Cover and Concealment

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I’d like to propose a rather contradictory idea to you; that is, your ability to shoot, either measured in speed or accuracy is not the most critical part of winning a gunfight. Granted, speed and accuracy are important if you want to put the other guy down; but even that isn’t the most important part of a gunfight. If you want to win, the most important thing is making sure that he doesn’t put you down.

Normally when I say something like this to people, they respond with “Of course” or something similar and then go on talking about shooting technique, caliber, the “best gun” or some other such topic. They accept without thought the idea that they have to make sure they don’t get killed, but then don’t put any thought into how to keep that from happening. If they do put thought into it, it’s usually to buy ballistic body armor, even though it’s not practical to wear it all the time.

But I’ve learned this lesson in one of the strangest places of all… playing first-person shooter games. No, I don’t play those now; but there was a time when I did. I quickly learned that avoiding getting shot was much more important than shooting. If I let one of the other players shoot me, then I was dead and couldn’t shoot them; simple as that.

In real life, that killing shot is much more serious than it is in those games. It might be embarrassing to have someone else plug you in a game; but you can get over that. Getting over a gunshot wound, especially a fatal one, is much harder.

This is where cover and concealment come in, along with a couple of other things. Cover and concealment are your greatest allies, when it comes to making it hard for the other guy to shoot you. If he can’t see you and/or his bullets can’t get to you, you’re safe. Not only that, but you’re safe to shoot at him at your leisure, where you have time to aim accurately and ensure you don’t hit an innocent bystander.

You probably already know the difference between cover and concealment, but just in case, let’s taka a look at them:

  • Cover is anything you can hide behind, which they can’t shoot through. In reality, there is very little cover available in most situations, as bullets can fly through walls, furniture and car bodies with ease.
  • Concealment is anything that hides you from the enemy, so that he doesn’t know where you are. Many of the things that people think might be cover and in fact only concealment. Still, they are useful, as most people won’t shoot wildly at objects, hoping you’re behind them, regardless of what Hollywood says.

I’ve made it a habit to keep my eyes open for cover and concealment wherever I go. Restaurants are a good example of this. Whenever I go to a restaurant, I sit so that I can see the door. If possible, I try to get a table that’s behind a half-wall, planter or other sort of concealment, if possible. When I sit down, I take a look around to make sure that I know where potential points of concealment are, as well as exit doors and the door to the kitchen. This has become a habit, to the point that I don’t even have to think about it; I just see it.

While cover and concealment are both useful in keeping you alive, there’s another tool to consider using, which works in conjunction with cover and concealment. That is movement. Any time you’re in a gunfight and you’re not in cover or concealment, you should be moving; specifically moving towards cover and/or concealment. While you might be out in the open when you’re moving; you’re a much harder target to hit, especially if you’re moving across their line of sight.

Of course, you need to practice this movement, learning how to shoot while moving, which is extremely hard, and how to move in ways that make you hard to hit. Your movement must always have purpose, especially the purpose of moving yourself to a safer place.

Another part of movement is in taking devious paths to put yourself in a position of advantage. In other words, if you’re too far away to shoot effectively, don’t move straight towards them. Rather, find a way that you can take a circular path, preferably one in which you’ll be concealed, to a position where you are either behind or beside them. That will give you enough of an advantage, that you might not have to shoot; you’ll be able to take them alive.

But the big thing is Stay alive! Then you can take your time to fight back. You’ll have a chance of putting all that shooting practice to use and win the engagement. But you won’t have that opportunity if you let yourself be a target. Shoot smart, rather than shooting fast. That can be even more valuable than keeping your powder dry or your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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