Awareness Defense Training

AWARENESS DEFENSE TRAINING

Calendar  |  Course Descriptions  |  Hosting a Class  |  Instructor Bio  |  Class AARs


Classes from Awareness Defense Training

In addition to teaching at the BDC Gun Room, Wilshire Gun, the Oklahoma City Gun Club, and several other area ranges, Spencer has his own itinerant training company: Awareness Defense Training. Through this company, Spencer teaches private courses, specialty courses, and his own uniquely-designed curriculum that has developed over the years in connection with his appendix holster product lines. His current repertoire includes the following courses:

  • AIWB Skills (our signature class) … 8 hours, $175 to $250 (depending on facility)
  • Essential Handgun Skills … 8 hours, $175 to $250 (depending on facility)
  • Situational Control (no firearm needed) … 4-5 hours, $100 to $175 (depending on facility)
  • Defensive Handgun I … 4 hours, $100
  • Defensive Handgun II … 4 hours, $100
  • Defensive Handgun III … 4 hours, $125
  • Defensive Handgun IV … 4 hours, $150
  • Home Defense I (no firearm needed) … 4 hours, $100
  • Home Defense II (adding firearm skills) … 4 hours, $150
  • One-Day Critical Handgun … 8 hours, $175
  • Two-Day Critical Handgun … 16 hours, $350
  • Private Lessons (1 to 3 people) … $75 per hour, per person

We are also happy to design custom courses and seminars for private groups or conferences. If you are looking for training or information on personal defense (with or without firearms), please don’t hesitate to contact us — even if you think you can’t afford it. You might be surprised how eager we are to help those in need of assistance with personal protection and safety training. (Please note that the prices above do not include any applicable range fees or other associated costs that may be charged by the facility.)

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Hosting a Class at Your Facility

Would you like to bring Awareness Defense Training to your local gun club or shooting range for a class or seminar? We have taught all over the country, and we would be happy to travel to your locale. We can offer our standard AIWB Skills course or a different course catered to your market. If you’re interested in learning more about hosting a class in your city or town, please contact us. We will get back to your promptly to discuss options.

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AARs on Spencer’s Classes

Spencer Keepers, of Keepers Concealment, has been on my radar for a few years now. My friend, Ian Strimbeck from Freedom Hill Gear, told me about this great appendix holster. He showed me photos and I really didn’t see how something like that with a foam wedge would make it easier to conceal. So I held off getting one. Fast forward to May 2016, Spencer invited me to take his inaugural AIWB Skills Class. He let me use his Errand and Keeper Lite during the class, which I now own both. As soon as I put on the Errand, I immediately fell in love with it.

The class began with Spencer introducing himself with his background and then had the students do the same. After that, his first lecture was on the appendix holster use and design. This lecture is worth of the price of the class alone. Yes, you read that right. I was completely blown away on how he promotes his competition. Spencer thinks his holsters are the best, but he wants you to find the right gear for you if his doesn’t fit you. He goes in detail of why he designed Keepers the way he did, and what makes a good holsters. Spencer also discussed other holsters designs during this lecture, the pros and cons of each in his eyes.

We went over the safety rules, how to present the handgun from the holster, and how to re-holster safely with our handguns unloaded. I’m not a big dry fire guy, but I understand why we did it. The appendix position is widely miss understood and can be regarded as the most dangerous way to carry, depending on who you ask. For many of the students, this was their first time to train with the gun in this position. Spencer showed a really great way to mitigate of pointing the gun into you when re-holstering.

After lunch, we started shooting. We were just getting reps with 2 to 4 rounds at 7 yards in the A Zone on an IDPA target. We did this for around 100 rounds or so. Spencer walked up and down the line making corrections with the shooters. He also went into to discuss what he believes is the best for hand placement, sight alignment, mag changes, and more. Again, this was a class to safely get used to the AIWB position. Spencer quotes Tom Givens of Rangemaster's data about self-defense shootings. So this class is better suited for a person looking for training for personal defense.

If you follow me, you know I’m a Combat Focus Shooting instructor. By me saying that, I enjoyed the class and Spencer was able to fix an issue I generally had when I would present my handgun from the holster. I do recommend this class for anyone who wants to become more efficient with carrying in the AIWB position.

Tyler Grant
Dynamic Training Strategies
August 2016

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‘Tis Not Folly to Be Wise: Appendix IWB

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Appendix IWB carry is not for me. In fact, a few years ago I looked upon those who thought otherwise as foolish. Still, there were so many squared-away professionals who carry in the 1 o’clock position, I figured there must be something to it. I went to a four-hour block on Appendix Inside-The-Waistband (IWB) carry at the 2016 Tactical Conference in Memphis taught by fellow Oklahoman and holster maker, Spencer Keepers.

At about the same time, a professional woman I know was seeking an on-body carry solution. She was carrying one pistol in a secret compartment in her vehicle and one in her purse. As we all know off-body carry and keeping a gun in a vehicle are both less than ideal options for a myriad of reasons. Becky is a certified reserve peace officer and at the time, had dozens of hours of documented, quality firearms training including successful completion of Operation Specific Training’s Practical Fundamentals taught by our own Jerry Jones. She’s not someone who spends one weekend a month at a shooting match or top tier defensive school, but she also isn’t a novice.

Appendix IWB – Do you know where that thing is pointed?

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No discussion of appendix carry can be complete without someone chiming in about the purported lack of safety of this carry method. Properly executed appendix carry is just as safe as strong side carry. In fact, practitioners of Appendix IWB make a very a convincing case that it is actually safer. That may be difficult for some to swallow, but it is consistent with my experience. More to the point, it’s pretty rare to see a strong side carrier holster their gun without muzzling some part of the body.

The same can be said for appendix carry without proper technique. After being trained on both, I can honestly say there should not be “sides” of this issue; only “preferences.” On the Internet, though, ignorance is bliss. It allows for the unnecessary conflict upon which some people thrive. When asked about this stigma, Keepers answered, “institutional inertia.” People are afraid to try anything new or different and they tend toward shunning that which they don’t understand. We’ve all experienced that to some level.

Back to Becky

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Back to the topic at hand, this lady has tried many different modes of on-body carry without success. Women’s clothing typically does not work well with conventional strong side holsters. This issue coupled with the fact that more women are feeling the need to carry a firearm for defense, the fairer sex is increasingly experimenting with Appendix IWB as a carry solution. As with any specific firearm skill, training is a must.

Keepers is not only one of the foremost experts on Appendix IWB, but many of his classes are held about two hours from our town. Spencer has been teaching for several years and has trained with the proverbial, ”who’s who” of firearms instruction. He is a graduate of Tom Given’s Rangemaster Advanced Instructor development program and is one of only eleven Rangemaster Handgun Masters. Considering that Rangemaster has trained tens of thousands of people, that’s more than a little impressive. Becky attended Spencer’s Appendix IWB Skills class to see if it would be the solution she had sought for so long. Becky and Spencer both allowed me to document the event.

The sit-down stuff

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In the classroom, Spencer spends a lot of time on range safety and the four basic safety rules. Then, he expands on them. Keepers spoke at length about all of the rules as they apply to dry fire in the home and defensive shootings. After the briefings on safety and procedure, Spencer likes to start the class with a “cold” live-fire timed event. Students draw from Appendix IWB concealed and fire three rounds on target under time and then again at the end of the day to measure improvement.

Then it’s back to the classroom. Keepers covers every conceivable detail about concealed appendix carry, from clothing and belt selection to belt tension, inner garments, etc. Spencer even did blocks on weapon retention and vehicle defense. He is a detail-oriented kind of guy. We’re talking about someone who only chooses screws for his custom holsters which have “micro ridges” on the bearing surface which keep them from backing out during sustained use. His training curriculum is equally well planned.

Another item of note is that the class requires 350 rounds of ammunition. Bring more. Whenever there is an open lane, Spencer encourages what he facetiously refers to as “overachievers” to participate. Becky, being the type to get her money’s worth out of training, shot more than 500 rounds.

Pimping is bad

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With a captive audience, a good businessman would pimp his own product. Keeper’s Concealment’s Appendix IWB holsters are considered some of the best available. Instead, Spencer showed us his holsters as well as several from other makers he considers to be of good quality. If you visit Keepers Concealment on the web, you’ll see links to those other holster makers. That doesn’t seem like good business. Apparently, this guy isn’t in it for the money.

Be Wise

As mentioned above, one of the last live-fire drills of the day is to repeat the first. Students draw and fire three rounds under time to measure their progress. The very last drill of the day is to draw and fire one round three times. The goal of the exercise is to give students something to practice on their own. Ken Hackathorn says, “Training teaches you what to practice.”

I talked to Spencer after the class. He told me the goal of Appendix IWB Skills is to “raise the awareness level of appendix carry across the board.” Spencer said his goal is to get people (who want to do so) to carry a gun and to help them carry an effective gun in an effective manner. He has no problem with those who carry strong side as he did so for many years. As a matter of fact, Keepers once looked suspiciously on appendix carry until his friend, the late Todd Louis Green, showed him its benefits.

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In his closing statement, Keepers said, “you only need to look at the news to see what we are facing out there.” He continued to say that violent threats against innocents are increasing and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I will add that we once considered mass terrorist attacks a European problem. That is not true anymore. Generally violent crime has been on a steady decline for decades. That was, until 2015. Not only is violent crime suddenly rising, but our very way of life is being threatened.

Back to our heroine: As a business executive, Becky commented on Spencer’s work ethic and passion for the topic. She praised his “customer service,” which is unfortunately something we don’t hear very much in the firearms training industry. Did she solve her on-body carry issue? Did she get the tools she needs to be prepared for whatever future history has in store for us? Watch the video and see what you think. Spencer Keepers teaches often and in many different venues. If you get a chance, take a class from him; especially if you have some questions about Appendix IWB. Wisdom is bliss.

Warren Wilson
Defensive Training Services
August 8, 2016

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An important part of my evolution as an instructor is attending classes. I had an opportunity to take Spencer Keepers' AIWB Skills Class in Rio Rancho, NM yesterday.

Spencer is the proprietor of Keepers Concealment and designer of the Keeper, Keeper Light, and Errand holsters. Spencer is an authority on the subject of Appendix Carry. His experience building purpose-driven holsters and using them for daily carry as well as in classes and competitions has shaped his understanding of the topic. Equally important is his work with his vast customer base, making this carry method accessible to all interested parties.

Class started on time with Spencer introducing himself, giving enough background information to frame his approach to the material. He asked students to introduce themselves, about prior training, and how familiar they were with appendix carry. I have mixed feelings about introductions, but it was absolutely appropriate in this case due to the specialized nature of the coursework.

During an in-depth safety briefing Spencer explained the rules and range procedures. He addressed the real and perceived dangers of appendix carry and compared them to other popular methods. He demonstrated with a SIRT training "pistol" to illustrate critical points. Even with the inert training "gun" Spencer was careful and conscientious about his muzzle control. He established rules and best practices then followed them consistently.

The shooting portion was an overview of pistol shooting basics. The drills were designed to check the students ability to hit chest, head, and eye socket sized targets at reasonable defensive distances from a concealed AIWB holster. This was a skills class built around the AIWB carry system, how the gun-holster-belt package works together. Spencer coached each shooter in areas of safety and efficiency with their personal gear and methods. Every technique Spencer demonstrated was explained clearly. The pros and cons were addressed and all were high-probability and broadly applicable.

Spencer offered expert advice and insight during the lecture portion of the class. He had several examples of sub-optimal gear choices and took time to evaluate gear that students brought. This could easily have devolved into a Keepers infomercial but Spencer stuck to principles and praised good gear even when a competitor made it. He freely acknowledges that his products aren't for every body, just most of them.

Spencer has the heart of a teacher. It is who he is. This being only the fourth time he has taught this class, his delivery was solid and he accomplished all he set out to do even with a short delay for weather. The rookie shooter learned a lot and walked away with greater confidence. The experienced shooters honed their abilities and increased their competency. The instructors in attendance deepened their understanding of the topic and picked up some tips that may help students down the road.

I thought it was time and money well spent. I found value in the material and thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with Spencer and his lovely wife Stacy. I look forward to seeing how this program evolves and I intend to host this class in the Midwest in the near future.

Be safe and hard to kill!

Michael Anderson
@ShootTheGun
August 2016

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APPENDIX CARRY SKILLS with Spencer Keepers of Keepers Concealment is an excellent class for anyone new, experienced, or even just thinking about getting into the lifestyle of carrying a concealed handgun, Appendix Inside the Waistband, otherwise known as AIWB.

Spencer is a down to Earth, mild mannered and very even tempered dude from Oklahoma. He speaks softly but he's an extremely effective communicator, which enables him to get his message across without any "Drill Instructor" shenanigans that might turn some folks off. It's easy to see that Spencer truly believes in his craft, and he seems to REALLY enjoy working with others while watching them learn. John Murphy describes him best; "Spencer teaches from the heart." I found that to be exactly the case!

This class had a total of 18 students, two relays filled with law enforcement, military, and legally armed "Joe & Jill Citizens." The weather was brutally hot throughout this course at the FPF Training facility, but Spencer made sure everyone had time to hydrate and fuel-up throughout the day. Despite the extreme heat, each student stayed motivated and kept up with the pace of the course with no safety concerns or issues.

APPENDIX CARRY SKILLS starts with a brief which includes firearms safety fundamentals/rules and emergency plans for injured students and/or staff. Spencer gives a brief overview of his background, his philosophy about carrying AIWB, and a short, broad discussion about gear choices. Then, it's time to shoot!

"......For when you find yourself in a Walmart parking lot again at 2am because you made poor life choices and didn't buy enough bacon to begin with!"
-Spencer Keepers

I found the pace of this class to be extremely comfortable. Spencer utilizes the crawl, walk, run method and I felt like the students were moving at the perfect pace to learn new skills, practice them slowly/efficiently, then smoothly transition into live fire under a timer. Spencer gives a block of instruction, demonstrates his own ability to complete the drill, and then walks the line helping each student hone their own skill sets. He takes the time to visit with EACH AND EVERY STUDENT throughout this course, which is very rewarding to everyone IMHO. This class includes lessons in draw strokes, drawing and shooting while seated, reloads, cover garments, gear choices, sighting techniques, one handed gun manipulations and a whole lot more. There is a lot to cover in this one-day course, but Spencer makes the most of his available time.

There is some classroom work where Spencer discusses his own holster designs from Keepers Concealment (available here) and his philosophies on carrying concealed, AIWB. Spencer also talks quite a bit about holsters from other manufacturers, and how those might be conducive to other body types, lifestyles, training/working environments etc. This class is NOT about any ONE method or holster, but about MANY aspects of AIWB concealed carry and gear choices. To learn more about Spencer and his training program, you can read all about that and more, here: www.KeepersConcealment.com.

One interesting thing to note about Spencer is that he is extremely humble. This AIWB carry program came together from Spencer's own experiences training with others, and he was very particular when giving credit to folks like John Farnam of DEFENSE TRAINING INTERNATIONAL, Craig Douglas of Shivworks, Ernest Langdon of Langdon Tactical, Inc. and Tom Givens of Rangemaster, among others. Those training experiences and relationships have molded Spencer's own AIWB course into a well rounded curriculum which develops each student at their own pace. He gives many accolades throughout the class to those who have shaped his own skills and philosophies along the way as well.

I found this class to be immensely enjoyable to observe. Spencer's teaching style is very smooth and deliberate, without any bravado whatsoever. He never talks of "absolutes" as in, "never do this" and "always do that" which I find refreshing. Spencer instructs from experience, and he teaches from the heart. All in all, I HIGHLY recommend this class to anyone who carries AIWB........and even of you don't.

Special thanks to John Murphy for allowing us the use of his range, and to Spencer Keepers for allowing me to tag along for this awesome training opportunity. It was well worth spending my day off with Spencer, John, and those motivated students, I can't wait to do it again!

Jimmy Smith
F3 Tactical, Inc. and F3 Tactical Training
August 2016

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AAR: Essential Handgun Skills

I recently attended a one-day training class with Spencer Keepers, founder of the holster company Keepers Concealment. Spencer’s company manufactures what is considered the premier appendix holster in the industry. Within the firearms community Spencer is not only a businessman, but he is also well known for being an excellent shooter. He is particularly known as an appendix carry guy and most of his products focus on that. I carry strong-side-hip, but shooting is shooting, and a number of people that I know and respect have highly recommended Spencer’s training. Therefore, I signed up for this particular class as a good way of getting in some further professional training before the year is out. Spencer offers a dedicated appendix carry class that is actually touted as his flagship training experience. However, the Essential Handgun Skills class that I took proved a stellar training experience, so I would conclude that, if you carry appendix, you probably should look into taking his AIWB Skills class as well.

This class was hosted by FPF Training. I have taken several classes offered through FPF and the facilities and experience are always excellent. John Murphy puts out an excellent product and he does all of Virginia a great service by not only offering excellent training himself, but also by bringing in many of the best instructors in the industry. For this class I used my usual Glock 19 Gen 3 from my IWB holster. All shooting in this class was done from concealment. I believe there were fourteen students in the class. There was a good number of Glocks, a Sig, a 1911, a CZ, and a number of Berrettas. While I see less double-single action pistols these days than in times gone by, it was not surprising to see them in this class. Spencer is among a number of known shooters that are proponents of the double-single action auto. I am pleased to see that there is somewhat of a resurgence in this platform of late, and Spencer Keepers is certainly a great resource for those interested in embracing the double-single action pistol.

Spencer’s classes focus on concealed carry. I have been more than vocal in my opinion that, if you carry a concealed handgun, shooting from an open holster is a wasted opportunity. I have been in classes where open holsters were the order of the day and I would request to shoot from concealment. A great attribute of this class: working from concealment was a given. I love when an instructor embraces reality! Spencer caters to concealed carriers who want to train with their weapon of self-defense rather than weekend warriors who like to wear battle belts and roll around in the mud. Mall ninjas, you have been warned.

Speaking of mud, this class took place on a day in which Virginia was getting socked with the rain walls of a massive storm system, so it rained almost the entire day. We were soaked all day long, and it was awesome! The last time I was out at FPF Training for a class it was 98 degrees and 100 percent humidity. I think, of the two extremes, I prefer the rain. Despite the miserable weather, however, we did a lot of work on the range. We also spent a good amount of time in the classroom in the morning as Spencer went into depth on the proper fundamentals of shooting a handgun.

The morning began with classroom work in which Spencer covered the safety rules, but did so in a way that few instructors do: namely, expanding on the real-life application of each. This was followed by an extensive discussion on grip. One of the standout features of this class is Spencer’s detailed focus on grip. He explains it in a way that I have not heard before, referring to the use of an x-pattern in hand pressure. It makes perfect sense when he describes it. Also, Spencer explains the difference between a “high-tang grip” and a REAL high-tang grip. When he demonstrates this it becomes obvious that most shooters don’t place their hand as high as they truly can on the gun. This, of course, makes a substantial difference in recoil mitigation.

Spencer also covers trigger manipulation extensively. He gives one of the best overviews that I have heard concerning the proper way to manipulate a trigger, speaking to the trend among many to pin the trigger and reset after the gun has recoiled, which, of course, is a tremendous waste of time. He gave a thorough overview of the correct method of prep-and-press, proving the best method for shooting rapidly while maintaining accuracy. He also went into detail on sight picture as it applies to shooting rapidly at realistic distances.

After the morning classroom work we moved out to the range, despite the rain. As a side note, a rainy training experience is not always a bad thing. A number of malfunctions experienced throughout the day well may have been exacerbated by the conditions for a number of the shooters. I had two failures to feed and the weather may not have helped as upon cleaning the gun the next day I found a form of gunk and residue not typically found after several hundred rounds of shooting. When water enters the gun and mixes it up with all of the usual carbon and powder residue it does some interesting things. Reliability is relative and running the gun under such conditions once in a while is a good thing.

Spencer ran the class through a variety of drills, beginning the day with a focus on fine accuracy and advancing the speed as we progressed. He identified the chronic issues many shooters were having and he spent a great deal of time coaching one-on-one. In fact, his approach to coaching was particularly useful as he walks a student through their particular issue while the rest watch. While this may sound intimidating, that was hardly the case, as the atmosphere is entirely friendly and the coaching is helpful to all, not only the individual getting the hands-on attention. This training approach seems uncommon based on my experience, as often an instructor will rely on assistant instructors to provide such one-on-one help as the class progresses. In my opinion, these coaching sessions were among the most beneficial aspects of the class. Not only does this help everyone in their own performance, but for those of us that also teach a lot of new shooters, seeing an instructor with Spencer’s level of experience coaching is exceedingly helpful. For shooters who also instruct, I think this class is one of the best you can possibly take.

Despite the rain and soaking wet conditions, this is one of the best training experiences I have ever had. I also believe that more concealed carriers should take classes like this rather than focus on the ever-popular “tactical application” classes. While shooting around cars with carbines and wearing body armor is a lot of fun, I find many who go into such training do not have a solid grasp on the essentials of gun handling and marksmanship. Those classes may be entertaining, and I am not suggesting that they are not also beneficial, but I truly believe that the armed citizen who carries concealed should focus on learning to truly elevate their handgun skills. The only way to do this is to further hone the fundamentals of shooting.

Whether you are a beginner or advanced shooter, this class will offer you a lot. I cannot recommend Spencer Keepers highly enough. He is one of the best instructors I have ever met and he is friendly, exceedingly helpful, and truly experienced in his craft. If he comes within striking distance, do yourself a favor, and train with him.

To learn more about Spencer’s training, visit: http://keepersconcealment.com/

Salvatore, Reflexive Handgun
(See full review here)

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2 Comments
  1. Are you teaching your AIWB class anyplace in the US this year (that allows non-club or outsider participation)?

    I am especially interested in classes in Oregon (where I live) or in the northwest.

    I didn’t see any AIWB classes listed in Oklahoma.

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