Book Review: Facing The Active Shooter by C.R. Williams



My friend and fellow blogger, CR Williams was kind enough to send me a hard copy of his latest book, Facing the Active Shooter: Guidelines for the Armed Citizen Defender for me to review for you guys.

With tragedies like Fort Hood, Chattanooga, San Bernardino, Paris, Orlando, Istanbul and Dallas, Active Shooter training can no longer be just “Once in a Blue Moon” type training for the Armed Civilian, but something we train for EVERY TIME we hit the range. Why? because the likelihood of your average, everyday joe being involved in an Active Shooter situation is much higher than it was just 3 years ago.

The author goes over some of the statistics associated with Active Shooter incidents and here are a few that stuck out to me:

  • Duration of average Active Shooter event is 12 Minutes
  • 51% of the Attacks Studied occurred in the WORKPLACE
  • 49% of the time attacks ended BEFORE THE POLICE ARRIVED

If you take just these three stats and put them together, you get something that looks like this:

I need to be prepared for an Active Shooter ALL the time but especially while I am at Work. I need to be READY to EFFECTIVELY FIGHT (and not just hide) because these shootings are not over fast and most of them are over before the cops ever get there. My Safety is my RESPONSIBILITY and MINE ALONE!

Does that Paint a real enough picture or you? Good! Read on because C.R. has some more good pointers for you.

He discusses the often contentious online debate of what kind of chances a Civilian armed with’ just’ a pistol and maybe one reload really has against an active shooter (or shooters) armed with semi-automatic/automatic rifles?

The short answer without giving away too much of the ‘meat’ of the book away is this: The Armed Civilians chances are good when these 5 things are considered:

  1. You will most likely never face (at one time) more than 2 shooters
  2. ALWAYS Train to use Cover during a Gunfight. First FIGHT TO IT and then FIGHT FROM IT. Cover is Life.
  3. The Engagement distances you will most likely fight at are distances most people currently train at with handguns and in the event they are not, learning to shoot accurately at slightly longer distances is not a difficult thing to do.
  4. When displacing and using movement, always move sideways or at an Angle to the Flank if possible. This of course allows you to fight from the flank.
  5. Be prepared to make head shots if body armour is present or center of mass shots do not seem to be working.

The author then moves on to a very in-depth chapter on Suicide Vest and Bombs.  This is an integral piece of information to understand for Two reasons:

  1. In the Istanbul Airport attack we saw the aftermath of a terrorist who was wounded but still able to detonate his suicide vest.
  2. Like the author, I agree that something very similar to this attack and most likely one much larger and more coordinated is coming to CONUS very soon and we need to be prepared.

Instead of me ruining the entire chapter for you, check out this article.

After this C.R. moves into two very important subjects: Readying YOURSELF (both physically and mentally) and your WEAPON for battle. Two very good subjects for beginners here, particularly when talking about the “software” side of the equation, which as we all know makes up a very large part of the warrior ethos.



He then moves on to a section that I personally really liked: TARGETING THE HEAD. This is a topic torn right from the headlines.

  • In the Istanbul Airport attack we saw a wounded terrorist detonate his suicide vest. What IF a headshot had been made prior to this? Could lives have been saved? Absolutely.
  • In the Dallas Attack in July we saw an Active Shooter decked out with a Level IV Plate Carrier going toe to toe with LEO’s armed with AR’s. (Picture of deceased Dallas Shooter with body armor above). It is obvious our enemies are becoming better equipped and prepared.

The fact of the matter is this: If we are not integrating into our training making 3×5 index card head shots UNDER STRESS at distances of 25 to  50 yards (with and without supported positions) we are not drilling realistically for an Active Shooter. The author goes into much greater detail on this subject and IMO, this section alone in conjunction with the Tactical Outline section is worth the price of admission.



The Next few chapters after this cover some very detailed Gun Handling and Manipulation skills including COVERT Gun Handling, MOVING with the gun and CLOSE-IN Shooting Positions. He tops it off with a very well illustrated chapter on Supported Positions for LONG RANGE Pistol Shooting, which is not a topic a lot of firearm instructors discuss simply because LONG RANGE shooting with a pistol is seen as more of a gimmick than a tactical necessity. But as real world Active Shooter incidents have shown, being able to quickly and accurately hit at long ranges with a pistol (particularly to the Cranial T) is now a skill the Armed Civilian need in their toolbox in spades.

The Last chapter is one you can really tell the author put a lot of time and work into: An Outline of Tactical Options for Active Shooter Scenarios, or as C.R. puts it, to Put a “Framework on Chaos” for the Armed Civilian.  I absolutely love that!

I was going to go in detail describing this Chapter, but I think I have talked too much already. You guys are just gonna have to buy or download the book!

To sum it up, this is a book that every Armed Civilian needs on their bookshelf or hard drive. Why? Because the threat matrix for the civilian has changed folks. Yeah we still train for all the standard threats: Carjacking, Home Invasions, Robberies, etc.. But if we want to be honest about our chances of SURVIVING an Active Shooter, we have to get SERIOUS about Training and constantly be ready to ADAPT our TTP (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) accordingly to the enemy threat.


Don’t be another “Sheeple” that winds up on the evening news bloodied and bewildered saying “I never thought something like this could happen to me…” 

Practical Necessity and Common Sense DEMAND we Train for the Active Shooter!


Facing the Active Shooter: Guidelines for the Armed Citizen Defender can be Bought at Amazon.

Also Please Visit C.R. Williams Website, In Shadow In Light for more good stuff!

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!





Dealing With Armored Attackers & The Police PDW Concept

Dallas Sniper Micah Johnson dead. Note the Body Armor Plates.

Dallas Sniper Micah Johnson dead. Note the Body Armor Plates.


By  C.R. Williams

I was recently asked to offer my thoughts about this article  written by Captain Jim Pope of the Columbus, Georgia Police Department. In it, Captain Pope first makes a case for why every officer needs a Personal Defense Weapon for which he offers this general description:

“… it can be generally agreed that the modern personal-defense weapon will be a short-barreled rifle (SBR) chambered in a caliber more powerful than a typical handgun cartridge. Often, the PDW will have select-fire capabilities.”



He then goes on to provide a list of existing weapons that could be pressed into service by law enforcement as well as purpose-built PDW systems currently produced for military and law-enforcement use, suggest a carry method consisting of, in his words ”A hard plastic containment system or BFH (big freakin holster) would need to be designed and incorporated into an external body armor rig. The containment system should be at a 45-degree angle across the torso. The rig/holster would be in a fixed secure position and the gun would basically snap down into a mold the shape and size of the weapon.” and offers his ideas about how to address the inevitable concern (which we knowwould go swiftly beyond hand-wringing and into the area of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth) which some groups and members of the public would express about offices carrying such weapons systems on a large-scale basis.

Captain Pope’s thoughts and suggestions are well-considered and I find no serious flaws in the article as it is. I do find a few gaps in his coverage of the subject and would like to bring them to your consideration here because the concept of the PDW is being considered and taken up by more and more civilian students of the fight. (For a larger and more detailed study of what I call the C-PDW you can refer to Volume Four of my ‘Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts about Doing Violence’  series). So let me add some thoughts to Captain Pope’s excellent article now.  

First Step: Adjusting Training

Since Captain Pope is writing specifically about the PDW weapon system he does not address two things that any police department or anyone that wants to (or thinks they should) can do to start adjusting for the increasing possibility of body armor (or an explosive vest) on an attacker: Train to be a head-hunter.

This is something that police departments and trainers could start doing right now at very little (if any) cost: Shift a greater part of firearms training to 1) a focus on greater precision and then 2) assign greater priority to shooting the attacker in the head. Part of this training for police can be done in the classroom by offering visual aids that help officers recognize when an attacker is or might be wearing armor. This training would be similar to what is already done for pre-fight indicators and for ‘tells’ about concealed weapons. Besides this, targets should be modified or produced that show partial or full armor on a subject and simulators should have programming added to show suspectswith and without armor and explosive vests. Exposure to such aids will allow officers (and the rest of us once this gets into the broader market as it eventually will) a better chance to recognize when defaulting to Center Of Mass (COM) as a target will not work.

In addition, greater emphasis in firearms training should be placed on shooting not just to the head but to the right places on the head. While it is true that almost any hit on the face or head will at least greatly disrupt an attacker’s thinking, it is also true that people have not just survived but continued to function and fight after being shot there. Counter-offensive shooters should therefore make a study of the head as a target area just like they do the rest of the body with emphasis on hitting the ‘light switch’, that region at the base of the brain that controls autonomous functions in the body. This ‘no-reflex’ point is small and requires a training focus on smaller areas and points than most current ‘tactical’ shooting training emphasizes. ‘Aim small, miss small’ is becoming more than an admonition about proper shooting technique, it is now becoming one of the tactical maxims of the serious counter-offensive shooter.

Second Step (for Police): Adjusting Ammunition

The next step—admittedly far easier for police departments than for anyone else in the US at least—would be to purchase and issue armor-piercing ammunition to each officer. They should not replace every round carried with AP ammo because the vast majority of attackers will not have body armor on and AP rounds will go all the way through a body without pause and without doing a lot of damage along the way. A single magazine of AP for each weapon, however, would allow them some chance of compensating for anything short of hard plate armor as long as they had only a little time to swap that magazine out for what’s in the pistol or rifle at the time.

For someone who is not in law enforcement or the military, however, this option is simply not available. Armor-piercing ammunition is illegal for the rest of us to possess in the US. The closest thing we could get to AP would be some types of Full-Metal-Jacket ammunition and even that is a poor, poor substitute for actual AP ammo. For the rest of us, the answer is simple: Shoot them in the head.

Third Step: Change the Vehicle-Carried Weapon

Something else police departments can do (with, admittedly, varying degrees of difficulty due to the cost involved) is to 1) Get a rifle for every officer or every patrol vehicle, 2) either ditch the shotgun entirely or move it into the trunk for special-circumstance use and then 3) mount the rifle in the front where the shotgun used to be. Too many departments restrict the number of officers that are authorized to keep rifles and too many departments don’t allow even those officers it qualifies to have that rifle immediately available to them in the vehicle. In doing this they make it hard to nearly impossible to quickly bring that rifle to bear on an attacker. Even without AP ammunition the rifle has a better chance of punching through body armor than any pistol they will have on them. Besides that, rifles offer far better precision-shot capability, increasing the officer’s chances of hitting them in the right place in the head and stopping the armored attacker’s action quickly. 

For the rest of us the recommendation is simply that if you carry a long gun in your vehicle then 1) make it a rifle, not a shotgun and 2) set it up so that you can access it from wherever you store it within sixty seconds or less. Also, understand that we are not limited in our choice of caliber like the Patrol Division of the local PD is. We can, if we can afford it and shoot it well, make that rifle into a heavier or magnum caliber that will offer us a better chance of defeating armor than the standard-issue 5.56/.223 has.

Now, about that PDW

One thing I consider a possible flaw in Captain Pope’s reasoning is the proposed carry method for his police PDW system. One of the weaknesses I see is with wearing it in a vehicle. If you’re the driver it’s going to be pretty much out of the question. Easier to just mount a rifle in the front and keep one additional magazine for it on the belt and others in a bag or vest or bandolier. The other is that, if the weapon is not in the officer’s hands, wearing it on the chest makes it vulnerable to being disabled by hits the officer takes in that area. Since a lot of the time an officer is fired upon first, it is unlikely the weapon will be out of that chest carrier every time and so might be rendered useless from the start.

I would recommend a PDW, whether police or privately owned, be slung so that it hangs from the side. UZIs, MP5Ks and other submachine guns could be carried this way even under suit jackets. A PDW carried this way is secure, can be brought into action quickly, and is less likely to be in the line of fire when it does not mean to be.


(Property of CR Williams)


(Property of CR Williams)


Another mild weakness of Captain Pope’s article is his emphasis on over-powering armor. His list of examples and the definition he uses for a PDW are clear indications of this bias. Partially because of this he precludes one option (I bet he never even thought about it, in fact) for a police PDW that could be of lower cost than any of his example weapon systems and easier to carry, employ, and train to use: The stocked pistol.

Stocked pistols were very early attempts to provide soldiers with what we now call a PDW.

The Broomhandle Mauser, the Artillery Luger, and a stocked version of the Browning Hi-Power are among the more interesting examples of this concept. That concept is not limited to history, however. There are modern examples of stocked pistols available and in use today.

(NOTE: Stocked pistols are NFA items in the United States. If you’re going to put an actual stock on a pistol you will need to apply for a tax stamp with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and pay them 200.00. You can, using adapters available, put an arm brace on a pistol [I show an example of that in my book.] but it cannot be put on the shoulder like a stock or you will be in violation of law and regulation. Make sure you understand all of the applicable laws and rules before you undertake this kind of project.)


(Property of CR Williams)


 Stocks are available for some pistols right now, but none of them I am aware of at the time of this writing include the one characteristic that would make them useful to a police officer: A folding mechanism. It should be a matter of simple design and engineering to create a folding stock for any current police-issue handgun that would allow the pistol to be carried in the holster with the stock folded along the outside. This could be retrofitted to existing firearms, would be more affordable than separate purpose-built PDW systems and would not require much additional training for the officer to be able to operate the system (some practice locking the stock out and shooting with the stock would be all it should take). With proper design the folder could be used with existing holsters and stay out-of-the-way and out of the line of fire and allow for one-hand use of the weapon right out of the holster as needed. When greater range and/or precision is required the stock could be unfolded, extended and locked solid to provide the shoulder mount and four points of contact that could then assist with the kind of precision shooting that would allow the officer to finesse their way around any body armor or explosive vest an attacker was wearing.


(Property of CR Williams)


A folding shoulder stock could also allow for a measure of concealment to make the PDW available to plainclothes and undercover police. The shoulder stock could allow easier firing of higher-power ammunition that would increase effective range, accuracy over range, and barrier/armor penetration (some really hot AP ammo in that special-case magazine, for example). It would be bulkier and more liable to brushing against/bumping things when carried on the side whether on a sling or in a holster but design and experience carrying the system could and will minimize this. It would be slightly more awkward and heavier and the balance will be different when using it with the stock folded whether one or two-handed. Again, design and experience working with the system should allow the end user to adapt to those changes.  


(Property of CR Williams)

The same characteristics that make a stocked-pistol PDW useful to police also make it a viable candidate for the Civilian PDW role. Even if you decide to eschew the full stock and go with an arm brace on an adapter, that ‘not-stocked’ pistol can provide a third point of contact by use of a cheek index that could make the difference between a first-shot stop of an attack or a longer gunfight with all the additional risks that adds. We also have the option of setting up a stock on a higher caliber pistol than any police department is issued which—assuming you can handle that higher caliber well—an offer increased capability and a better chance to defeat armor and/or deal with the attacker at greater range than we can with our normal carry weapon.


(Property of CR Williams)

Combined with changes to training and practice, this kind of modified pistol could give you an additional edge in the event you’re facing someone with body armor and ill intent whether you’re a police officer or not. For that reason it is well worth considering the addition of the stocked pistol or it’s braced variant to your list of fighting guns.

You be safe out there. And if you can’t be safe… be DANGEROUS!

You can read more of CR Williams musings at his website, In Shadow In Light.

CR’s books can be purchased through Amazon.

Armed Citizen Training: CR Williams Releases New Firearms Training Book


My friend and contributing author to the blog, CR Williams, just released his new Firearm Training Book:

Gunfighting, and other Thoughts about Doing Violence: More Musings about the Means and Methods of the Counter-Offensive Fight (Volume 4)

It can also be had on Kindle.

You can reach CR Williams for Training at his website InShadowInLight

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!




Pick up Reps Wherever You Find Them

By CR Williams, In Shadow In Light

If you ever take one of my classes you are going to hear me use the following example:

I have a Glock 19 in my safe that currently is only used for dry practice so it stays unloaded. I live alone and nobody else has a key to the house and the gun’s in a safe. I don’t expect anybody to break in and load it and put everything back like it was and I don’t know anybody that can or will telekinetically load the gun while it’s inside the safe. I have every expectation that the gun that is empty when I put it up will still be empty when I take it out again. But I still do a chamber check and verify that it’s empty before I do any dry practice.

I do that to reinforce that habit of checking the status. Safety specifically is something I want to make a mindful habit. Building and maintaining habits and doing things in the proper way is first a matter of learning the proper way to do things and then it’s a matter of putting in enough repetitions to build and lock in and then maintain the habit and the proper method.

Now I could take a couple of minutes periodically and do nothing but chamber checks, which would set the technique up. I’m also trying to build the habit of automatic status checks of the weapon, though. The easy button way to do that is to take given opportunities to get in a good repetition. So if you hand me a weapon that we both know is clear I may do a check on it anyway—not because I don’t trust you or myself, but to build the habit so that I will check a weapon when you’re not there and when I am thinking about something else. I want to automatically do that check. The way to do that, to get to where I do that automatically, is to do the reps. And every ‘found’ rep I can get in is one rep I can use for something else when I do other practice and training work.

Same thing goes with the grip. No matter what I’m taking the gun out of the holster to do—shoot it, clean it, put it up in storage—I want to get a firing grip on it. Ideally I want to assume the firing grip every time I put my hand on the gun for any reason whether it’s in the holster or not. Every time I take one in hand I can get a repetition in and that’s what I want to do. Firing grip. Firing grip. Firing grip. Every time, every place, for any reason.

Found’ repetitions are good repetitions. They save time and build skills and habits. Built skills and habits help people stay alive in fights.

Holding a rifle? Put it in SUL or high port or a Cradle. Need to reload the pistol? Go through the proper reload technique slow and smooth. Pick something up from the floor or ground? Run through a squat or deadlift movement.

Look around at what you do for opportunities to put in a rep. When you find one, resolve to do one. Every time, every place you can. Do the reps, build the technique, make the habit, one by one by one. Don’t ignore the opportunities you come across to do that. It’s a small investment that will, over time, bring you a big return.

Might even save your life one day.

You be safe out there. And if you can’t be safe—be dangerous.