With the recent school shooting in Texas, the general public is rightfully very concerned about active shooter situations. Though such situations are unlikely, simply hoping that it won't happen to you and your community isn't enough. You should hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
It is important to understand that you can't rely on law enforcement officials to protect you all the time. In an active shooter situation, your instincts, situational awareness, and decision-making skills will make the difference between life and death and help you survive.
So, here is a quick guide, which aims to give you the essential knowledge and awareness to act quickly, and appropriately in the eventuality of an attack.
Improve your situational awareness:
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and can change rapidly. Having a weapon or gun on you can be great for self-defense, but even more important is to have situational awareness. Without situational awareness, you don't have all the information to make the right decision, and you may put yourself in more danger.
Situational awareness is the conscious act of being aware of your surroundings. To be situationally aware of an active shooter situation, you should know:
- How to identify a threat, and where a potential attack could come from
- All potential escape routes
- What elements of your environment you can use to increase your survivability
- How you can escape or neutralize the threat.
How to respond to an active shooter if you aren't armed
With increased situational awareness, you can make a more informed decision. However, it is important that you know your priorities. Remember, it isn't your job to stop the attacker; that is what law enforcement officials do. Your main goal is to survive and help the people you care for stay safe. If you aren't armed, you need to get away from the stakes as safely and quickly as you can. If you can get to an empty room, close the doors and barricade them with heavy items.
Only once you have escaped or are in a safer spot should you call 911.
Once you do get on the call, be direct, and try to remain calm when talking to the operator. Try to tell them everything that might be helpful, like how many attackers there are, and what kind of weapons they are carrying. If you are hidden in the area of the shooting, try to get your hands on an improvised weapon, however, only use it when it is absolutely necessary.
How to respond if you are armed
Ideally, you should stay prepared for such situations all the time, and to be fully prepared, you need to have the right tools on you. If you are carrying a gun, that is obviously very helpful, and can significantly increase your survivability. These days, you can also use bulletproof clothing, like the bulletproof hoodie or bulletproof pants (link as well) from Wonder Hoodie.
Having these tools gives you the luxury to take more aggressive actions, however, your safety and the safety of the people around you should still be your first priority. You should only use your gun as a last resort when you are certain that you don't have any other choice. When you do engage the target, be decisive, and keep in mind that you will need to put multiple shots on target to stop a determined attack. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you have to engage an active shooter.
- Check your weapon to make sure that it is loaded and ready to fire
- Look for the right moment to attack, preferably when the attacker is turned away from you or isn't in the best position to retaliate
- Make a plan in your mind, and stick to it
- Analyze your environment, and use it to your advantage when planning your attack
- Look for a place to take cover after you engage the shooter, in case you aren't able to take them out in the first attack
- Commit to the attack, and fire multiple shots at the active shooter. With any self-defense pistol you will need to put at least three of four rounds on target to make a determined attacker stop
- Aim for center mass shots to the chest
You should also regularly train with your self-defense pistol, and improve your shooting skills.
Active shooter situations can be scary. And while your survivability is in your own hands, with proper awareness, training, tools, and the right mindset, you can increase your chances of survival, and protect the people around you.