At our self-defense school, the Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense, we not only train in hand to hand self-defense but quite often practice defenses against knives, guns and active shooting situations. Not cutesy unrealistic techniques that some schools have been known to teach but basic and realistic moves that are the best ways to survive these dangerous attacks. The fact is that it’s unbelievably difficult to defend against any knife attack, most gun attacks and also most active shooter attacks. We utilize attack scenarios on martial art mats, cars, alleys, and also use rooms and chairs simulating businesses, homes or transit buses or subways. We get in the faces of students with pressure, hollering, and surprise attacks.
So, soon after the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017 where an armed gunman shot into a large group of music concert goers from a 32nd floor hotel window, it comes as no big surprise that we discussed ways to survive mass shootings. It’s what we do regularly but with the magnitude of the attack that killed over 50 people and injured more than 500 we made sure we discussed mass shooting survival tips again, the day after the tragedy.
The main topic of discussion was what could be done if one were in a large open area, similarly as in Vegas and someone started blasting into a crowd from afar. We discussed movement, cover, and concealment.
The key to survival in these situations is movement. In an active shooting situation the goal is to get the potential victim “off the X” and complicate the targeting solution for the shooter. Nothing good will happen if you stay in place or stay put for what a bad guy wants to do to you. By “off the X” I mean get off the imaginary X that represents the bullseye on a shooting target. In a way, you are the bullseye for a shooter so you must get off of your ass and not be his bullseye! Movement is that key.
In addition, the best way to keep from being shot when running from someone shooting at you is quick erratic movement. Make it hard for the shooter to hit you. Zig, zag, left, right, up, down—erratic.
Truly, and surprisingly to many, there are limited cover opportunities when being fired at from close range and even afar.
The few items that will stop bullets from penetrating you are:
- Vehicle engine blocks
- Thick Metal
- Cinder Blocks
- Thick Concrete
- Very thick wood
Notice that I didn’t mention house walls or car doors. Neither of them work well. Different bullets penetrate differently, however, we generally want to go to, if possible, the areas mentioned above and in the order that they are listed. If areas of good cover aren’t available and movement and concealment isn’t feasible use other cover that can slow rounds down but hug the ground when you do so. Most shooters will not aim at ground level when shooting. Get as flat as a pancake and if needed, and possible, crawl as low to the ground as you can, moving away from fire.
Concealment is just that. Concealment. It means you must be gone. Disappear from site. I saw a woman recorded on surveillance cameras during a mass shooting in France. A shooter was coming at her and she dove under a table to hide from a man who had just killed numerous others. When she dove under the smaller coffee table, her legs stuck out and so did her arms. The terrorist easily saw her laying there and walked right up to her and pointed his rifle directly at her and pulled the trigger. Luckily, he was out of bullets and didn’t have time to reload and ran off! She was just about to die but it wasn’t her day. Any concealment must be 100% hidden concealment. Be on top of your game; if you’re going for concealment, make it complete.
Out in the open
If you’re out in a big wide open venue, such as the Vegas shooting, you’re options are still much the same. When being shot at from so far out, the shots are more than likely going to be random ones fired into the crowd so concealment is out. But movement, with all that entails and cover are the options to use. In addition, in such a mass shooting, observe where people are falling down from being shot or where puffs of concrete or sand are being stirred up from rounds hitting the ground and then run in the opposite direction.
And finally, freezing. In every mass shooting I’ve studied there were people who completely froze up. They stood still and let their attacker kill them. There’s reasons for this phenomenon that I cover in other articles that I’ve written but here it will suffice to say a good way to stop this from happening is to know that terror, ugly, blood, guts and mayhem may be coming at you—any day, maybe even today and by simply knowing that these things may occur and knowing that you will run, hide or fight to survive any of it, prepares your mind for action not for freezing. Regularly reaffirming that possibility will help your mind to react.
You deserve to live as long as God or nature intended for you to live not until some malcontent decides to pull your plug. React and survive. You and your loved ones deserve it.
Check out Steve’s latest book: http://tinyurl.com/zcbkkyy
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer being the recipient of the 'J. Edgar Hoover Foundation' award for Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. Steve was SWAT trained by the FBI, FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and the LAPD.
For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.
Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
Latest posts by Steve Kovacs (see all)
- How to Survive Mass Shootings - October 3, 2017
- Black Lives Really Mattering and My Friend the Boxer - September 7, 2017
- Meaning—Makes the Man and Woman–Makes the Difference - August 28, 2017