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5 Tips on How to Survive a Gunfight

by Robert Wayne

The first rule of surviving a gunfight is not to get into a gunfight in the first place. If you can do that, you’re golden, and you don’t need to read the rest of this article.

But while most of us will thankfully never end up in a gunfight, there’s always the possibility that we’ll be in the wrong place at the wrong time someday, and we’ll have to defend ourselves. So here are five tips on how to survive a gunfight.

1. Carry a Gun

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Never bring a knife to a gunfight.” If you’re not carrying a gun and your attacker is, you’re at major tactical disadvantage.

So the first rule of winning a gunfight is always to carry a gun. What type of gun you carry is up to you, and dependent on the time of year, the threats you face, and how easily you can conceal your firearm.

Whether you choose to carry a 10mm Glock pistol, a 9mm Beretta 92, or a .32 ACP pocket pistol, just make sure to carry a gun. And be sure that you know how to use it and have familiarized yourself with it, otherwise it could end up being just as dangerous to you as your assailant’s gun.

2. Be Situationally Aware

9 times out of 10, there will be advance warning that violence is about to break out. It takes most people unaware because they haven’t trained themselves to spot the warning signs.

If you find yourself in an area that just doesn’t feel safe, trust your gut. If you see people who look shady, who are trying to hide their faces, or who are standing in ways that just aren’t natural, trust your gut.

You have to remain alert if you want to survive, because your attackers are going to try to surprise you when you least expect it. If you start exercising caution, remaining alert, and eyeing everything around you, projecting an attitude of alertness, you’re going to make yourself less likely to be a target, and you’ll be able to react decisively if you need to.

3. Stay in Shape

It’s a lot easier to fight off an attacker if you’re in good shape. Lose weight, exercise your heart and lungs, lift weights and get stronger, do whatever you have to in order to get in shape and stay healthy. One day it could literally mean the difference between life and death.

4. Respond Decisively

Military theory is filled with statements and mottoes embodying the need to be aggressive. Clausewitz famously stated that one should pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination. The SAS has as its motto “Who Dares, Wins.” And Rommel in his book on infantry tactics summed everything up by saying that the winner of any conflict is whoever attacks first with the most ammunition.

Your attackers will try to get the jump on you, which is why you’ll want to treat it like an ambush. And how do you react to an ambush? You respond with as much firepower as possible to suppress the enemy before you break contact and gain separation.

5. Know When to Run

Gaining distance between yourself and your attackers could be critical. You don’t want to just stand there lobbing bullets at each other, because eventually someone, and it could be you, will get killed.

If you’re unable to neutralize your attacker(s) immediately, you’ll want to start looking for opportunities to run and/or hide. This is where situational awareness comes into play too. Know where escape routes are and where they lead. Know where there is good cover that can protect you from bullets, allow you to return fire, and maintain visibility of your surroundings.

This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list of all the ways to survive a gunfight, but it should be enough to get you thinking about the possibility of it, and preparing yourself if that time should come.

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