How to handle an active shooter

This is a discussion on How to handle an active shooter within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; A few thoughts. Contributions welcome. Don't think me an expert, I've just pulled together some observations. 1. Mentally prepare in advance. Decide that you are ...

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Thread: How to handle an active shooter

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    How to handle an active shooter

    A few thoughts. Contributions welcome. Don't think me an expert, I've just pulled together some observations.


    1. Mentally prepare in advance. Decide that you are willing and capable of taking human life. Practice with humanoid/photo targets. ALWAYS have a gun.

    2. Carry as much ammo as possible. Have large capacity magazines. Wheelgun users are at a distinct disadvantage here. Active shooters will take more hits than regular bad guys. They are committed, may be taking drugs that alter their reality, and may be wearing body armor. Multiple shooters multiply the need.

    3. Be prepared for multiple shooters. The word is out that lone gunmen can be stopped. Scan scan scan. Turn your head. You may elect to meet the shooter head on, but you do NOT have to rush in. Planning on the move can be a lifesaver.

    4. The shooter may be focused on his target environment so that you can close behind or beside him, out of his tunnel vision, or better, out of his 180 degree frontal vision. Humans have NO vision past 90 degree lateral to the head. Hope for auditory exclusion to cover any small sounds you may make. If at any time the shooter spots you, begin firing immediately.

    5. Active shooters are to be shot repeatedly in vital areas (killed). This is one occasion where we do not shoot to stop, but to kill. These shooters are committed to murder-suicide. They will not respond favorably to calls for surrender, or wounding.

    6. Head/leg shots. Expect active shooters to have body armor. Don't waste more than a couple shots (if that) to center mass. Put your rounds where they will work.

    7. Know the range you need for consistent tight hits. Accuracy usually halves under stress. Don't engage too soon unless you must provide covering fire, which will eliminate your surprise advantage.

    8. Once engaged, pour on the fire until the threat is neutralized. Don't trust a down and wounded shooter to cease being a threat. More hits equals less return fire.

    9. Cover is your friend. Unless you are caught under fire and in the open, start your shooting from cover. Even if you find your cover inadequate, it is still concealment, and provides a stable brace.

    10. Ignore the shooter's weapon. Focusing on the weapon leads to shots at the weapon. These shots may not be as effective as head/leg or COM shots. Protect your arms, hands and weapon from the same phenomenon.

    11. Be cognizant of your ammo stores. Be prepared to initiate a tactical withdrawal before running dry.

    12. Innocents. Shooting on a horizontal plane is troublesome. In the mayhem of the initial assault, people will be running everywhere. Stray bullets are sure to endanger. If possible, go prone or squat so that your ammo is traveling upward. Recognize that you will require extra time to evacuate from this position.
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  3. #2
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    How to stop an active shooter? Actively shoot him...

    Kidding aside, good post and good things to remember (or to think about for the first time, perhaps.)
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

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    VIP Member Array BigEFan's Avatar
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    Great items to ponder. Thanks for posting. You have given me a lot to think about.
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    Senior Member Array digitalexplr's Avatar
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    Excellent points. The only thing I would suggest is in regards to going prone. This should take into consideration the type of ground/flooring you are on. When you go prone, the largest part of your body facing the shooter may well be your head. If the shooter fires at you and hits hard pavement/ground/floor in front of you the richochet may just get you in the head.

    Just something else to consider.

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    Excellent post! Always always always think multipes!!!!

    The only area where I might differ with you is #2. I think your assumption that more hits may be necessary is the safer option, but we need to keep in mind that there are a couple of different types we might encounter in this scenario. If we are talking about terrorists, yes they will be very dedicated to their mission and may well be equipped with body armor. Surrender should not be expected at all, as you don't get to be a martyr that way. Another consideration is they may be wearing an explosive vest they could detonate if/when cornered by law enforcement. These folks are looking to inflict maximum psychological damage and generate as much media attention as possible.

    Our other type of shooter would be our mentally disturbed individual that is looking to prove how important they really are. This person is doing their " I am God" routine and showing how they have the power of life and death. They see themselves as being all powerful, but may actually surrender or even commit suicide at the first sign of effective resistance.

    Something else to keep in mind. If we do encounter a multiple active shooter scenario, watch for herding behavior. If it looks like they are trying to drive their targets into a particular area, you don't want to be there. There may well be another shooter waiting there or command detonated explosive devices. Either way, it's not a good place to be.
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    "...Wheelgun users are at a distinct disadvantage here..."

    I'm happly disadvantaged and perfectly confident that I can extract myself from a bad situation with my revolver. The assailant(s) has more to worry about than I do.

    Interesting list but seems a bit "over the top" and more descriptive of a military action in some places. Especially No.'s 1 (not certain humanoid targets are necessary and even think in some cases their use leads to sloppy shooting) 2 (a bad guy is a bad guy and good hits are good hits), 3 (be prepared certainly but most self defense shootings aren't running fire-fights) , 5(No. We do in fact shoot to stop. Ultimate lethality isn't a concern), 7(covering fire?), 8(see 5), 11 (Tactical withdrawal with ammo remaining? Once committed one had better finish what he started. Also contradicts No. 8).

    Reading the list led me to feel that a repeating rifle would be necessary, a brilliant and desirable choice but one not suitable for a CCW.

    Good points to consider would seem to me to be No.'s 1 (mental preparedness), 7 (hits are desired), 9 (by all means take advantage of protection if possible) and most important No. 12 (not stressed nearly enough in most discussions. Not only are people who are visible at risk but also those unseen behind intervening walls or objects that could be penetrated).

    Only my views. Thanks for the post.

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    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    Not bad for a rookie:). Lots of good points, and definately don't train yourself that it's over because the guy you saw first is down.
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    Cetainly many good points to ponder and a good starting point for planning your actions.

    wyo-man

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    Good points, I like to think 2 to COM and 1 between the eyes as a good response.
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    Distinguished Member Array SixBravo's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree more about accuracy halving under stress. I'd probably say more than half unless you practice that way or have at least been under pressure shooting before. Practice practice practice.

    The thing about ammo is dead-on, as well. I've worked in FoF before and I'll tell you, you want ALL the ammo you can bring in the most reliable mags. I don't carry HiCap mags because they're unreliable for my carry, but I have 31 rounds on me every place I go. Paranoid? Maybe. Ever been in a shoot-out in a hallway in a two-on-one gunfight?

    More on cover - ALWAYS be looking for it. Include it in your scan. If you're at the mall, look for planters. If you're in a parking lot, look for cars parked nose-out. It's there, just make sure you are looking for it. I doubt there are much things worse than suddenly scrambling for cover only to realize there is something WAY better you could have gotten to.
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    VIP Member Array semperfi.45's Avatar
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    I am an Active Shooter Operations Instructor and agree that all are good points. To be honest, when on the job I would be all over that shooter. When not on duty it's a tactical withdrawal for me. Sorry, no duty to act and a family who needs me. I have been behind the trigger and taken fire, so I got the whole hero thing out of my blood long ago.

    Just being honest, flame on...
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    Senior Member Array agentmel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    "...Interesting list but seems a bit "over the top" and more descriptive of a military action in some places. Especially No.'s 1 (not certain humanoid targets are necessary and even think in some cases their use leads to sloppy shooting)
    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember reading that in WWII, many trained soldiers weren't firing their weapons at the enemy. My understanding is that this was attributed to psychological factors (difficulty with killing another human), which led to the use of human silhouettes as targets in order to train (desensitize?) soldiers to fire at "man-shapes." If this is true, shouldn't we all be training with silhouettes?

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    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    My rationale for retreating with ammo is that it's a lot better than retreating without ammo.
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    Bringing a pistol to an known "active shooter" scenario is stupid.

    You NEVER ever bring just a handgun to a gun battle if you know ahead of time that there are going to be shots fired.

    An active shooter needs to be put down ASAP.

    I will have at the minimum a 12 guage, an AR and possibly my .308. Turthfully, I'd much rather watch him drop though a presicion shot though a scoped rifle.
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    Good points all...

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