Run, Hide, Fight


Surviving an active shooter event

The warning signs may vary. But the devastating effects are the same. And unfortunately you need to be prepared for the worst.

If you ever find yourself in the middle of an ‘active shooter’ event, your survival may depend on whether or not you have a plan. The plan doesn’t have to be complicated.

There are three things you can do that can make a difference…

Run. Hide. Fight.



First and foremost, if you can get out, DO. Always try to escape and evacuate, even when others insist on staying. Encourage others to leave with you, but don’t let them slow you down with indecision. Remember what’s important… you… not your stuff. Leave your belongings behind. Try to find a way to get out safely. Trying to get yourself out of harms way needs to be your number one priority.


If you can’t get out safely, you need to find a place to hide. Act quickly and quietly. Try and secure your hiding place the best you can. Turn out lights, and if you can, remember to lock doors. Silence your ringer and vibration mode on your cell phone. And if you can’t find a safe room or a closet, try to conceal yourself with large objects that may protect you. Do your best to remain quiet and calm.


As a last resort, if your life is at risk, whether you are alone or working as a group, FIGHT. Act with relentless aggression. If you carry a firearm, this is your time to act. Otherwise, improvise weapons. Commit to taking the shooter down. No matter what.


ALWAYS try to be aware of your environment. Always have an exit plan. Note that in many incidents, victims are chosen randomly. The event is unpredictable and may evolve quickly. Your actions can make a difference for your safety and your survival. Be aware, and be prepared.


  1. I think that as a person who carries concealed, I would find a good defensive position from which I could retreat if overwhelm,ed, but I would certainly fight. The active shooter will be jacked on adrenaline, operating on anger/fear/revenge as his fuel. To me, that means the shooter will probably not be in the very best condition for a firefight, possibly shaking and certainly with a rapid pulse. I’m certainly no hero, but I’m no coward either, so if I am positioned to help I will. At my age, running any distance is not a real option, it is rather like my last resort actually, so if I am able to line up a decent shot, I will.

  2. Right on. Be mentally prepared to fight. Be mentally prepared to be devious and not fight fair. Watch the videos from the mall terrorist in Kenya. You will see people being rounded up. They were terrified for their life and thought the best thing was to comply with the terrorists. Then they were tied up and the terrorist were able to take their time killing them, dismembering them, gouging out their eyes, ripping off their nose with pliers… I would far prefer to be killed outright in gunfire while attempting to kill one of my attackers then to let them tie me up to torture me at their leisure. Talk to others in your group and plan with the willing to all attack at the same time. Remember the words of one of the patriots of 9/11; “lets roll”.

  3. thank you, Ken

    with all the events in the news, i feel this is timely.

    just my own opinion, but from what i can discern, almost all those violent (mass) shooting events, the shooter was on, just coming off, at least on (usually multiple) psychiatric drugs/sleeping drugs/mood alterating drugs, all prescription…From what i have read, checked, black box warning/severe warnings on said drugs, warning of violent outbursts/psychotic violent outbursts/etc, i fear we will see more and more of these events, as i see stats which state North America is heavily prescribed these….

  4. wonder what anyone’s thoughts are, if all else fails, i have talked to two persons, who have done some version of the folowing, which claimed it was effective…Would only suggest this as “last ditch” , or if one freezes and can’t think of anything else. (one was a man who sailed around alone, and on at least two occassions, others with more man power threatend him…and he got them to leave both times)

    start acting crazy…as crazy and bizzarre as possible. now if a drugged up shooter threatens a crowd, this just might really spook a last ditch ???

  5. Gather items to THROW at the gunman, if otherwise unarmed. Overhand fastball pitches to his face, as you make your quick advance upon him in order to break his neck, take out his eyes, or disable his firearm. If you do not know lethal unarmed combat…learn.

    1. Ision,
      sure nough, THROW is better than nothing, and some folks have a real good arm. when I read your suggestion, i thought..

      “Everyone (mostly) wears socks”/lots have change in pocket..Put your change/keys in toe of sock, wing it around. even someone not too strong could get off a good whack/or “flying sock”.

      1. So just to recap Anon…

        1. Sail around alone
        2. Act crazy
        3. Swing socks around

        My only hope is that I am nowhere near you in the next round !!

  6. I watched a video recently (of course now I can’t find it again) where they did an experiment with random people. One person would be armed, with a t-shirt over their holster. A guy would come in and start shooting. Now, everyone in the room knew what was going to happen and should have been ready, but every time the ‘defense’ failed. Even the man who had a lot of firearms training and had a CCW couldn’t get his pistol out fast enough to save anybody. It’s extremely hard to react quickly enough.
    I think ‘hide’ would be my best option since I can’t run and my reflexes aren’t razor sharp. I’m an excellent shot, but I think the pressure of such a situation would cause me to fumble.

    1. If you are carrying concealed, unless you have your gun already drawn and aiming at the door when the guy comes thru it with their shotgun, you must survive the bad guy’s first shot. If you stay in place trying to go for your weapon, you will probably be the first one shot. In such situations you must FIRST get out of the line of fire, THEN draw your weapon. A surprise situation will not allow you to be faster than the guy who already has his weapon out and ready. Duck, roll, cover, draw, shoot. Fire immediately after the bad guy’s first shot, or immediately upon the sound of any shot. This will give you an instant, while the bad guy is reacting to his own weapon function (blinking, recoil, re-aim, re-charging round, etc.) Do not try to wound, do not try to arrest, do not warn, and do not let the bad guy see your weapon, unless it is the LAST thing he will ever see.

  7. Element of Surprise would be started with the shooter. It could cause a delay in your response, training can help overcome that.

    On the flip side, if a shooter starts and your carrying concealed, and aren’t in the initial assault, you have the element of surprise, since most shooters go for easy soft unarmed targets.

    Chance favors the prepared.

  8. Whenever I enter a place I have never been before, I find myself automatically looking for exits and hiding places. Not sure how long I’ve been doing it, its just automatic. I even remember as a kid when I entered a new school, my first thoughts were looking for good hiding places.

  9. If trapped in an office building or school locating a janitor closet one might be able to make improvised weapons out of mop and brooms that are broken off at the end to make a sharp point. The mops and brooms can be used as a spear or club. Also there might be harsh chemicals used for cleaning (bleach) that could be thrown into the eyes of the active shooter. Of course the element of surprise would be needed when attempting and sort of defense.

  10. Thus the reason everyone that is a United States Citizen should be armed. I also believe the License should be in plain view at all times just like your weapon. This way thugs that cannot own a firearm will be easy to spot and will be very hard to get a copied license. It is our RIGHT folks to be armed. If you haven’t gotten your carry permit you really need to get it. If your boss says no quote the Constitution as a reminder and put your weapon in your desk. There is no reason WHY innocent people die because they could of protected their selves and CHOSEN not to. I carry and it is a big gun. Will I use it, yes but I’m almost 50 and never had to before so I hope I never will. But if I’m in a Coffee Shop and some jerk comes in firing he will go out feet first or I will. Now the question. Will I take responsibility for my actions? Yes and Yes. But I will NOT be subjected to someone trying to kill me and me not be able to defend myself. I refuse…Now for the article. Drop low to the floor and try and determine the way your being shot at and go the other way. Stay low and away from windows. Don’t rush outside! Look before you leap! It could be worse outside. Don’t waste time gathering or trying to call 911 this distraction and you could get you pinned down in that time. But the most impotent thing in any emergency situation is STAY CALM and be aware of your environment. If you have to hide in a building go into vents or closets.

  11. Just a reminder…most companies do not allow firearms onsite. It would result in immediate dismissal (not the loss of your life…just your livelihood). So concealed carry is not always the first line of defense or any available line of defense.

    1. For those companies that do not allow cc then your weapon should be in your vehicle. DO NOT ever try to engage someone who is armed and known to be former military, because you would die. Trust me on this…

  12. I don’t know how it is now, but a ways back, since there were so many hunters in my region, and since it’s common to have a rifle racked in the back of pickups, workers were asked to leave their guns at the guard shack to the workplace property. In other words, it was fine to have guns, just not in your cars on the property. Workers picked them up as they left.

    I doubt very many workplaces would allow firearms on their property. It would void too many insurance policies, and I can’t believe no matter how conservative and supporting of the 2nd Amendment, that the owners would allow it.

    If you work for such a boss, they are to be commended, but for legal reasons much of the issue is out of their hands.

    Some public schools systems have elected to allow teachers and workers to keep firearms. Others have not. One can certainly understand why anyone would desire to be armed at all times especially now.

    The 2nd Amendment is crystal clear, only the lawyers have mussed it up. The problem is while your natural rights cannot be messed with, others are not likewise forced to hire you if you insist upon concealed carry at all times. Agreed?

    The more people that are armed, the lower crime statistics will be. As long as a sociopath thinks that they can get away with a crime, then people will suffer since they’re disarmed.

    However, a psychopath might have a death wish, as may a severely depressed person, and nothing will prevent them from acting out in violence regardless of if others are armed.

    Ever hear of suicide by cop? Some folks will intentionally go out in a blaze of glory within their own mind knowing that armed folks are around. Nothing can discourage such folks.

    For the general population though, as more and more Americans purchase firearms, crime statistics decline. You can’t argue with that.

    Are there more instances of violence in the media and in reality. Yes. The current knockout game shows that because of the media, word can spread about such things and incite violence.

    In the martial arts, I think almost all sensei would tell you to avoid conflict as much as possible, perfectly agreeing with the order of engagement in Ken’s article.

    It’s not running from a fight, it’s that under ordinary circumstances that’s the protocol. In the case of a lone gunman within a workplace setting (and this could easily be a church setting or educational setting also), then some brave souls must stand and fight and divert the attention of the gunman so that the young and others can flee.

    When folks were being rounded up in history by despots, then fleeing was the best strategy versus open engagement. Civilians going up against trained military forces and operating in genocide would result in annihilation. Only military trained guerillas can oppose such forces and even they must pick their battles carefully. The attack using tactics and stratgey for maximum effect.

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