Posted on: December 11, 20150
TL/DR: AIWB is allowed and instructed in relevant Green Eye Tactical training courses.
The last month or so has seen a great deal of buzz in the industry about Appendix Carry. It started off with an ill-informed article in an NRA publication and now a number of well-known instructors are banning or restricting Appendix Carry in their concealed classes. These instructors have well established track records for courses and their rationale for making these decisions, based on their class format, should not be questioned. The primary job of every firearms instructor is the safety of his or her clients.
Now, since I’ve noticed a lot of angry (and uninformed) comments about these posts- I’ve decided to make a very detailed post about the “why”. I’m not writing a wall of words to argue one way or the other. I’m going to post the full methodology I use (and I was taught with) so that when you’re looking at attending other training courses, you have some information to evaluate the content with. I’m not talking about the instructors that made the decision to ban or restrict- they are all top-notch. I’m more talking about the ones that will have you AIWB on hour 1, day 1 while rolling on the ground and shooting between your legs.
Because I teach it, I don’t “drill” the technique, I use a building block approach to all techniques I cover and crawl, walk, run is always in effect. If you are looking for run-n-gun training courses, keep looking- you’re in the wrong place. If you’re looking for elitist training, where you can brag that you were one of the few that could attend based on the high course pre-requisites, keep looking- you’re in the wrong place. If you judge a course by how high the round count is, well….you get the idea. Now, just because I allow it, doesn’t mean you get to do it. The point of building block training is to build a solid base. I’m not going to let anyone live-fire a technique that they can’t competently and consistently demonstrate in a dry-fire capacity. (I do keep a pair of airsoft rifles and pistols on hand for courses for use in extreme cases).
There is no one-carry method that works well in all environments and situations. If you fall into the crowd that identifies as: “I carry (insert AIWB or other method here)”, then you need to reevaluate what you are doing. AIWB does have a number of benefits. It keeps the holstered firearm near our “working area”, which lends itself well to accessibility, retention, and deployment if engaged hand to hand. It also is generally, but not always, the more concealed method for carry. The downside is comfort, especially if you are in a seated position for long periods of time. Individuals with large waistlines may have more difficulty accessing the firearm as well. This is why there are other methods of carry, and none of them should be looked down on. If you are wearing a suit, it may be better to carry on the side or slightly rear, or even in a shoulder holster (go ahead and gasp!). The point is- you should be doing a mission analysis of what you are doing to determine your requirements. Once you determine your requirements, then determine the mode of carry, holster, and pistol that best fits those requirements. If you’re mode of carry and equipment doesn’t change fairly regularly, you may not be using the most efficient techniques.
There is a general progression to pistol draw work. Generally, and arguably, it is more ideal to start teaching a new student from a drop leg holster. It is much easier to manage, has better anatomical index points, and the draw is much less compressed with regards to arm angle. Once the basics of the draw and re-holstering (which is the most important with regards to safety), we have a base to work from. From there, it goes to the belt. With each new carry position, we start with the pistol unconcealed and uncluttered. Each position gets dry-fired before going live. Then you conceal and dry fire again, then you progress to live fire. Notice a pattern? Once the belt draw is good, we move to IWB and the same skill progression is followed.
As you may have figured out- this means a lot of dry fire. How much dry fire depends on the class and if the key safety tasks for the skill are being executed properly. I do not run high round count courses. While a course may list 850 rounds for a 2-day course: that is based off of a best case, everyone is squared away, all I’m doing is blowing the whistle after giving instruction with minor feedback. That pretty much never happens . I make 0 guarantees that you won’t be driving home with 50% of your ammo still left. I also make 0 guarantees that you get all the way to the more difficult technique. But, then again- what were you doing coming to my course if you equate success to shooting all your ammo?
What is the point of this? Repetition alone is not training. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice and error free repetition make perfect.
You need to make sure that you are using the proper equipment for any training you are doing. When we talk holsters for concealed work- at a minimum we are talking hard leather, ideally- we want Kydex. The holster should be shaped so that there are no snag hazards during re-holstering, it should completely cover the trigger guard and the safety (if present), and it should firmly hold the weapon in position. As for the pistol, it should be carry safe. Really, this isn’t unique to concealed work. The training industry has a lot of competition creep into it. People attend training courses with modified weapons that wouldn’t be safe for the tactical application they are training for in the first place. For pistols this means a trigger weight of 4-4.5lbs MINIMUM. It needs to be drop-safe. All modifications should be carefully planned, based from your mission analysis, and performed by a qualified and reputable gunsmith. It should be in good working order and pass a functions check (you do know how to perform a functions check your pistol, right?) before training.
This isn’t the first time I’ve brought this up. There is a constant battle in the instruction industry to fill slots. Every instructor is vying for the attention of the “industry” and the “industry” is fickle. The temptation is always there to do some training that some nutjob thinks is cool, like shoot with a plastic bag over your head, to generate more interest. Some cave to this. To some extent, your clients do have to have a good time, and you will need to make small compromises- but it shouldn’t compromise content or safety. When I went through OTC at the Unit, we dry-fired at a piece of tape on the wall for a week straight, with instructors immediately correcting the most microscopic mistake or inefficiency. People say they want “real Operator training” but, I suspect that if I listed a 5 day course where the students were going to do nothing but dry fire at a piece of tape- the booking results would be predictable. Think about that the next time you consider your training.