How to Turn Run, Hide, Fighting into a Real Active Shooter Plan

Some of you may remember the government’s safety slogan against a nuclear blast. As kids, we’d practice saving ourselves by ducking under the desk when the teacher yelled, “Duck and cover!”

Schools also have fire drills, lockdown drills, and hurricane drills, but few have active shooter drills. One reason might be that the government’s slogan for active shooter is even less effective than ducking under a desk against an atomic bomb. Run, Hide, Fight is not a plan. It gives you little or nothing to work with.

Chris Sutton, founder of COBRA-Defense, says, “Run, Hide, Fight is like a cardboard boat. It might look nice and even float, but when you try to get in it, it sinks.”

Here are some options when training for active shooter that may help bring some real world application to Run, Hide, Fight.


A better word would be escape, but enough semantics. Here are some considerations about moving under fire.

  1. Become a Smaller Target. Run in a crouched position to make a smaller target.
  2. Improvised Ballistic Shields. If possible, grab some thick books to cover your vital organs as you run.
  3. Escorted Escape. Put your body in between a child, link arms, bend over and run so that you’re a shield for the child.


  1. Cover and Concealment. Cover means you’re behind something that will stop a bullet. Concealment means, you are hidden, but you’re hiding behind something that will not stop a bullet.
  2. Your Phone. If you can call 911 safely, do so, but then turn your phone off.
  3. What’s Next? Plan your next move. Where are you going to escape to next, if you have to?


  1. 10 and 2. A shooters’ 10 and 2 is the visual span that he can see in front of him. Your mission is to stay out of his 10 and 2.
  2. Action vs Reaction. Using the principle of action vs reaction, understand that you can run 30-50 feet in a just a few seconds.
  3. Reload Time. Even a trained shooter will need 8 – 10 seconds to reload a magazine or fix a jammed gun. You can attack from across the room in a fraction of the time he needs to reload. That’s your window to attack with extreme violence.


There is a plenty more to do and to consider during a shooter event. Our program breaks every aspect of an active shooter situation into highly effective contingency steps including how to play dead and what to do if the shooter drops his gun.

Preparing for an active shooter takes more than a PowerPoint presentation. A good training program is active and experiential. Most of all, it’s rehearsed and based on reality, not sound bites.

John Graden is the Executive Director of COBRA-Defense in Tampa Bay, FL. COBRA is a global self-defense and security training organization. Mr. Graden is available for interviews and training at:


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