I am a firm believer in staying as situationally aware as possible wherever I am, but especially when out in public either alone or with my clan. Since I live in the Deep South, a large part of my time every month or so is spent in stores like the Redneck metropolis of Wal-Mart, Grocery Stores and Sporting goods stores like Academy.
A game I like to play when I go in there whether I am alone or with my ‘significant others’ is the “What if and Where is it” Game. This game is very simple. As you walking along doing your shopping, you will occasionally ask yourself (in your mind) or your companions (in a hushed tone of voice) a question like “If you heard gunshots right now, what would you do?” or “If I needed to exit the store, what is the closest exit from our current location?”
(A word of caution here: Please do not verbally talk to yourself in public about subjects involving “Shooting” or “Active Shooter”…That is a surefire way to have a very uncomfortable and not to mention embarrassing talk with a Law Enforcement Officer possibly while in handcuffs and behind plexiglass in a patrol car.)
As we constantly strive to keep our minds sharp and aware as possible, it is also important to remember the old maxim:
“Be careful that you practice doing something the right way otherwise you are just reinforcing bad habits and IMPRACTICAL skill-sets”.
This is VERY important to remember when it comes to playing the “What if, Where is It”” game.
An example is how the Armed Civilian “mentally” practices dealing with an Active Shooter situation in a large public place, like Wal-Mart. Since the San Bernardino and Orlando shootings there has been an onslaught of articles about how the Civilian should best deal with Active Shooters and while most of them are rooted in practical common sense, there have been some that skirt what I like to call “Mall Ninja” territory.
You will notice that one of the two questions I asked in the “What if and Where is it Game” is “Where is the closest exit to our current location”. The reason this is important to know WHEREVER YOU MAY BE is in the event of an active shooter this is the FIRST thing you should ask yourself; Why? Because Getting Out of the “Kill Box” is going to be your first priority. It is important to remember that while Law Enforcement’s job is to move TOWARD the direction of gunfire, your Job as a Civilian is to MOVE AWAY From it. And contrary to “Jason Bourne Wannabe/Mall Ninja” doctrine, the only reason you would need to use your weapon in this situation is if the shooter actively engages you, you are defending a Third Party or the shooter is between you and the EXIT.
Another thing to consider is Asking what to do if the exit is blocked or perhaps jammed up because of the rush of people (like in the Orlando Nightclub Shooting). This is where knowing ALL your exit points is helpful and also having the determination to GO THROUGH whatever is between you and FREEDOM.
Another thing I would stress when you play this mental game is DO NOT get bogged down with too many fantastic details. What I mean by that is don’t over think the situation. Keep it Simple and Practical and emphasize what matters:
- When you hear gunfire, get low
- Immediately Consider your location in relation to: A. The Direction of the Sound of the Gunfire and B. The Nearest Exit
- Crouch (ie Duck Walk) or Crawl and use COVER if possible, when you Move
- Once you start moving, Don’t Stop!
I remember a class I attended a while back and we had this one guy (there is always that one guy, right!?) that constantly had his hand up asking stupid questions. I remember one of the questions was “How reliable is industrial shelving as Cover against pistol and assault rifle rounds?” I remember when he asked this the class went so quiet you could have heard a flea fart. I remember actually being embarrassed for the poor idiot. The instructor, being actually dumbfounded by the question, just laughed nervously and moved right into another subject, after that I think the guy got the hint; Enough with these dumb-ass questions!
The bottom line folks is we have to get what Paul Howe calls “The fantasy gunfight” ideal out of our brains right now. We are NOT going to be doing barrel rolls and jump-kicks while the theme from Red Dawn plays in the background. The truth of the matter is we will most likely be running or crawling toward the exit while other people scream or cry hysterically around us while all the while we are trying to tie-off the strong urge NOT to shit ourselves. Just being real with you.
Mental “what if” tactical games like this are what separates the CO from the common ‘sheeple’ that populate the planet. Becoming complacent and lazy when out in public is pretty much the standard SOP for the majority of mankind when you think about it. Dare to be Different folks, it literally could be life saving.
Developing and having the mental outlook and edge that you are NOT going to be a victim does not happen on it’s own or by osmosis; it involves ACTIVE mental drills every day, even things as simple as “What if and Where Is It?”
In closing, Remember the words of Jeff Cooper who said:
“Violent Crime is Feasible Only if it’s Victims are Cowards.”
Don’t be a Coward. Take Responsibility for your Own Safety!
Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!