When in Doubt, Run for Cover
Dr. John Woods 08.15.16
The whole deal behind personal defense is not to stand out in the open in the middle of the street. Of course, that illustration is way too simplistic for the array of situations that somebody could get into trying to defend themselves. Usually confrontations with an attacker are most likely at arm’s length, but not always.
Personal defense coaches almost always advise to run from any conflict if the opportunity presents itself. Just run. I generally agree with that position. I can’t imagine anybody wanting to have a shootout or be faced with a knife wielding crazy on meth. If you see something unfolding, get out of there.
If you can’t, then regardless of whether you happen to be carrying concealed or not, seek cover. The concept here is to minimize your exposure to flying lead from the assailant and or just to remain hidden from sight, hoping the threat will pass without you being noticed. That does happen.
But, if an exchange of fire is inevitable, you are in a much better position to return fire if you are behind a suitable barrier to provide an element of protection. In most circumstances out in public or at home, there are many options for places to seek cover. Just be mindful of picking a spot that the physical structure can deflect bullets and reduce sight vision of your position.
Top on this list would be a nearby vehicle. Crouching behind the engine side of the fender or opposite door should give you ample cover to prevent bullet penetration. Getting behind a wheel well with a tire and steel rim can provide good cover. Just don’t expose your feet or legs under the vehicle.
Concrete walls, parking barriers, building corners and such also make good areas for cover. Though you may have to rise to shoot over a low barrier, or shoot around a wall, minimal exposure can be practiced in advance. This is how many personal defense shooting schools train. Keeping low and out of sight is paramount, as is picking judicious times to return fire such as during an assailant reload or movement in the open.
In the same light, try to be mindful of the cover you pick. Most bullets sail right through sheetrock or thin wall paneling. Window glass provides no useful cover. Likewise thin outer doors or paper thin interior doors give little cover. So, pick your cover, but wisely.