In our post NRA: No 1911s or Revolvers in Carry Guard Training Classes, TTAG writer and Florida detective Luis Valdez revealed a new NRA training acronym: A.D.R.E. It stands for Avoid. De-escalate. Retreat. Engage. Well now . . .

Avoid? Of course. De-escalate? Absolutely! Retreat? Not necessarily.

First, that dictum assumes you can retreat. Second, it assumes that retreat is a sensible option. If you can’t retreat safely and/or doing so loses you a significant tactical advantage (sometimes it’s better to engage and then retreat, or as you retreat), it’s a really bad idea. Third, shouldn’t retreat be a subset of “avoid”? And fourth . . .

The NRA’s advice to retreat plays straight into the hands of gun control advocates who oppose Stand Your Ground Laws. And it could be used against you in a court of law. Sir, you were trained by the NRA to retreat before shooting an attacker. Why didn’t you?

Am I wrong here? And if I’m not, what would be a better acronym?

[I propose MACHINE GUN. Make yourself ready, Assume anyone could turn into a threat at a moment’s notice, Carry everyday, Have the chamber loaded, Ignore people who give you a hard time about carrying, Never hang out with stupid people, Evaluate your options, Go for your gun if you have to, Understand death may be inevitable and Never tell the cops anything (other than vital info on the perp) without a lawyer.]

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60 Responses to Is The NRA Right to Teach Defensive Shooters to Retreat Before Engaging? CapArms Question of the Day

  1. Whether you retreat or advance matters a lot less than whether you MOVE or stand like a target. That said, I like a lot of the suggestions in your too-long acronym.

  2. Well you couple this with that other story about no 1911’s or revolvers in their training courses, and they are certainly onto SOMETHING, what it is I have no idea.

  3. My two cents is that I think people should avoid bad guys everywhere possible. That includes retreat when reasonable.

    I hate legal standards requiring retreat. You make your own call about whether to engage or not. The state should never get to tell you that you have the obligation to back down to criminals. If your decision is questionable, that’s up to a prosecutor and a jury. Not me. But especially not up to some blanket rule that benefits the bad guys.

    As for the NRA, I think it’s a stupid acronym and should be under avoid. Moving off the X, seeking cover, finding an exit. Smart.

    • Agreed 100%. Avoid, to me, is the same as retreat — or, in other words, if it looks like a gunfight’s about to go down, and you can, then get the hell out of Dodge.

      I’m not sold on the “retreat” being a separate item, for reasons Farago points out. The “retreat” decision, IMO, is made at the beginning of the decision-making process.

  4. Would be better if retreat were one of the choices within de-escalate rather than a stand-alone rule that seems like a requirement.

  5. Yeah the NRA is mostly a bunch of FUDS mostly, historically specking. The only time it really goes deep into actual tactics is when better people force them to change.

    Being under constant attack in the popular media has kind of made the right cuck a bit when people try to shame us. It’s time to stop letting that stand. Don’t be a belligerent aggressor, of course. But don’t be afraid to fight. Physically or otherwise.

    • Some of us live in stand your ground states and have NO obligation to flee…why should these fudds give us one? I cant fuckin stand the NRA.

      • You should probably check that “no obligation to flee” thing. Most of the SYG laws do state some version of “if you cannot safely retreat…” and the laws pertaining to deadly force still apply everywhere. Not challenging, just figure you should make sure to read the law before you test it.

        • Thanks for lookin out, but in my state there is no obligation to flee from an agressor even outside the home.

  6. It’s retreat if you can do so safely. You don’t really think that the oldest and most successful firearms training organization in the country would just say “retreat,” do you?

    • You wouldn’t think the oldest firearms training organization in the country would support gun-control laws either, but they do.

      • 1. So you think that the NRA should train people to do things that will get them arrested and the NRA sued out of existence?

        2. Please forgive the NRA for assuming that people who carry guns might have some common sense and know a. when to retreat/avoid and b. what the laws are in the areas where they’re carrying.

        3. The NRA doesn’t make the laws, the NRA-ILA is the political branch, and while nobody is going to agree with them all the time (which is why I’m not the EVC here), without the NRA and a few of the others, I don’t think we would have any gun rights left at all.

        • I think if we left our gun rights up to the NRA alone they’d have us national reciprocity QUICK, with mandatory carry insurance and a mandatory $850 class, and probably a new “federal” license of some sort, because we all know uncle slam doesn’t give us anything without something in it for him too!

  7. As far as I know, the NRA training started out as being for hunters. I was an NRA instructor for ten years, but I was never really satisfied. I think the NRA never actually made the transition from hunters to self defenders.

    I believe very strongly that avoidance of conflict is number 1 in self defense, but it is not likely to happen once the attack is started. And no kind of negotiation or attempts at de-escalation are likely safe to try at that point either.

    Have to wonder if the NRA can manage to screw this training thing up any more, but I’m sure we’ll hear about if so. I just know I want no part of it again. There are just too many other, better options.

    • Nope. NRA training started off as marksmanship training, begun by two Union generals right after the Civil War, in 1871. They were concerned that so many shots were missed shots, so much ammunition was wasted, etc.

      Also note that this is about one specific class. Maybe learn more about that particular class before snarking about the NRA?

    • I forgot to ask – how could you have been an NRA instructor and NOT know the origins of the NRA? It’s taught in the Basic Pistol Shooting course, the Instructor courses, and so on.

      I suggest that you look at the training available, because after Basic Pistol, there’s Personal Protection in the Home(R) and Personal Protection Outside the Home(R), as well as Refuse To Be A Victim(R) which is about awareness and avoidance.

      I think I can see why you’re an ex-instructor.

    • The NRA is a very large organization with multiple levels of bureaucracy, not all of which talk to each other.

      The “retreat” idea is amazingly wrong-headed and yet it was written by an advertising copy-writer who is either a direct employee of NRA or is contracted to them. This ad copy was written by someone and then passed through multiple levels of oversight before it was every allowed to be shown to the public.

      Think about this for a moment.

      The “retreat” idea has a long a sordid tradition which includes expecting people to leave their own homes during a home invasion. Nonetheless, and despite the NRA’s historic last-stand defense of gun-rights, this politically charged anti-gun suggestion made it into a NRA sanctioned national advertising campaign. The reason this happened is that the people who are supposed to be in control, weren’t.

  8. I have to retreat if possible in my state. So I would assume they’d touch on that in a training course in my state. Especially when the other option is to kill another human being, I’d home some people consider the option of retreating.

  9. Most of the “Stand your ground” laws also state that you should retreat safely if you can. They also require that you not be the one who instigated the situation and that you are in a place where you can legally be. If you’re a belligerent aggressor, you are not covered by “Stand your ground.”

  10. Yes. There is a time to stand and a time to retreat. This is the individual’s decision to make. In either case, it should be done with safety in mind. You don’t turn your back on your opponent. You can use available cover and concealment as your back away. Retreat isn’t just a run away situation. It takes some thought and training just as much as stand your ground or advancing. Done wrong, you are dead.

    Of course, the first rule is not to get yourself into such a situation. Use situational awareness.

  11. You forgot a catchy phrase for the letter “H” in your Machine Gun acronym. How about “Have the Chamber Loaded” 😊

      • I’m genuinely disappointed that if the NRA is going to go in this direction, they didn’t use Prepare to make P.A.D.R.E. Maybe even rework it to something more like:

        Prepare yourself, physically and mentally
        Avoid stupid people, places, and activities
        De-escalate if you can but be ready to..
        Respond to a threat of death or grievous bodily harm without hesitation
        Evade or engage until the threat expires.

  12. Quote: “Am I wrong here?”

    Yes.

    When bad stuff might happen, is going to happen, or is actually happening, one of the best courses of action is to get the hell outta there!

    It is similar to my response when upon spotting my gun someone asks me if I’m expecting trouble:

    “No! If I was expecting trouble I’d leave, and call the cops”

  13. Acronyms are only useful if they are used correctly — or they are not limiting your options.

    For individual self defense scenarios where the theat is small in number and isolated, retreat Is usually not viable because you are already being directly engaged.

    Retreat makes more sense for highly public encounters with the possibility of multiple threats and/or police arrival. Every additional gun that appears on scene increases the possibility of you being shot. I only say this because of how the PD is training their officers to respond to anyone with a firearm. I wager that is the reason the “retreat” is in the acronym.

  14. More fake news. Nobody is saying you must retreat. The acronym just offers these options in preferential order, which I agree with.

    If the circumstances of the scenario don’t allow for one option, then you skip it and go to the next. Consider this “dictum” to be the order in which you should consider your options, not necessarily the order in which you must perform them.

    As for the public’s perception, acknowledging that retreating, OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, is preferable to engaging, is hardly a deeply scandalous admission. I prefer retreating before shooting, too.

    You hear from carry license class students all the time that “I’d shoot, if I had no other option.” Well.

    The idea is not to put yourself or allow yourself to be put into a situation where you have no other option. Don’t let the situation degenerate to that point without first having considered and possibly tried some of the numerous options available to you early on in the scenario.

    One of those is retreating. Consider it. Try it if you think is has a good chance of working.

  15. How about it be clarified retreat to the strongest available tactical position?

    If that means your current spot the skip to step 4

    The legalities of that should be covered with stand your ground laws, training with a non government organization should never dictate how the law is interpreted

  16. Its all about liability protection. If the NRA didn’t teach you to retreat and you got into a situation, then BINGO!, instant lawsuit.

    • On the other hand, if retreat is a viable option where that action takes you or others out of imminent danger, even here in Fl with no duty to retreat, then BINGO!, instant lawsuit. And you are the defendant.

      I don’t mind shooting people. I have real problem with shelling out a LOT of money. Even with DGU insurance, it’s going to be a huge PITA.

  17. I think ADRE pretty neatly sums up the hierarchy of preferred outcomes to the encounter.

    It doesn’t have to be a list of things to try in order in every single circumstance to be a useful acronym.

    De-escalate is another example- some people are crazy or high. How much time are you going to spend trying to talk them down from wanting to hurt you if they’re slurring their speech and staggering while slurring at you over something nonsenical?

    It’s a useful strategy in some circumstances, not others.

  18. ….Never tell the cops anything (other than vital info on the perp) without a lawyer.]..

    Tell the 911 operator your name, where you are, and that there’s been a shooting. Hang up. They will call back. Don’t answer.
    Call your lawyer or your DGU insurance provider.
    Wait for cops to show up clearly disarmed.
    When they do show up, invoke your right to remain silent and say nothing until your lawyer is with you.

    • Yeah, you do that. By all means don’t give them your name, don’t say that you were forced to defend yourself, don’t point out any witnesses or evidence that might disappear, don’t say that you will be happy to talk to them after you’ve spoken to your lawyer. And sure, hang up on 911 even though you should never do that.

      By all means make it WAY harder on yourself and the police. They love that.

  19. Break contact or fight thru the enemies position. Retreat is what you make perps and anti-gun perps do.

    Funny (not really) “retreat” is also what the POS gun-grabbers, and some law enforcement, want you to let the perps do.

  20. Your A and I need some fine tuning:

    1) Assume everyone’s out to kill you: If I actually did assume everyone’s out to kill me, I’d spend the rest of my life holed up in the basement with 900 cans of beans and a shotgun aimed at the only point of entry. Maybe “Assume anyone could turn into a threat at a moment’s notice” or something.

    2) Ignore combative people: No, I’d say combative people are exactly the ones you need to keep an eye on. “Ignore people who give you a hard time about carrying,” or maybe use some other “I” word altogether.

  21. The problem here isn’t actually what you do in a situation, it’s the ramifications afterwards. The problem with labeling it “retreat”, is it instantly coincides with “duty to retreat”, which is not only bullshit, but will be exploited in court. That’s what lawyers do. It’s the same thing as with that story a few weeks ago, about policing having to fire a warning shot. “Having the option” quickly becomes “you must” after a few high profile incidents. “Well mr gun toting republican, it says here that the last training you received advised you retreat at all costs, which you blantantly ignored.” Also, as said, this WILL be a lot of big ammo for the antis when they say, “even the NRA believes in duty to retreat!”… none of these things are true.. but perception drives court rooms and politics… not reality.

  22. Would not some sort of “retreat”, removing yourself from the area help your defense in front of a jury?

  23. Retreat? Not necessarily.

    Correct!

    From a strictly survival/tactical standpoint, retreating could be a great or a horrible choice depending on the particulars.

    From a legal standpoint, you face less legal risk of course if you retreat and do not draw your handgun (much less pull the trigger).

    From an “overall good for society” standpoint, you should never retreat and always engage your violent attacker lest your violent attacker go off and perpetrate a violent attack against other good people. And remember, those “other good people” could include a close friend or extended family member. Could you live with yourself if you let a violent attacker go only to have him/her rape/kill your aunt, cousin, or close friend?

  24. This is one of those things where I feel like there are way, way too many variables to be covered by an acronym.

    As others have noted lawyers get involved and whatnot.

    All I can say is that in BJJ there are a lot of throws that will seriously fuck someone up if done on a hard surface if not kill them. It’s taught in a controlled way so that IF you have to do it to someone you have the option to not execute the throw at full power because of the potential legal implications of doing something like that at full power. That way your response can (hopefully) be proportional to the situation.

  25. The legal standards that require retreat also require that you do so IF you can do so in complete safety. Common sense also says you should do so. Even more common sense says that you will be better off after a DGU if you can say that you tried to retreat, or considered doing so but couldn’t (without, for example, turning your back on the attacker).
    But of course, its not a flowchart where you have to try to retreat before engaging. That would be stupid.

  26. What else would one expect from the group that gave us decades of training of uncounted thousands that; “you never load your firearm until you are at the firing line”(NRA’s rule number 1)?
    Could there be a clearer way of training people to think that all guns are unloaded at all times, the exact polar opposite of correct? This is the NRA’s actual failure that resulted in many deaths, not the antis line of BS. Every “I didn’t know the gun was loaded” death can be attributed, at least in part, to the NRA’s many decades of incorrect training.

    • Never loading your gun until you are at the firing line means that you would be carrying an empty gun. Training to carry an empty gun is dangerous.

      • For off the range, the rule is keep your gun unloaded until ready to use, and it’s clear that a firearm carried for self defense is, in fact, always in use. They make that clear. The firing line rule is to prevent ADs during classes, especially when people may be just learning to handle the firearm.

        Common sense, people.

      • Both ranges I am a member of, one indoor and the other outdoor, require any firearm you plan on shooting to be unloaded until you are on the firing line. They do not require me to unload a pistol I am carrying in a holster. The safety video the indoor range makes you watch is very clear that there are to be no loaded weapons laying on the shooting bench.

      • That is NOT made clear in the training. It was always presented as the way to treat firearms AT ALL TIMES, by every NRA training I have ever encountered, which I’m sure you are aware of. OFC, possessing at least a modicum of common sense, I always took it to mean AT THE RANGE ONLY, but many many others did not, as witnessed by the huge number of “I didn’t know the gun was loaded”, needless ‘accidental’ deaths.
        By all means feel free to support your favorite organization, but at least use a modicum of sense while doing so, please.

  27. I did the nra training thing for a few years, until I got another training tell me that I should not call a weapon a weapon, but a firearm. That i when I stopped being a trainer, or a nra member. Which I was a life time member at the time. The nra, as I see it, is not for carry conceal folks, but hunters, union members, blue dogs, and rino republicans.

  28. There are only two situations where retreat is not an valid option. Either it is a “sucks to be you situation” where the threat does not reveal himself until he is in your face or a big time situational awareness failure. Your chances of the former are much lower than the latter. I will go with don’t get noticed, run away if you are and only use force when you run out of all other options.

  29. Oddly enough the FEMA Emergency Management Institute’s Independent Studies Program “active shooter, what can you do.” Actually has a very good example of the issue of retreat or hide or fight.
    https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-907
    It says absolutely Nothing about Firearms, but when it talks about throwing something at the shooter.. this crippled old man’s CCW has a better “throw weight” and range then most pitchers.

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