Camping & Survival

Surviving an ‘Active Shooter’: Navy SEAL Lessons from Aurora

Brandon Webb, president & executive media director at blog and a Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (Class 215), offered perhaps the best survival advice we’ve seen regarding The Joker shootings in Aurora, Colorado. (Special Operations Forces Report) covers and comments on the US and Allied Special Operations Community. In the item Navy SEAL Lessons From Aurora, Webb wrote: “As I continue to read about the terrible tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I can’t help but think there’s some lessons from my time as a Navy SEAL that I can pass on to the average citizen. So here goes…”

Don’t Make Yourself an Easy Target

When at sporting events, concerts, and the movies, choose seats that give you a tactical advantage always. What do I mean? Choose seats that allow good and easy vantage points and a hasty exit point. Always stack the odds in your favor. It’s the reason I still combat park (back in to a space) and sit with my back to the wall when I’m eating.

Active Shooter Scenario Advice

Take cover, and not concealment. Concealment hides, cover hides AND protects. It’s the difference between hiding behind a movie seat or a concrete wall. Don’t lie there with your eyes closed and get shot. Think and move. A good decision executed quickly is better than a great one never executed. Violence of action, as we call it in the Spec Ops community, will often change the odds in your favor.

During close-quarter-combat drills, we’d draw a gun with someone over 20 feet away running at us. In most cases you can be on someone before they can draw and take a shot. I’m not advocating running straight at someone but if you have the tactical advantage (jam, re-loading, distraction or the shooter isn’t paying attention) then take the shooter down or get the hell out of there.

In Aurora, the shooter was severely weighted down with armor and his helmet would have also limited his vision. You can use all this to your advantage.

Flashlight anyone?

I have one for daily carry and take it everywhere with me. It’s become another extension of me and has diffused at least two potentially violent confrontations in a non-lethal way. For most of you, the best bet is to buy a good tactical flashlight, there are plenty on the market.


At least 200+ lumens, waterproof, LED, and a 3-volt lithium battery. Use and carry your light with you at all times. I recommend the Surefire P2X Fury Dual Output LED… I would have pulled my high-lumens pocket flashlight and blinded this guy.

Concealed Carry

If you’re lucky enough to live in a state like Texas that not only allows concealed carry, but supports the use of deadly force, then train to use it. FYI, shooting paper at the local range will not prepare you for a defensive shooting situation. Rehearsing defensive scenarios is the only thing that will prepare you.

Learn From an Expert

There are plenty of former Military and Law Enforcement that have great self-defense skills. Just vet your instructor carefully, ask for references and proof of service.

Alter Your Lifestyle

Avoid opening-night and large crowds that make easy targets. It sucks to live this way sometimes, but ask the survivors from Colorado if it’s worth a minor lifestyle change.

Don’t Be a Victim

Rehearse emergency scenarios before there’s an emergency, the time to practice is NOT when it’s happening. The world is a dangerous place these days. Be prepared. A great book I’d also recommend is, Escape The Wolf by Clinton Emerson.

My condolences to the victims and their families in Aurora, Colorado.

Brandon Webb is a former Navy SEAL, and worked as a Special Operations intelligence & security specialist in Iraq during 2006-07. He is also author of the New York Times Best Seller, The Red Circle. Used with permission.

Other Links of Interest Re: Aurora

  • Methodist Church politicizes Aurora deaths, attacks NRA, calls for gun bans
    The national United Methodist Church didn’t just call for prayer after the recent cinema shootings. Instead, the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church & Society stepped up on the bodies of the dead and wounded in Colorado to call for a range of gun-control measures — including banning all handguns — as a result of the Aurora shooting. James E. Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society, and Bill Mefford, Director of Civil & Human Rights, General Board of Church & Society, are the signatories to an anti-gun political-action document posted on the national Methodist website. The GBCS Statement on Aurora, Colo., Shootings calls for instituting background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows; limiting bulk sales of guns intended to be illegally resold; and reinstating the ban on sale of military assault weapons to civilians. Do Methodist lay people know that an aggressively anti-gun Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society is trying to ban handguns and semi-auto rifles in response to The Joker shootings?
  • JPFO open letter to The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
    Dear Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle Editor: In light of the evil perpetrated at a crowded Colorado movie theater, and now that the Wisconsin legislature has partially re-established the right of the people to publicly bear arms, Jews in the state must reexamine some of their beliefs. A set of Wisconsin synagogues decided to ban the legal possession of firearms on their property soon after the enabling law passed. Their lengthy justifications and rationalization for doing so are posted on their websites. One dangerous issue in the Wisconsin synagogue-sans-guns debates is the Gun-Free-Zone Liability Act, under consideration in some states. It basically says if you declare a so-called “gun-free zone,” you’re liable for any harm it causes. Synagogues are likely unaware that if they ban the civil right to arms, and someone is harmed in an assault, they may bear liability. The Colorado massacre forever establishes that a paper no-guns policy is a cruel hoax.
  •  Ted Nugent flips out over calls for more gun control, misinformation
    Glenn Beck interviewing Ted Nugent on radio: [Ted,] I believe you are close to a brain aneurysm on this story coming out of Aurora, Colorado. NUGENT: Well, yes. Number one, I can’t go further without saying that the Nugent family and everybody I know, I mean literally everybody says prayers for the victims and their families in the face of such a tragedy, but now we need to go on to the vile intentional misrepresentation of what did happen. And I think as soon as you can, Glenn, you need to talk to your friend Bill O’Reilly because I’ve never heard such nonsense in all my life and I think it epitomizes the ignorance out there when Bill O’Reilly states as a fact that anybody can go buy a bazooka and a machine gun without the government knowing it unless, of course, you’re in the crips and the bloods.
  •  ‘Come On!’ Bill O’Reilly Blasts GOP Congressman During Epic Gun Control Segment
    During his interview with Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz, Bill O’Reilly got fired up telling the congressman that there need to be more restrictions on the books that prevent people from buying heavy weapons without the FBI knowing about it. O’Reilly said that Congress should pass a law requiring anyone who sells heavy weapons to report said sale to the FBI. Chaffetz said that the FBI should not be given a “master list” of every gun owner in the country, but O’Reilly interrupted Chaffetz to say that he was misrepresenting what he said. O’Reilly said that if you go to flight school, the FBI knows about it, but not if you purchase a machine gun. Chaffetz said O’Reilly’s assertion was “absolutely not true.”
  • Federal Ammunition Sales Regulation: A Proven Failure
    Recent calls for federal regulations and restrictions on ammunition sales ignore the failure of such laws in the past. They also ignore the impracticality of imposing and enforcing similar controls in today’s huge ammunition market. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that 10-12 billion rounds of ammunition are produced domestically each year, while billions more are imported. The Gun Control Act of 1968 required federal licensing for all ammunition dealers, and required that a record be kept on all handgun ammunition sales by retailers—including the popular .22 rimfire cartridges. The requirements proved to be such a heavy burden on retailers that in 1982, Congress removed .22 caliber rimfire ammunition from the record-keeping requirement.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (37)

  1. I’ve had so called firearm defense professionals
    Saying it’s never a good idea if you disarm a attacker that pulls a firearm on you , That you shouldn’t use there weapon on them if you get there weapon . That you should keep them there for the Police . This bothers me due to the fact the average person doesn’t know how to safely take a attacker safely into custody . Also in real World situations you don’t know if the attacker has another deadly weapon . I carry my Sig Sauer P226 daily so I would just fire on the attacker and hope I come out on top . But I see a lot of these guys giving this advice to average Americans . I’ve had some training nothing compared to you and this just doesn’t sit right with me . Thank you either way ..

  2. Very good post. I actually just stumbled upon your current blog plus wanted expressing which i need very enjoyed studying your own blog posts. Anyways I’ll often be following to the blog plus I hope you actually post again in the near future.

  3. all church’s should be in the business of preparing their ‘flocks’ to meet the LORD….when they side with the psychopaths that pass for politicians and the hate groups that pass for concerned citizens safety groups…they are in fact leading their ‘flocks’ to slaughter…history repeats……

  4. Another good way to train is by using airsoft replicas. You may think its a toy but I have a 1911 and M4 set up EXACTLY like my actual counterparts. Weight and operation (save bbs not bullets) is identical. Makes non-lethal training a piece of cake.

  5. Live offensively. Practice visualization, always. Basically visualize any scenario at any given time and what kind of responses you can make. Visualization is a powerful tool and can give you a head start on reacting to a bad situation. With your responses already visualized, your mind doesn’t have to go through options when you need to react, it has already done so. This is an example of what I train my rookies with:

  6. Look how the United Methodists have jumped on the Aurora, CO theater shooting——–

    Jim Winkler is General Secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS). As the chief executive of the board, he leads a staff of 22 who seek the implementation of the Church’s Social Principles, including gun control.

    Methodist Church politicizes Aurora deaths, attacks NRA, calls for gun bans
    Author: Todd Woodard, Editor, Gun Tests Magazine
    July 24, 2012

    Printer Friendly | Email | Share Your Comments (49)

    ( — The national United Methodist Church didn’t just call for prayer after the recent cinema shootings. Instead, the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church & Society stepped up on the bodies of the dead and wounded in Colorado to call for a range of gun-control measures — including banning all handguns — as a result of the Aurora shooting.

    James E. Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society, and Bill Mefford, Director of Civil & Human Rights, General Board of Church & Society, are the signatories to an anti-gun political-action document posted on the national Methodist website.

    Selected portions of the document read as follows:

    “The United Methodist Church considers it a priority public health issue to prevent firearm-related death and injury. In its resolution on ‘Gun Violence,’ the denomination calls for social policies and personal lifestyles that bring an end to senseless gun violence, including a ban on all handguns.…”

    “Equal to our sadness at this tragic loss of life is our disappointment at Congress’ inability to place public safety above the interests of the National Rifle Assn. Our society can no longer afford to allow the power of the gun lobby in its efforts to ensure ownership without responsibility to keep Congress mute on this pressing public-safety issue….”

    “Some of the most common-sense policies that Congress could enact quickly include:

    • instituting background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows;

    • limiting bulk sales of guns intended to be illegally resold; and

    • reinstating the ban on sale of military assault weapons to civilians….”

    Do Methodist lay people know that an aggressively anti-gun national Methodist governing body is trying to ban handguns and semi-auto rifles in response to The Joker shootings?

    To see the post itself and to comment, click here “GBCS Statement on Aurora, Colo., Shootings.”

    To email or call the Methodist staff regarding this statement, click here to contact the Methodist Church’s General Board of Church & Society.

  7. The only way to be sure to survive an active shooter in a situation like this is to take out your own gun and shoot the person before he shoots you or anyone else….period! If this was to happen enough times I would be willing to bet that this kind of thing would stop.

  8. The tips offered by the author are all excellent. However, unless I missed it, the one thing I don’t believe he stressed enough is training. His reference to the paper targets is spot on and yes, he did mention training, but again, I do not believe he stressed it enough. I believe that in order to be proficient in your weapons handling you MUST train at least twice a month on “combat” shooting skills. I know there are few public ranges that allow combat shooting practice, but I think if you look around a bit you will find there are more than you think. Ask your fellow shooting sports enthusiast where they “practice” or if they know of private property where you might practice your skills. Join a local gun club. It doesn’t take a lot of space to practice and hone your skills. Fortunately I live on a ranch where we have a practice range. The total area used is probably 100 ft. x 200 ft with a tall burm as our back stop.

    The bottom line is practice and develop the skills AND mindset regarding your will to prevail in an encounter.

  9. JC he used a S&W MP15, pump shotgun and he had two .40 handguns. Like I said where Obama came up with AK-47 I have no clue. Maybe AKs are what he had the ATF provide to the Mexican cartels in Fast and Furious so hes confused.


  11. This time it was at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

    Journalists, pundits, experts, psychologists, criminologists… all asking the same questions: Why do these atrocities keep occurring? Who is to blame: parents, media, video games, guns, the economy? Where and when will it happen next? What if it is was a cell of trained terrorists?

    These are all the wrong questions!

    Situation awareness is essential or prevention. Yet, we all know that there is no such thing as 100% security and that these incidents will continue to occur. No one knows where and when the next attack will occur. We all have the possibility of facing an Active Shooter or a terrorist someday. Yet, after every mass shooting, we seem to become preoccupied with finding the reasons that make these perpetrators kill.

    It is time to start asking ourselves the right questions: What can be done to survive and stop the violence during the attack? What can people do when running away is impossible and duck and cover will not work?!

    More lives could be saved if we focused our attention on what we can DO to save ourselves during the next attack at our workplace, school, mall, or movie theater.

  12. Anyone know what Chick-Fil A s’ policy is on concealed carry?

    My own views on concealed carry are that Concealed means Concealed.Nothing Less!
    And NO law abiding citizen should ever carry a gun in a crowded public place unless it’s Completely out of sight, even if you have the right to carry it open there. This is called Restraint and Common Sense. Criminals tend to be irrational, as do some people who would go ballistic at the mere sight of a gun. Including of course some business people who could get you in a whole lot of trouble. Dont wear your guns to town. Conceal them.
    You should be much more effective anyway with concealed carry. There’s no finger pointing or screaming at you. Use discretion and dont get challenged, or worse be the victim of an employees or law enforcement officer’s zeal.
    In a store or other business, think of yourself as a guest. It is the job of the owner or employees to keeping customers safe. If things do get out of hand, you will be there, trained and ready with your concealed carry, and not the center of attention.
    And please, do not favor extremes of appearance or dress. You’re there partly because you, unlike Charlie the Tuna, have “good taste” ie, The Right Stuff, in personal safety and self defense. Second, you’re not Dog the Bounty Hunter. Personally, I am not impressed by his kind, and would probably be the first to take appropriate measures against him should he appear on MY property. Keep Safe!

  13. Obamas comments on an AR ban really make me wonder about something. He says AK-47s should only be in the hands of the military..really? What militaries use the AK, ours sure as hell dont. In fact the AK is used in almost every communist military and basically by every military that America would ever face in a war. Just sort of amused me that the first military or military weapon he thinks of is our enemies. And that an AK wasnt even used in Colorado and Im just lost as why he brought that up. Plus I am having trouble with what is an assault rifle, is it just magazine capacity? They arent automatic so really isnt the consumer AR at its core a rifle with more mag capacity. Plus we dont even know how many rounds he got off with the AR before it jammed or how many were kidded or just injured with the 223 bullets. It would sort of hurt the AR ban if it wasnt the cause of most of the deaths before it jammed. And yeah he had 6000 rounds of ammo but he had 100 max in the ar, maybe 8 in the shotgun, maybe 40 in the handguns, they didnt mention reloading. So he had 6000 used a max of 148 but we know its less since the 100rd mag jammed. Seems to me he had 5800 wasted shells.

  14. Your right to self-defense is abdicated the moment you accept the terms of the business relationship by walking in the door without your firearm at an establishment which prohibits it. Businesses which do not support the full spectrum of my civil liberties do not get my money. If you do not exercise your rights, they atrophy and you lose them because people have lost awareness they they exist. If you carry, voice your will to your local business-owners. AZ is a Constitutional carry state, and I have a CCW, but I have begun sending these letters to owners (check the stats for yourself):

    “To Whom It May Concern:

    We stopped by your business, but, because I am a citizen respectful of others’ wishes, were unable to patronize it.

    Due to the sign at the entrance, I was conflicted between two choices: not offering you the opportunity to earn my business; or, abdicate protecting my loved-ones and myself by locking my protective equipment in my car. Since your business would probably not accept responsibility for the general safety of my family and me, or any liability for theft of, and subsequent crime commission using, my firearm, we reluctantly went to another establishment.

    Because 14 of every 100,000 citizens die in traffic accidents, we wear seatbelts as protection.
    Because 400 of every 100,000 citizens are victims of violent crimes, I wear a firearm as protection.

    We will be happy to stop by in the future to see if your policy on firearms has changed.

    Sincerely, your future patron,”

    Time to effect social change, before it is effected to us.

    JimB – Tucson

  15. Just to clarify… Here’s some evidence proving that Government False Flags do in fact happen and that the Aurora shooting is another False Flag I don’t believe in coincidences. Never forget that Israel is the ENEMY and NOT the ALLY… I also don’t believe the Government’s/LameStreamMedia’s versions either. Just hardcore documented facts and where all of the “coincidences” all point to is the centralization of power into the hands of fewer and fewer people. When will you wake up and stop trying to defend a Criminal Establishment that calls themselves Government?–A8

  16. Recall the third flight on 9-11, 2001. Let’s roll , damn men and women boys and girls a bull rush would have saved a great number of lives! My friend and mate was killed because the of the number of terrorist that bull rushed him. Think about doing the same! Overwhelm the bad guy with pure numbers coming at him and he will be placed into shock, then beat hell out them!

  17. Just to clarify, Active US military CANNOT deploy CONUS (Continental United States). Says so in the Constitution. National Guard troops are not active so that is a convenient loophole for natural disasters. As a GWOT veteran I can confidently say the military as a whole DOES NOT WANT the added duty of policing the country. Most of us would rather just shoot on sight than arrest.

    Great lessons from a “Navy SEAL” even though these tips could come from any fresh boot or FNG in the other services. They really are rules to live by and being vigilant. It is not just about having a tactical mindset, it is about common sense.

  18. Folks,

    Preaching among ourselves and validating each other’s opinions is a waste of time.

    There is a body of logic, rationale, and evidence out there which argues your case for your ‘Creator-endowed right to life’, and its first derivative, your right to use whatever means you choose to defend it. John Lott’s book More Guns, Less Crime is a good start on the analysis of data and statistics, but, short on the crucial arguments supporting the need for each person in a democracy to be equally empowered, free of duress or intimidation.

    I have written the NRA asking them to put together a reliably sourced and documented “arguments” packet for Second Ammendment advocates which contains a half-dozen quotes by our founding fathers, some basic fundamentals of the rationale behind an armed democracy, and some accurate data defending the record of the average gun owner, and accurately showing the connections between guns and crime. I.e. If you live in a crime-ridden area, you are more likely to go BUY a gun. Your “nudging and nagging” would help.

    JimB – Tucson

  19. Excellent advice and just plain pure common sense. I see calls from people for gun control and more protection by the theater owners, but whatever happened to people taking care of themselves and each other? I have served in the military and in law enforcement, and face it folks, the government simply cannot protect you even if they wanted to. The most totalitarian and heavy handed governments in the world cannot stamp out crime and terrorism. No government can . . . Period! All those kinds of governments do is completely destroy personal rights and liberty.

  20. “the Gun-Free-Zone Liability Act?” Now, that’s something we need to push in every state. Sure, you can ban guns in your theater, mall, grocery store, it’s your choice. But you’re also liable for any harm done. THAT should get some attention. Fat chance it gets by the left in politics. If I or anyone I care about had to live thru the Dark Kinght shooting, you can be damsure I’d have a pack of lawyers out for payback for their stupid, liberal ideas of ‘safety’. Now, they’re thinking, we’ll just hire more off duty cops, plain clothes guys, private security….pretty soon the tickets will be $50 a pop.

  21. for a super defence against getting rushed at 20feet when “carrying”, go to lahner tactical concepts youtubes: draw/shoot (pistol at unorthadox 45degree-cant; it works)/sidestepping several feet to right, have medium-sized sheath-knife for back-up; this guy is king of 0-5meters gun/knife/baton/cuffs

  22. JC, that law has been on the books, in the form of an executive order, since Bush.
    So, your claim that a law is going through congress is interesting. Interesting, as congress is currently republican dominated. Interesting, as the president doesn’t push bills through congress, congress introduces bills.
    Interesting, as it is illegal under the posse comitatus act, for the military to operate inside of the United States, save in the time of dire emergency (such as Katrina).

    That said, I DO think some legislation would cause an impact on the rampant violence in our nation. If we banned the possession of hands, violence would go down.
    Think about it for a moment. EVERY instance of violence that has caused significant injury or death involved the use of hands to hold a knife, firearm, bludgeon, etc. If hands were banned, there would be no violence!

    Seriously though, whenever someone goes off over gun control “saving us”, I simply re-word their argument, changing the mention of gun to religion or free speech. I also trot out our nation’s history to back up the claim.
    Suddenly, their point is turned against them and they decide that I can’t be convinced… Largely because, they’re irrational. :/
    Whenever ANYTHING horrible occurs, whether it is a mass shooting, drug related shooting, elder losing control of a vehicle, airplane crash, one must resist a knee jerk reaction to attempt to legislate the issue away. The reason is simple, the problem is far more complex than any particular law can address and the impact of a bad law is felt by the entire populace.
    We’ve long been a quick fix society. Always trying to find a quick fix. Never truly finding it, only ineffective quick fixes that address one part of a problem, then the problem is forgotten.
    Did the assault weapon ban have an impact on crime? Yep, it made the already illegal crimes illegal. That was it. Zero impact otherwise, other than to inconvenience the law abiding populace.
    That said, hanged if I can find a use for a 100 round magazine. But, that is for me. Others might find a legal use for it. To legislate away a right of the populace over the abuse by a minority is akin to outlawing hands. It might be effective, but you punish all and turn our nation into a shadow of itself.

  23. Great article. Aurora should be a wake up call for all of us. No amount of legislation will stop a determined individual from doing what they want. Each person is responsible for their own safety. it’s unrealistic to think that law enforcement will be everywhere at everytime. Learn how to defend yourself! The legal purchase of a firearm should be a top priority, training on how to use the firearm a close second. Enough of the irrational “gun control” debate, look at Chicago, DC and NYC, most restritive gun laws in the US, crime still occurs. Get smart folks-1 armed and trained citizen could possibly stop an incident before major loss of life occurs. I like those odds a heck of a lot better than the alternative.

  24. I couldn’t believe Bill O’s comments. He has turned lib. I too think magazines over 10 or 20 rounds are dangerous to civilians; but they don’t pull the trigger by themselves. I’m more afraid of new laws giving police and military the right to act with impunity and their bearing fully auto weapons.

    I pray for reason and sanity to be restored on earth under Christ! Guns are only a stop gap solution to man’s ills.

  25. O’Really is an idiot, he kept saying that Holmes bought 60,000 rounds of ammo, not 6,000 like the facts state. Quite a bit of difference there pal. I hate the way the MSM is allowed to keep pushing their obvious lies and yet there is no recourse out there to get them to stop. I for one, NEVER believe a word they say, but there are plenty of less informed people out there that do believe them. They hear the BS being spewed by idiots like O’Really and take it as the gospel. Whenever some voice of reason steps up to rebutt their trash talking, it always seems to be to a much smaller audience…

  26. I would add to Brandon’s recommendations about a tac flashlight: make sure your flashlight has a strobe feature. You can not just blind the perp, you can also disorient him/her. I carry a 700 lumen that that will knock your socks off.

  27. Hell yeah!!!! No it’s time to start stacking up on this new bill passed that gives the military the right to arrest and detain indefinitely anyone who they deem as a threat to the US, without the due process of law. We were so busy worrying about the gun confiscation that we didn’t even see the ultimate power play. This administration needs a huge awakening ladies and gentleman! November 2nd fu@& their sh$! Up! Obama the communist is going down, nuff said.

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