If this post was honest-to-God clickbait, I’d simply tell you not to get into a gunfight. Which is perfectly true. Avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things and the chances of dying in a gunfight sink to near zero. But that’s not the “trick” revealed here. It’s an idea recently communicated to me by TTAG’s resident war hero, Jon Wayne Taylor . . .

I told Jon about a force-on-force faux pas. When the sim hits the fan, I got married to cover. I wouldn’t come out from behind a wall to confront the shooter. As you can see in the video of the Dallas incident above, that’s a really bad habit.

“The reason why you can’t be married to your cover is that your opponent is still mobile,” Jon asserted. “If your opponent can still change positions and is willing to agress, your cover becomes your coffin.”

Being generally coffin averse, I asked Jon how to avoid making that mistake. “You need to change your focus,” he said. “Stop focusing on yourself. Focus all your attention and energy on eliminating the threat.”

Jon counsels anyone involved in a defensive gun use to think of it as an offensive gun use. If you adopt a passive survive-at-all-costs attitude you’ll have a very hard time leaving the safety of cover. Or, for that matter, moving towards the bad guy — which is an excellent way to improve your accuracy.

If you think of a gunfights as aggressive threat elimination, you’re more likely to move out from behind cover — as you should — to attack and put the bad guy(s) out of commission. You’ll be more willing to move towards the threat, or do whatever else is necessary to end the encounter. Permanently.

How do you implement this “simple trick”? Determine right now to go all-in in a gunfight. More than that, practice moving to cover and then leaving it. You can do that in force-on-force training, at a proper gun range (one where you can move and shoot) or at home with an unloaded gun.

When push comes to shove, you need to push as if you’re life depends on it. Because it does. Is that a simple trick? Yes, but are you capable of doing it? Here’s hoping you never have to find out . . .

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48 Responses to One Simple Trick for Not Dying in A Gunfight

  1. Getting off of the X is NOT easy. It takes months of training to get even USMC infantry to assault INTO an ambush. Same basic idea.

    • Indeed. Playing commando and shooting at “bad guy” silhouettes and popcans is fun. Being shot at and hearing bullets whizzing by, not so much.

      Joe citizen pursuing some assailant through the streets/woods hellbent on neutralizing the threat is not only a tad bit zany, but also brings to mind a few questions. For instance: Why is said bad guy after Joe? Was Joe just minding his own business when all of a sudden Johnny Rotten bad guy suddenly started shooting at him? Or was good boy Joe smokin’ dope down by the creek with plain ol’ boy Johnny when things went south over the cut and Johnny turned rotten?

      The back story to such a scenario would truly be interesting and imperative as to how one might potentially handle said incident. If memory serves, said bad guy might be put into 1 of four categories: #1The criminal, #2 the psycho, #3 the terrorist and #4 the professional aka contract killer. Most people aren’t likely to run into #3 or 4 in the course of their daily lives. Criminals and the mentally deranged on the other hand might be more common in many places.

      • I agree with your analysis except that I would characterize #4 as the “Stalker”. Say a woman’s Ex wants her dead. He either hires a contract stalker or he relies on self-help. In either case, our Jo citizen is being pursued by someone who is targeting her. This is not uncommon; more likely the self-help scenario than the contract killer. Jo citizen almost certainly knows she is being stalked; forewarned is forearmed.

        • Excellent point, didn’t even take that into consideration. The fact that one might be targeted by an individual for more intimate reasons, rather than merely just a grudge or money.

          While a stalker could certainly be considered mentally ill. Such a miscreant would indeed have an MO far more similar to a killer for higher, than the random lunatic hellbent on revenge against who he knows not. In this respect, #4 is far too common in too many people’s lives, thus Robert’s scenario bears even more gravitas than first thought.

  2. Cover is place to shoot from, not a place to turtle up and die. If you can’t shoot from your cover and you need to shoot, find new cover where you can put fire on your attacker.

    Of course, this advice presupposes an actual gunfight that isn’t over in a blink of an eye, which in most cases is not what happens to people who aren’t wearing a uniform.

  3. I’m reminded of the Cleveland mobster Danny Greene.

    At one point in his life Mr. Greene was the victim of an assassination attempt by a man using a scoped rifle from perhaps 100-200 yards away. Mr. Greene picked an unlikely tactic and actually charged the guy while firing at the “sniper” with a handgun. The would-be assassin was so unnerved by a madman charging him with a snub-nosed revolver that he actually ran away and was never identified.

    • I can see where that will work.

      Long arms have better range and accuracy *at the expense* of staying on target.

      Exploit that weakness with a bunch of random dodging and ‘jinking’ back and forth while charging. Objects in motion want to stay in motion, mess up the bad guy’s ability to keep that barrel mass trained on *you*.

      He might hit you dodging that way, but he likely *will* hit you if you remain somewhat stationary or if you allow him to take a lead on you like a duck in flight.

      Mess up his point of aim…

  4. When I was an Armored Cav trooper, one of our mottos was “Ride to the sound of the guns”. Pwrserge is right though, it takes discipline and training to advance into danger when every instinct you have is screaming at you to stay as far away from it as possible.

  5. This advice seems based on the premise that the goal of a gunfight is to neutralize the opponent. For military or police, that might make sense, but does it for the rest of us? My goal is to get away with as little injury to myself and those who matter to me as possible. If I have the option of running into fire and running around a corner and away from the threat, I’m choosing option two. If I can’t get away, why not find a secured position of cover? Defending a secure position is easier than attacking one.
    There’s also the legal aspect to consider. Is a prosecutor going to accept that you were in fear for your life, if you’re running toward the attacker? We don’t all live in Arizona or Wyoming.

    • “Defending a secure position is easier than attacking one.”

      Not necessarily. The police officer in the video clip above died because of that strategy. At the very least, defending a secure position could very well be more dangerous than attacking one.

      If you have a secure position and your attacker must approach through a “fatal funnel”, then defending your secure position could be a winning strategy if you are only facing one attacker and you are not undergunned. If you are facing multiple determined attackers and you are undergunned, your best bet is probably to advance — either forward or to the rear.

      • The cop in that video thought he was in a secure position- he assumed that the bad guy wouldn’t charge him. But it wasn’t secure at all: without two people to cover both sides, it was a coin toss. While the cop was peeking right, the bad guy ran up behind him. Even worse- I bet the cop went right because he was right handed, and wanted to stay behind cover as much as possible. The bad guy was probably right handed and went right for the same reason. I remember seeing this clip when it happened and recognizing a bad, bad mistake.

        The bad guy won that fight because he did exactly what this article describes.

      • What Kevin said is right.
        To me that would be a temporary position of cover. I’d use it for a brief moment of safety, while I took stock of the situation and figured out how to get to position with cover on at least three sides, through a doorway, into a soon to be moving vehicle, etc.

  6. Great advice…if you’re wearing body armor and carrying a rifle when SHTF.

    This has to be one of the stupidest and most dangerous articles I have ever read on this site.

    Moving towards the target is a horrible idea.

    The first mistake of this article is assuming that there is a binary result: good guy or bad guy wins/dies. There’s a third likely result if you move towards the bad guy: both people die or are wounded. In real life, being wounded sucks. It’s not like the movies where you walk away with a flesh wound. Being wounded by gunfire can result in life changing consequences, such as paralysis, permanent debilitation, loss of feelings due to nerve damage, blindness, etc.

    As a civilian without body armor, moving toward the threat is outright stupid.

    Another mistake of this article is to assume that cover means to turtling. FBI studies suggest that the most important factor to survival in a gun fight is…cover. Again, cover doesn’t mean turtling and going into fetal position. It means to get to cover, use gun if necesssry to get to cover, then retreat using cover. Without body armor or anything more than a handgun, the best tactic to survive is to use the handgun and subsequent cover to retreat.

    True clickbait article that also costs lives. Shame on The Truth About Guns.

    Go back to the issue of gun bunnies.

    • ” ,,,,,,,, moving towards the bad guy — which is an excellent way to improve your accuracy.” Uh, doesn’t that improve the BAD GUY’s, too? Your suggestions make a hell of a lot more sense to me, “Shame”. (For some reason, I feel like a little boy yelling at the man riding away on his horse and I’m calling “Shame, Shame!” Don’t ask me why.)

    • Humm… If the only thing you can think of to do in this sort of situation is to turtle up or run away, by all means do so. In fact, perhaps you should consider selling your guns and buying body armor in order to increase your chances of surviving an encounter involving a person actively trying to kill you with a gun. What the author of this article is presenting I believe is the opinion that actively countering the aggressor may be called for in certain situations. And dependent on the training/mindset of the person who is being shot at.

    • Your comment is full of the false assumptions and ignorance of actual combat that gets people killed. You can choose to listen to people with real experience or continue to live in a fantasy world where hiding equals life. Your choice.

  7. Can you imagine if the guy put down his camera and picked up his rifle. It would take me longer to decide if I wanted to use the savage 308 or the m4gery. Actually the msr stays loaded so id grab that. Even if you couldn’t hit the guy which from that advantageous point seems slim you could pin hum down long enough for the fuzz to flank him

  8. Naw, this makes sense in certain situations. I imagine what I would do if confronted while with my family: wife, three kids, none of whom are ever armed or have much situational awareness. If there was going to be a fight- a real fight, without opportunity to safely retreat as a group, I would definitely consider this tactic. Close on the threat to eliminate it as quickly as possible, while trying to draw any fire away from (or at least not onto) my family. Sort of a “you run that way, I’ll catch up” tactic. In that or other circumstances, nothing else makes any sense.

    The bottom line is that every situation is dynamic. If all you do and all you train for it to stand still or seek cover, you could miss an opportunity to eliminate the threat quickly. Especially if you’re facing an untrained adversary, like some street thug. Leaving cover to advance on the threat obviously isn’t always the best choice. But ruling it out, and eliminating it from your toolbox, would be a mistake.

  9. This is the 2nd time I’ve read to move toward an attacker on this site in the last week or so, because it “improves” accuracy or improves your chance of hitting the bad guy. It ALSO improves the bad guy’s chance of hitting you and I’m not convinced of it unless absolute last resort. I think most of would be better served using cover and cover fire to retreat away from, rather than advance to, a bad guy. The cop in this video didn’t realize the bad guy shot his own cover fire and then was advanced upon. He backed right into where the bad guy knew he would be. Bad guy knew the cop would be facing where the shots were being fired, and the bad guy used this knowledge and training to move into position to shoot the cop in the back multiple times. Very sad.

    • FlamencoD,

      “[moving toward an attacker] ALSO improves the bad guy’s chance of hitting you …”

      Not necessarily. If you are moving (assuming that you are not simply running in a straight line straight toward your attacker), you become a rather difficult target. The real trick is advancing on your attacker without running in a straight line straight toward your attacker.

  10. Anyone who has played paintball or airsoft long enough knows that the best defense is a good offense. Get aggressive, pop off a few rounds to get their head down, then charge and flank to finish the job. The newbies and the bad players would always run til they couldn’t go any farther without feeling safe, then pick a spot and stay there the whole game. They would either not hit anyone the whole match or get flanked and lit up once the front line gave out.

  11. Leaving your family in your bedroom so you can venture out and go on offense may be the right move, but there is a risk of finding yourself outnumbered 3 to 1. And now no one is guarding your family. These risks are worth acknowledging in this type of article

  12. …any time that you “advance towards the threat” destroys any legal self-defense argument that you may subsequently try to claim. If you are in fear for your life, the ordinary and expected reaction is to move away from the threat–not to charge toward it. This of course is regarding civilian EDC only, and expressly not for cops and/or soldiers, who are trained for and expected to “ride to the sound of the guns”! DMD

  13. Everyone badmouthing the advice here seems to ignore that the cop in the video also did not flee, which proves the point. Your choices are fight or flight. There’s nothing wrong with flight, but if you’re going to fight, you have to move. By hiding behind cover, he didn’t keep his attacker in view, which is how the other guy snuck up on him.

  14. My problem is this – what happens if you do attack, shoot the guy, go on trial for the shooting, and try to plead self-defense? Some states still have a Retreat Doctrine, and in those states, attacking is just the opposite of retreat. In the majority of states, that have repealed the Retreat Doctrine, you are probably still not in the clear. If you are the one attacking, how do you make your case that you had a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily injury? Turning the tables on the original perp may be seen as indicative that the threat is no longer imminent. And even, maybe, that you did not have a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily injury. What happens if the bad guy is retreating, instead of advancing (even if the retreat is strategic)? Or, just walking away from the fight? In both those cases, the prosecutor may be able to make the argument that you have lost your innocence, and are now the aggressor, and, hence, self-defense is no long available to you.

    Sure, you may be able to make those arguments. But, I would expect that it would be an uphill battle all the way, notably worse than if you appeared the innocent bystander facing a surprising assailant.

  15. In many situations you are likely to face more than one attacker.. you may see only one assailant but his accomplices are off to the side or are maneuvering to get behind you. I think that a one-man civilian charge with a handgun might not be the optimum choice there. In WWII, the Germans sometimes just picked a choice cover spot and sat ready and waiting to mow down large numbers of attacking troops. As a famous boxer once said, let them come to you and they’ll beat themselves. However, I’m open-minded about the proposed tactic because what saves you in one scenario will get you killed in another.. I think it’s just best to assess the situation and take it from there.

  16. There is better advice for people who want to survive confrontation: Run. If your not provided cover while you move twords an enemy, than you are screwed.

  17. Pretty dumb assumption. The original rule still applies: Stay behind cover until you have a good reason to leave it, like the fight is over, or it is no longer effective cover, or you need to go save your kid, or better cover/escape is available, or whatever. But if there’s reason to need cover and no good reason to leave it, don’t pay attention to silly articles.

  18. This is where airsoft or paintball has value IMO. You feel a very strong incentive not to move from cover when you hear the bbs/paint whacking against the corner you are around or the wall you are behind, and you aren’t even facing something close to a deadly threat.

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