The First Rule is... MOVE!
by Kirk Lawson
[Sorry, Bert. Your advice just doesn't work.]
There is a lot of chatter these days about what to do if someone is shooting at you. Run? Hide? Fight? Shoot back? Cower and wait for someone to save you?
If you want to avoid being shot, the First rule is: Move
According to research done by Active Response Training if you stand still in a gunfight, you have an 85% chance of being shot and a 51% chance of being shot in the torso. In most self defense shooting classes, students are first taught to aim for "Center of Mass." Center of Mass is roughly defined as the largest part of the bad guy's body or body part that is exposed. In most cases, that means aiming for the torso. This is a really effective place to put holes if the intention is to stop a bad guy. The torso has all of the "vital organs" except the brain. These are organs which, if they fail, will lead to loss of consciousness and eventually death due to blood loss, either internal or external. In other words, nearly second only to the head, being shot in the torso is the worst possible place to be shot, and it is the largest "target" on the body as well. Yet, if you stand still there is a slightly better than even chance that is exactly where you will be shot. And even if not getting shot in the torso, there is a paltry 15% chance of escaping injury.
Moving dramatically reduces your chance of being shot. If you move, the research indicates that you will immediately reduce your chances of being shot to 47% and your chances of being shot in the torso to 11%. Just moving alone reduces your odds of being injured at all, anywhere on your body, to slightly less than a coin flip and getting shot in the torso to about one in ten. This makes a lot of sense. Hunters and competition "action shooters" attest to how much more difficult it is to accurately hit a moving target. It is simply a world of difference harder. Take advantage of that. But how should you move? Most experts agree that some sort of lateral movement is best. I'm going to suggest moving to your left. Somewhere around 70-90% of people are right handed and most murderers are not that well practiced with firearms. The most common marksmanship mistake new, right handed, shooters make is "pulling" the shot low and to their left. Take advantage of that common mistake and move away from where the bad guy is more likely to make his shot land. But, failing that, any movement at all is better than just standing still. Running directly away is, at least, something and real world shootings show that even police officers sometimes have trouble hitting what is nearly directly in front of them during the chaos of a violent encounter.
Where should you move to? Move to cover, or at least concealment. Cover is defined as any barrier which will stop the ammunition being shot and generally large enough to hide most of your body, or at least vital organs, even if you have to scrunch or squat. Similarly concealment is defined as any barrier which is not sufficient to stop the bullets but still hides your body, which makes it more difficult for the bad guy to accurately target you. According to the research done by Active Response Training, moving to cover reduces your chance of being shot anywhere to 26%, a bare quarter of the time, and being shot in the torso to only 6%. This completely inverts the odds from "just stand there."
One way to improve your odds, according to research on video surveillance done by Active Self Protection, is to return fire as soon as possible, and as accurately as possible (preferably from cover). It seems that once bullets start going back at the bad guy many of them suddenly decide they have somewhere else they would rather be and will break off the attack.
So is the answer "Run, Hide, Fight?" Well, sort of yes, but not haphazard, not as a "try plan A until it fails then move to B," but, instead, as a well thought out, well constructed, and hopefully practiced, plan of action. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.