Carter Lowe Creator, entrepreneur, and self-care advocate
Reading time: 11 min

How to survive shooting

The likelihood of getting into a gunfight in a public place is low, but quite likely due to various terrorist and criminal threats. How to survive when shooting?

Although the likelihood of getting into a gunfight in a public place is very low, in recent times such incidents have become more frequent. In a critical situation, you can easily get lost in surprise and fear. Knowing how to handle these situations will improve your chances of survival. Moreover, if necessary, you can help others.

1. Assessing the situation

1.1 Stay calm. It's easy to panic when shooting in a public place, but try not to get emotional and keep a cool head. It may seem impossible to remain calm in such an emergency, but there are certain techniques that will help you keep from panicking.

Focus on your breathing. While inhaling, count to three, then hold your breath and also count to three, then exhale for a count of three. You can (and should) do this while you are moving to a safe place - breath control will help you prevent hyperventilation and avoid making rash decisions.

1.2 Warn others. As soon as you realize that shooting has begun, you should immediately warn those who are near you. Some may not notice the emergency, while others may be paralyzed with fear. Inform people around you that shooting has begun and that everyone should get out of the area or try to hide.

1.3 Make a plan. In an emergency, it is very important to have a specific plan of action. Preliminary training and education will help you get to a safe place, but remember to also have a backup plan. If you cannot implement the primary plan, assess the situation and consider whether a backup plan can be implemented.

1.4 Prepare to escape. Many people get lost in an emergency. If the shooter is nearby, it may be best to stay where you are and hide. However, experts believe that you should hide only if you have no way to escape. If you know where you can move in order to be at a safe distance from the shooter, overcome your fear and desire to stay still and try to run away if it is not dangerous.

2. Moving to a safe place

2.1 Visualize your movements. It is necessary to consider the escape route and take into account the environment. If there are places along the way where the shooter may see you or other people, be aware of this and think about how you will act in such a case.

As a rule, shooters pay attention to random targets. Try to be as inconspicuous as possible - think about your actions and try not to catch the eye of the shooter.

If the shooter is close to you, try to find a route that will provide you with suitable concealment (inconspicuousness) and cover from possible bullets.

2.2 Run if possible. If the shooter is close to you, you need to overcome your fear, do not stay in place and try to get as far away from him as possible. You should not stand in one place and watch what is happening. Do your best to increase the distance between you and the shooter - after that it will be more difficult for him to intentionally hit you, and the risk of you accidentally getting hit by bullets will decrease.

Note that this tactic only works if the shooter didn't see you, you got lost in the crowd, or you heard gunshots but didn't see the shooter.

Help others if you can do it without putting your life in danger.

Try to run away, even if others tell you to stay where you are. Encourage others to join you. However, if others are in doubt, don't wait for them to make a decision. It is important to get out of the danger zone as quickly as possible.

2.3 Leave your belongings. Remember that your life is incomparably more important than a mobile phone and other personal items. Don't hesitate to try to save your belongings, and if others try to take their belongings with them, tell them to leave them.

2.4 Use every possible escape route. Take advantage of every opportunity, including emergency exits or emergency windows. Most restaurants, movie theaters, and other public places have emergency exits (such as pantries or kitchens) for fires and other emergencies. Look for such a way out and try to use it.

2.5 Call 911. Once you're out of the risk area and out of the immediate danger, call 112 or 101 for help (if you don't have a phone, ask someone for one).

After leaving the building, stay away from it.

Warn bystanders not to enter the building. Warn others about what is happening in the building you left, and advise them to stay away from it.

3. Cover from the shooter

3.1 Find a secluded place. Choose a place where the shooter can't see you and where you can take cover from the bullets. It is good if you can easily get out of this place if necessary, and it is spacious enough that you do not have to sit hunched over.

Don't delay. Try to find a place where you can hide as quickly as possible.

If there is no room nearby with a lockable door, try to hide behind something that will cover you (for example, behind a copy machine or cabinet).

3.2 Don't make noise. Turn off the lights and be quiet. Be sure to turn off the beep and vibrate alert on your mobile phone. Suppress the urge to cough or sneeze and do not talk to people who may be hiding near you.

Be aware that you are hiding from the shooter and try not to let him find you.

Don't call the police. If you are in a crowded place (such as a restaurant or school), someone must have run out of the building or heard the sound of gunshots and already managed to report it to the police.

3.3 Block off the place where you are hiding. If you are in a room, lock the door or block it with something heavy like a closet or sofa. Try to make sure that the shooter cannot enter the room.

Make it difficult for the shooter to enter the room - thus you will be more secure and can buy time. If you or someone else calls the police, they will respond immediately. In an emergency like this, every minute counts.

3.4 Try to stay close to the floor. Lie face down on the floor and place your hands next to your head, but do not cover it. This way you will cover your internal organs. In addition, if the shooter stumbles upon you, he will think that you have already died. The prone position reduces the risk of being hit by a stray bullet.

Stay away from the door. Instead of trying to open or break down a locked door, an attacker may start shooting at it. In this case, bullets can break through the door, so it is better to stay away from it.

4. Fighting the shooter

4.1 Fight if necessary. However, don't try to fight the shooter if you can run or hide. Combat with the attacker should be considered as a last resort, which should be resorted to only as a last resort.

4.2 Find something that can be used as a weapon. Find something with which you can hit or injure your attacker, such as a chair, a fire extinguisher, or a kettle of boiling water. Most people don't carry weapons, so you'll have to improvise and use what's available. You can hold the selected object in front of you to hide behind it from bullets, and if necessary, throw it at the attacker.

Scissors or an envelope opener can be used instead of a knife. Even a pen can be used as a weapon (while resting it on the base of the thumb).

If there is a fire extinguisher nearby, use it. You can direct a jet of foam at the attacker's face or hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher.

4.3 Neutralize the attacker. The fight with the shooter should be entered only in case of emergency, when your life is in danger. If you cannot run or hide, resist alone or with others. Try to knock the weapon out of the attacker's hands or knock him down so that he loses his bearings.

Encourage others to help you. Together, it will be easier for you to deal with a lone shooter.

4.4 Attack. If the shooter is very close to you and you are in immediate danger, try to disarm him. In any case, it is necessary to act quickly and make every effort to knock the weapon out of the hands of the attacker and render it harmless.

If the attacker has a gun, grasp his barrel and pull it away from you; while trying to hit or kick the shooter. The shooter will most likely pull the gun towards him, and if you follow his movement, he may lose his balance and fall to the floor. If you manage to get hold of the butt of the gun as well, you will be able to hit and push the attacker with it.

If the shooter has a gun, try to grab him by the barrel from above so that the attacker cannot point the gun at you. Many models of pistols cannot be fired if they are tightly squeezed from above.

Aim for the upper body when attempting to knock the shooter down. The greatest danger is the hands and weapons of the attacker. In addition, you can hit the eyes, face, shoulders or neck.

4.5 Act without hesitation. Even if you are frightened at the sight of the shooter pointing his assault rifle at you, focus on the barrel of the rifle and try to wrest it from the attacker's hands and knock him to the ground. Quick and courageous action can save your life and the lives of others.

Fortunately, in an emergency, your body will turn on the “fight or flight” response, which will help you fight for your life.

5. Getting help

5.1 Remain calm. If you manage to escape, try to take deep breaths. It is possible that you are in a state of panic and experiencing shock or injury - try deep breathing to control yourself and calm down.

When you have caught your breath and are able to speak, call your relatives and loved ones and let them know that you are all right.

5.2 Keep your hands in plain sight at all times. The police are trying to neutralize the shooter, so when leaving a building or other public place, raise your hands with your palms forward so that the police can see that you do not have a weapon. In such situations, the police are wary of everyone leaving, as the attacker may pretend to be an innocent victim and try to sneak away with others.

5.3 Do not point or yell. In the event of a shooting in a public place, the police follow their instructions. Let the police do their job and do not interfere in their actions, especially since you have not yet recovered from the shock. Do not interfere with the police to neutralize the criminal.

5.4 Please note that medical assistance will be provided to the wounded. The task of the police is to find and neutralize the criminal. Until the shooter is neutralized, the police will not treat the injured, but do not worry - ambulance crews should arrive on the spot and take care of all the victims.

If you are injured, try to slow down your breathing. This will help prevent shock and reduce bleeding. Cover the wound with your hands or clothing and apply pressure to stop the bleeding until medical help arrives.


Learn more about how to behave when shooting in a public place. For example, in schools they talk about this at life safety lessons.

Please note that in such situations, shooting is usually carried out at random targets. At the same time, events can develop very quickly and unpredictably. Try to hide and be as inconspicuous as possible.

Be aware that the police react very quickly to a shooting in a public place. In most cases, shooting in public places lasts no more than 10-15 minutes.

Don't let panic or despair overwhelm you. According to experts, life in situations like this often depends on a quick reaction within the first five seconds.

Do not show unnecessary heroism. The fight against the criminal should be entered only in case of emergency, when there is no way to escape or hide.