3 Tactics to Help You Survive an Active Shooter Situation

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016. In light of recent attacks, we thought it might be a good time to revisit this excellent advice. 


According to the Department of Homeland Security, an active shooter is “an individual engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” DHS goes on to tell us that active shooters do not have a pattern or method to their selection of targets, and that the situation is often over in 10-15 minutes—before the police arrive on the scene.

If somebody starts shooting in your workplace or school, what do you do? You have three options:

1. Run

Stay low and run or crawl as fast as you can to get out of there. Do you know all the exits at your place of business? Don’t rule out staircases, windows, escalators, fences, and walls. If the police are on the scene, do not run to them screaming in a panic (it’s difficult to control yourself in a situation like this, but such scenes only make it difficult for the police). Keep your hands in plain sight and don’t have anything in your hands. It may be mistaken for a weapon. Try to remember how many shooters there are, what they look like, how many victims there are, and where the last place was you saw the shooter.

2. Hide

If you can’t get out of there, try to find some place of concealment. A closet, another room, under a desk, or behind a filing cabinet. Anything that can prevent the shooter from seeing you clearly is concealment. However, just because you are hiding does not mean you are safe. Silence your phone and any other electronic devices on you. Stay there until you sense a chance to escape.


Also see: How to Use Everyday Items to Save Your Life During an Attack

3. Fight

Fortunately, there are more and more businesses and schools that are allowing their employees, teachers, and in the case of colleges—students—to arm themselves. If you have a firearm and are proficient in it, use it on the attacker. Shoot him until the threat is nullified. Now is the time to practice often so that you will be an accurate shooter. Remember that when the police arrive they will not be able to distinguish you from the bad guy. Make sure you drop your gun, put your hands up, and comply with all orders from the police when they arrive.

If you do not have a gun, fighting back may still be the best option. Anything you do will probably throw the attacker off balance. You must be within range to grab hold of the gun. Force it down while turning your body out of the line of fire. Grab the gun and then wrest it out of the attacker’s hand(s). While you are controlling and redirecting the gun, attack him viciously with knee strikes to the groin or thigh, head butts to the face or jaw, and even biting the arm, hands, face or neck. This is life or death. You cannot hesitate and you must attack relentlessly. Disarming someone with a gun is extremely risky, of course. Do not think you can do this simply because you read about it or saw it on YouTube. You must practice.


Also see: 6 Best Targets to Strike on the Body if You’re Attacked

Here’s a good video on disarming someone with a rifle:

If you want to train at home, the best DVDs and books on the market (in my opinion) are by combatives expert Sammy Franco. Get his DVD “Under the Gun” at www.sammyfranco.com. Remember, you will fight like you train.

Also see: How to Mentally Prepare to Fight for Your Life Against an Attacker


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