Self-Defense Tip: Practice Using Cover/Concealment Properly

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I don’t know of any shooting range offering its customers day-in day-out training in the wide variety of shooting and maneuvering skills needed to survive a gun fight. Many ranges don’t allow customers to draw from a holster and rapid fire. Those that do usually keep their customers in cattle chutes, preventing any sideways movement. The small percentage of gun ranges that allow holster draw and uninhibited movement don’t provide on-demand choice-based training (i.e. shoot/don’t shoot drills). If you think about it, there are enormous gaps in real world firearms training. For example, how do you practice locating, reaching and utilizing cover (ballistic protection) and/or concealment?

In the case above, the Detroit cop behind the counter makes a strategic mistake which cost him two of his fingers, and could have cost him his life. He continued to shoot from behind the same bit of cover. By popping-up in the same place every time, he revealed his location to the bad guy. When Lamar Moore wanted to take out his threat, he knew exactly where to go.

Perhaps we should blame Hollywood. TV and movie shootouts usually involve a good guy running to cover or concealment, popping out to take a couple of shots at the bad guy, making a break through an open field of fire to find another bit of cover or concealment, and then shooting the bad guy when he makes the same move.

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Or maybe we should blame police training. How much of the Detroit po-po’s firearms training, qualification and re-qualification involves shooting from behind cover or concealment in dynamic situations; situations that require transition from one position to the next? I’m thinking very, very little. If any.

Anyway, there is a perfect answer for an armed self-defender who wants to learn how to use cover and concealment effectively. Unfortunately, Force-on-Force training is both rare and expensive. Even if you learn what to think about during a DGU at an FoF session, only regular and ongoing practice can create the habits that you need.

To train yourself to use cover or concealment in accordance with strategic necessity, the imperfect is the enemy of your enemy. Practice using cover and concealment at home like an eight-year-old kid playing cops and robbers or (dare I say it) cowboys and indians. Seriously. Pop-up in a doorway: high, low and medium. Pop-up from behind the bed: left, right and center.

[Note: to avoid unwarranted police interest, urban readers should draw their shades when practicing indoors and use a pointed finger or NERF gun when training outdoors.]

The more you practice using cover and concealment, the better you’ll be in a real DGU. It’s as simple as that. Until and unless gun range 2.0 arrives, you’ll have to try this at home. You may look like a nut, but there is no more important skill for surviving a lethal encounter than not getting shot, stabbed, hit or otherwise molested. Not even marksmanship.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

27 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Practice Using Cover/Concealment Properly

  1. avatarspymyeyes says:

    There are places where you can train like this, but only if you are rich.

    If you have a hundred plus acres of land and lots of trees on it you could make your own courses and run your own shoot & scoot senario’s but good luck letting other people on your land to do it.

    The first person that get’s hurt will own you and then the local po-po will have at you, then the federal po-po will get their pound of flesh and if you are still NOT in jail by then you should invest heavily in lottery tickets because you are too lucky to be true!

    The truth is the gubbermint does NOT want you to be prepaired to resist them with equal force and equal training.

    • avatarracer88 says:

      ” The truth is the gubbermint does NOT want you to be prepaired to resist them with equal force and equal SUPERIOR training.” :)

    • avatarScott says:

      Although I don’t watch his YouTube channel very often, Nut-n-Fancy seems to have exactly what you’ve described.

      • avatarPhydeaux says:

        While there are a number of advantages or benefits of Nutnfancy’s run-and-guns, I don’t think this is one of them. He freely admits that his drills are intended to stress and test the equipment he’s using and not to practice tactical skills.

        That said, he clearly benefits from the physical activity and experience manipulating his weapons – which are significant benefits, just not real tactical training.

        The Washington County Sheriff’s Dept does some force on force training. During a recent Citizen’s Academy session, I got the chance to go one on one with one of their defensive tactics instructors. We used Glocks with Simunition. I got my head handed to me – I even dropped my pistol in the first of four exercises – but it was good experience.

    • avatarpair-o-dee says:

      spymyeyes, better reline that hat with a fresh roll of tin foil, those pesky radio waves are starting to leak through again.

      Sheesh.

      • avatarJames says:

        Pairode – Better put on some kneepads. Someone who is that big of a fan of government is going to be on them quite a lot.

  2. avatarScott says:

    Spymyeyes: Although I don’t watch his YouTube channel very often, Nut-n-Fancy seems to have exactly what you’ve described. If a person really wants to train and learn, it’s possible. It depends on the “want to” level of the individual, not the “gubbermint”.

    RF, can you give us a back story on the first video?

  3. avatarMorseus says:

    The new Air Force course of fire for the M4 rifle incorporates *some* shoot and move techniques, along with *some* choice-based shooting. That kind of course with a pistol would be perfect.

  4. avatarRalph says:

    Practice using cover and concealment at home like an eight-year-old kid playing cops and robbers

    If I had an eight-year old kid at home playing cops and robbers, I certainly would use him for cover. Until then, I’m pretty much stuck with hiding behind my cats.

  5. avatarPhrederick says:

    My tip: Go play some paintball or airsoft at least a few times and take some pointers from some regulars. Experienced paintballers do exactly what you described, take a low stance that allows them to use multiple points of their cover and still bolt to another point of cover quickly should they need to relocate to flank or because they are being flanked.

    Obviously there are many differences and you would want to keep in mind to what would work and help and what would not in a real life scenario, but how many other places do you get to work on your awareness of multiple enemy positions, awareness of cover and fire angles, and get some good fun exercise besides? If you got a kid then take them too, summer is coming.

    • avatarTim says:

      Without a doubt paintball and airsoft are great ways to train. There are some very realistic guns and markers available. I personaly love playing with my SIM4. I’ve even seen some paintball markers that eject shell casing and have recoil for just a couple hundred dollars on ebay. Not that hard to get some like minded people together and do some force on force training safely and legally. The only thing that limits the training of most people is there own personal level of dedication.

    • avatarpaintballer says:

      This is exactly what I was going to say. I paintballed in college all the time, and this is one of the fastest ways to distinguish the noobs from the experienced, the way they use their cover, and if they pop up predictably.

      I’ve read so many people speak disparagingly of using paintball/airsoft as training for actual combat/gunplay, but this is just one of many reasons I think it is excellent. The adrenaline rush is amazing, really makes fine motor control difficult sometimes–I’ve seen other noobs dump their pods out on the ground by accident when trying speed reloads under fire. Seriously, go paintballing.

      • avatarBuzz243 says:

        Yeah, what this guy said. Play paintball.
        Learning to think logically while the adrenaline is rushing through your veins is good training for bad situations. And it’s lots of fun.

  6. avatarTom says:

    True. Most people are trained to just stand and shoot with all that firepower.

  7. avatarST says:

    Related quiry:do you of the armed citizenry evaluate your living quarters based on cover and concealment possibilities in a DGU?

    I ask because while shopping for apartments I couldn’t help but notice the blind spots and corner approaches during the property manager’s open house. I caught myself looking at the skylight and thinking “security weakness”. Perhaps ive just watched too many Michael Mann movies.

    • avatarTom says:

      Yes, and bullet proof cover blows in most houses so we are looking at concealement and partial cover at best. I go a step further and look for kill zones and fields of fire.

  8. avatarGarynyer says:

    Ill be honest that scared the crap out of me

  9. avatarRich Keagy says:

    If someone would switch the window panes, it would make it a lot easier to figure things out.

  10. avatarJJ Swiontek says:

    IDPA

  11. avatarAaron says:

    Concealment makes it harder for eyes to see ya… cover makes it harder for bullets to find ya.

  12. avatarEric says:

    Side note on the video: The fatal center of mass shot(s) the officer made on the perp took 15 seconds to have and effect. During that time the perp was repeatedly targeting the officer with the shotgun. It takes a bit of time to die.

  13. avatarbontai Joe says:

    And the absolute WORST place to learn how to use cover would be 99.9% of all Hollywood cop and action movies. I never noticed it until someone pointed it out to me how Hollywood cops stand behind cars and shoot over the roof. Think about it, all that is protecting your torso (center mass) is 2 pieces of auto glass. If you are out and about when something bad happens, try to keep the engine block of the car between you and anyone shooting in your direction.

  14. avatarGS650G says:

    In that video they were essentially ambushed and cornered. There was so much noise, smoke and confusion it’s a wonder they got any lead into the perp.

  15. Two comments.

    I’ve taken training at Tactical Defense Institute, in southern Ohio (www.tdiohio.com). They have excellent force-on-force training. I highly recommend them.

    One big problem with airsoft is that it can teach people to mistake concealment for cover. I’ve seen some very sloppy tactics in use among airsoft fans. That said, I think it’s excellent practice if you keep in mind that for real ammo, concealment isn’t cover.

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