What Would You Do If Faced With an Active Shooter?

Active Shooter Plan

You Need to Prepare In Case You Face an Active Shooter

We live in a time that forces us to face a new reality.  Active shootings in public places are happening more often. Just like many other emergencies, chances are you or I will never actually be faced with an active shooter situation.

Even though this scenario will likely never touch your life, if it does, your chances of survival are much greater if you have prepared in advance by thinking through ahead of time and made a plan.

When our kids are little we teach them to stop, drop and roll, in case their clothes ever catch on fire. We know the chances of that happening are very small, but if it does happen they would have been prepared enough to act and minimize injury to themselves. Preparing for an active shooter scenario uses the same logic for adults living in the 21st century.

In any unexpected emergency, most people do nothing. Shock sets in and they tend to freeze up and literally do nothing. There are many reasons for this, but the speed at which these events take place and the time it takes our brains to process that something unexpected and serious is happening has a great deal to do with it. Those few seconds can mean the difference between life and death. The excerpt below, shows how you can make your outcome better in an active shooter scenario.


The way you overcome these inclinations towards passivity is deciding exactly what you’ll do in the event of a shooting — before one ever happens. You’ve got to have a plan.

I know it seems morbid, but you really should visualize what you would do in various situations were an active shooter to suddenly intrude upon the scene. What would your plan be if you were in the office and heard shots coming from the floor beneath you? Would you have time to run? If so, where would you go? If you heard the shots just down the hallway and there’s no place to run or hide, what would be your next step? Visualize your plan in as much detail as possible.

In an active shooter situation, seconds matter. You don’t have time to figure out what you’re going to do when a guy starts spraying a building full of gunfire. By having a general preconceived plan, you give yourself a head start…

OODA Loops can begin way before an actual encounter starts. By coming up with a plan of what you would do in an active shooter situation before one ever happens, you’re already engaged in the second step: Orienting. Should you encounter a shooter, you can act immediately because you’ve already begun the cycle and already have a plan in place. Remember, ABO: Always Be Orienting.

Maintain Situational Awareness Wherever You Go

Besides having a general idea of what you’d do in an active shooter situation, another thing you must do to increase your chances of surviving is constantly maintaining situational awareness…

Though your senses are slightly heightened in Condition Yellow, it’s also important to stay relaxed. Staying relaxed ensures that you maintain an open focus, which allows you to take in more information about what’s going on around you. Research shows that when we get nervous or stressed, our attention narrows, causing us to concentrate on just a few things at a time. A narrow focus can therefore cause us to miss important details in our environment.

Bottom line: Don’t have your nose constantly in your smartphone and don’t zone out; rather, you should open your eyes, ears, and nose, and calmly and constantly scan your environment to take in what’s going on…

We establish baselines so that we can look for anomalies. Hearing gunshots at a college campus is definitely out of the ordinary, and should immediately trigger your active shooter plan of action. But let’s take a look at a subtler anomaly. If you’re at a movie theater and you see a guy entering the theater from the exit near the screen, that should definitely put you on alert. It could just be a guy sneaking in for a free movie, but it could also be a gunman. You don’t need to go and immediately tackle the guy, but you’d certainly want to keep your eye on him and make sure you’re prepared to quickly move out.
– via The Art of Manliness

Your Three Options: Run, Hide, or Fight

When faced with an active shooter scenario you will have only three options. You can run, hide or fight. Each option could be called for depending on what is specifically happening. You need to make a plan for each situation where that option is your best hope for survival.

Today we are going to look at a detailed discussion of your first, best option if you are ever faced with an active shooter scenario. Run! Everytime this is your best option. If you have planned ahead and stay alert this will often be a good possibility to keep you alive and help others also.


Know where all your exits are.

If there’s one actionable takeaway you get from this article, let it be this. Wherever you are, always know the locations of the nearest exits. As we’ll see in a moment, running should be your first line of action in an active shooter situation. You want to get as far away from the gunman as possible and that often means getting out of the building where he’s shooting. So whenever you enter a building, the first thing you should do is look for exit signs and make mental notes of them.

You also need to consider not-so-visible exits. For example, most grocery stores will have an exit door in the very back in the “employee only” section. If you’re near the back of the store and you hear gunshots from the front, you’ll want to head directly to this rear exit…

Running away should always be your first line of action.

As soon as you hear gunfire, leave the premises immediately using your preconceived escape plan and get as far away from the shooter as possible. Ideally, you’ll be able to escape without having to cross the shooter’s path.

Keep in mind that in an active shooter situation, most people won’t want to leave because

1) they’re cowed in fear,

2) they’ve let the normalcy bias take over, or

3) they think hiding should be their first recourse.

But you need to run, regardless of what others are doing. Do all you can to convince them to come with you, but if they don’t comply, leave them, and get out of the building or danger area as soon as possible.

Don’t try to gather your belongings. You can replace your laptop; you can’t replace your life.

As you make your exit, tell others to come along with you. Once you’re out of the danger area, prevent others (except for law enforcement) from entering the premises.

When you’re running, keep your hands visible. Law enforcement will be checking you to decide if you’re a threat.

This may go against every humane compulsion you have, but don’t try to move or assist the wounded while you’re making your exit. It leaves you vulnerable to attack; turning one casualty into two won’t ultimately help things. Even the first law enforcement officers to arrive at the scene will initially ignore the wounded so they can take out the shooter. Just as their top priority is to stop the gunman, your top priority is to get to safety.

If you’re in an open area and there’s distance between you and the shooter, run as fast as you can in a zig-zag pattern. Shooting a moving target is hard even for experienced marksman, and many mass shooters have little or no experience with firearms. So move as much as possible and take cover behind barriers that can stop bullets (cement pillars, vending machines, etc.).

As soon as you get to safety, call 911. Don’t assume someone already has
– via The Art of Manliness

Have you begun making a plan for what you would do if faced with an active shooter scenario? Keep yourself and your family safe and make a plan today!

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