Unlike most of the active shooter training videos circulated by the government, this one includes armed self-defense. It offers some good tips — although I’m not sure why you’d worry about people being behind you. When fighting an active shooter, escaping or disabling the killer or killers as quickly as possible is job one. Protecting those around you from return fire, not so much. Anyway, I take issue with one bit of advice and would like to offer two uncommon tips for staying alive during an active shooter or terrorist attack . . .

1. Take action sooner rather than later 

Situational awareness – knowing what’s happening around you and having an escape route in mind – is the key to preventing, escaping or defeating an active shooter/terrorist attack. The earlier you see an attack, preferably before it starts, the greater your chances of getting away or fighting back. This much you know. What the self-defense gurus don’t tell you: you need to act as soon as possible, no matter how “low-grade” the threat.

Does Joe from Accounting look a little odd today? He never dresses like that and he’s not looking anyone in the eye or answering simple questions. You may not want to report Joe; maybe he’s just hungover. At the same time, you want to keep an eye on him, confront him (with sympathy) or simply keep your distance. Same goes for a dodgy looking stranger milling around the entrance to your building.

How “paranoid” you are regarding potential attackers (a.k.a., situationally aware) depends on your psychology and your environment.  Obviously, you don’t want to run for an exit at the merest whiff of potential trouble. But you do want to marry situational awareness with action. It’s not just “see something, say something.” It’s “see something, do something.” Threat noted and logged isn’t enough.

The best thing you can do is move. There’s Joe again. He seems even more agitated. You know what? I think I’ll go get a cup of coffee. That guy at the entrance is giving me the creeps. I think I’ll step out back for some fresh air. As Sir Isaac Newtown pointed out, an object at rest tends to stay at rest. There’s a big perhaps even life-saving difference between sitting at your desk and standing at your desk – never mind being near an exit.

When it comes to an attack, being caught unawares is bad. Being caught flat-footed is worse.

2. Don’t hide, don’t cower

Videos like the one above tell people to hide from an active shooter. I don’t hold with that. Someone who hides from an active shooter or shooters is betting that the killing will end before the murderers find them and shoot them. Maybe so. But I reckon your odds of survival are greater if you do everything you can to escape or attack as quickly and violently as possible. And continue doing it. No matter what.

The attackers may shoot you. They may also miss. Staying in one place hoping the bad guys won’t assassinate you is a strategic dead-end. Some will disagree, (correctly) pointing out that motion draws attention. But hiding may very well mean you’ll meet the worst possible end: as a hopeless, helpless, stationary target. Think of it this way: what are the chances of the shooter missing you in that situation? Nil.

Worse, if everyone is passive during an attack, the chances of everyone being slaughtered are high – far higher than if a group of someones run or attack the killers. There is strength in numbers, even in the face of overwhelming odds. In that sense, it’s good to share your determination to run or fight with a colleague or colleagues, preferably before, but if needs be during, an attack. You need allies.

3. Look out for a secondary attack

Terrorists often use a primary attack to drive victims into a killing zone for a secondary attack. While this technique hasn’t appeared on our shores – yet – it’s a common strategy used by our enemies abroad.

If you’re escaping an active shooter or shooter, don’t go from the frying pan into the fire. Check the area you’re escaping into before exiting the carnage. Pause and scan the new environment for threats. By the same token, if you have a choice of exits, consider the less popular or obvious option. I know this sounds terrible, but you might want to let other people go first.

Once you’re outside the initial danger zone, maintain situational awareness. Look for cover and concealment – and use it. Don’t gather in a group. Calling 911 is not your first priority. Getting to safety is.

[h/t KW and JF]

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53 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Uncommon Advice for Surviving An Active Shooter [VIDEO]

  1. Anything you do, including doing nothing can get you killed. But motion draws attention. If the person who’s attention you’re drawing has a rifle or shotgun……running could be a suck plan.

    If you’re armed with the concealed carry pistol you may want to get in as secure a position as possible and make the bad guy come to you. IMHO.

    And how oblivious were the co workers of the san berdoo jihadi? They worked around this guy long term and he didn’t give off any hints at all?

      • Forting up with your pistol ready to greet the bad guy is not hiding. Especially if you’re unsure who and how many bad guys there are.

        Your daughters or my granddaughters schools. Yes, assualt the gunner. In an work or shopping environment(mall), no. Gather any co workers wishing to be defended and do just that, defend.

        • The thing I have against hiding with people, especially weak-minded people, is noise discipline. Some people yell/scream/fart/whatever at the slightest sign of imminent threat. There goes your element of surprise.

      • RF: This is why it is “Run, Hide, Fight.” In that order. Run is better than hide. It’s an integral part of the doctrine.

        • Again, I don’t hold with hide. It’s run, fight, run.

          NOTE: If you’re “hiding” while planning on an ambush, that’s not hiding. That’s fighting – with style!

    • Your instincts are correct if you are armed. First choice is always to escape but if that isn’t a safe or easy option than hunkering down in an ambush position is a smart thing to do. The shooter, whether mentally unbalanced or a terrorist, has chosen your location because he doesn’t expect armed resistance and that is your tactical advantage. When he enters your space he isn’t expecting to get shot at so your armed response is going to catch him off guard.

      • I’m bobmcd_still_in_NoVa 🙂

        Agreed. Hide is not cower. Hide is stay out of sight and be ready for Step 3: Fight.

        Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, and don’t bring a fire extinguisher either. Now that I am no longer working at US Gov’t facilities, I can now have my gun at the gun fight.

        • American active shooter incidents dont tend to be very sophisticated.

          – If you go to the sound of shooting, then you will find the shooter.

          – American active shooters get stopped by good guys, run out of ammo/victims, or commit suicide when confronted.

          – THE constant with American active shooters is that they are cowards and not terribly proficient with weapons.

          Any decision you make (run, hide, fight) is a very personal decision based on your character and has nothing to do with a cerebral process or logic. All of these options are frought with risk no matter how you cut it.

        • What sounds does the “American active shooter’s” gun make that the “non-American active shooter’s” doesn’t, just so I can keep an ear out to which one is the coward?

        • The only real problem I had with the fire extinguisher as a weapon used in the video was that this type of ABC dry chemical extinguisher has an effective range of @ 10-12 feet and the lady wielding it chose instead to step up and bonk the guy on the head. A blast of that chemical in the shooter’s face would have been extremely effective in disorienting and possibly blinding him temporarily, thus making the bonk and subsequent take-down efforts much safer and more effective.

          As for being armed in the situation; as I noted a few days ago, tactical training dictates that the defender has an approximate 7:1 advantage over an attacker in any enclosed or barricaded situation. I do not advocate simply hiding in your office while your co-workers are gunned down, but taking up a defensive/defensible position gives you a significant advantage over the guy who has to come and dig you out. In the meantime he is focused on you and not shooting the people who are trying to escape. With luck your 7:1 advantage, even in the face of superior firepower like an AK or AR, will force him to reveal himself and allow a take-down shot, or 17.

        • All I can say as a rebuttal is study the big active shooter incidents abroad (mumbai, besslan, parris, nord ost, etc) and then put them next to the big amercan ones (columbine, Va T, Ft Hood, sandy hook) and you’ll see the difference. These aren’t epic “Hollywood” gunfights. They’re just slaughters until the bad guy meets resistance (trolly square mall, 101 California, etc.) or runs out of ammo (aurora, langly, etc). (These are just the incidents I can think of off the top of my head but you get the idea.)

    • Don’t forget that this happened in PC California. You could have seen something and said something all day long, the authorities wouldn’t have taken action against a Muslim. The Fort Hood shooter was obvious for months and Obama’s PC Army couldn’t do anything about it.

  2. #3 for sure. I didn’t read too much about the Paris attacks but I think the soccer stadium bomb would have been a good way to cause the spectators inside to funnel outside through doors in line with one another, how many humans will a 7.62×39 fmj fly through? Im betting at least 2 and into a third, we already know there were shooters out in the streets.

  3. I’m totally on board with this assessment. Move, cover or conceal, be calm and deliberate and above all else, fight back, resist and MOVE. The whole shelter in place crap does nothing but serve you up as sheep to the slaughter. Do the unexpected and attack if escape is not an option.

  4. Move. Every street situation I’ve been in, which has included a couple of fights with knives, the thing I’ve learned is MOVE. Don’t freeze, don’t cower, don’t negotiate. Move. Get off the dime. Where and how you move? Well, that’s a huge subject, and occupies a great deal of time in martial arts classes and armed response training.

    Thugs instinctively know that most people are paralyzed by fear, and then the victims get to pleading and begging. The thugs have their choice of options.

    Years ago, in martial arts classes, the instructors forced people to learn how to respond to an attack. They’d plant your back against a wall, or into a corner if necessary. Then they’d have black belts start throwing full-speed punches at you that would be about 1/4″ short of hitting you in the face. The object of the lesson was to learn to respond instinctively – with blocks, parries, kicks, whatever. The lesson was to respond, rather than sit there and just take it. More people should study an aggressive style of martial arts to learn these sorts of things. Once you’re broken of the “curl up and take it” mindset, you never go back.

    • Making the decision to hunker down isn’t freezing in fear. That is making a decision to go on the defensive. Most people don’t realize that grabbing a piece of essential terrain and making your opponent try to take it is an offensive action.

      • But most people don’t make a decision. They just freeze in place. That’s the thing about most people in a fight – regardless of whether guns are involved or not. Most people just freeze up on the spot.

        • You should take the best offensive posture possible and sometimes that is taking up a strong defensive position and force the attacker to take it.

    • Exactly The mantra is move or die.

      Most attack profiles maintain the attacker is operating under the illusion of control and invincibility. That is magnified if there is a gun involved. Studies have shown that unarmed resistance and even verbal resistance in some cases is demoralizing to the attacker and can cause an attacker to retreat since the illusion of control has been disrupted.

      Its partly the reason most mass shooters suicide when they are confronted with resistance It’s also the reason most carriers report a sense of feeling more “alive and aware” when they are strapped.

    • I dunno. The only actual street fracas I was ever involved with, there was a recently released prisoner drinking with his buddies in a railway subway, which I had to pass through. After taking a swing at me, which I ducked, he held me and tried to provoke me to fight back. As I have an older brother, this did not work – I simply ignored him. After a while he gave up and gave me a beer. We sat drinking until a cop came around the corner, when the guy punted his carton of beer bottles down the subway, and the cop arrested him. He wanted to be locked up again. It made for an interesting evening. But then, I have always been fascinated by aberrant behavior, and I don’t judge.

  5. Did anyone else notice the “No Gun Zone” at the entrance of the building? Seems a bit ironic since one of the employees was packing a gen 2 Glock.

  6. Shoot, move, communication…

    Fight or flight. Hunkering down isn’t necessarily wrong, though, as long as it’s the “fight” part.

  7. Find cover or concealment and shoot the bastard. Or shoot the bastard and then find cover or concealment in case the bastard has a friend.

    When we go to the range, we shoot at targets, and we hit them with tedious regularity. Anyone who has been in combat will note that they may not hit their enemy with such tedious regularity. What’s the difference? For one thing, paper targets don’t shoot back.

    So don’t be a paper target. Shoot back. Or shoot first. But whatever you do, do something aside from just standing around bleeding.

    • “Get your first shot of FAST! This disconcerts your opponent long enough to give you time to make your second shot count.” – Lazarus Long/Robert A, Heinlein

  8. I feel like the best tactic is whatever fits the situation and scenario, because the idea that one concept is going to fit all contexts is incorrect. Other than “pie your corners” and “avoid fatal funnels,” most advice is not one size fits all. That being said, I am definately against running like a chicken with my head cut off or curling up like a fetus. Both of those options seem likely to lead to a Darwinian conclusion.

    • Willy,

      Running is way better than standing still — it is exponentially harder to hit a moving target than it is to hit a stationary target.

      Have said that, please note that running straight away from an attacker is almost like not running at all since, from the attacker’s perspective, you are a stationary target that is simply getting smaller with time. Running at an angle is the best bet because it requires the attacker to lead their target … and how much lead depends on how far away the target is, how fast it is moving, and how fast the bullet leaves the muzzle of the attacker’s firearm. In other words it is a complicated affair.

  9. The bigger message here is that, even though the specifics can be debated, a government agency, (especially LE!) is recommending and instructing on armed defense in these sort of situations. It’s a step in the right direction.

    • Exactly!

      The fact that law enforcement organizations all across the country are now acknowledging and even encouraging armed resistance in many cases shows that we are winning. Can you imagine law enforcement organizations doing this 25 years ago? Neither can I.

      • I think certain parts of Texas are waking up to the fact that between the cartels, illegals and Syrians flooding in this type of information is going to become pretty pertinent in short order.

  10. It’s funny that McManus had to point out “this is NOT an anti-gun video…” San Antonio might be light blue, but this is the Alamo city, man; we remember! BTW, one good reason to watch your rear is to avoid obstacles as you may have to backpedal. Otherwise you might be stuck emptying your mag with no way to retreat.

  11. If you see the shooter walking away from you, take off your shoes, tip toe behind them, and pop them in the back of the head with your CCW. Lol.

  12. Here is a double head-scratcher for the Armed Intelligentsia …

    First: why has this video disappeared from the San Antonio PD web site? The only place I can find it now (with my admittedly late-night, bourbon-fuddled Goole-fu) is on You Tube

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKyLxDv9C9U

    Second: why has this video languished for TWO FREAKING YEARS before our beloved jefe performed Internet Necromancy on it? (Originally published on February 18, 2014: well over a year ago.)

    The world wonders.

    Well. Maybe not the whole world. But I wonder.

  13. We’ve got some problems with the info given to the dispatcher.

    Race: can’t give this information because it’s racist for a white man to comment at all about any minority’s race.

    Gender: this one’s a toughy. Probably won’t have the opportunity to ask what gender he/she/it identifies as.

    Clothing: God forbid if it’s a hoody..

    • And God forbid it’s a fat person or midget… Can I say midget? Wait, can I say fat? WAIT! Can I say God…???

      This is so confusing.

    • The only viable option for a caucasian reporting such an incident would be to tell 911 “The shooter is NOT WHITE! It looks like men’s clothing, or maybe from the boy’s department.”

  14. Sometimes the wrong training is worse than no training at all. Robert is trying to apply single shooter self-defense tactics to what amounts to a combat situation where it’s not over after 3 rounds at three feet in three seconds; and what does get off the X mean when you’ve multiple shooters with multiple kill zones and rounds flying all over the place? Caliber doesn’t matter? You will find out that a 45 is going to take Ahmed out of the fight a lot faster than a 9mm when it goes on as long as Paris. You will also decide that a full size pistol with multiple magazines isn’t so heavy after all when your easy to carry LCR and 1 speed loader is done in 15 seconds and you have to play hide and seek with people trying to kill you for 15 minutes.

    Ahmed and his buddies are not Juwon the gangbanger or Freddie the crazy. If you approach Ahmed the same way you would approach Juwon and Freddie you are going to die very quickly.

  15. For what’s it worth: I would recommend almost the same thing. I appreciate Everyone that commented. Its nice to see what I was taught and learned is so widely reflected in others experience.

  16. I tell my kids in a mall or school shooting-

    GTFO- you hear gunfire, crouch down, get an idea where its coming from and then dont wait, get up and go the opposite direction, run like he11 and dont follow the crowd, split off, find the back doorway out of the school, out of the mall, over the fence, whatever it takes.

    Go all the way home, and do NOT stop to be checked off on some teachers clip-board at some gathering area like in the fire or earthquake drill, or you will end up with the rest of the sheep slaughtered by the jihadi’s looking for you to do that very same thing, herding you like they did the kids at Beslan.

    Just GTFO and run like hell until you are home. Thats where I will come first and text me as soon as you can, once well clear of the danger zone, with where you are headed if you cant, for some reason, head for home first.

    The school, mall, sports stadium will be traffic locked in 5 minutes after the first 911 call, by all the cops, firemen, military and other dads with kids at that school, who are headed there at 90 miles an hour, so be damn careful, look both ways before running across the streets, too.

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