Recently there has been some concern about appendix carry in training classes. Some claim these concerns are knee jerk reactions, take a moment to look at from a different perspective.
The powder keg
Fellow Alias Trainer, Larry Vickers announced he was banning all appendix style holsters in his open enrollment classes. While I’m not Larry it was pretty easy to see his rationale, more importantly neither he nor I are saying it’s a bad technique. We’re just saying the juice is not worth the squeeze in a training class. I have a similar policy in our marksmanship classes, but there’s more to my decision than meets the eye. As I see it subjects such as personal safety, risk mitigation and proficiency demonstration are the key points a lot of folks fail to realize.
Stop the whining
Something many folks exhibit on this topic is a large scale case of medical butt hurt. On the one hand some were quick to criticize the decision even to the point of saying “if you’re scared or don’t know what you’re doing”. Really? That was particularly douche to say given the instructor. I read several comments on a few friend’s posts and I couldn’t help but see something familiar, something I’d see regarding another subject. I saw complaints regarding appendix carry which sounded like the “open carry” group whining for not being able to carry openly. Folks are more upset someone is saying they can’t do something than really understanding the root problem.
Asking the wrong question
As instructors we have an obligation to ensure we run the safest range evolutions possible. That we take safety seriously and students know their safety is a primary concern. We work to identify risks then mitigate them through various methods. Sometimes those methods include the removal of said technique or equipment. In this case removing appendix carry from the table does what exactly? Does it remove the possibility of someone shooting themselves during the drawstroke or holstering? No, it does not. The better question to ask is what exactly it removes?
A boatload of cogs
Then you get the crowd of folks who say “I’ve been doing this since the Paleolithic Age and nothing bad has happened to me.” Great, congratulations. Realize you are but a single cog in a wheel with a ridiculous amount of cogs. As instructors conducting dozens of classes a year we see thousands of students. I think it’s safe to say our student pool is a little more diverse. When you put that many students (or cogs) through live fire training you see all types of things, sometimes not always good things. That is why we have safety rules and protocols in the first place, to mitigate risks.
Don’t be that guy
Another issue are those who come to class and question safety protocol or best practices. You most certainly don’t have to agree with them, but if you want to participate you will have to follow them. I look to the student body to help establish a safe experience for everyone. Those students with good skills I will lean on to set an example for the rest of the class. They serve an important purpose that many overlook. Now, when you have students who deviate from protocol whether intentionally or accidentally it creates an unsafe environment not just by the act or omission, but by setting the bad example others may follow.
Let the pettiness flow
When you step onto the firing line you have an obligation to set the example and not be the example. And here’s another thing to consider, you want the worldwide instructor cadre to take you seriously. That you are competent and safe, yet we ask you to do something petty in the grand scheme of things. Rather than making it happen you protest, rather than setting the example demonstrating your capacity to perform you throw a tantrum. Rather than following the rules you play by your own. In a sense you have become the safety concern first for failing to follow instructions and second I have to ask what other safety protocols you are not following? I generally give folks the benefit of the doubt. I trust, but verify through safety rules and protocols that I ask you to follow. Trust is something that is earned, it is not given.
Frequency combined with opportunity
Larry is not alone, even in our Concealed Carry Tactics class we want all students to demonstrate competency and safety before progressing to the next mode of carry. From a frequency point of view in just about any pistol class their is a high number of drawstroke repetitions performed. Calculate the risk versus reward and it’s easy to make what I believe is the right decision, not necessarily the popular one. I use some simple critical thinking here, the fact a discharge whether negligent or accidental to the front of the body has a higher risk of severe injury and or death needs to be addressed. Liability will be assigned and the fact of the matter is it could have been avoided. Some will comment they have seen plenty of injuries caused to the side of the body or even rear. Yes, I’m sure you have and even a quick internet search will pull up plenty of videos. Now, how many deaths as a result?
What’s the point
Some will be quick to comment many of those were criminals or lacked training or had gear issues. I can remember hearing the argument for appendix not so long ago to the effect “1,000 criminals shoving it in their pants can’t be wrong”, but when they shoot themselves those same people are quick to say they don’t know what they’re doing and are untrained. The point to this whole blog is the critical nature of the injury and the fact it’s avoidable.
Not everyone will agree and that’s fine, but the real issue is did you take a moment to think about it from a different perspective. Did you bother to think of anyone else other than yourself.