Scared of the Boogeyman

22-Jun-15 – 19:50 by ToddG

Recently, a well known instructor announced that he is banning AIWB from his classes.

From my point of view — as someone who has taught a lot of high velocity shooting to people who carry AIWB all the time — this is silly. It’s literally nothing more than fear of the unknown. Following the same basic safety rules as anyone using any other kind of holster, AIWB can be done safely just like … well, like any other kind of holster. It’s not a magic trick.

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This is the difference between Big Boy Rules and actual safety protocols. Teaching people to do things properly and safely is harder than simply saying “Ya’ll be safe now, hear?” but it actually benefits the students more. And that’s the point of being an instructor, isn’t it?

Obviously, if an instructor wants to exclude a holster, he can. That’s his decision to make. But unless you can point to a mountain of evidence proving otherwise (e.g., the SERPA), don’t blame the holster. Admit that you don’t know how to handle it properly and maybe, just maybe, considering taking a class so you can teach it better rather than just running from a make believe boogeyman. Especially when so many of your peers seem to have a perfectly good — and perfectly safe — handle on the issue.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


  1. 36 Responses to “Scared of the Boogeyman”

  2. The first person I thought of after reading the AIWB ban scuttlebutt was you Todd. You teach a class dedicated to AIWB. I would assume you’ve been able to compile some data on the topic and if it were as unsafe as some think, wouldn’t you have discovered this by now?

    Since you continue to teach and carry in this manner and I respect your thoughts on these matters… I’ll just keep on with AIWB.

    By Paul on Jun 22, 2015

  3. I agree with you. It’s not the holster or weapon that puts a person at risk it’s how he handles the whole system. I don’t carry AIWB due to my build but I know if I eventually did so I could do it as safely as any other method of carry.

    By Gerard on Jun 22, 2015

  4. Paul — I’m not suggesting AIWB is magically safer and I’ve said myself that it requires attention when holstering. But so does holstering any other way. I’ve had one student injure himself in a class. It was with an OWB competition type holster. Should I ban those? Of course not.

    Here’s a question I’d ask of someone who is banning something in class for safety reasons, especially when many of his peers do not:

    * What is your student:instructor ratio?

    * How much time do you spend specifically teaching safe holstering techniques and safety/medical protocols in general?

    * How many years, months, weeks, or at least days of experience do you have with the carry method in question?

    * When is the last time you attended formal training AS A STUDENT in a class that taught the proper way to address the concerns you have?

    As William Aprill pointed out on Facebook, if two injuries with a particular type of holster from other people’s classes is enough to get that type of holster kicked out of class, what type of holster is left? None.

    If an instructor doesn’t feel competent enough to handle shooters using certain gear, that’s fine, but don’t blame the gear.

    By ToddG on Jun 22, 2015

  5. Todd, I respect your opinion and passion, but I know the Boogeyman and his name is Murphy. In my time with and after the “G” company I was privy to details of three well trained people who got careless with their AIWB. Two bled out and i do not remember the outcome for the third. If I know of three, there are likely hundreds with hopefully less dire outcomes. I like the AIWB for convenience and comfort, but I just don’t do it any more, since I have personally met Murphy more than once. Also, for professional instructors, I respectfully opine that it is not attractive to refer to other accomplished instructors or even a colleague as “silly” because of individual preferences in teaching content or methods. IMHO

    By Jim Pledger on Jun 22, 2015

  6. Mr. Pledger — Understood and as always, appreciated.

    The organization with the greatest experience of people carrying aiwb, both with and without a holster, is probably NYPD. As best I can tell, they’ve had zero injuries as a result in decades of such use.

    I know multiple people who’ve shot themselves with other types of holsters. Look at Gunsite’s old rule about Glocks and IWB holsters in general. The answer is teaching (and enforcing) good safety habits. As I said above, I’ve had one self induced GSW in a class and it was with what would generally be considered one of the safest holsters available. Murphy is out there regardless of where the gun is carried.

    And just to get all grammatical, I referred to the decision as silly, not the instructor. 8|

    By ToddG on Jun 22, 2015

  7. The unnamed instructor made a point to specify that he was making this restriction to open enrollment classes (whatever that may be). He is a “famous celebrity” whereas aiwb specific classes are a still-niche product that attract a more capable clientele.

    By Mbirch on Jun 22, 2015

  8. Dude, you just totally swept your holster with a hot gun with deadly bullets. I can’t believe you just did that. *Face palm* You should have at-least used “serious injury” or better yet “mild thud” ammo to do this.

    By David on Jun 23, 2015

  9. I know you’re a famous, experienced instructor, while I’ve only been competing in IPSC matches for 30+ years and instructing “new shooters” for five years, but I must respectfully disagree with your lambasting comments in regards to the “Unnamed instructor”.

    I understand that he is not without experience in the field, also. And I read the quote (I can provide it verbatim, if you wish). He was talking about “Open Enrollment” classes, which means that he knows nothing about the background, or level of experience or expertise of his students.

    His concern seems to have been in regards to entry level shooters, who under pressure can’t even remember how to do a reload.

    I wouldn’t allow appendix holsters (even if they were legal) in the classes I teach either, because some of these wanna-be competitors are entirely incompetent to engage more than bulls-eye targets in a slow-fire match.

    Sir, sarcasm is an unbecoming trait in a grown man.

    By Jerry the Geek on Jun 23, 2015

  10. Whut, adults aren’t allowed to use sarcasm? Has the internet been informed?

    Fortunately it appears appeal to 30 year authority have survived intact.

    As that may be, I suppose if your marketing strategy involves inviting the unwashed masses to bathe in your glory as they contend with a cookie cutter approach to conducting class you are allowed to laugh all the way to the bank. Hopefully those students understand the limits imposed by such an approach.

    I don’t carry AIWB because that’s where I tote my BUG (oh drat, more sarcasm), but those who disdain it are inviited to attend an ECQC type class and work their 4:30 draw stroke as someone sits on their chest grounding and pounding. My snub BUG certainly deploys more easily than my 4:30 G17; perhaps all that IPSC training offers a solution that those of us who pressure test our assumptions with Sim rounds and such have overlooked.

    Dear me, I believe I have sarcasmed again.

    By Hatchetman on Jun 23, 2015

  11. To me this seemed to be more about limiting liability and (potential) negative publicity than safety or personal experience with said carry method.

    I do think as presented it a bit of a red herring – safety, as I see it, is a matter of proper handling and attentiveness, not body type or holster choice.

    By Tim on Jun 23, 2015

  12. If the concern is “open enrollment students” who are likely to do dangerous things, then these are students who are likely to do dangerous things full stop. They do not become less dangerous to themselves or others if we forbid AIWB carry.

    If one has too many students on the line with too little supervision then THAT is the real problem here…*not* the method of carry that the students are using.

    I’ve been to classes exactly like that where all kinds of things got missed because there were just too many people for a single instructor to handle. The student who is going to shoot themselves reholstering with an AIWB holster is a student who is going to be doing other unsafe things that need to be spotted and dealt with…or told to leave the range entirely.

    The big problem here is in the class structure. If you structure the course with too many students to carefully observe what they are doing bad things are bound to happen regardless of carry method.

    ANYONE can have a safety problem. There are certainly individuals who struggle to handle a firearm safely under class conditions from moment one, but at the end of the day a sunburned, dehydrated person can do very stupid things with a gun no matter what their training pedigree is…and this is why the structure of the class is incredibly important. The instructor needs to structure the class so that he and his (qualified!!!) AI’s can spot problems BEFORE they happen.

    ***And so is having a medical plan. *** I’ve been to a number of classes with a number of big names and a medical plan is rare to actually encounter. Todd is a standout in that respect, as he had a very solid medical plan for his classes.

    Ultimately I don’t care if instructor X or Y bans a particular mode of carry. If one is doing so, however, without addressing class structure or even having a solid medical plan in place for classes then it’s a pretty ineffective strategy.

    By TCinVA on Jun 23, 2015

  13. Jerry — Both my sarcasm and hypocrite meters pegged when reading your post. That aside, you make my point precisely (as echoed by other commenters). The issue is safety, not holster location. If you don’t trust someone to do more than engage bullseyes slowly then how is an AIWB accident more likely than an IWB accident, etc.?

    It seems there is a major disconnect here. I’m not suggesting that *anyone* with *any* holster should be allowed to participate in a class if he cannot do so safely. But I’d rather ban unsafe students than a holster.

    By ToddG on Jun 23, 2015

  14. In other words, the goal here cannot be to have students who only shoot themselves a little bit. And that’s precisely what the AIWB ban sounds like. It’s not addressing the reasons WHY students shoot themselves (or others) but is instead an attempt to make sure they don’t bleed out on the range if it happens.

    By TCinVA on Jun 23, 2015

  15. Todd,

    Glad to see you! I wish you would (can) update your blog more often. It has(d) always been one of the best.

    Be well!

    By Matt S. on Jun 23, 2015

  16. TC makes a valid point. There are different factors to be aware of. An overtired dyhydrated student at the end of a class can be prone to all sorts of errors. The best classes have a good instructor to student ratio, and will hopefully catch problems before they happen.
    I don’t consider AIWB carry the best method for everyone, but do feel that a serious, experience gun handler will not pose a risk with it.
    Everything is a trade off in one way or another. AIWB is fast and offers good concealment, let’s not restrict it for everyone.

    By Gerard on Jun 23, 2015

  17. I would submit that the argument could be made that AIWB is indeed safer simply because it is so easy to just look down and see very easily where the gun is going and that there is no clothing or any other thing that might interfere and cause a safety issue.

    By Jeff Wells on Jun 23, 2015

  18. This is rediculous. The entire point of training is to have someone who knows more than you (or at least different life experiences than you) instruct you, increase your knowledge level and confidence with a technique.

    1) By refusing to let new students come in with AIWB, he is wrongfully telling those who are the most succeptable to misinformation that AIWB is dangerous. This is irresponsible, even if it is unintentional.

    2) By banning AIWB for new students, he is telling us intermediate students or those looking for training that he has a safety problem. Hundreds of other instructors teach AIWB successfully, several LEO carry AIWB, I know more than a couple Marine Recon members who carry a Glock 19 AIWB. The rest of the shooting world is doing just fine with AIWB… but he sees it as a safety issue. If you think the whole world is mad and you are the only one sane, it tends to be the other way around.

    3) By banning AIWB, he loses respect from his fellow instructors. More than half the instructors I know make it a point to learn, adapt and overcome the things they do not know about or are uncomfortable teaching. It is part of their job, and part of their commitment to their student. AIWB and associated equipment has become an important carry platform. People will carry this way regardless of what the instructor decrees. You think he would want to teach hsi students to be safe with it.

    Let’s put it another way: who in their right mind would pay money on a personal trainer who tells you that deadlifts are forbidden, because he is adamant they are dangerous?

    By Black_BoxActual on Jun 23, 2015

  19. Black_BoxActual: Very, very well stated.

    If you don’t let students use AIWB in class, where is the student supposed to learn the proper way use AIWB safely and effectively???

    By ToddG on Jun 23, 2015

  20. Facts, who needs them.

    Todd, you might want to vet your statements a bit more before you go bashing another instructor.

    So you do not restrict students in your courses at all? Even if they are untrained, unprepared, or unsafe? I highly doubt that. Do you delay the rest of your class to “catch up” a knucklehead that is in over his head?

    It all depends on the nature and purpose of the course. If it is a basic course teaching different methods of carry etc, that is one thing. But if the task and purpose of the course is well beyond the basics, then why delay everyone else to bring one shooter up the minimum standards.

    Some instructors cater to the masses, some are more selective and drive to an endstate. Nothing wrong with either as long as it is done safely.

    Finally, Mike does not need my backup or justification. But your comments are not factually based and out of line.

    By Tim S. on Jun 23, 2015

  21. Tim S., I don’t think Todd was bashing anyone. Also, I think he was referring to LAV with the article, not Mike P. As a matter of fact, I took a class a number of years ago with Todd and when someone in the class made a disparaging comment about LAV, Todd was quick to squelch it. Can’t adults disagree about things but still have mutual respect?

    By Mike on Jun 23, 2015

  22. Todd is a fan of the unnamed instructor, one would easily see perusing the archives here:

    ToddG’s completely right I reckon about AIWB on the “hole” (Phrasing!) — as he’s obviously an expert.

    I also reckon that I’m about as libertarian as a person can be, so if unnamed instructor wants to make a rule for HIS class — no matter how I or anyone feels about it — he’s entitled to do that.

    (And it should go without saying ToddG is entitled to write his opinions about stuff on HIS own blog.)

    By Caleb on Jun 23, 2015

  23. Mike, you could be correct. I read it as a slam (I could have had the target wrong), but if I am wrong, I will happily apologize. Mike P’s announcement got all kinds of keyboard commando’s going so was surprised and disappointed to see Todd’s blog post today.

    I had not seen or heard a similar decision by LAV, but would not be the least bit surprised if he did. And I suspect there will be more as time goes along.

    By Tim S. on Jun 23, 2015

  24. Tim S,

    Where did you get the idea that Todd doesn’t “restrict” students if they’re unsafe?

    He absolutely does. The first time I trained with him, he took me and one other person to the berm to go over his holstering of AIWB and make sure we were competent doing it safely.

    He also ejected….no, not ejected, but convinced a student to leave in one class because he kept making safety errors even with Todd talking to him several times.

    He’s extremely safety oriented….he just doesn’t see the wholesale banning of AIWB as being productive towards more safety when the problem is a poorly trained student. Read TCinVA’s comment on that.

    By TGS on Jun 23, 2015

  25. again, if there was another major instructor that announced he was banning AWIB in the last 2 days I missed it.

    The only one I was tracking was mike P and he was not banning, he was withholding the option of telling students that they were not going to be allowed to go AWIB for his classes if he felt they were unsafe, untrained, or unequipped.

    If there was another I will apologize to Todd and withdraw my statement. My response was based solely on my assumption (yeah yeah, I know) that he was referring to Mike P and CTT training.

    By Tim S. on Jun 23, 2015

  26. As recently as 2 weeks ago LAV stated in a 1911 class that he was “considering” banning AIWB from his classes. He didn’t ridicule the technique, but found it delayed instruction with less experienced students…..nothing outrageous about that. For me it is only for special circumstances only and NOT with a 1911.

    By Leebotx on Jun 23, 2015

  27. Ok, I did not my research. I stand corrected and retract part of my intial post. I am now assuming (that is what got me in trouble the first time I know) that Todd was refering to LAV in his intial post, not Mike P as I thought. I apoligize for going off half cocked thinking that you were off based in your facts.

    By Tim S on Jun 23, 2015

  28. You are commenting under the assumption that safety is a binary thing: it is either off or on. The reality is that safety is on a continuum. You can instruct people how to drive a motorcycle as safe as possible. However, at the end of the day, driving a motorcycle is ‘less safe’ than driving an Escalade on that safety continuum. No matter how “safe” you are, the consequences for something going wrong on a motorcycle are far more dire than going wrong in an SUV. All training needs to be evaluated on risk vs. reward and the needs of the trainees. It’s not a “boogeyman”, but it is a method that requires a higher level of consciousness and has a higher chance of something going wrong. It’s not like the “unnamed instructor” is coming from a place of limited experience or reactionary thinking. The facts are just as he stated: the method does not fit everybody and equipment choices are more critical.

    By Brady Miller on Jun 24, 2015

  29. Is it true Todd shot himself during a reholster several years ago?

    By William on Jun 24, 2015

  30. No.

    By TCinVA on Jun 24, 2015

  31. Jeff Gonzales

    No AIWB. Also, may not even have a cover garment over holster-including raingear/jacket wants you to tuck it in your pants.

    No IWB either-wants OWB belt holsters only. (Combat Handgun course(s)-don’t know about his CCW class). However, you are looking at an instructor student ratio of, personal experience, 10 students to one instructor.

    Minimize risk of accident while holstering etc.

    IT DOES. No question. OWB, no cover garment, hip carry only belt holster.

    By Both Sides on Jun 24, 2015

  32. Todd,

    You should just run with the rumor that you’ve taken a bullet.

    Street cred, yo.


    By TGS on Jun 24, 2015

  33. Tim S. — No worries, dude. I *think* Mr. Pannone announced his new policy after my post but I could be wrong about that. I have no problem with telling people they can’t use a holster if they can’t use it safely. Even when I taught AIWB-specific classes I told folks to bring a belt holster just in case they couldn’t demonstrate safe practices. That way they’d at least be able to shoot for the day instead of going home with nothing.

    I feel the same way about any other shooter using any other type of holster. Either do it properly & safely or expect to get dealt with.

    But when someone says the reason he won’t allow AIWB is because he’s teaching basic level students, the obvious question is: “Where are basic level students supposed to learn to do things properly and safely?” One would think the answer would be BASIC LEVEL CLASSES.

    William — What? I’m not sure why you would suggest such a thing except to troll. But no, I have never been shot … not by me, not by anyone else.

    TGS — Wait, you’re right. I shot myself repeatedly in a gunfight against myself and I won in both directions! However, both of me died. This was years ago… I’ve since made a full recovery.

    By ToddG on Jun 25, 2015

  34. If my points have already been expressed, I apologize. However i feel this is important enough to be repeated. I have several issues with with this “well known instructor’s” decision.

    1st – If his concern is safety, how is one type of ND “less dangerous” than another? If Mr well known instructor is worried about these particular students and their being more likely to have an ND in a trainig class, how does banning AIWB solve the issue? I would think that ANY ND would be really bad. What is to prevent one of these students from putting a hole in their thigh when holstering in another position? Or what is to prevent them from shooting the guy on the line next to them? All NDs are bad, and banning AIWB won’t stop careless newbies from hurting themselves (or someone else)

    2nd – A well know celebrity in the firearms industry coming out and saying that a particular method of carry is less safe will cause his impressionable sycophants to lambast anyone who chooses to carry that way. We don’t need more idiots repeating more ill informed BS about AIWB. Even worse, this will prevent novices from even attempting AIWB, which is a carry method that they may prefer if they gave it the time.

    3rd – and finally, if a well known instructor admits that he cannot control the safety of his students due to the format of his open enrollment classes, then maybe he needs to rethink how he conducts said classes. If an instructor has so many students in a single class that he cannot even ensure that all of his students are safely re-holstering their weapons, there is something wrong. Also, if the students can’t even get the most basic level of one on one attention what could they possibly be getting out of the class except for a “fantasy camp, i-took-a-class-with-“well know instructor” experience.


    Thank you Todd for you common sense approach to teaching AIWB.

    By CAP on Jun 25, 2015

  35. CAP, an ND from strong side carry vs AIWB is less “dangerous” due to anatomy of the circulatory system and the femoral artery running down the anterior portion of the leg, right around that 1-2 O’clock area. High femoral bleeds can be hard to stop.

    If you hit bone at point blank range from any position it’s not going to be a fun recovery either way.

    Are AIWB holster sales going to increase or decrease?

    Tupac or Biggie?

    I think there is a difference inbetween the folks who sign up for an “open / basic” enrollment class from an “unnamed vs. ToddG”

    I haven’t trained with either instructor but the internet makes my wallet feel like if I went to aN “Open” class w/ “unnamed” instructor there might be an increased opportunity to train w/ out-of shape civilian cats wearing battle belts. VS. Todd’s class, where I would “guess” there might be trainees who are more interested in what they can learn from Todd instead of taking a photo with him.

    Just sayin.

    If I took a class from the bigger named instructor’s it would have to be a concealment class, or not open enrollment. I don’t want to waste my time or money waiting for someone to be cordially reminded on how to re holster – all day.

    What’s next….

    Oh im on the edge of my seat. What will the other celebs say; Defoor, Kardashian, Hackathorn, Kanye, Leatham, Brenner, Vogel, T-Swift, Sevigny??

    East vs West!

    This may start an entire new style of competition, even a reality TV show!!


    By Jeremy M on Jun 26, 2015

  36. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, guys.

    By ToddG on Jun 27, 2015

  37. I’ve trained with both TLG and LAV and BOTH are safety conscious but their classes are very much differently focused.

    LAV’s background and classes attract a different type of shooter (not Better & not Worse; just different). I’ll admit I took his carbine course which does involve pistol shooting. Everyone is wearing either webgear or plate armor with their carbines slung over their head and support shoulder.

    I cannot see AIWB in that scenario – I just slipped on gear and tried it: lots of interference with mag pouches…

    Perhaps, this is where it all came from.

    Just a thought.

    By Kevin Reed on Jul 11, 2015

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