Intuitive Defensive Shooting for Dynamic Critical Incidents
Jan. 18, 2022

Startle Response, Holster Preferences and Advocacy at the Personal Level (004)

Startle Response, Holster Preferences and Advocacy at the Personal Level (004)

In today's episode, we kick off what will become a semi-regular feature on the podcast, questions on training tactics, politics and other areas of personal defense. Today, podcast producer, Jeff Ott steps out from behind the soundboard to ask Rob...

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In today's episode, we kick off what will become a semi-regular feature on the podcast, questions on training tactics, politics and other areas of personal defense. Today, podcast producer, Jeff Ott steps out from behind the soundboard to ask Rob questions on:

  • The importance of the 'Startle Response' Rob introduces in all his training. Why is it important, how it is used and what the student gains from adding this to their training routine
  • Holster preferences. There are many different types and makes of holsters available. What is good and what isn't for the person interested in carrying a pistol.
  • Personal one-on-one discussions on the right to carry can be difficult. What is the best approach in engaging others who may not understand or are perhaps, frightened of guns.

These are topics every gun owner needs to consider. Jeff will be back on future episodes to ask Rob question including yours. Submit your questions from the Rob Pincus Podcast website.

Listen and follow/subscribe today!


The Rob Pincus Podcast is brought to you by The Personal Defense Network. PDN is the leading destination of high-quality, personal defense video content online and a no-nonsense gathering place for those serious about arming themselves for defense in every aspect of their lives


The Rob Pincus Podcast is produced and edited for you by Growing Planet Media, LLC. 

Music: I'm Not Running Away by Max Brodie (PremiumBeat)

Copyright © 2022 by Growing Planet Media, LLC


Episode 004 - Startle Response, Holster Preferences and Advocacy at the Personal Level


Rob Pincus:This is Rob Pincus, and welcome to The Rob Pincus Podcast.

Introduction:The Rob Pincus Podcast is brought to you by the Personal Defense Network. The Personal Defense Network is the leading destination of high-quality online, personal defense video content, and a no-nonsense gathering place for those serious about arming themselves for defense in every aspect of their lives. To learn more, visit Now, here's Rob.

Rob:On today's show, we're going to do something a little different. I'm excited about it because this show is going to be much more of a real conversation, a real dialogue. Obviously, the hope is that while I speak into this microphone, you're receiving information, you're finding it valuable. Of course, some of the early feedback that we've gotten here in just a few episodes with The Rob Pinkus Podcast has definitely indicated that people are finding value in it and the numbers indicate that. I hope you're subscribed. I hope you're sharing it. Today, you're going to get a treat. We're going to go into our first real dialogue on this podcast.

It's going to be with the guy who really is responsible for the podcast even existing. Jeff Ott reached out to me in late 2021 and said, "Rob, you've got a message. You've got information. You obviously love sharing it, and there's people out there that want to hear it." He thought maybe even more people needed to hear it. He said, "I do podcasts. You should do a podcast. I'll produce it for you. Let's make this happen." I thought, "You know what, man? Cool. If you think the information is important enough and you've got the know-how and the talent to help me deliver it through this medium through a podcast, that's going to be great."

This was something I tried to do on my own, believe it or not, as far back as 2006, 2007 during the Valhalla Training Center. I produced eight or nine episodes of a podcast that would be Valhalla Training Center Podcast. It just really didn't take off. Honestly, I didn't have the technical know-how and the engineering and the discipline to make sure that it happened on a regular basis. That just faded away. Here we are well over a decade later with Jeff Ott as the engineer, the producer, the man who's [chuckles] making everything happen in the background.

Today, he's going to come into the foreground, and that's exciting because he's going to represent not only questions he has as a student of self-defense and arm defense but also some of the things that he thinks you'd be interested in hearing and the perspective that he's seeing with a direct lead to the feedback we've gotten on the early episodes, and certainly a lot of the feedback that I've gotten on the information that I've put out and the Personal Defense Network has put out over the years. That's coming up for the first time today, and I'm really looking forward to the feedback on that.

First, let's talk about Personal Defense Network. When this podcast is over, you need to head over to and check out what I believe is the best collection of free information regarding arm defense, training, and all sorts of ways that you can become better prepared to defend yourself or those that you care about. We've got emergency medical information, information on training concepts in theory. Of course, we've got a lot of information on the gear that you might be interested, and the guns, the holsters, the optics, the medical equipment, all of that stuff available at

Thousands of pieces of content are there, and most of them, in fact, and just over half are free. Of course, you can get into higher levels of membership. You can register for the free newsletter. You can become a premium member. You can become a gold-level member. Of course, you can take advantage of distance education there too. We have complete online classes, and it's not just me. If you get enough of me out of this podcast, that's cool. You can learn from some of the greatest experts in the field.

This information's been collected for over 15 years, and I'm sure you'll recognize some of the names over there and maybe discover a few new gurus or resources for you to add to your collection at With that said, let's get into the discussion on training. The first segment of the Rob podcast is always on training and training concepts. I know that this guy, again, he thinks this message is important and he has specific pieces of information. He wants me to talk about today. Jeff Ott, welcome to the front side of The Rob Pincus Podcast.

Jeff Ott:Well, thanks a lot, Rob. I appreciate the opportunity to be on this side of the microphone and participate with you and maybe be the voice for some of the listeners out there and provide some of those questions that some people may be afraid to ask. I'm used to asking [chuckles] the stupid questions, what may sound like stupid questions. Thank you for inviting me on.

Rob:I think it's going to be great. A lot of instructors will say there's no such thing as a stupid question. There are, but I want to hear them anyway. It's important because-- just because it's this dumb question-- the way I do that, I'm always like, look, if you've been in a class for four hours and I said something five times and you're just getting around to noticing it, or you haven't noticed it yet, you're still asking the question, I wish you would've paid attention, but at some point, that is my fault as the instructor. I blame me for the stupid questions usually in class. We'll see what happens today. Let's go for it.

Jeff:Well, good, and just a little bit about-- I appreciate that, a little bit about my background. I grew up in a family of hunters and everything. From defensive shooting and pistols, got into that with a friend who was very interested in competition, defensive shooting. That was my introduction into shooting and this type of style and format. Several years ago, when you passed through the Pacific Northwest, taking some of your training. I went from competing all the time in local and state matches to being more of a student of the defensive use of the pistol. It is a different mindset, and that was really enlightening to me, and I do appreciate what I have learned.

Rob:Yes. That's probably one of the biggest light bulb moments. It's one of those blue pill, red pill, things that some people-- People argue about it on the internet forever, but you may have seen some of the stuff that I did with Rob Leatham. He is undoubtedly the most decorated and probably still one of the greatest handgun competitors in the history of handgun competition literally on earth. He's been winning world and national championships for the last 30 years. For him and I to be able to convey information to people, and I think of videos we did like toss-the-timer and some of the other ones where he made it really clear like, "Take it from the guy who really does the competition pretty darn well."

It's different when you go to train for defensive shooting. Far too many defensive shooting classes still look like a lot of timers, a lot of choreography, and a lot of people trying to score points, and that's unfortunate, but welcome to the other side of that. I'm glad I was able to open that door for you.

Jeff:Thank you. Absolutely. On that theme, and let's go back to a couple episodes ago, you're talking about the training and timing and how some of the competitions are choreographed. This is not a slam against competitions. There's a lot to be gained in competition, both from just getting used to handling a weapon to being the camaraderie of the other shooters, and a good way to spend the Saturday or Sunday. When you start looking at it from a defensive point of view, and you look at the beginning of the stage, and where you step through each stage, you're told how many rounds of ammunition you start with, they show you how a target moves, how long it takes before it shows up, how long it's there and disappears, you realize, "What is this preparing me for? What are my goals?" That was a light bulb moment for me. That was pretty amazing.

Rob:Yes. It's an important moment. I want to touch on something. You mentioned the camaraderie and a great way to spend a Saturday. I'm not anti-competition, I run the gunmakers' matches now. I've done everything, cowboy action shooting, IDPA, all kinds of action shooting stuff, this year, I'm getting into some precision rifle stuff and working with Nemo, maybe talking more about that as we move forward and maybe even some extreme long-range competitions are in my near future we'll be talking about in the podcast.

That doesn't mean that I think about competition being more important than my defensive training when it just simply isn't. For those who are serious students of defense and those who are carrying a gun with the intention of defending themselves or others, or staging a gun in their home to defend their families, I think that they need to be able to make that distinction and then also make the educated choice about how much time, effort, and energy they're going to put into the competition side.

It is a great way to spend a Saturday, or it's a fun way. It's fun to go to the range and see yourself getting better incrementally at certain standard drills if you will that we know are core parts of different competitions that attract, skeet, sporting plays. It's fun to go out with friends. It's fun to see your score improve, but that's not really what drives me as a gun owner. I don't think it's what drives the majority of gun owners.

It's not what should be driving them, especially when they say, and overwhelmingly in every poll and every survey and everything the National Shooting Sports Foundation does and everything I hear about anecdotally from people that own gun shops, people own guns for defense, so let's stay focused on that when it comes to the training and skill development.

Jeff:Rob, one of the things you mentioned in the earlier episode is the startle reflection, the flinch reflection. If I think back to that first class, that was one of the things that most people had that most difficult time to learn to deal with and how to reenact it, how to incorporate that into their training. Can you go a little bit more in-depth and what that looks like and how a person at the range by themselves and/or with a buddy can practice that?

Rob:It's a high-level pretending. When we talk about visualization, we talk about imagining that you're assessing the environment. We talk about why you're in a lowered center of gravity athletic position. You're in a very tense athletic position. When you take a gun to the ready position, you know, why you wouldn't just be standing there relaxed. You'd never be in the public look space with a gun out of your holster, held in the high compressed ready if there wasn't something tensing you up.

You wouldn't be very relaxed just casually strolling through the park that way, or the mall, much less in any of those spaces, so why are we able to put ourselves in a lowered center of gravity? Well, it's because we're pretending. It's because everybody accepts that reality. What we're really trying to do at that first level of introduction to integrating your body's natural reactions is just simply get people to accept that it's very, very likely that if their gun is in their holster and they're in the public space, that if they have to use their gun immediately, it's going to immediately follow having been startled, having been ambushed.

We talked about that counter ambushed training methodology in an earlier episode as well. This idea of integrating the startle reaction is no different than covering your gun up before you reach for it and draw it when you're practicing your defensive shooting drills.

If you think it makes sense to wear your concealment garment and sweep it out of the way as you grab your gun because that's the realistic context for presenting a gun from a holster in a defensive situation, then it should eventually just make as much sense that you should lower your center of gravity, focus on the source of the ambush and move your hands protectively prior to reaching for the gun to sweep the concealment garment to put your hand on the grip and go through all those steps. That is a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people, but it is conceptually exactly the same. I think that's the incredibly important part for people.

That's really where the moment comes, especially for instructors when it becomes time for them to educate others and convince them to take this jump as well. It's not a leap of faith, it's exactly the same logic that leads you to wear a concealment garment. It's exactly the same logic that leads you to imagine that you're looking for another threat. It's exactly the same logic that leads to fire an unknown number of rounds because you accept that you can't predict how many rounds it will take to stop the next threat.

Similarly, you can predict that the worst-case scenario, and that's really what we're training for. We're not training for the easy day when we have to use our gun. The worst-case scenario was going to be immediately following an ambush. We know what it looks like when people get startled. They lower their center of gravity, they turn their attention towards the source of that stimulus, the loud noise, the motion, whatever it was, and they move their hands protectively.

It doesn't have to take a long time. It's not hard physically, but it is mentally hard because it just feels strange, it looks strange, and it's so counterculture to a lot of what people see on the internet, YouTube, and everything else, but acknowledge difficulty. A lot of people have told me, "Rob, I love your program. Program's great, but that startle reaction thing, that just looks silly." You fight about it on the internet. A lot of people make fun of it. If you would just let that go, you'd probably be the most universally accepted and popular instructors in the community. I don't know if that's true, but it's been said a lot, and the fact is I don't care.

It's so important that it's worth fighting that fight, and it's worth getting people to understand and accept it. If somebody says, "You know what? I'm going to leave this class and never do it again," but they've been exposed to the idea and they take everything else from the program, that's fine, but I can't put my head on the pillow or look at my instructor team and take myself seriously if I'm not really pushing the best information that I think we have available, and that includes integrating startle reaction for counter-ambush training.

Jeff:Thanks. I know our time is short for this part of the program, but one of the questions I wanted to ask is in terms of equipment holster, selection, and/or position on the body for defensive weapon, appendix, is it side? Is it inside the waistband? Outside?

Rob:I can tell you generally, inside the waistband is going to be better for most people because it allows you to carry the gun under a wider variety of circumstances inside the waistband versus outside the waistband. I can tell you that a shorter grip versus a longer grip is generally, again, going to be a better compromise for people because it allows them to carry the gun more often. When I think about carrying a gun, it's not about the holster brand, or even necessarily about the hostler position per se, whether it's like on the side or in front of the hip, centerline carry, appendix carry. Really, what it comes down to is how can someone find a way in their life to wear a gun as often as they want to?

That may, for many people, be as often as possible. Well, with a gun with a shorter grip, it's going to be possible more often depending on the way you dress and your body type. It may be more often possible for you to comfortably conceal gun for defensive purposes in front of your hips in that center line appendix carry position. For other people, based on the way they dress, and the way maybe they sit or stand or move during the day and their body type, their body shape, it may be easier for them to conceal inside the waistband behind the hip, the four o'clock or maybe in the five o'clock position.

I can generally say that ankle carry is a bad idea, pocket carry is a bad idea, off-body carry is a bad idea if you can keep the gun on your body, but it's very, very hard to say this type of holster is going to work for 95% of people. I just haven't found that to be true. I can say that about inside the waistband. I can say it about a short gripped gun. One thing I will say, I use a hybrid holster. I've been using cross-breed holsters for a long time. I was using one of the standard four o'clock holsters in the appendix position before they even had an appendix carry holster.

I've used it now for over a decade. I'm a really active guy. I'm active on the range, I'm active off the range. I do physical things as I move about. I don't worry about jumping over a fence if I need to as I'm moving around or any day. I climb stairs. I've chased around my six-year-old. I've been chasing her around since she was obviously able to crawl. Dogs, whatever, like athletic stuff, and I'm wearing a gun. I did a video clip once where I was wearing my cross-breed appendix holster in response to somebody saying they could never hold a gun, and you fall down on the ground, the gun's going to fly out of the holster.

I was doing backflips on a trampoline a couple of years ago with a gun in that holster without any extra special preparation the same way I wear it every day. It's a very secure holster if it's used and worn properly. I will throw that flag. The reason I use it is because it's so comfortable. It allows me to sit in a car for 12 hours, move around, teach all day, whatever I'm doing, and still carry a gun for defensive purposes in a very convenient place.

For me personally, I think the appendix carry offers a lot of advantages to access the gun especially in extreme close quarter situations if I were to be grappling or in contact with someone and not wanting to move my hands away from in front of my body but still be able to reach the gun, my right hand or my left hand, that's the main reason I choose appendix carry. It doesn't mean it's for everybody. It doesn't mean that cross-breed holsters is the brand for everybody. It doesn't mean hybrid holsters are perfect for everybody, but I do want to make sure that those are given a fair shake and people understand why all carry is a compromise, and comfort is one of those compromise.

Jeff:Just to follow up on that. What size pistol are you using in the appendix carry? It's not a full size.

Rob:What do we call a full-size pistol anymore? When I have a Glock 48 with a 4-inch barrel and 16 rounds ammunition on board, that's pretty close to full size. If you think about a Beretta 92 is also 16 rounds of ammunition. The barrel's a little longer, but that gun's probably twice as wide, and it's also going to be taller and it's going to be longer, and you only get an extra inch of barrel out of it. It's a much more complicated design. That's what I used to think of as a full-size pistol. Beretta Tomcat isn't a full-size pistol, but I feel really comfortable with the Glock 48 with 16 rounds of ammunition.

Jeff:Real good. Well, thank you.

Rob:Yes, for sure. Let's move on to the politics, the gun rights segment of the show, and let's continue with this dialogue. I really do enjoy the back and forth. I know we've got some great guests lined up to be on the show in the coming months, some episodes. I think it's exciting to hear the first "guests" on the front side, Jeff. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts in this area as well, maybe giving out some more information. This segment is brought to you by 2nd Amendment Organization. I am the executive vice president of 2nd Amendment Organization. You can learn more about the organization and what we do and what we advocate for at

You can also check out all of our position statements on about 60 gun rights gun law issues at That's something that's been approved by the entire board. It's not just my opinions, but they are opinions that I hold and defend. Kevin Dixie is another one of our board members, and we've got some of the founders of the organization that have been there since back in the days as Sandy hooked it up right up to it including Kevin who joined us on the board last year.

We've all reviewed these position statements. I think they're a great primer. If you aren't quite sure-- We know you believe in the Second Amendment, but you aren't quite sure what to say when someone asks you about the Firearm Owners Protection Act or what do we do when we talk about mandatory training? We all know training education is a good idea, but that word "mandatory" is sticky.

Well, check out brought to you by As always, don't be afraid to donate a little money there at to help the cause. Help us keep doing what we're doing in terms of grassroots advocacy. That's really our focus. We want to make sure that people are articulate, intelligent, and passionate, educated advocates in the gun community. With that said, Jeff, what are your burning thoughts in the areas of politics or gun rights right now?

Jeff:Everything is so polarized right now. I don't feel like I can persuade someone more than just provide my rationale why my rights to carry are important. People shouldn't be afraid of that right and should not be so willing to give it up. Educating them as to why they don't want to just give it up and just say, "Take all the guns, lock them away."

Rob:No, I think that first part is the most important part of advocacy, being able to represent your position, not just repeat a catchphrase, not just quote a law or a statistic that you're going to be asked to cite, and there's probably going to be a competing stick that they can cite. I think it's just simply, "Here's my story. Here's how I feel. Let's talk about that," because if you're trying to convince somebody, you talk about persuading somebody, if you're trying to convince them to change their mind, they're going to have to understand their own articulation.

It's probably not going to come from a statistic. They're probably not going to say, "Oh, gee, I didn't realize that the constitution said shall not be infringed. I was totally off base. Let me change my mind on this." It's going to be much more personal, it's going to be more emotional, and they're going to have to find their way. I think that is, on your second point, I think that's the mistake that a lot of people make. It's educating them about why it's important. You got to remember to add in the first part, "to you," because ultimately, they're going to have to decide whether or not it's important to them or not.

Honestly, that's not my goal as an advocate. My goal is that they respect the fact that it's important to me, that it's appropriate, that it's justified, and that as you pointed out, it's not a threat to them or their way of life, that I get to responsibly exercise my gun right. I think that maybe the emphasis for a lot of people is this burden of persuasion as opposed to just simply the burden of education and knowing that they're going to have to come to their own conclusion at the end of the day.

Jeff:That's good on a one-to-one, but when the one-to-one becomes one too many and you're dealing with city councils such you have there in Denver, or you have state legislatures who may be looking to limit the ability to-- I don't even make the 80% pistols or rifles. That's the challenge in all of this, to say, "Well, you can have your belief, but don't cut it out for everybody."

Rob:I really do think there's a huge difference between-- now, one of the important principles that I always espouse, that real advocacy happens outside of the gun community. You have to take away all the fundraising and the cheerleading and morale-boosting or even self-pity and commiserating sometimes that happens in the gun community where we have our way of talking about these things and we have our catchphrases and our molon labeand all that stuff. None of those things are going to change any minds outside of the gun community.

Large organizations will use those kinds of things in social media, and email blast, and maybe with an unfair, I think an unhealthy dose of fear-mongering quite often to raise funds, and they'll justify it. Sometimes, I end up calling out some of the leaders of these groups privately or maybe even in social media, and I'll get a lot of static. "Hey, Rob, we got to build the war chest. We got to pay for the lawyers. We got to fight the fight. We got to influence the elections. We got to influence politicians. We got to support the ones that support us," that kind of a thing.

I get it, but that's not what we do as 2nd Amendment Organization, it's not what I do, but I will say that there is a big difference between the way I will talk to a council member, the way I will talk to a legislator, and the way I will talk to just somebody at the coffee shop or somebody at a dinner party because there's really two dramatically different things.

While it isn't absolutely important that every citizen voices their opinion to their elected representatives, that they actively partake in any election opportunity to vote for the representatives that they want to be there in government, wherever they can do it locally, all the way up to nationally, obviously, but that is a very different thing to just be a gun rights advocate in your every day, in the stands at your kids' football game, at a PTA meeting, and not speaking to the PTA, but just literally as it's breaking up and somebody says, "Oh, what are you guys up to this weekend?" You say you're going to the range. You're doing gun rights advocacy work in that conversation.

I think in those conversations, that's what I was talking about earlier where it's just about sharing your perspective, sharing your point of view, de-escalating this perceived threat, making sure that there isn't a characterization that goes against responsible gun owners like yourself, like me, like the people that we hang out with every weekend on the Saturday competitions we were talking about in the first segment, those kinds of things. That's incredibly important.

Now, when it comes to time to talk to a legislature, a legislator or another elected representative, a mayor, whoever it may be, at that point, the conversation does have to be a little different. It is a little bit trickier. It is a little bit more sophisticated, and there is a bit of obligation. There's a bit of, "Hey, you can have your personal opinion. I don't care if you like guns. I don't care if you want to change the constitution." I'll invite people all the time, gun control advocates or anti-gun rights people. "Go ahead, go try to change the constitution, but until you change the constitution, 'shall not be infringed is real.'"

In the halls of government or in the courtrooms across the country, we do tend to cite laws and cite legal precedent and cite Supreme Court cases and talk more about the obligations and civil rights and the responsibilities that elected officials have to uphold the laws and not work against them or undermine them. All of those things become important, but again, at the coffee shop or around the water cooler at work, those aren't the conversations to have because that person that you're talking to there, they're going to be electing somebody. They're not going to be making the decision themselves.

You want them to be of a mindset where they're not going to support somebody who's running for office who seems to just be anti-gun for the sake of being anti-gun because guess what? They've been educated. There's a whole bunch of their community members, co-workers, family, friends, parents of kids at their schools who are responsible gun owners who don't deserve to have their rights restricted because of some fear-mongering that's going on. I think that's a little bit nuanced I'm sure and a little bit challenging maybe to understand the difference, but there is a big difference.

Jeff:Real good. I appreciate that. There absolutely is, and I look forward to talking to you further about these subjects as we get further because it goes pretty deep.

Rob:It really does. With that, we're going to wrap up this episode of The Rob Pincus Podcast. Once again, Jeff, I really appreciate you coming out into the front. Obviously, you have made this whole thing possible. You're making it happen. I know a lot of people appreciate it. Let me say publicly that I very much appreciate it, but today especially, the idea that you could bring this into the realm of dialogue, you could bring this to a space where you show me what you're being challenged, what you're curious about, and really that's what I enjoy about teaching, is what I enjoy about sharing, is what I enjoy about lecturing, and that is an element that's missed sometimes on the podcast when I'm doing my monologue.

Maybe this was one of the most important segments, I think this last segment that we've done so far. You, the listener, thank you for being a listener, and please do subscribe and share, especially today's episode. I think it does a lot of people good in the gun community. Remember that they are the frontline gun rights advocates and that there is some real simplicity to just sharing their story and demonstrating that they're a responsible gun owner and talking to people in their community and their life and their workplace, their neighborhood about it.

One of the things I always say is you basically lost the right if you have to hide your exercise of it. A lot of people in the gun community are afraid to talk about guns in some places, especially if you live in a more "liberal" area where you don't know who the gun owners are. I promise you, some of the best conversations I've had have started with people looking over their shoulder at the dinner party or at the wine case thing, or at the concert because they know I'm a gun guy, making sure nobody's within earshot and they tell me they've got guns too. There's probably four or five people at that party that I end up trying to get together and say, "Guess what? We all own guns. Let's get past it."

The one person all of a sudden that doesn't own guns becomes part of the conversation and gets a new understanding about responsible gun ownership. Let's make that happen. Don't forget to visit for your own personal education and support 2nd Amendment Organization, You can learn a lot there too, but we also need your support, and we want our message shared to anybody in the gun community, and as always, be the best responsible gun owner that you can be. Thank you.