Essential Skills for Shooting Survival

Essential Skills for Shooting Survival

Skills To Help You Survive If You’re Ever in a Shooting Situation

Surviving a shooting situation can be a daunting and terrifying experience. In today’s world, it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected and have essential skills to help yourself and those around you.

Whether escaping from danger, barricading yourself in a safe hiding space, or defending yourself against an attacker, having the right skills and knowledge can mean the difference between life and death. This blog will discuss these essential skills. We’ll cover everything from situational awareness and emergency planning to self-defense techniques and first aid. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the information you need to learn to protect yourself.

Run, Hide, Fight vs. Escape, Deny, Attack

“Run, hide, fight” is a commonly used strategy you’ve probably already heard, but it’s not the best advice for surviving a shooting. The more knowledgeable experts use “Escape, Deny, Attack”. The differences between these concepts seem small but can make a vital difference in an active shooter situation.

Police response to shooting

Comparing Run, Hide, Fight vs. Escape, Deny, Attack

  • Escape, Don’t Run: Evacuating the area always gives the best chance of survival. Escape is a better way of thinking about evacuation because it’s goal-focused. You don’t just run. You move most safely and effectively away from the danger. Look for the nearest means of escape and use it. Encourage others to come with you, but don’t stay behind if you are with anybody who doesn’t want to leave.
  • Deny, Don’t Hide: If you can’t safely evacuate the area, find a secure hiding place. Once there, don’t just hide under a desk or in a closet and hope for the best. Barricade the door using furniture and other objects, even people, if needed. Turn off the lights and silence your phone. Once the room is barricaded, look for a way out that takes you closer to safety, now with a locked and barricaded door between you and the shooter. If you can’t escape from your barricaded room, look for improvised weapons and develop a plan to attack anybody who comes through the door.
  • Attack, Don’t Fight: If you cannot escape or deny and the shooter is nearby, be prepared to attack. Don’t fight. “Fighting” conjures images of bar brawls, boxing, and duels. This isn’t a fight. This is a vicious, brutal attack from an ambush using weapons and superior numbers. Use anything available as a weapon, such as chairs, fire extinguishers, or other objects. Aim for the shooter’s head or eyes while another wraps up his legs to take him down.

It’s important to note that this strategy is not a one-size-fits-all solution and may not always be the best course of action in every situation.

Situational Awareness

The first and most critical skill for shooting survival situations is situational awareness. Being aware of your surroundings, including potential threats and escape routes, can help you avoid dangerous situations. With practice, anybody can develop the habit of scanning their environment regularly.

Components of Situational Awareness

Avoid distractions

Avoid using your phone or other devices that distract you from your surroundings. Stay focused on the present moment and be aware of any environmental changes.

Be prepared

Have a plan in case of an emergency, and be prepared to take action if necessary. If you are with loved ones, have a plan and rehearse it with them; the day of action isn’t the day to see if your plan works. Consider taking a self-defense class or first aid course to increase your preparedness.

Keep an eye on exits

When you enter a building or room, note where the exits are located and keep them in mind as you move around. These may be secondary exits that most people wouldn’t think of using. Can you break a window, crawl out, fire escape, or drop from a ledge or the roof?

Pay attention to your surroundings

Be aware of what’s happening around you and stay alert for any signs of danger. You’re not just looking at your surroundings; you are looking for the anomaly. Look for what is out of place, what doesn’t belong. If you’re in a restaurant, everyone should be interacting with each other or moving around serving people. If you’re at church, everyone should be worshipping or listening to the sermon. Look for what doesn’t belong, and know your potential escape routes, hiding places, and obstacles that could impede your movement.

Practice good posture

Stand tall and walk confidently. This can help deter potential attackers and make you a less appealing target. Criminals are like predators on the Sahara, looking for the slow, weak, old, or unaware target for an easy meal. Don’t be an easy meal.

Stay aware of the crowd

If you’re in a crowded area, stay aware of the movements and behavior of those around you. Look for any signs of danger or suspicious activity. The crowd is not always right; people will move like cattle or sheep if the majority does that. Be smart and vigilant and look for a possible alternate escape route.

Trust your instincts

Trust your gut instincts and take appropriate action if something feels off or out of place. If you feel unsafe or threatened, move to a safer location.

Stay Flexible in Different Situations

Improving situational awareness is an ongoing process that requires practice and mindfulness. Not everything described above applies to an active shooting situation, but developing these habits can keep you safer in many parts of life. There are many books and classes on this subject to invest in your safety.

Cover and Concealment

The difference between cover and concealment in shooting can mean life and death. Cover refers to an object that can protect you from bullets, such as a concrete wall, a car’s engine block, or heavy wooden furniture. Cover can also protect you from shrapnel or other debris resulting from gunfire.

Co-workers hiding from active office shooter

A concealment is an object that can hide you from view, such as a curtain, tree, or bush. Concealment can be useful for hiding from a shooter, but it will not protect you from bullets.

It’s important to note that not all objects are created equal regarding cover and concealment. Your best bet is to find something solid; even solid objects lose stopping power eventually. Dirt mounds, brick or cinder block planters or retention walls, block or brick buildings, or a full bookcase with dense books.

Cover and Concealment Considerations

When seeking cover or concealment in a shooting situation, consider the following:

  • Look for cover first: If possible, seek a sturdy object to protect you from bullets. Use it as a shield and stay low.
  • Use concealment if cover is unavailable: If you can’t find cover, use concealment to hide from the shooter. Stay quiet, and don’t make any noise that could give away your location.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Before a shooting occurs, take note of the objects in your environment that can provide cover or concealment. This can help you act quickly if a shooting does occur.

Knowing the difference between cover and concealment and how to use them effectively can greatly increase your chances of surviving a shooting. Stay alert and be prepared to take action.

First Aid and Medical Training

In a shooting situation, injuries can happen quickly and unexpectedly. First aid and medical training can help you assist people you are barricaded in with.

Here are some reasons why first aid and medical training are important:

  • Provide immediate care: Injuries can be severe and life-threatening in a shooting. Knowing how to provide basic first aid, such as controlling bleeding, performing CPR, or stabilizing broken bones, can help save lives.
  • Manage shock: Injuries can induce shock, a life-threatening condition when the body’s vital organs do not receive enough oxygen. Knowing how to recognize and manage shock can improve a person’s chances of survival.
  • Help emergency responders: In the aftermath of a shooting, emergency responders may take some time to arrive at the scene. Knowing how to provide basic first aid can help stabilize a person’s condition until professional help arrives.
  • Personal safety: Besides helping others, knowing first aid and medical training can also help you take care of yourself. Identifying and treating your injuries can help you stay alive and alert until help arrives.

Remember that your first responsibility in a shooting is survival. This might mean leaving an injured person untreated while you engage the attacker or go get help. This is a hard reality to face but it might mean the shooter kills only one person instead of two.

Ideas For Learning First Aid

If you’re interested in learning first aid and medical training, here are some steps you can take:

First Aid Kits
  • Take a class: Look for local first aid, Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC), Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), or CPR class in your area. Many organizations and firearms instructors offer classes, including the Red Cross and local hospitals.
  • Practice: After taking a class, practice the skills you’ve learned. Repeated practice can help build confidence and improve your ability to respond quickly in an emergency. Teach a friend or a loved one; this will also help you practice and practice the skills.
  • Stay up-to-date: Keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date by taking refresher courses or attending training events.
  • Carry a first aid kit: Keep it with you always, and ensure it’s stocked with the essentials such as a tourniquet, bandages, gauze, and antiseptic.

In a shooting situation, knowing first aid and medical training can help save lives and increase your chances of survival.

Communication and Coordination

Communication and coordination can be critical in saving lives in a shooting, helping people work together to respond to the situation and protect themselves and others.

Here are some reasons why communication and coordination are important:

  • Share information: In a shooting situation, information is critical. People need to know what’s happening, where the shooter is, what the shooter is wearing, how many shooters there are, what kind of weapons they use, and how to stay safe. Effective communication can help ensure everyone is on the same page and has the information they need to stay safe.
  • Coordinate response: Coordination is essential when multiple people are involved in the shooting. People must work together to respond to the situation, evacuate the area, and seek medical attention for the injured. Coordination with the police and EMS is critical; you can use the SALUTE report. Most military members learn the SALUTE report. 1) Size and/or Strength of the enemy 2) Actions or activity of the enemy 3) Location of the enemy and direction of movement 4) Unit or enemy identification, unit markings, clothing, or uniforms 5) Time and date the enemy was observed 6) Equipment and weapons observed.
  • Avoid confusion: In a stressful and chaotic situation like a shooting, confusion can be a major problem. Effective communication can help avoid confusion and ensure everyone knows how to stay safe.
  • Provide emotional support: In addition to practical information, effective communication can provide emotional support to those involved. Knowing that others are there to help can provide comfort and security.

Tips For Effective Communication

If you’re involved in a shooting situation, here are some tips for effective communication and coordination:

  • Use clear language: In a stressful situation, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and start speaking quickly or unclearly. Use clear language and speak slowly to ensure others understand your words.
  • Stay calm: It’s important to remain calm and composed in a high-pressure situation like shooting. This will help you communicate more effectively and make better decisions.
  • Establish a chain of command: In a larger group, it can be helpful to establish a clear chain of command so everyone knows who is in charge and who to follow.
  • Practice drills: Regularly practicing emergency drills can help improve communication and coordination during shooting. This can help people act more quickly and confidently in an emergency.

Effective communication and coordination can make a significant difference in a shooting situation. Practice improving these skills to be better prepared to respond to an emergency.

Concealed Carry and Shooting Survival

If you carry a concealed weapon for self-defense, it’s important to understand that carrying a firearm comes with significant responsibility. Your actions can have serious legal and moral consequences in a shooting situation. With that said, knowing how to survive a shooting situation is a critical skill for anyone who carries a concealed weapon.

In addition to the previously outlined items, here are some essential skills for shooting survival that concealed carry people should consider:

Rule Number One

If you deploy a firearm during an active shooter situation, always remember that police are on their way. When they arrive, heavily armed and in numbers, they will look for people with guns. This can put you at risk if you don’t identify yourself immediately when law enforcement appears. They make hi-vis vests with concealed carry license holders etc.; this may be better than nothing at identifying you as a legal, trained, good guy with a gun.

Receive Proper Training

Firearms Training Class- Force Solutions

The most critical step in developing shooting survival skills is to receive proper training. This includes both firearms training and first aid and medical training. Look for reputable training programs and instructors with experience in shooting survival situations.

Proper Handling and Use of Firearms

In a shooting survival situation, the proper handling and use of firearms are crucial. This includes knowing how to load and unload a firearm, aim and shoot accurately, safely handle your firearm, and clear a

Firearms Handling

malfunction. It is essential to receive proper training and practice regularly to develop these skills.

It is not advised to carry concealed unless you have the fundaments of firearm handling and function. You can never learn enough; make it a habit to attend at least one firearms class a year, if not more. Carrying a firearm is a right, but being well-

trained and safe is critical. Be an asset, not a liability!

Practice Regularly

Practice is essential for anyone who carries a concealed weapon for self-defense. Regular practice helps build muscle memory, improve accuracy, and increase confidence, all of which are critical skills for shooting survival.

Here are some reasons why regular practice is important for carrying concealed people:

  • Build muscle memory: In a high-stress situation like shooting, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and forget the basics. Regular practice can help build muscle memory so that your body instinctively knows what to do, even in stressful situations.
  • Improve accuracy: Accuracy is key to survival in a shooting situation. Regular practice can help improve your aim and increase your chances of hitting your target.
  • Increase confidence: Confidence is an important factor in self-defense situations. Regular practice can help increase your confidence in your abilities so you’re more prepared to act quickly and decisively in high-stress situations.
  • Test equipment: Regular practice can also help you identify any issues with your equipment. You may find that your gun isn’t firing consistently or your holster isn’t comfortable. Regular practice can help you identify and address these issues before they become a problem in a real-life situation.
  • Stay up-to-date on laws and regulations: Laws and regulations surrounding concealed carry are constantly changing. Regular practice can help you stay up-to-date on these changes and follow the latest guidelines. These laws and regulations also differ from state to state, so know your state’s laws and regulations and the states you plan to visit.

Practice Quality, Not Quantity

Firearms Training Class

Regarding practice, it’s important to remember that quality is more important than quantity. Consistent, focused practice is more effective than sporadic, unfocused practice. Here are some tips for effective practice:

  • Start small: If you’re new to shooting, start with small goals and work your way up. Begin with short shooting sessions and gradually increase the amount of time you spend at the range.
  • Focus on technique: Don’t just shoot blindly. Focus on proper technique, such as grip, stance, and breathing. This will help you build muscle memory and improve accuracy.
  • Deliberate Practice: Break up your practice sessions into deliberately practicing certain aspects of your training. Sometimes breaking it up and working on smaller portions helps the overall picture and doesn’t seem daunting. You can always put all these deliberate practices together.
  • Mix it up: Don’t always shoot from the same position or distance. Mix it up to simulate real-world scenarios and keep your skills sharp.
  • Get feedback: Consider taking a class or working with a trainer who can provide feedback on your technique and help you improve. Taking your smartphone and making short videos of your actions are also great for feedback. You can go back and analyze what you were doing and make corrections; you can also share them with peers or a trainer and get their feedback.

Regular practice is an essential skill for people carrying concealed. Remember, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” Archilochus

Participating in Drills and Simulations

Participating in drills and simulations will help you with more realistic training that you will not receive or be able to practice on most flat ranges. These drills and simulations can help you develop the neurological pathways (muscle memory), stress management, and situational awareness needed to react quickly and effectively in high-stress situations. This training can be accomplished with non-firing tools like SIRT guns, etc., to start getting the fundamentals down. You do not always need to shoot bullets and run around with your hair on fire to get quality training. Movement drills, eye/hand coordination drills, unconventional shooting positions, and other fundamental tasks can be accomplished at home.

Tips for Participating in Drills and Simulations

Start with the basics

Before participating in more advanced drills and simulations, have a firm foundation of the fundamentals of firearm safety, handling, and shooting. This will help you build a strong foundation of skills you can build upon when more tasks are introduced.

Seek Professional Training

Professional training from a qualified instructor can provide drills, tactics, and valuable feedback and help you develop your skills more safely and effectively.

Speed and Accuracy

In a high-stress situation, speed and accuracy are critical. The person that is going to win the fight will be the one that gets the first hit. Drawing fast and missing your target doesn’t win fights. You will be accountable for your misses, trust me. Find the balance of speed and accuracy for you; you can only shoot as fast as you can process information and make good hits.

Incorporate Movement

In a real-world shooting situation, you must move quickly to avoid danger or get into a better position. Practice movement to help you develop this skill. This doesn’t have to be super dynamic; learn to move with your firearms safely and expediently.

Use Realistic Props

Incorporating realistic props, such as simulated cover and concealment, can help make drills and movements more realistic and prepare you for real-world situations.

Practice Scenario-Based Training

Participate in training that simulates possible real-world incidents, such as active shooter situations, robberies, or home invasions. This will help you prepare for potential threats and develop a flexible mindset. Knowing how to shoot is not the only skill needed here. Knowing when to shoot, it is safe to shoot, do I need to back out, do I need more time, or are there other bad guys are just some of the things you may need to know. Training in scenario-based training will also help you become a thinker and become a problem solver.

You can develop much-needed skills to react quickly, effectively, and efficiently to a shooting situation by participating in training, drills, and scenario-based training. These skills will help increase your chances of survival and prepare you for various threats.

Stay Informed and Updated

Staying informed and updated on the latest developments related to shootings and other potential threats is essential for shooting survival. By staying informed, you can be aware of potential threats in your area and take appropriate action to avoid them or protect yourself and others.

This includes staying up-to-date on the latest news and trends related to shootings and monitoring local law enforcement and emergency services channels for alerts and updates. It’s also important to stay informed about changes in laws and regulations related to firearms and self-defense, as these can impact your ability to protect yourself and others. By staying informed and updated, you can make informed decisions and take appropriate action to ensure your safety in a shooting situation.

Essential Skills for Shooting Survival Conclusion


In conclusion, being prepared is the key to surviving a shooting situation. Developing essential skills such as situational awareness, first aid, communication, and proper firearm handling can make all the difference in protecting yourself and others.

Participating in training, drills, and scenario-based training, staying informed and updated on the latest developments, and practicing regularly are essential skills that help you be better prepared for a high-stress situation. By being prepared, you can increase your chances of survival and help prevent further harm to yourself and those around you. Ultimately, the advantage of being prepared for a shooting situation is the ability to act quickly and effectively and make informed decisions to help save lives.

Shooting Survival Situation FAQ

Should I call 911 during a shooting situation?

Call 911 and provide as much information as possible about the situation if it’s safe. Let the operator know your location, what you’ve seen or heard, and any other details that may be helpful to first responders.

Should I play dead if the shooter is nearby?

Playing dead is not always a safe option. It may work in some situations, but in others, the shooter may continue targeting anyone who appears alive. Instead, focus on finding a safe place to hide or escape unless you have no choice.

What if the shooter enters the room I’m in?

If the shooter enters the room you’re in, and you have no avenue of escape, attack immediately using any weapon or improvised weapon available. Ideally, you will have already set up an ambush.

What if I can’t hide?

If you can’t find a safe hiding place, try to find an exit and leave the area as quickly and quietly as possible. If you can’t leave, try to stay low and out of sight, and be prepared to defend yourself.

What should I do if I hear gunshots or see someone with a weapon?

If you hear gunshots or see someone with a weapon, your priority should be to leave the area immediately. If that’s impossible, look for a room with a locked door or a space to barricade yourself. Turn off the lights and silence your phone. Stay low and out of sight if you can’t find a safe place to hide.


  • Dennis Rousseau

    Mr. Rousseau is a former Army infantryman where he learned hand-to-hand combat, squad tactics, close quarter battle training, and multiple weapon platforms. He has deployed to Iraq and is an Operation Desert Storm Veteran.

    View all posts

Leave a Reply

Product added to cart
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop