“FINDING COVER MUST BE YOUR PRIORITY IN A GUNFIGHT: MOVEMENT & COVER=LIFE.”
–Frosty talking to FNG, 2006
I had a serious case of Deja Vu’ and at the same time was reminded of the tactical importance of COVER while watching Netflix movie yesterday, Korengal, the follow up documentary to Restrepo by Sebastian Junger. It follows a Company from the 173rd Army Airborne while deployed in Afghanistan operating in the Korengal Valley (in Kunar Province) in 2010. In the documentary, one of the soldiers was talking about what they think about while on patrol, and one of the biggest things was playing the “What if” game. “What if” the Taliban started shooting at us right now? Where would I take cover? What is the nearest thing I can get behind that will stop a bullet? Finding cover was always in the forefront of this guy’s mind while on combat patrol, and so it should be with the CO.
But wait a minute…this is a soldier, at war in a hostile country,with people trying to kill him at every turn.. is this kind of mentality applicable to the average civilian living in the good ole’ US of A? Absolutely. Just consider for a moment the sheer number of active shooter incidents in the past decade or so, and then consider the number of innocent people who have been killed and wounded in those incidents. In a report published by the FBI between the years 2000 and 2013, there were 160 Active Shooter incidents in the U.S. In those incidents, there were 1,043 people killed or wounded. Now I don’t know about you, but I think that sounds more like stats from a “hostile” environment than a “safe and tranquil” one!
So how does the CO integrate this knowledge of Cover, besides playing the “What if” game while out and about? The short answer: Make getting to and fighting from COVER a PRIORITY in your weapons training! If you have the means, familiarize yourself with how bullets react around and through things you might find in your average store, mall or school. Things like metal retail shelving, wood counters, doors, desk, vehicle doors, etc. BTW, a great website to check out for real-world penetration testing is Box O’ Truth.
Notice in the sentence above I said first “Getting to cover”, this involves one of the most important and fundamental aspects of gunfight survival: MOVEMENT OFF THE X. This is your first opportunity to interrupt your enemy’s OODA Loop. Once you have fought your way to COVER, now you need to fight FROM COVER. This involves shooting from behind, underneath and over obstacles. This is a relatively easy thing to rig up on your CO course; most anything can serve as an obstacle..in fact, the more obscure the better, since there is a good chance you will find it out there in the real world some day as COVER!
Sidebar Family Training Note
Since CO training is all about protecting not only yourself but also your loved ones, I have developed a drill you can do with your family that you can do separate from your weapons training that will help instill the COVER mentality into your family.
First things first: If you or your family have never heard gun fire, in particular pistol or semi-auto rifle fire, you all need to hear what it sounds like without hearing protection. I say this because you would be surprised at how many people (due to the safety conscious society in which we live) have never heard a gunshot with bare ears!! This is imperative so you can quickly differentiate between a car backfire, or say a firecracker. Think about how many people who have survived an active shooter situation say they first thought the gunfire was “Firecrackers or a car backfiring.” Also, if you can, fire the weapons not only outside, but inside a building (from a distance) and let them hear the difference. After all, almost all active shooter incidents happen indoors (schools, malls, stores) so they need to hear the acoustic difference indoors.
OK, after everybody is familiar with the sound of a gunshot, now it is time for ACTION. First thing, everybody GET LOW. Bullets are unpredictable, so the deck is the best place to be! I like to teach the low crawl-walk, but depending on everybody’s physical limitations, this can be altered as needed. Secondly, FIND COVER! Counters, shelving, stacks of merchandise in an aisle, etc… From here it is up to you to teach what to do next..of course it would not hurt to develop your own “Active Shooter” Family training course, that would discuss things like finding exits, calling 911, using your environment to your advantage (turning out lights, pulling fire alarms, etc.) improvised weapons, etc.
Stay Alert, Stay Armed, Always Find Cover and Stay Dangerous!