Introduction

In the current global threat level, individuals and companies need a definitive tactical advantage that will allow them to respond to and survive an active shooter event. Between 2017-2018 alone, the world has witnessed far too many active shooter incidents that resulted in countless deaths and casualties. These senseless acts of violence continue to escalate and shake the very foundation of humanity. They have negatively impacted the survivor’s lives in a manner that is irreversible.

Hooded Man with Shotgun

In the unfortunate event that you are ever in an active shooter situation, it will be unlike anything you have experienced before in your entire life. Within seconds, you will be both physically and psychologically devastated. Without proper knowledge-based training, your response under this extreme duress will be the potential difference between life and death.

As the event begins to unfold, you are confronted with the imminent threat, your body is alarmed and rapidly undergoes huge changes both physiologically and psychologically in an effort to survive. This sudden reaction is the “flight or fight response”.

There is a huge difference between people that have had the training to face life-threatening stressful situations versus those without any form of training.

What and how should you react in a situation where an armed gunman enters your environment?

The reality is that it all depends on the situation, there is hardly a ‘one size fits all’ answer.

With the required training, even when you are subjected to this type of cannibalistic stress, you have options for survival. Individuals that are un-trained will most definitely falter and freeze. With training, the instinct to survive and do whatever is necessary becomes the only option. The primary focus is to get home to your family and loved ones.

The emotion of fear is generated by some stimulus, for instance, while at the movies or on campus, you hear what sounds like gunfire. You see a shooter with a black hood and body armour firing indiscriminately. You know based on previous accounts that he is probably planning to kill as many people as possible before the police arrive.

Like turning off a light switch, you completely shut down. Overwhelmed by fear, panic sets in making the situation even worse.

With zero training or orienting response, how will you prepare for this situation? How will you override that fear circuitry response and fight back to survive the attack?

You learn right now that…

Winners are always prepared.. and you can train to extinguish fear and replace it with the ability to respond faster and more appropriately to any situation by learning “visualization.”

When you visualize, you picture yourself in a situation with a stated purpose; almost like daydreaming, but much more intense. In order to train with visualization, you must first state the purpose of your visualization, in our case, an active shooter incident.

The first step is to place yourself in the situation so that you are the one responding to the active shooter. Proceed by reviewing this picture over and over again. Visualize everything, the sights, feelings, emotions, and the actions that you would take.

You might run, lockdown in place or you may imagine distracting the shooter by throwing things while others rush in to take him down. Whatever actions you visualize, run them over and over again in your mind. It is absolutely critical to picture yourself in the superior position and as the victor in the conflict.

Through proper repetition of this scenario with an absolute victory, you should be at a point where it feels so real, that your physiology such as your breathing, heart rate, and movement will coordinate and function as if you really experienced the event. By this point, you will also have undoubtedly created new strategies and tactics in addition to increased skills for combating and surviving an active shooter incident.

 

Survival comes about when opportunity meets preparedness.

It is not about being good, it is about being flawless. You have to dynamically execute under the worst possible conditions and environments. Failure is not an option as it means the hostage or hostages would be killed.

The single and most critical aspect of preparation is the mindset.

Security must be your first mindset. It allows you to recognize potential threats before they became real threats. You have to establish a thorough understanding of the environment.

This could be where you work, live or go to school, but for some, it could be a hostile urban or jungle environment. You need to know what is normal; the way people dress, the culture, what people do, how they act, what they eat and what defines their environment.

Once the baseline has been established, anything out of the baseline becomes more recognizable.

Take an example, one that is very possible in your everyday life. You have a dental appointment one morning and were running quite a bit late getting to work. You pull into the parking lot and get out of your car and start walking toward your building, which is about 30 yards away.

As you approach the building, you see a person dressed all in black. They have a black hood on so you cannot identify gender or any facial features. They have a rather large bag slung over their shoulder and they are moving towards the front of the building.

Alarm bells are now going off in your head as you clearly recognize that this individual does not look like a fellow employee, student or co-worker. Because of this, your immediate action is to alert the police, employer or school authorities of the potential impending situation.

So, the security mindset plays a great role in your everyday situational awareness for missions.

 

What Can You Do As a Concerned Citizen?

You may not have to consider the level of training and rehearsal that professionals do each day, but certainly, with all that is happening in our world today, you can understand how critical it is to stay alert and employ situational awareness.

Visualization is one great way to begin your preparation, but there are certainly other critical elements such as the ability to recognize danger or threatening situations before they arise.

This is more a skill of the mind than anything else and it has already been with you every day of your life! Learn right now to trust that “little voice inside you.”

If you are confronted with an active shooter situation, most likely just prior to the incident, your “gut” feeling will tell you that something is terribly wrong. You may not be able to pinpoint “what” is exactly wrong, but your primal instincts are warning you that something bad is about to happen. You need to listen to that inner voice when it speaks to you and take appropriate action at that time.

Another key factor that helps you discern your surroundings and the people within it are what we call pre-incident behaviors. Things like a bend in the elbow could indicate a situation we call “felony carry” and it may signify that the individual is reaching for a gun or a cell phone. It all depends on the situation. This is one of the keys to potentially preempting an attack.

Knowing what is “normal” in your environment is critical to understanding when something is out of the “norm.” In this way, if you recognize something “different” in your environment, be it a thing or a person, you can act accordingly to achieve a higher degree of safety. This security mindset, being aware of your surroundings and having the ability to identify potentially dangerous situations and people is crucial to minimizing your risk and thus exposure to an attack.

There comes a point though when we need to move beyond the security mindset. The situation sometimes calls for us to attain an even higher level of situational awareness and activity.

This is where the survival mindset comes into play.

The survival mindset is a winning mindset and of all the training one gets, it is the survival mindset that gives you the greatest competitive advantage. In facing hostage-takers in the dead of night, exchanging gunfire and knowing that any of you could be killed at any moment, you have to reach deep inside where strength truly lives to overcome the adversity. It teaches you that strength and courage are not something derived from the physical manifestation of what you can do, but rather from doing what you thought was not possible.

You must learn that your strength does not lie in the type of weapon you employ against an enemy, but in your mind, you must overcome any obstacle or threat that you face.

The survival mindset is the cumulative total of these 5 winning characteristics:

  1. Winners are prepared
  2. Winners don’t hesitate
  3. Winners act decisively to get whatever they want
  4. Winners use everything in the environment to gain a competitive advantage
  5. Winners NEVER give up

Why not choose to adopt the survival mindset by living these winning characteristics every day?

After all, the survival mindset, like everything else in life is a choice. Choose the survival mindset, and be a winner. Believe in yourself and mentally prepare for the fight of your life.

Take control of your safety and act decisively and immediately with the tools you have with you…your mind! There are no rules of engagement in an active shooter incident when it comes to protecting your life. Through appropriate preparedness and training, people become more confident and aware that they are not helpless in a disaster.