access to all PrairieFire ranges, courses, and experiences in Nevada and Texas. This also includes special experiences included in the previous tiers. National Plan members gain access to the Leadership Council and invitations to private dinners, competitions, and events. Founder’s Club access (with lockers and a private cigar lounge), airport drop-off/pickup, and gunsmithing are also included. Discounts come with this membership level, including 20% off at the Pro Shop.
What Happens to Current Front Sight Members?
If approved through the bankruptcy process, current Front Sight members would become PrairieFire Frontier members automatically for two years at no cost. This includes access to unlimited shooting on two dedicated ranges on site with basic instruction.
If Front Sight members like what they see and convert to a paying plan before the two years are up, PrairieFire will waive the initiation fee at all membership levels.
Additionally, each Front Sight member will gain one free day of Q Academy training at PrairieFire for themselves and a guest.
For Front Sight members who opt for a Nevada tier or higher, a 50% discount on annual membership and daily fees for 2023 and 2024 will also be included.
Founder’s Club will be an invitation-only membership extended to Front Sight members who have spent at least $15,000 at Front Sight on memberships and upgrades. There will only be 500 spots available on a first-come, first-serve basis, with PrairieFire reaching out to those members directly.
“The theme is don’t leave anyone behind. If you’re a Front Sight member, give us an opportunity to earn your business,” Wilson said. “We’re going to earn your trust and confidence.”
Wilson said PrairieFire has plans to ensure a smooth transition and a successful business model.
“We have an all-star lineup from the training perspective and the business team. We plan on bringing a lot of innovation with business expertise here and invest millions of dollars to enhance the current Front Sight facilities.”
“Don’t judge us by what we say; judge us by what we do. Just give us a chance. Come out and see if there’s a membership that fits you.”
The next hearing date for the PrairieFire acquisition is set for September 30.
Source: Jacki Billings, https://www.pewpewtactical.com/prairiefire-to-acquire-front-sight/