When we train Presidential Guard teams to counter active shooter attacks, we put them in an open room with nowhere to hide. Then we open fire with rubber bullets. The natural reaction is to run to the nearest exit. Immediately they realize there’s no way to survive. This is a lie, but the fear of being shot makes one think this is the most rational action to take.
The truth is: You cannot out run a bullet! The Guard trainees had the option of running 40 feet to the exit or 15-20 feet to stop the active shooter. Running away gives the shooter at least 50% more accuracy due to confidence and lack of threat. In the drills when running away the team did not survive, when the team rushed the shooter at the most one would possibly have a life threatening wound, the others due to their sheer weight all together would run down the active shooter.
It is very easy and mentally rewarding to an active shooter/terrorist to shoot at people that are running away or crying, crouched in a corner, because that means his plan is working; he is intimidating them. If people attack him, he is then the one that fears and becomes defensive as he realizes his plan is failing. It creates mental chaos because in his mind, he’s got the gun. In his plan and his mind, he controls you, not the other way around.
Put yourself in the gunman’s shoes: there are several people around you and your goal is to shoot them all. Therefore, you have to point your gun in the direction of each person. This means you just can’t easily shoot a few people around you, you have to move and turn and point your gun in different directions. This all takes time. From 0-20 feet away it’s nearly impossible for a gunman to shoot and stop any more than two people in a group from taking him down and that can only happen if he sees you. Why 20 feet? It only takes 2 and 1/2 seconds to cover 20-30 feet from a standing position.
What you are learning is how to remove the fear of these situations and see factually what exactly you need to do to immediately control your environment without hesitation, fear, or self-doubt. With the proper mindset there will be several opportunities that you will have to control the shooter.
We are not saying to rush into a blaze of bullets. We are trying to open your eyes to the pure facts that we have found from years of real world security development.
Now to apply this to yourself, you simply need to be aware of your surroundings. We do not mean in a fearful manner! How many of us go shopping and come out afterwards and forget where you parked? We are so focused on what we need to get, or finishing a phone call or text that we are not paying attention to our surroundings.
SCARS training focuses on real problem solving. Look, you already know to run to an exit. That’s why we are talking about reality; when you can’t get to an exit. If you are going to hide, do not hide where you are basically a fish in a barrel. If you choose to find cover, do it with a plan in mind of how you are going to get the drop on the active shooter. When training the US Special Forces entry tactics, we always remind them that you can shoot through non-brick/cinder-block walls. If you know the enemy is on the other side of that wall, open fire on the edge of the wall and end the threat.
So you need to keep that in mind! Don’t get trapped under something that’s not going to really protect you. Find a spot to ambush the shooter, this way your chances of survival have just increased by at the least 75%!
This eliminates the fear of the unknown, this eliminates you freezing in fear.