Brian Wang, the lead instructor and founder of Monarch Defense, recounts the story of a tragic home invasion, robbery and murder, and how that event forever changed the type of classes that Monarch Defense offers.
At the outset of this story in 2016, Brian has relocated back to his childhood city, San Jose, and at the time, he is exclusively teaching private lessons and private packages.
On a particularly stressful day, he receives a phone call from a woman looking to learn how to use a gun for self defense. The story of why she approaches Brian for knowledge and guidance is backed by a violent, tragic story and a sober reminder of how life is precious and needs to be defended against those who wish to do harm.
In the end, the woman wasn’t able to become a student of Monarch Defense because the private lesson price was too high. After the phone call, Brian thought on his inaccessibility and lack of empathy by running the business the way that he did. With that, he made the decision to change how he teaches firearms to the public.
Now I had a drive, I needed to go out and educate folks
Weekend classes to make it easier for people to make time to come to class. Open enrollment classes with class sizes of 12 – 28, depending on the class. Lower prices to make it more accessible for anyone who wants to learn about firearms.
Thank you for watching this video and allowing us to share an important event that shapes Monarch Defense to this day.
In the world of holsters, there are a plethora of options for carrying your handgun. From In the Waist band, Appendix carry, Outside the Waist Band, duty/battle belt mounted, armor mounted and drop leg holsters. Each of these holster options have their place in the world, depending on your mission, environment, body type, gear selection and lay out. While many have chosen to adopt their drop leg holster for their purposes, does this holster choice fit your needs? Do you know why you’re using it? Are there other options that better fit your needs? We’re going to dive in the weeds a bit to help you better understand the why’s of the Drop Leg Holsters and the When’s.
First, some history…
The forebearer of the modern Drop Leg Holster/thigh holster started initially with the U.S. Calvary and cowboys during Western expansion. These were simple holsters with long leather drop downs and simple leather thongs tied around the upper thigh. These allowed the holster to be drawn easier from the saddle. In a more modern context, we see these holster begin to gain prominence again, however for a very different reason. As police forces and militaries began to issue their personnel more body armor in response to ever changing tactical scenarios, these personnel found that a traditional belt mounted holster would be obstructed by the increasing bulk of body armor and equipment. The Thigh Rig/Drop Leg Holster allowed for the pistol to be drawn from without being fouled by equipment being worn.
The Why of a Drop Leg Holster:
If wearing bulky gear or body armor a Drop Leg Holster (DLH) moves your gun and holster down further from that equipment, allowing for a cleaner draw stroke.
If seated frequently a drop leg holster can be employed, as it may allow an easier draw from the seated position.
If you have a body proportion where your arms are longer than your torso, the lower gun position may produce a smoother draw
Some things to think about…
If worn improperly, the thigh rig can, and will rotate around the thigh during intensive movement, such as running, jumping, crawling and other strenuous activities.
While moving, your holster is moving as well. There for your handgun is moving as well by nature of being attached to your leg. This can make drawing more unpredictable during movement. Requiring the user to modify their movements in order to successfully draw.
DLH can be more difficult for the wear to maintain control of the firearm should they find themselves wrestling for control of the holstered gun.
Tips for Proper Wear and Use:
Wear a Stiff Belt
As with most holsters, a DLH relies on a belt to be utilized correctly. A flimsy belt will allow the holster to sag, with the holster itself sliding down further on the leg. Possibly putting the butt of the gun out of reach of the user’s hand.
Wear High on the Thigh
A general rule of thumb for wear of the DLH is the mouth of the holster should sit no lower than the top of your pants pocket. Or the butt of the gun should be able to rest easily within your grasp if your arms are resting at your side. If you have to bend/stretch your torso to draw, your holster is too low.
Use the Thigh Straps
DLH will come with a thigh strap. These should be worn as high on the leg as possible. Generally right below groin junction inside your leg will be your benchmark. These straps should be worn tight enough to prevent movement of the thigh rig, but not so tight to become uncomfortable or restrict blood flow.
Holster must have a Retention Device
Holsters with retention devices are highly recommended in my opinion, due mostly to the movement your gun will go through just completing daily task, or strenuous activities. Ensure any retention devices can being deactivated without requiring extra movements at the waist.
As with any gear used in a self-defense, you should know your gear, and practice with it regularly. Get out and move around with your holster of choice on, crawl, jump and run while wearing it. Take the time prior to training days, or duty use to hash out any issues and ensure that everything fits properly and feels comfortable.
About the Author
Aaron Ward was born and raised in Southern California. Spending 11 years in the Marine Corps as an Infantryman, deploying to Iraq, and around the world. He’s been instructing with Monarch Defense since 2018. Follow him on Instagram! @keeper0311
So you’ve signed up for Defensive Handgun Skill Builder class! Between being excited for the opportunity to shoot dynamic drills on an outdoor range and the eagerness to build on your self defense skills, you may have some concerns as to what you need to bring with you to have a successful learning experience.
We’ll talk about some things that will set you up for success in Defensive Handgun Skill Builder class and any future firearms classes you may attend, whether they be with us at Monarch Defense or any other instructor/school.
First let’s talk about your hardware (guns, gear etc…)
This one may seem like a no brainer, but you should be wearing a belt when you attend class. While any belt is better than no belt, you should be looking to bring the stiffest belt you own. This belt will not only keep your pants up but will also be responsible for keeping your holster and magazine pouches in place during movements you will be undertaking.
The stiffer your belt, the less movement in your holster you will get as we move through drills that include drawing the pistol, or re-holstering. This is vitally important. A loose or flimsy belt will flex and yield during these movements. Either fouling, or slowing your draw stroke. This is all applicable whether you’re carrying OWB (outside the waistband) or IWB (inside the waistband, concealed carry).
Ideally your holster should be fitted to your model gun, whether it be a kydex form fitted holster, or something like the Safariland ALS. These holster are designed to fit your gun, and will retain your pistol far better than any so called “universal holster” that is usually made of flimsy nylon. For a better idea on which holster to choose and what carry position is suitable for you, take a look at our “Choosing the Right Holster” article.
Allow me to get a little more in depth on this one. While you’ll be served just fine using the tried and true “foamy” ear plugs, you may often times find yourself removing at least one of them, allowing you to hear instruction during class and having to haphazardly put them back in again when the line starts up again.
I’ve found that a huge benefit can be gained in training and your own sanity if you invest in good over-the-ear muffs. Even more so if you decide to get electronic ear protection, that allows you to hear instruction clearly, yet cancels out the noise of gunshots.
Some other things that you should consider bringing include:
Multi-tool: They always come in handy. A good one should include pliers, a knife blade, and a Phillips and Flathead screwdriver.
Knee-pads: While we don’t always end up in alternative shooting positions such as kneeling or prone position. If we do, you’ll likely be thankful you brought them along.
Cleaning kit: Any time you take your firearm out to the range/shooting, you should bring along a cleaning kit for said firearm. It should include at minimum: cleaner/lube, a brush (old tooth brush works well), chamber brush, and cleaning rods. If your gun fouls up during the day from carbon build up or dirt, this will help you get back up and running.
Now that we’ve talked about some of the gear that will aid you in having a successful DHSB, let’s talk about some of the things on the software side, what you bring to the table.
Some of you will be coming to class with little experience shooting on an outdoor, dynamic and hot range, and that’s totally fine. Others will be coming with a plethora of shooting experience, and that too is awesome. And others will fall somewhere in the middle. The key to learning is coming into the event with an open and eager mind ready to soak up whatever knowledge may be presented to you.
Being open minded can be a challenge, especially if you’re invested in the methods you’re currently using. But as with all things in life we’ve got to be willing to try new things. Much as the world has adopted the internet as a means of communication over the letter. We too should strive to continue to learn and adopt new methodology and training in order to allow us to continue to become more refined shooters, and more responsible gun owners.
Safe Manipulations of your Pistol
In class we’ll go more in depth on how, where and why certain manipulations should be undertaken. Prior to class you can get a one up on your learning by going over some simple ones that you should be familiar with, and eventually instill into yourself as second nature.
These include locking the slide to the rear, ejecting magazines using the magazine release, working the safety if your pistol has one. This can be tricky depending on the size of your hands and the model pistol you intend to use. Finally exercise conscious thought on ensuring your finger is off the trigger, and firmly planted on the slide of your pistol when not shooting. Check out our video guides on basic handgun manipulations that you can practice at home. Training tips – 3 basic handgun manipulations
We look forward to seeing you out on the range. If you have questions about how to prep for this class, whether it be gear related questions or anything else, feel free to message us on Facebook, Instagram or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Aaron Ward was born and raised in Southern California. Spending 11 years in the Marine Corps as an Infantryman, deploying to Iraq, and around the world. He’s been instructing with Monarch Defense since 2018. Follow him on Instagram! @keeper0311
When it comes to employing the rifle as a fighting implement, understanding prone positions is crucial for your success. Bullets go both ways and our first priority is to not get shot. Getting small and low to the ground is the easiest way to make the bad guy work hard for his hits. Simultaneously, rifles are incredibly precise instruments, but if you can’t steady the rifle to aim properly, then the inherent precision of the tool is useless. Hence, getting down on the ground allows us to get hits on smaller and farther targets.
Let’s break down the 2 prone positions, and when to use one vs the other.
The Perfect Prone
From standing, tuck the stock of your rifle under your armpit, keeping the weapon pointing towards the target. Drop down to 2 knees with the palm of your support hand on the earth and your head up. This is the Three Legged Crawl position.
Now, sprawl your legs out behind you so that you are on your belly, with your legs straight and relaxed, feet turned outwards and flat to the earth, hips open, with your weight distributed between your chest and elbows. The barrel is aligned down your spine and to your weapon side foot. Your support side leg can be off to the side a little if that is more comfortable for you. This is the perfect prone.
By far, the perfect prone position is the most stable and therefore allows you the most accuracy when you need it. Hence, it is the sniper’s favorite position, and what you should use anytime you have the luxury of supporting the front of your rifle on a bipod or backpack or other object. This should should be your go-to position when you are zeroing your rifle, and when you find yourself proactively picking a place to lay down to wait for an extended period of time.
Drawbacks of Perfect Prone
The drawbacks of the perfect prone are that it does not accommodate those with big bellies, and those who have lots of gear on their chest, and it is very slow to jump up if you need to move. Furthermore, since your abdomen is in direct contact with the earth, when you breath, your body will rise and fall behind the rifle. Hence, the perfect prone position is best used when you are calm and your breath rate is low.
Finally, if you ever find yourself wearing a helmet, you will realize that in the perfect prone, all you can see is the inside of the helmet. Head mounted night vision? Forget about it. If you are breathing heavily, wearing armor and magazines on your chest, and suspect you will need to get up to sprint, opt for the Rifleman’s Prone instead.
The Rifleman’s Prone
Also known as the leg up prone, the rifleman’s prone position involves rolling up onto your support side, by bringing your weapon-side knee and foot up as high as it will go. Thus now you are propped up between your weapon-side knee, support-side thigh, support-side chest near the armpit, and your weapon-side elbow. The feet are laid flat to the earth, but unlike the previous position, in the rifleman’s prone, both feet face the same direction, and the legs are flexed, ready to spring up and sprint if necessary.
Have a buddy check your form to make sure your spine is straight, which usually means positioning yourself at an angle to the rifle, perhaps 20 degrees off the support side. The barrel should align with your shoulder and the boot of your flexed strong side leg.
The rifleman’s prone mitigates the weaknesses of the perfect prone: You can breathe deeper and more vigorously without effecting your aim, you can get up and down into the position much more quickly, you can wear full kit around your chest, and also see under the rim of your helmet or through night vision goggles.
Drawbacks of Rifleman’s Prone
The drawback is that it is quite a bit more awkward, and if you aren’t familiar with the position, it will cause some cramps in very foreign parts of your back and torso, but spend time to familiarize yourself to it, and the merits are significant. Also, you will find this position to be slightly less stable than having your entire chest on the earth, and that you present a higher profile to incoming fire.
Which ever positions you choose, getting up will be similar. Keep your head up, tuck the stock under your arm, brace against the earth with your support side palm, and push yourself up to a three legged crawl position. From here you can bring the support hand up to the weapon and gain situational awareness, then rise to a kneeling, crouching, and standing position.
There you have it, the two prone positions for fighting with a rifle, and the strengths and weaknesses of each. Learn both, understand when to use which technique, and this knowledge will serve you well out in the field.
Fun fact! Did you know that Brian met Carolyn, our photographer and marketing person, for the first time at an IDPA match in southern California back in 2015? At the time Carolyn was a new shooter and she was weary about shooting a competition. Brian and Henry convinced her it was going to be a great learning experience. We recommended competitive matches as a way to practice and improve shooting skills, whether you are new or an experienced shooter.
Tactical Handgun Match hosted by Threat Scenarios on May 4 & 5 at Linden Gun Range is coming up and we wanted to revisit the reasons why shooting a competition can make you a better shooter.
Psst! FREE Monarch Defense shirt offer at the bottom of the page!
Test a variety of skills at an affordable price
By far the best deals in firearms events are competitive matches. For the entry fee, you’re able to shoot the stages and each stage is set up to execute a variety of skills such as shooting from behind cover, shooting from different position, identifying shoot or no-shoot targets, identifying pass-through targets and so on.
It really is a test in that you only shoot the stage once. There’s a pressure to perform and you have to give it your all in one go. The score is calculated based on time and accuracy. This objective way of measuring means that you can track your performance over time.
Dealing with mental stress
A difficult thing to replicate in training is mental stress that happens when we encounter a real life-threatening scenario. In training we try to add stress through physical stressors such as sprinting or mental stress through manufacturing malfunctions or aggressive commands.
With competitions, the added layer of stress closely emulates the stress of a real scenario. While shooters do get the chance to inspect the stage at the beginning, the actual deed of shooting through the stage can be challenging. You need to rely on skills you’ve practiced and might struggle through remembering what to do and how to do it safely. Much like a real life-threatening situation, you will have to work it out as it unfolds and have to rely on being able execute what you know.
Observe and learn from fellow shooters
Shooters are split up in to squads to run the event smoothly. Most likely you will be squaded up with some people that you don’t know and that you’ve never shot with. (You can squad up with your friends as well.)
Shooting alongside others, especially those who are more experienced, is a great learning opportunity by observing the different ways shooters progress through the stage. Watch for their footwork as they move from obstacle to obstacle, how they transition from shooting a target to another target a significant angle away from behind cover, how they handle multiple shots on target and so on. Don’t be shy about asking questions too. Matches are filled with friendly like-minded people.
Before you go…
We mentioned above that Tactical Handgun Match hosted by Threat Scenarios is happening on May 4 & 5. We hope that some of our students will take this opportunity to expand their firearms training and shoot a competitive match.
To sweeten the deal, we are sending a FREE Monarch Defense shirt to anyone who signs up for the match with code MonarchTHM (while supplies last) Online Registration here.
This post was to be written as a “holsters for ladies” type article but this post applies to anyone who is looking to choose the right holster for their purpose and physical build. We thought a post title of “Holsters for people with shorter torsos compared to the ideal male physical build that is targeted by the gun accessories market” would be too long.
Natural wrist position
A natural wrist position is crucial for a smooth, fast draw. The less the wrist bends while going from holster draw to presentation, the more efficient the movement will be.
The position of the holster and therefore the gun determines the wrist angle when the shooter goes for the draw. Aim to have the forearm and wrist in a straight line with enough room to get the gun out of the holster. This goes for appendix carry, hip carry, back carry and etc.
When the holster is low, for example at the thigh level, the arm and wrist won’t bend at all. As the holster position rises up the body, the shoulder will rotate backwards, the elbow will bend and as you go even higher, the wrist will bend as well.
A good holster position will be allow the gun to come out of the holster with minimal wrist bending.
The position will be different depending on torso length relative to arm length. Ladies will typically have a shorter torso and therefore holsters that sit on the belt line are too high up. They should opt for a holster that sits below the belt line.
What about concealment?
In the words of Lil Jon, shake what your mama gave ya. This means, work with your physical attributes to achieve your purpose.
For men, who typically have broader back and shoulders, this means wearing a holster at the belt at the 4 o’clock position so the butt of the gun can be concealed in the arch of the low back by the loose clothing hanging off the shoulder. For ladies, carrying in that same holster and position would not work well. Let’s take a look at this photo.
This particular holster has a built-in forward cant of the holster called the FBI cant. Back in the day, the technique was to shoot from a crouch or to draw the gun with a slight forward bend of the body. The holster complemented that by canting the gun forwards slightly so the wrist would be in a more natural position.
In this case, the holster is working against the shooter. The shooter’s wrist is at an awkward angle and while this photo is not of a concealed holster, put on your imagination hats for a minute and you can imagine that a shirt over this holster on this particular body frame would not be hidden very well.
Ladies can consider wearing the gun in front of the body at a 2 o’clock position either straight or canted slightly backwards which allows loose clothing hanging off what your mama gave ya to conceal the handgun and a smoother draw stroke.
What about [insert trendy carry position here]?
There are many ways to carry a gun. It all comes down to your purpose and working with your body’s physical attributes. There are pros and cons to different carry methods. They are too many to cover in an article here but we made a video of a few holsters that you don’t commonly see. Those are some examples of what kind of advantages and disadvantages different types offer.
If you have any questions about training with holsters, feel free to get in touch with us and we will try to answer your questions!
Over the last decade of teaching firearms full-time, we have honed our offerings of classes and events for anyone who wants to learn the necessary attitudes, concepts and skills needed to protect themselves and their loved ones.
In Skill Builder classes, we introduce and discuss pertinent self defense topics and the gunfighting skills that apply to it. Since we train on a dynamic range, allowing us to draw from the holster, shoot from different positions, move while shooting and so on, we are able to provide a space for students to practice and train in a meaningful way.
We developed these classes to maximize the amount of knowledge and training that the student takes home with them. We want to set our students up for success in learning concepts and skills so everything about the Skill Builder class, from the topics to the length of class, is specifically chosen to serve that purpose.
Each Skill Builder class is different
We have handgun, shotgun and rifle skill builders. The focus varies from class to class to introduce concepts that are applicable to real world self defense scenarios. For example, in the winter months, we hold low light/no light Skill Builder classes as it gets dark earlier in the day. We cover topics such as close range shooting, drawing and shooting from seated positions, shooting from cover and so on.
We can’t possible teach everything you need to know in one day, nor could you absorb all of that information all at once. That’s why we break it up into different classes, each with their own focus.
Come to class as often as you can
We hold Skill Builder classes in each region at least every other month. For Nor Cal, where we’re based, it is more often, about once a month. We want to make sure classes are as accessible to students as possible. If you aren’t able to make a class because of life (weddings, birthdays, funerals, anniversaries, etc), sign up for the next one when you can.
We start classes in the morning and end in the afternoon. We finish up in time for students to have the rest of the day for important things like family dinners and date night. The class length is structured to be just the right amount of time for student to learn new skills, practice them and not feel burned out.
We are budget friendly
We want to keep our prices low so that students can come to class as often as their schedule allows. Gunfighting is a perishable skill that should be practiced as much as possible. While dry-handling at home and practicing marksmanship at an indoor square range helps keep your skills tuned up, there are some skills that can only be practiced on a dynamic range.
To help sweeten the pot, we also offer really good discounts. You can get up to a $60 discount if you sign up early and with a buddy!
Improvement is a continual cycle.
During class, we teach skills and build up on them as the day progresses. For students who are relatively new, they will learn things throughout the day and for students who have more experience, the beginning part of the day is a good opportunity to hone and perfect skill they already know.
These classes are about continual improvement. You may have read in our class descriptions that there is no such thing as an “advanced” gun skills, but rather a mastery of a core set of skills. Whether you are just starting out or have been around the block, Skill Builder class is where you can practice and pick up new skills. Then you attend the next Skill Builder class and the cycle continues!
We hope this post about Skill Builder helps you guys understand our philosophy behind how we teach at Monarch Defense. If you have any questions about the class, please leave us a comment or get in touch with us via email or Facebook messenger.
Training on a dynamic range means that shooters should know how to move with their gun in hand in a safe manner. When we train, we stick to the pointing the muzzle in the directions of up, down or down range. Up towards the sky. Down towards the earth and down range as designated. These general principles will help you determine the best course of action in the real world.
There are many different ways to hold your gun and names for those different ways. By no means is there a best position or a one-size-fits-all position. However, there are positions that are better suited for one situation over another. For example, temple index is not ideal if your children’s bedrooms are upstairs above you, nor is position sul ideal if an elderly neighbor lives downstairs. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of various positions will help you use your gun appropriately as you face different situations.
In this position, the rifle is brought muzzle up and close to your body. This will help you maintain safe muzzle direction while moving in close proximity with other people. You will be able to keep your head up to maintain situational awareness.
With one arm to hold the rifle, the other hand is free to manipulate the environment (open doors, move people, etc) or if needing to cover ground quickly, pump, as you naturally would while running. In this position, the weight of the rifle is close to you and helps you maintain balance as you move and turn. Cradling the weight, much like you do a baby, allows you to reduce arm and upper body fatigue as well.
Presentation to the target from this position can be more efficient than coming up from position such as low ready. If you’re in a typical house environment, the muzzle’s arc of travel coming up from low ready might be crowded by furniture, tables and counters.
In a close range fighting situation, you can get your second hand on it and from this position, it can be an effective striking tool and you will have better retention and control over the rifle. If you find yourself wrestling over the rifle, you are able to put your entire body weight behind the rifle as you move the muzzle downwards onto the target whereas from the low ready position, you only have your arm strength to fight it up.
Lastly, a final tip. For long distance hauls where getting to the trigger quickly is not an immediate concern, consider wrapping all five fingers around the grip as this provides more stability and comfort for support the weight.
There’s always space for improvement, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.
In this video, we see the shooter go for his mag to reload and fumbles it. Twice! What can we work on here to make sure it doesn’t happen?
Use your hand, not your fingers
The first fumble is due to the shooter losing grip on the magazine through his fingers. When it comes to motor skills in gun handling, we want to use gross motor skills over fine motor skills whenever possible. Using your hand versus using your fingers. While fingers are dexterous and can perform all sorts of tasks, they may not be as reliable in a high stress adrenaline dump situation.
Drive the palm of your hand to the butt of your magazine while lining up your index finger along the front of the magazine.
Index the front of the magazine with your finger
Your hand-eye coordination is very good at lining up your index finger with whatever you want to point at. We line up the front of the magazine along the index finger to indicate to our brain where the front and top of the magazine is. This helps us aim the magazine into the mag well and guide it in smoothly.
Check out the post on our 3 basic handgun manipulations for a video demonstration and tips. Mag in, mag out is one of the basic skills that shooters should master.
Set your gear up for success
There is no best mag pouch or gear that we recommend as gear is a highly personal choice depending on your needs. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing how to carry your magazines.
How many magazines to carry – It depends on how you want to train. If you want to train concealed carry with one extra mag, then that’s the way to go. When training on the range, we do recommend carrying a few extra mags and rounds in your pockets to refill/replace your mag when you’re off the firing line. That’s purely for efficiency of training at the range.
Firmly secure, but not too tight – You will want your magazines to stay put as you run and move into different shooting positions, but not so tight that it is difficult to get out.
Leave room for your grip – Make sure you’re able to get a good firm grip with your hand when you go for your magazines. Test our your gear at home with a few repetitions.
Orient your magazines in the same direction – When you put your magazines in your carrier, orient them in the same direction so you know how to go for them each time. Even if you only have one magazine in your pocket, be cognizant of how that mag is oriented so it is consistent.
Store your empty mags – ON THE GROUND. Mama Earth will hold them for you until you’re done fighting. There’s no need to retain empty magazines. Just drop them on the ground when they’re empty if you’re in a fighting situation. Tactical reloads have their time and place.
Bonus tip! Mark your magazines so you can tell yours apart from everyone else’s.
About the Teachable Moments series:
When Brian blows the whistle and brings the class in for a teachable moment, we get a chance to learn from someone’s mistake. We’re hoping to encapsulate those moments in posts so more people can learn and improve their firearms safety, handling, marksmanship and overall understanding of self defense. These posts are not meant to shame or ridicule those who make mistakes. Instead, lets take a moment to say “thanks for the lesson in making that mistake. Now I don’t have to make it myself.”
You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.
Have a teachable moment to you’d like to share? Whether it happens in a Monarch Defense class, on your own training time or in real life, we’re up for an opportunity to learn! Send your story and a photo/video (if possible) to email@example.com