It is time to clean up the way we use words in our community. Often times we may be in agreement with one another, but because we use different words it lends itself to confusion.

Collegiality atmosphere

A perfect example happened recently with my good friend Craig Douglas. As I watched one of his videos I noticed he was describing something we see often, that we work to remedy in our classes. His discussion had to do with drawing and holstering in tight or confined spaces when muzzle discipline is challenging. While I completely understood the message he was sending, the wording he used made me think. The ensuing brainstorm session resulted in an hour long discussion that was awesome. One of the many points we agreed on was the importance of words.

Strong side…

We have been doing so many Concealed Carry Tactics classes over the last couple of years it has affirmed some issues regarding holster position. In the concealed carry community we fail to adequately define holster positions.  For instance, a common mistake is in reference to strong side. We define strong side as being on our strong side hip. Where the ejection port lines up at 3:00, there’s a little fudging so between 2:30-3:30 being acceptable due to body composition and girth. However, strong side is NOT behind the hip and here is where I needed to clean up my language.

Behind the hip

We teach four main holster positions around the waistline. You have cross-draw, appendix, strong side and then small of the back. I believe referring to anything behind the hip as small of the back as lead to more confusion. In our conversation I realized the need to clean up my wording. I needed to better describe the positions and help eliminate confusion. If you move the holster behind the hip, past the 3:30 position then it is no longer called “small of the back”, it is referenced “behind the hip”. It may seem subtle and obvious, but it is absolutely necessary.

The simple solution

The holster position Craig was referencing in the video was technically not on his strong side hip. By describing the position as strong side hip it can be confusing. We were saying the same thing, promoting the same awareness and helping people to see and correct mistakes. I was contributing to the confusion by not defining the holster location when it was not on the strong side hip. The solution was an easy one, while you may carry small of the back, if the holster position is not on the strong side hip, it is now referenced as behind the hip.

Task and purpose

Behind the hip is not a bad position, it has it’s place. We don’t allow it in our classes for one simple reason. The inability to watch the muzzle into the holster. This is a critical step in holstering, you must visually clear the holster of any obstructions or debris to protect the trigger. Typically a student will perform the visual clear in the beginning, but over time they stop. They stop because rotating the body so they can see the holster’s mouth becomes laborious. This small change in wording will greatly improve our ability to communicate among ourselves.

Now here is another important take away. The dialogue we must have as instructors, as leaders in the industry. I’m fortunate to call Craig and several other peers friends and the knowledge sharing atmosphere is unique and rewarding. In the end we are educators, our goal is education and it starts with our non-stop learning example.

14 thoughts on “Mastery of the English Language

      • Ramin says:

        Take the following from your article. Some pictures would help the uninitiated visualize what words cannot convey at times.

        “For instance, a common mistake is in reference to strong side. We define strong side as being on our strong side hip. Where the ejection port lines up at 3:00, there’s a little fudging so between 2:30-3:30 being acceptable due to body composition and girth. However, strong side is NOT behind the hip and here is where I needed to clean up my language.”

      • Ramin says:


        I see a great Concealed/Covert Carry book in your future with lots of pictures. I’ll check out your “CONCEALED CARRY TTP’S” video through PANTEAO.


  1. DavidY says:

    I think this reflects the broader tension that exists between gun training as a community with shared goals and values and gun training as an business/industry with competing economic interests. The former encourages movement toward shared practices while the latter encourages market differentiation. The two can coexist but the negotiation between them affects the direction(s) the community/industry takes.

    How are your relationships with other local gun trainers with whom you may compete for students?

    • Jeff Gonzales says:

      Thank you for your comment, I can see your point. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive however. In preparation for this article I spoke with some of my peers and a comment they made from their observations was how good instructors are doing well. Competition may exist on certain levels, but on other levels it is more about complimenting. Good instruction will compliment one another and benefit the student.

  2. ScottS says:

    This blog entry led me to do some soul searching regarding how I speak with my clients as well as how I communicate when writing my blog. As a financial planner, a lot of us in the profession often use vernacular that is confusing to clients and prospective clients. Often I hear other planners using different language to explain the same concepts and ideas in educational settings as well as in meetings with clients. And even though my fellow financial planners will understand everything that I may be communicating, the students, clients, and prospective clients would benefit a great deal more from our profession if we used a common easier to understand language.

  3. Mylon Stark says:

    Good post!

    As to one issue of the several in the post, there is the matter of “behind the hip.” As used in carrying a handgun, and in general reference to human anatomy, many people are quite confused.

    A handgun carried about the waist cannot be carried behind the hip, for it being on the waist places it well above the hip joint.

    The hip is where the femur (thigh bone) connects to the pelvis. What many people refer to as the hip is actually the pelvis. More specifically, a “behind the hip” Carry is actually behind the iliac crest.

    A simpler, more accurate description would be had by using referencing a clock face. If the navel is 12:00 o’clock, and the spine is 6:00 o’clock, the so-called “behind the hip carry” would be 4:00 o’clock for acright side carry – or 8:00 o’clock for a left hand carry.

    Simply my contribution to a very worthy conversation.

    Shoot Straight. We own the missile from trigger squeeze until the missile stops.

  4. Robert Dearing says:

    I stumbled across this conversation by accident, so let me say up front that I am out of my league here in such distinguished company. Further, I’m on the far side of middle age and have not been in any kind of class for years. But that’s why I’m surprised to see this discussion. We used to have very specific terms for these things.

    “Strong-side” was anything from 2:30 to 3:30ish as long as the muzzle was vertical and the holster on the dominant hand side. “FBI tilt” was anything on the dominant hand side from 3:30 to 5:00 with the muzzle down, a 15 to 30 degree forward tilt on the hammer/breech; and the grip pointed to 6:00 (or the spine). [this, of course, includes what you’re calling “behind the hip”] “Reverse FBI” was on the dominant hand side from 4:00 to 5:45ish with the muzzle down, the breech/hammer tilted forward up 45 degrees and the grip pointed to 3:00. “Mossad” designated a carry with the barrel horizontal on the belt line at 6:00 with the pistol (I’ve never seen a revolver carried like this) upside down and the grip oriented toward the dominant hand side. Lastly there was “Mauser” which also has the gun horizontal across the back but with the grip down and toward the dominant side. [Almost never seen today, even among the old timers; it is supposedly the way the 1895 Mauser Machine pistol was carried during the Boer and Colonial wars]

    Now as I said, I’m old; and a self-confessed Geezer. I learned my weapon skills in my father’s gun shop and from books by the likes of Elmer Keith and Bill Jordan. I was in my prime when the Modern Method was born and Jeff Cooper was knighted by the ghost of our patron saint John Moses Browning. I still carry blue steel and walnut in hand-oiled leather. But I’ve got to know: has the profession of arms really lost some of it’s core knowledge? [It’s happened in the past in our military] Or is this stuff so incidental to the task of building skills in beginners that it’s glossed over in many curriculums? Or is it I’ve spent too much time with gun nuts and holster makers? (surely not possible) I’m just curious, but I would sincerely like to know.

    • Jeff Gonzales says:

      Thank you for your comments Robert. Many of the positions you have described have been abandoned for more inside the waistband options. Few you describe lend themselves to carrying for concealed today. I hope this helps.

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