Monday, January 10, 2011

Sig Academy Tour AAR

So this past Saturday I, along with a dozen Northeast bloggers, commenters, readers, and one state Rep met at the Sig Sauer Academy in Epping New Hampshire as the very grateful guests of the Academy staff. We were given the grand tour of the facilities by none other than the director of training himself, George Harris. George, who I was not surprised to learn from his bio was a drill instructor, was gracious enough to lead our motley group around the facilities, even putting up with some idiot getting half the group lost (err, sorry...)

Speaking of the group, let's start with the attendees:


Mopar & Cher
JD & wife


We started off with a quick "pep talk" in the parking lot to get us started:

Pep Talk

George gave us a brief history of the Academy, from the origins in the early 1990s to their guiding philosophy of SIG: Simple Is Good. He told us that one of the questions he heard the most was "What do you teach at the Academy?", to which he invariably responds "Anything you can legally do."

From there we moved on to the outdoor shoothouse, a multi-directional range with obstacles and other challenges one doesn't normally encounter at the gun club:


It's in the middle of a 50 yard outdoor square where they conduct training exercises that include different levels of force-on-force training as well as different shooting disciplines. We didn't get a chance to tour the shoothouse (as you can see, there's a class going on), which was unfortunate as it looked really cool from the outside, but we did get to visit the 300 yard rifle range:

300 Yard Range

There are positions at 100, 200, and the 300 yard mark as seen here. That thin line you see waaaaay off in the background is where the targets go. I dunno about the rest of y'all, but I need glass for that... After we finished gawking at the 300 yard range, we went to see what George had termed "Area 51", their multi-purpose outdoor shooting area:

"Area 51"

There are steel targets in each of the stations, with rimfire, centerfire, and even Cowboy Action Shooting events taking place here. No, I didn't ask if Sig was coming out with a line of single action revolvers or double barreled shotguns... Once we had finished the tour of the outdoor ranges, we came back to the classroom areas for a little "hands-on" time with some selected Sig firearms.

We got to paw a wide variety of handguns and rifles, from the P238 to the Sig 1911 to the new P290 (boy, I cannot WAIT to get my hands on one of these beauties!). Suffice to say, I will be featuring a number of fine Sig Sauer handguns in upcoming Friday gun pics... The P290 is the only Sig that I hadn't handled previously, and wanted to take a moment to give a quick first impression.

I like it. A lot.

It's small. It's light. The trigger pull, while rather stout, is very even, requiring a strong pull but showing little slack or creep. The nature of the pistol - it's a DAO pocket gun - require that it have a heavy pull, so this comes as no shock. What did come as a shock, however, was the news that Sig is indeed working on certifying the P290 for MA compliance - music to my ears indeed. I'm certain that the fact that Eric, the Product Manager for the pistol line, happens to be a MA resident... Coincidentally, he lives in the town next to mine - talk about a small world!

After the pistols came the rifles. We started out with a 516, then got to drool over the latest addition to Sig's rimfire line, a carbine-length 522 with quad forend rails and a faux can for extra tacticality:


Then we got to touch the holy mother of all cool rifles, the SSG:

I call her Vera

To say the action on this rifle is as smooth as silk wouldn't be doing it justice - it was about as near to frictionless as I've ever experienced in a bolt-action rifle. It's available in G-d's own rifle caliber (New Testament) - .308 Winchester - and is currently in trials overseas to see how it holds up against other sniper rifles. All indications are that it will more than hold its own...

After the tour and show & tell were over, they brought us back to the main facility and let us loose in the Sig Store (with a student discount no less!). One of the first things that catches your eye when you walk in is this:

Pistol Sizing Board

This is really neat - they have their entire current pistol line (no P290 yet) on display for all to handle (firing pins removed just like the NRA convention). SCI-FI's lovely bride B. is searching for the perfect first gun once she gets her MA permit (soon!) and George took time out of the tour to show her the board and help her out - just again showing their commitment to superior customer service.

I'd like to offer a personal note of thanks to George Harris, Eric vonBosse, and Dave Grimshaw for taking time out of their very busy days to talk with us and show us around. George was a most excellent host, tour guide and instructor; Eric and Dave were very knowledgeable; everyone at the Sig Academy was top-notch, even though they were smack-dab in the middle of an ATF audit! I will be investigating a pistol course in the spring at the Sig Academy, that is a certainty, and it's a direct result of how impressed I was with the facility and the staff there.

Thanks again everyone!

That is all.


Lissa said...

School bus! I saw the school bus in the first shot!!

Bräuista said...

Twas a great tour. Very professional and the staff is immensely knowledgeable. Thanks Jay!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for including this humble plinker in the fun!

Gun eTools said...

That looks like a lot of fun! I like the Tacticalility of the event too!

Wally said...

It was a really great event, generous hosts, and a great facility. Thank you to our hosts and our community organizer!

libertyman said...

Many thanks to the folks at SIG. I was made to feel welcome from the moment I walked in, and all the folks who work for SIG were wonderful.

Thanks again Jay for making it all possible. I mean I wouldn't even mention getting most of the group lost in the first few minutes. No, I wouldn't bring that up at all. Not me.

Eric said...

I've taken a couple of classes at the Sig Academy. I enjoyed both and certainly took something away fron each.

My one piece of advise, since you have to shoot their frangible ammo, shoot something cheap.

JoeMerchant24 said...

Thanks to JayG for organizing the day and thanks to all of you for welcoming a new face to the group.

Had a blast!

Dr. Feelgood said...

The "Vera" photo is missing one cunning hat.

Anonymous said...

@Eric: I understood that you had to shoot leadfree frangible ammo, not that you had to shoot THEIR leadfree frangible ammo. One thing I forgot to ask while we were there was their price on ammo, and I didn't notice it for sale in their proshop. I was thinking with the quantity they buy, they could sell it to students for less then most could buy it for elsewhere; especially if they sold it at or near cost.