Escape, Hide, Fight: Is There a “Right” Answer?

As a follow-up and a way to answer some of the questions that have come in since I made my last post, I am going to  look at the three main ideas of what to do in the event of an active shooter/terrorist shooter* situation.

There are three standard responses taught regarding the bad guy with a gun scenario; escape, hide, fight. It is taught that we should escape first because we are of no use to anyone if we are dead. It is further taught that we should hide if we cannot escape because we need to be out of the way of the professionals when they arrive. And we are also taught that we should fight, and this is even taught in the Federal courses, only as a last resort.

Working in this field, the question always turns up regarding which response is the best one.

The fact of the matter is that there are two big issues that will determine which answer is right. These factors are who are you and what are the circumstances. 

Some people need to escape because that is the way in which they can do the most good. Others will need to escape because, although they may be a person capable of taking the fight to the bad guy, and making him suffer dearly for his bad decision-making, they are very out of position to do so. They could take cover and wait for a better moment, but the thing that has to be remembered in an active shooter situation is that people are being shot while you wait. That is a pretty costly decision when you understand that seconds count, and you are waiting for a better hand. Tough call.

Hiding is another tough option because once you lock a door and begin the process of barricading it, there comes a point where you cannot open the door, even if you are certain the person begging for help out there is not the shooter.

Fighting is taught as a last resort. And for many people, this is probably sound advice. Many people in our time are not really fighters. Watching MMA on TV does not make one a fighter. For some people, though, fighting is a viable first option. Obviously, provided that they are in a position to do so. But what would have been the outcome in Orlando if every able bodied man in the room rushed the shooter? Even using a conservative estimate that only twenty people in the room were capable of fighting and subduing a person, how differently would that story have ended?

We cannot know.

I always advise people to play to their strengths but to also be able to see the situational factors that can change the effectiveness of their base plan. I may have a base plan to attack the active shooter, but if the situation is that I have to bridge fifty yards without cover or concealment, I would probably need to escape or hide instead.

The idea of escape, hide or fight is not a perfect plan. But that does not mean it is not a good plan. Given the different types of people I have taught and the widely varying mindsets of different people, it is probably still a good starting point. Which option is the best? The one that fits the person and the situation.

In the end, the choice is yours to make. You will make it based on all available information and you will sink to the level of your training. Make that training as good as you can get. I can help you find quality instruction when you are ready to start:

*I do not draw a distinction between the two, but they were separate categories in the emails I had coming in after the last article. When viewed closely, the guy shooting up a place because he was fired, and the guy shooting up the place because his Wife is cheating on him and the guy shooting up the place because his religion is telling him to are no different, except in motivation. At the time of the shooting, their individual motivation means nothing. What matters is to stop the threat.