This article was originally published by Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper
Of a tragic necessity, we’ve all read articles and watched videos about surviving an active shooter terror situation. But an entirely different set of rules apply when it comes to surviving a sniper attack.
The thing with an event like the one in Las Vegas is that a great deal of your survival depends on nothing but luck. If you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, skills won’t necessarily save you.
The Las Vegas shooting was different than many previous mass shootings because the culprit was not right down there in the thick of things, as in the Pulse nightclub shooting. He was a sniper, 400 yards away from his target of 22,000 people attending a concert.
This situation was different from other mass shootings due to the distance. The standard advice of run, hide, or fight was completely useless. People had no idea where the shots were coming from, which meant they didn’t know where to run. Hiding is not easy in a wide open space that is similar to a giant parking lot without the cars. And finally, you can’t fight an enemy that far away – even if you were a concealed carry holder, your carry firearm won’t shoot far enough, and identifying the threat from that distance while everyone is panicking would be all but impossible.
As well, because of this distance, none of the evasion techniques like running in a zig-zag pattern or getting down were likely to make a huge difference to a person so far away whose apparent goal was only to hurt or kill as many people as possible. He was not aiming at specific people from that distance. He was firing at a general area. Here is a photo of the shooter’s view, from the window of his room to the concert area.
As you can see, the target was a general area, not specific individuals.
This is a report from the Washington Post that quotes people who were there. You’ll see how this information is applicable when you read the tips below.
The typical advice for reacting to an active shooter — ‘run, hide or fight’ — was rendered moot, as many in the packed crowd could not easily run or hide, nor were they able to fight back at someone firing from so far away.”
In video footage, concertgoers can be seen screaming and running for cover — though they did not immediately know from what. “We thought it was fireworks at first or trouble with the speakers,” said Kayla Ritchie, 21. “[Then] everything went dark.”
It wasn’t until [singer Jason] Aldean fled the stage and the lights came on that 21-year-old Taylor Benge said herealized that “about five feet to the left of me, there was a man with a bullet wound to his chin.” “He was just lifeless on the ground,” Benge said.
— “Outside, The Strip, always a blizzard of dazzling lights and honking horns, almost instantly turned into a frenzied hive of pulsing police lights and sirens,”Michael Lyle, Heather Long and Marc Fisher report. “People fled every which way, many taking cellphone video of their run to safety. [Former minor league baseball player Todd Blyleven, who traveled from Dallas for the concert with his wife and friends], helped carry out the lifeless body of a young woman. He saw a police officer who looked like he had taken a bullet in the neck. ‘Young girls and guys, older folks, just people walking out of a country concert with bullet holes,’ Blyleven said.”
— “Aldean was barely five measures into ‘When She Says Baby,’ when the shots started,”Avi Selk and Amy B Wang report. “’Is that gunfire?’ [Singer Jason] Owen remembered thinking[.] The gunfire continued, steady against the beat of the song … Shot after shot, faster and faster. Aldean sprinted off the stage. Owen ran, too. So did other singers, workers and all the thousands of spectators — fleeing and screaming, falling and dying.”
— A fire alarm triggered by gun smoke let first responders zero in on the shooter’s location. SWAT team members then used explosives to get inside, where they found [Paddock] dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. “We believe the individual killed himself prior to our entry,” the sheriff said. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
— “I realized people were dying”: Photographer David Becker spoke to The Post’s photo editor MaryAnne Golon about witnessing the attack and capturing some of the most haunting images from the night: “ It had been so dark outside I couldn’t see the details. I just saw a lot of people laying on the ground thinking they were playing possum, but now I could see people covered in blood and I thought, this is real. When I saw the image of the woman lying on the ground covered in blood, that was when the impact of what I was experiencing hit — when I realized people were dying.”
How do you survive a sniper attack?
A sniper attack is very different from any other kind of mass shooting, so the rules for surviving those attacks don’t apply here. This is what I learned when researching a horror scenario like the Las Vegas massacre.
Know what gunfire sounds like.
A lot of people who were interviewed said that when they first heard the shots, they didn’t realize what it was. They thought it was fireworks. There were precious seconds when people were frozen targets while they tried to wrap their brains around what was actually happening. During an event like this, a pause of a few seconds could mean the difference between life and death. The faster you take action the more likely you are to survive.
Always have a plan.
We can’t foresee all eventualities, like this one, for example, but it helps to always have a survival mindset. It has long been a game with my kids (yeah, we’re a strange family) to identify exits and potential weapons if we sit down to eat at a restaurant or go to the movies. Knowing where to go without having to look for it in the heat of the moment will save time that could be spent acting. After this incident, I’m adding to that the search for places we could take cover in an emergency.
Understand the difference between cover vs. concealment.
Every NRA course I’ve ever taken discusses the difference between cover and concealment, because in many cases when you are forced to use your own firearm, there’s another person who is ready and willing to shoot back. Concealment is enough to hide you but not enough to protect you from bullets. Cover is something sturdy enough to stop a bullet – a concrete structure like a road divider, the engine block of a car, a refrigerator, a steel door, a brick wall.
When watching the video playback of the Las Vegas shooting, many people were seeking concealment behind flimsy barriers, and that is not enough to protect yourself in a situation with a high-powered gun and a shooter spraying an area.
Separate from the crowd.
In a situation like this one, the shooter was trying to take down as many people as possible, so it was most likely he was aiming at the crowd instead of picking off people who moved away from the bulk of the group. One possible strategy would be, then, to get away from the crowd. You and the person/people you are with would be less alluring than a group of a hundred panicked people all huddled together where maximum harm could be achieved.
Don’t get down or play dead.
Lots of people crouched down and got as low as they could. In many situations, this would be the best bet, but not this one. The person was shooting from up high, aiming downward. Being still and crouching down wouldn’t do much to protect you from a person firing from this angle, nor would playing dead. Action is nearly always a better choice than inaction. As well, getting down would make it more likely that you’d be trampled by a panicked crowd of people trying to get away. Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell said that some of a “wide range” of injuries included people who were trampled by the panicked crowds.
Listen for reload.
In a situation like this, there will be pauses in the shooting when the person stops to either reload or change firearms. That is your opportunity to make a dash for the exits. Don’t wait too long to make your move, because it only takes an experienced gunman a few seconds to reload a familiar gun and then your chance is gone.
Do you have other suggestions?
I’m not an expert. I don’t have law enforcement experience or military experience. So, I spoke to someone far more experienced in this type of thing than I am. Scott Kelley is a former Counterintelligence Special Agent, US Army Chief Warrant Officer, and combat veteran, as well as the author of Graywolf Survival, and was kind enough to answer all my questions while I was researching this article. I incorporated many of his suggestions, but any mistakes are purely my own.
What about you? Do you have experience to add that might help people survive a sniper attack? Please comment with your suggestions and if you don’t mind, let us know a little bit about yourself.
Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.
Daisy Luther is the author of The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide To Whole Food on a Half Price Budget. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]
This is not the America of my youth and evil is upon our land. Stay the eff away from large crowds!!
“He was a sniper, 400 yards away from his target of 22,000 people attending a concert.”
I have long contended that the New World Order could be eliminated overnight and at 500 yards, in the event that a rogue government decided to cancel the 2nd Amendment and confiscate American guns and ammo.
Give them your ammo !!! 🙂
This is not a Sniper Attack. This is a point and spray the crowd area from a distance. From the shooting site to the crowd site was blocks, all he did was aim at the entire area. This is not sniper attack in any sense. This is spray and see. The ballistics would have to be as to zero in on windage conditions to hit any particular person running. Impossible when there were thousands of people. Snipers target specific persons. This was a random blasting from a distance to do the most damage.
This is an active shooter incident from a distance. Rat tat tat..
How to survive a sniper attack? Rule #1 – don’t be the first one shot. Rule #2 – if Rule #1 does not apply – determine direction shot came from. Any and all rules to follow based on original location and which way/where is safety the article is fine.
Stay away from crowds!
In the words of Ole Remus
I don’t how much junk yard shooting you have done, but I can tell you that while refrigerators are better than nothing, they are not cover when it comes to any significant caliber of handgun or rifle round or shotgun load.
As a kid I put lots of holes in junked refrigerators.
Refrigerators are largely a sheet metal wall sandwich around insulation with a lot of nothing but air inside the main boxes. The condenser fins on the back might absorb a little energy, but not much.
Refrigerators qualify as cover, just like car bodies, but that’s about all.
Right through, in and out,,,,
Miss Daisy…. maybe a cast-iron stove or the engine compartment on a car/truck would qualify as cover; but, a fridge? No. Not at all. Even a concrete block can be penetrated and the round still capable of your ruin post-exit from either an AR or AK platform.
duh…Refrigerators qualify as concealment, just car bodies, bu that’s about all.
a refrigerator will NOT stop a bullet.
Some people have said shots were fired from the 10th floor flashes seen and others shots from 4th floor.
4th floor was a strobe light from something else. You can clear see it in some of the news videos from 5am the next morning. It’s still flashing in a pulsed pattern just like it was in the videos of the actual shooting.
MHO, if you didn’t already have a escape route planned, while going into a crowd, then devising one on the run would be almost impossible. I experienced this last year at the 420 party in San Francisco. My friend wanted to go straight through the crowd, I refused. Looked around and planned a walk around. I then heard screaming and saw people rushing out from the center of the masses. Then looked and saw cover, fortunately my friend heard me yelling for him to retreat towards a building, otherwise he may have been trampled. I surveyed the area, planned escape routes, circled and sought routes around the building, only one side was open, the side we came in. Now knowing that there was only one exit, that’s where I stood. Chaos of people running, not sure if there was actually a gunman. Trust your gut, usually it’s right. I don’t go into crowds of people anymore, they’re to susceptible to being like a herd of cattle.
Maybe he was a Bernie supporter like the last guy.
Move fast….Run quickly….away from crowds….take cover if automatic firing….when paused (probably reloading)….Move fast….run quickly….away from crowds.
I’ve never liked the idea of being in a large crowd– could get trampled– Heard news of people being trampled to death during an emergency type situation– fire or whatever… guess this makes it doubly important to avoid large crowds…
Why I would be a good president: ” I CAN SEE RUSSIA FROM MY WINDOW!!” (Ha, ha!!…Bush no. 2)
Didn’t know you visited this site, Ms. Fey…..
Something seems very odd about this entire situation folks…I think we all know that. Someone is trying to pull some shit over on us yet again. The country is very disappointing.
Run zig zag formation.
Find something concrete to hide behind if you know the direction of fire.
Know your exits, stay away from crowds. Crowds are just bad news from a survival perspective. The chances of being pinned into a tight spot by a crowd is high. A panicked crowd has no intelligence and will trample over anyone, including children and the old.
Having trained as a sniper, there is a difference between somebody who just tries to pick people off and a professional. You do not want to be in the sights of a professional. This guy looks to have just sprayed the crowd. In that situation do not cluster and get out of range, or get behind a solid obstacle (concrete, steel plates etc. but not a car, road barrier, sign, etc.). Run but of course you are taking a risk if you can’t work out where the fire is coming from. You could be running back into range.
As said, learn the sounds. Know what is pyrotechnics and what is real gun fire. If you hear it, act. Don’t wait for the police – they won’t get there in time.
stay away from crowds!
don’t put yourself in an open area corral with 6ft fences and no exits.
or a building, stadium, convention center, etc.
the promoters of this type of concert need to re think how the show must go on.
to say “we’re not gonna let them stop us from having a good time, living our lives” and such is irresponsible.
Don’t keep putting your paying fans into harms way for Heaven’s sake!
3 to 5 second rushes. I’m up he sees me I’m down!Between each rush pick your next COVER and or Concealment. The 3 to 5 second rush does not,give the shooter time to acquire you as a target.Keep your powder dry and expect these attacks to come more frequently in the coming years.Also their is a crack to bang technique that Will give you the approximate distance to the shooter.When you hear the bullet crack start counting until you hear bang or muzzle blast.Each second equals 100 yards or meters distance.The more seconds the more distance.Anything more than 5 seconds could indicate a
a possible optics enabled sniper. This shooter was not a sniper but was firing at an area target for effect in a target rich environment. 11b all the way!
I carry (and have for probably 6 years), a 5mw green laser in my pocket at all times when I’m out in public. (Yeah, one of the REALLY friggin bright ones that will light a match up close). There are times when I legally cannot CCW when out and about, but if an active shooting begins close enough to me I know that I have at least the ability to temporarily blind the shooter. Yes, it draws a direct line from him to me if I do so, but it should also be just enough to disorient or actually blind the shooter to get a temporary cease-fire. The beam widens on these things pretty substantially the further from the source as well, so while a direct line, the distant end at 50-100 feet would almost obscure a person’s face (in other words blind both eyes). With any luck in an actual event, the philosophy is that if I could blind the shooter, he can’t find me and it could give others a chance to take them out while they are being lazed. It’s not perfect, but it beats the hell out of being a sitting duck and doing nothing, especially in those places where a firearm is not a possibility. Vegas was a good example of where this COULD have worked… There was NO WAY a cop was going to fire on that hotel from the ground for fear of collateral damage and just the ability to hit a window at that distance anyway (not without tactical weapons they wouldn’t anyway), but I guarantee you my pocket laser would have hit the target once located and possibly thrown the shooter’s game off or completely blinded him, given that it was at night to start with. Pick my theory apart guys…. I’m curious if I’m the only one that thinks it’s a viable option when a firearm is not.