The state of survival isn’t what it used to be. Scroll back several hundred years, and the living was harder, but the environment was a known quantity. Though our ancestors could still be felled by illness, natural disaster, or marauding troops, they knew the lay of their land. They probably hadn’t roamed far, from birth through old age, but they understood the risks they faced, and prepared for those they could control.
Too often these days we’re lulled into a false sense of security, an easy complacency born of a matrix of assumptions about the modern world. The trains run on time (or are predictably delayed), we hit the brakes at red lights, we plan adventure treks and travel freely around the globe.
If anything goes wrong, we reach for the tiny computers in our pockets and find the answer we’re looking for or summon the help we need. But the same conveniences that make our lives run so smoothly—the top-of-the-line gear that is meant to make outdoor exploration even cushier, the cars that whisk us to our offices, the computers that research our queries and crunch our complex algorithms, the planes that vault us thousands of feet through the air toward our final destinations—render us soft on survival skills and vulnerable to predators.
With a change of perspective, our modern conveniences start to look a lot like security loopholes.
If a catastrophic event occurs, will you have amassed the knowledge and undertaken the preparations necessary to survive? What does survival look like in a time when borders are porous and threats are varied, ever-changing, and sometimes unknowable?
Take it from a retired Navy SEAL with twenty years of special ops service and extensive experience in identifying and fortifying security loopholes: The only elements of crisis under our control are our own preparation and response. A true warrior is prepared to fight in any environment on earth, protecting his or her loved ones from threats as varied as gunshot wounds and home intruders. And whether a crisis is medical, man-made, natural, urban, or rural, a base layer of knowledge and forethought can make the difference between life and death.
Only the strong survive. Only the knowledgeable prosper.
The world isn’t getting any safer. Be ready to stand your ground.
Skill #63: Ambush an Active Shooter
There’s a misconception among the general public that says you need firepower to fight firepower. The notion that even a large group of unarmed civilians is defenseless against a lone shooter tends to go unchallenged. But recent events have shown that one or two motivated bystanders do have the power to halt a potentially deadly event before it devolves into a mass casualty scenario.
And as the scores of convenience-store owners who’ve resisted armed robberies can attest, you don’t have to be a former member of the military to save lives. Remember, an armed shooter is counting on your fear and passivity. The last thing he’s expecting to encounter is a brave and violent act of resistance.
Tackling a Shooter from Behind
A body mass equal to or greater than the shooter’s can only be helpful when it comes to an aggressive self-defense maneuver, but it isn’t essential. Using the elements of speed, surprise, and technique, any adult, male or female, can take a violent aggressor to the ground. Similarly, outnumbering the shooter or shooters by organizing into teams of two or three is ideal, for a gun can only be shot in a single direction at once. But even a lone resistor can neutralize an armed assailant.
If you’re on your own and have the opportunity to tackle a shooter from behind, use momentum and proper form to take him to the ground (see illustration). You don’t need a running start, but you absolutely do want to be aggressive in your approach. Put your shoulder into the small of his back and thrust your weight forward, simultaneously encircling your arms around his pelvis and violently pulling back. Bring your back leg forward and use it to trip the shooter so that you both fall forward.
Once you’ve got him on the ground, trap the weapon and use the weight of your pelvis to pin the shooter down. If you’ve got a free hand, throw an elbow at the back of his head, or just apply pressure to prevent him from regaining control. Flattened out and pinned to the earth, even the strongest assailants will find themselves surprisingly helpless.
Tackling a Shooter Coming Through a Doorway
If you’re behind a door or around the bend of a hallway and can hear the shooter coming your way, be ready to act. Combining the elements of surprise and swift, violent action, your aim is to tackle him and strip him of his weapon before he can get victims in his sights. Stand at the ready with your back flat against the wall, to the side of the hallway or on the doorknob side of the door. The moment the shooter’s weapon breaches the room or rounds the corner, use both hands to grab onto the weapon and the shooter’s arm, then violently drive the weapon to the ground while dropping your body weight into a fall.
Ideally, you’ll want to wind up with one hand on the weapon and one hand on the shooter’s arm, dropped to your knees and leaning over with the weapon pointed to the ground. But violent action is an inexact science. No matter the hold, if you grab the weapon and drop, the likelihood is that the shooter will fall off balance and go to the ground with you in an attempt not to relinquish the weapon. This moment also clears the way for others to get involved in fully stripping the shooter of his weapon and restraining him.
If you’re able to work as a team, assign one person to trap the weapon and another to take the shooter’s legs off balance. A third could go for the head. Stand with one person on either side of a doorway as the shooter is approaching. If the shooter spots one of you, the other will still be able to take him by surprise. Do not assign too many people to the initial act of taking down the shooter, or you may get in each other’s way.