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Losing Your Target

Cover and concealment are effective ways to defend yourself against an attacker. But they both create a massive advantage for your enemy, if you end-up losing sight of your target…


Very few techniques can save your life like cover or concealment. In a gun fight, cover like a brick wall or barricade could prevent you from being shot. But cover does not guarantee safety. A couch or desk will not stop bullets. Concealment or hiding in a structure like a room or building in most cases is preferable because it conceals you altogether, but also may not deter bullets. bedroom walls and car doors do not stop bullets.

Effective cover should block bullets. But it is likely when taking cover your attacker knows where you are. Concealment provides an additional layer of protection in that the attacker may temporarily or permanently lose sight of you. And that is the advantage you gain. An attacker cannot easily kill what he cannot see.

But both of these techniques also encourage you to lose the advantage of knowing where the attack is coming from. Hiding under a desk may seem like the proper response, but now you are just a sitting duck.


In the defensive world, the X is where you stand in the moment a gun fight begins. It is where your attacker is bound to fire, where he knows you were last seen. In a parking lot, getting off the X may be as easy as taking a side step To the left. This forces your attacker to adjust his aim. Stepping to the left - or moving yourself to the right of the attacker - is actually preferred since most righty shooters hit low and left, especially if they have poor trigger control.

But in a situation where you have cover like multiple cars, it is even more critical that you use it to your advantage. Scurrying behind a vehicle may cause the bad guy to lose sight of you for a moment, but if he is in a life or death situation, perps usually have no exit plan, he will find you, and kill you.

To the extent possible, you must maintain awareness at all times where your attacker is at throughout the gun fight. Yes, this does place you in harm’s way, but aren’t you already in a gun fight?


Whether you are behind cover or fully concealed, there is one simple technique you can employ to prevent losing sight of the bad guy and preparing yourself for his next attack: the Snapshot.

Picture yourself crouching by the side of a car. You can’t see through the windows, so the attacker can’t see you. But you now can’t see the attacker either. You have two angles to protect, and they are 180 degrees apart. Toward the front of the car, which has a lower profile, and the back which will likely obscure the attacker’s approach until they fully reveal themselves. You literally have less than a 50/50 chance of survival. If you stay on your feet, you are at least not dead in the water.

Now quickly take a snapshot of his location by popping your head up. You cannot do this fast enough. Unless there are a lot of distracting elements in the background, the image of the attacker should be burned into your memory like a photo. If you didn’t see him, look again. Then move off the X a few feet.

Of course you likely reveal your position as well, but that’s ok. You dramatically reduce the chances you will be surprised and have nowhere to go if he appears around the corner. And when you move off the X you regain the advantage.

If the attacker is not gunned-up, meaning he is not pointing his weapon at you, stay on him and don’t return to cover immediately. It takes longer to present a gun, aim, and shoot accurately than it does to return to cover.


During a gun fight, it is critical you remain at least in a high-ready position, meaning your arms are slightly compressed and the gun is pointing toward the enemy. I have seen countless videos where competent, trained shooters drop their ready position in an effort to maintain better cover. This is simply a huge mistake.

Working and shooting around cover is a challenge to the trained shooter. It is difficult to maintain effective cover with both arms fully extended in a normal shooting position. Shooting around corners and barricades requires a different “ready” approach.

Maintaining the high-ready will reduce your reaction time. Imagine a defender who drops his ready position to his waist or takes both hands off his gun. At this point, the chances of effectively responding to an attacker suddenly coming into view diminishes greatly. Accuracy will suffer. If the attacker is aware you have a gun, the only thing stopping him is your reaction time and accuracy.


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