Teaching Non-Shooters what to do in an Active Shooter Situation

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Even though I write about defending yourself and your family in the event that you are ever faced by a gun-wielding criminal, I really hope that you never face that situation. Even so, we all recognize that there are many dangers in the world we live in and that’s not going to get any better. That’s why we prepare for those situations, so that if they ever happen, we know what to do.

But I want to ask you an important question today – Does your family know what to do in the event of an active shooter situation?

I’m not talking about them carrying concealed or shooting it out with the bad guys. Nor am I talking about a mass shooting situation, like a school shooting. It would be great if your family all carried concealed and was trained in what to do. But for various reasons, that may not be the case.

What I’m really talking about here is your family knowing what to do, while you are dealing with the threat. Granted, you’re trying to protect them; but what they do can either make it easier for you to do that or can make it harder. Even worse, their actions could make the situation more dangerous for you or for themselves.

Most people don’t know how to react to an active shooter or similar dangerous situation, so will do the wrong thing. This can include freezing in place, running away or running across the sight picture of someone like you, who is trying to deal with the situation. It would be tragic to have a family member run across your sight picture at just the wrong moment.

Even if they don’t do the wrong thing, they will be a distraction to you. chances are that you’ll take a moment to tell them what to do, push them down out of the way or try to cover them with your body. Regardless of which of those you do, it will take critical time and attention away from you doing what you have to do and confront the danger.

Training the non-shooters in your family what they should do in such a situation will free you up from that distraction, so that you can focus on the threat and dealing with it. That will ultimately make the situation safer for you, for them, and for everyone around you.

There are four basic courses of action that your family members can take in this situation. All four of them have the potential for protecting them from harm, while at the same time, preventing them from being a distraction for you or getting in your sight picture:

Find Cover

Cover is anything that stands a chance of blocking a bullet. We really don’t find much in homes, offices and commercial spaces which can do that. But from time to time you can find actual cover in commercial spaces, like stores and restaurants. Typically, this is in the form of concrete columns and planters; occasionally there are even concrete walls.

You need to teach your family to recognize these and be on the lookout for them. Start by pointing them out to them, and then as they gain an understanding of what can be used as cover, start asking them to identify the cover in a given area. Your goal is to get them to be looking for it, subconsciously, without you having to ask.

Get Out

The other thing you want your family to get used to looking for is exits from wherever you are. I don’t mean the entryway you came in through, but rather, other entryways, some of which will be hidden. Some people will run towards the entranceway they came in through, even if there is a criminal standing there, shooting. That’s a perfect example of the fight or flight reaction, not backed up by reason.

The last thing you need is your family running towards the bad guys. Rather, if they are going to run, they should run in the opposite direction. But they are only going to do that, if they think there is safety in that direction. So looking for those exists is an exercise in learning where safety lies.


If there is no cover and they can’t run, the next best option is to just hide. While that won’t protect them from any stray bullets, it will, at least, help keep the bad guys from seeing them. Unless you’re dealing with actual terrorists who have fully automatic weapons, chances are they won’t just be shooting indiscriminately. Since they won’t be being targeted, there is little chance that they will be hit.

Of course, wherever they choose to hide needs to be behind you, not between you and the bad guys. It would also be helpful if they moved off to the side, so that any shots sent your way have less of a chance of hitting them.

Hit the Deck

If all else fails, the best thing they can do is get down on the floor, making themselves as small a target as possible. Not only is it hard to hit a target like this, but it makes them less noticeable. With other people running around, chances are that your family will not be seen.

The other thing this does is to ensure that they are out of your line of sight, making it easier for you to react to the threat. While others may still get in the way, at least your own family won’t.

These four simple steps will increase your family’s chances of survival, while making it easier for you to do your job and react to the threat. As such, I’d say they’re just about as important as keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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