How To Survive Mass Shootings and Sniper Attacks

Mass shootings stoke panic, confusion, and ciaos among any crowd.

No only are you contending with whizzing bullets and echoing muzzle blast, hoards of people are scrambling to gain cover, trampling anything in their path.

During such an incident, one may wonder what to do if ever they got caught in the a similar scenario?

Quick Navigation

  1. Vegas Shooting Incident
  2. Las Vegas Attack vs Other Mass Shooting s
  3. Surviving A Sniper Attack
     A. Wear Clothes that Blend In
     B. Know The Sound Of Gunfire
     C. Have A Survivalist Plan
     D. Avoid The Crowd
     E. Take Advantage of Reloading Times
     F. Expect The Worst
  4. Oppourtunizing
  5. Mass Shooting Facs
  6. High Risk Areas
  7. Prepare For Mass Shooting

     A. Wear The Right Gear
     B. Learn First Aid
     C. ID Exits & Hiding Areas
     D. Be Alert
     E. Learn How To Barricade
     F. Bring Prepping Tools
  8. Survive A Mass Shooting
     A. Run & Escape
    B. Hide & Barricade
    C. Engaging with the Shooter
  9. When A School Shootings
  10. When Emergency Services
  11. Three Important Survival Points

The internet did a great job in spreading informative videos and articles on how to survive from an active shooter situation.

However, there are many kinds of terror attacks and each requires a different set of safety responses. Your game plan to survive in one may not work for the other scenario.

The Las Vegas Shooting Incident

survive sniper attack las vegas shooting

According to concertgoers who witnessed the shooting, it started out with gunshots. The firing went against the beat of the song and it became faster in succession. However, they couldn’t find where the shots were coming from. When it became obvious that the concert area with 22,000 people was the target, everyone started to panic.

In a video footage shared across different online platforms, concertgoers fled in panic without knowing what was happening.  At first, they thought it was a firework act gone wrong. Others assumed trouble with the sound system.

Jason Aldean fled the stage. Thousands ran everywhere while others took videos of their escape. Unfortunately, some spectators got shot and died before they knew what’s going on. A 21-year old survivor named Taylor shared that it wasn’t until the country singer left the stage that he realized that someone standing five feet away from him received a bullet in the chin.

The lively concert venue quickly turned into a manic hive with police sirens and flashing lights. Survivors even narrated how people fled from the venue with bullet holes in their bodies while others remain lifeless on the ground.

Although it was discovered that the shooting came from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Resort, it still took long for the police to zero in on the culprit’s hiding place. The distance measures around 400 yards away from the concert venue. If one correctly assumed that it’s a sniper spraying bullets from a building, it would take a lot of guessing before anyone can find out.

The fire alarm caused by the gunfire smoke gave away the location of the shooter. When the police arrived in the hotel room, they found a man dead due to a self-inflicted gun shot wound. The FBI believes that the shooter killed himself.

The Difference Between Vegas Attack & Other Mass Shootings

survive sniper attack mandalay bay resort

Compared to previous mass shootings, the Las Vegas incident is quite different. The shooter sprayed his bullets from a high-rise building – which is rare. Without any idea of the shooter’s location, his victims would fall in great confusion as to where they should go for safety.

The standard advice – to escape, hide, and fight – became useless. People did not know where to run, they do not know what to hide from, and they could not fight, considering the distance. Even if you had a firearm, a concealable handgun won’t shoot far and accurate enough.

Because of the bigger picture from the sniper’s point of view, the evasion technique of running in a zigzag pattern won’t make a difference. Also, the sniper wanted to kill as much people as possible. He aimed for the wave of people in a general area instead of a single target. Due to this, quickly getting out of the area appears as the safest option.

Surviving A Sniper Attack

A person who is informed about survival rules in a mass shooting may become discombobulated during a sniper attack. Since long range shooting is different than other kinds of shooting, the same knowledge won’t work here. This calls for another lesson on how to survive a horror scenario like the Las Vegas incident.

Wear Clothes That Don’t Grab Attention

In a sea of people, the ones that stand out gets noticed first. Unfortunately, this also works during a random sniper attack especially if the gun man does not care about race, gender, or appearance. As much as possible, keep a low profile and avoid wearing things that will draw a lot of attention.

sportsmans warehouse

Familiarize Yourself To The Sound Of Gunfire

survive sniper attack listen to gun fire

Survivors of the Las Vegas shooting confessed that they did not realize the gunshots when they first heard it. Most of them thought it was fireworks. It took priceless seconds for most people to figure out that they were being attacked. For a while, the audience of the music festival became frozen targets in this shooting spree.

Some concertgoers remained alive because of luck. They might have been watching from the safest area in the venue or the bullets were blocked by a few unfortunate people standing beside them. The sniper could have also aimed for an area with more people.

If you heard firing sounds but didn’t see any fireworks, there’s a chance that a shootout is happening nearby. Start looking around to see if something strange is taking place.

In the event of a sniper attack, you may see people dropping dead one by one. The first five seconds can provide an idea about what’s happening and what’s about to happen if they do not take any action. If lady luck kept you alive in the first seconds of the attack, help yourself, and do not freeze from where you stand.

The faster you move, the higher chance you’d get out alive.

Have A Survivalist Plan

Because things may go awry, always maintain a [easyazon_link identifier=”1516898761″ locale=”US” tag=”geesgu-20″]survival mindset[/easyazon_link]. Train yourself and your loved ones on how to identify potential weapons and possible escape routes in different places. For example, if you enter a restaurant, determine hiding places, escape routes, and the available tools you can use if you need to engage with an attacker.

You may start with choosing the safest spot. A survivalist in a restaurant would choose the seat next to a wall instead of eating in the most vulnerable area such as outdoors or beside the windows.

In the case of the Las Vegas incident, since no weapon can counter the sniper’s rifle and detect his location, you need to focus on finding the best place or direction that can shield you from the bullets.

Also, it’s best to get away as far as possible from the area because you don’t know exactly what’s going on. Terrorist attacks may start with shooting followed by bombings. It’s not enough that you got away from the sniper’s sight. Aim for the highest chance of safety.

Avoid The Crowd

survive sniper attack people run to avoid being shot


Shooting from a distance works easily if targets stick to each other. You can just spray bullets on a crowd without aiming and it would result to a high number of fatalities. But if your targets scatter, that’s where a sniper would exert extra effort.

Distance yourself from the crowd. And when you do, avoid catching the attention of the sniper. Hide behind walls but avoid running next to them. Continue moving to make it hard for the sniper to target you.

Some concertgoers reportedly crouched down. This may work in a lot of situations but during a sniper attack, it won’t do any good. The shooter aims from a higher ground thus the bullets’ just go downwards. Crouching down makes it easier for the sniper. Playing dead is not safe either.

Take Advantage of Reloading Times

survive sniper attack reloading

For a while, the shooting may stop as the sniper reloads or changes his firearm. This is everyone’s golden opportunity to those who are unsure of their hiding place to dash for the exits. Don’t wait for too long – an expert gunman can change or reload weapons in just a few seconds.

Expect The Worst Case Scenario

Thinking of the worst scenario will give you enough motivation to do your best to escape. If you consider the worst case scenario, you would head home immediately.

This saves you from deadlier events if the shooting incident only served as a prelude or disguise to a bigger terrorist move or invasion.

Sniper Attack: Make the Most of Each Second

survive sniper attack

Luck plays a huge role in surviving a sniper attack. For you to play the survival game, you should not end up as the first target.

Always keep a survival mindset wherever you go. With thousands of people in the venue, the chance of you receiving the first bullet is less than one percent.

Do not let a precious second go to waste. Flee the instant you realize what’s going on. A survivalist would quickly understand what’s happening in a few seconds and would take action to ensure his safety.

Facts About Mass Shooting

survive mass shooting death

A regular mass shooting does not happen often, but it’s more highly likely to take place than a sniper attack. First, it takes a lot of security breaches, research, money, and intel to get into a safe sniping post and obtain a good sniping rifle with enough bullets.

A mass shooting may sound like a general term. Depending on the state’s law, the act may fall under the terrorist act category.

For most states, an attempt or act of using violence, coercion, or sabotage; with the aim to impose an ideology, a concept of fear, or symbolism makes it an act of terrorism. If a mass shooting is not a terror attack, some groups believe that the right people can prevent it from happening.

Throughout the years, researchers embarked on a study of mass shooters in schools. They examined multiple incidents spanning three decades. Below is a list of facts that would help us understand better about an attacker’s behavior.

  • Most attackers did not show any hint or warning to their targets prior to the shootout.
  • Incidents of school attacks out of sudden impulse is highly rare.
  • Most attacks were stopped by intervention not made by the police force.
  • Prior to the attacks, most mass shooters had experience with a firearm or a weapon. Some of them are skilled.
  • Many attackers felt persecuted before the attack.
  • Many of them attempted to commit suicide.
  • Most attackers previously got involved with incidents related to physical and emotional issues.
  • Before the mass shooting, a few people knew about the attacker’s plan to commit violence. Many of them did not report to the police.

According to the Secret Service and the Department of Education (the source of the findings), the last two items in the list highlight further inquiry:

Ninety three percent of the attackers showed concerning behavior before the incidents. With proper observation mechanisms and a better way of sharing information, the attack could have been avoided.

In 81% of these attacks, some people had prior knowledge of what’s about to happen. Too bad, they did not speak up to the police for a variety of reasons.

These are some facts that other people (not only the police) can use to help stop mass shooting at its conceptualizing stages.

High Risk Areas for Shootings

survive mass shooting crowded places

The law enforcement refers to a person or people committing mass shooting as “active shooters”. These active shooters have two types of targets: a place where many people gather, or a business/organization which has a role/involvement in the life of the attacker.

Although this information appears too broad, this suggests that an event or venue you will visit could potentially be seen as a target. Mass shootings in the U.S. took place at the following:

  • Schools
  • National Parks
  • Shopping Malls
  • Offices
  • Airports
  • Movie Theaters
  • Concerts
  • Other public places full of people

Many of these places currently have tight security. But still, some persistent perpetrators can surprisingly breach such defenses just to fulfill their ultimate goal — to kill as many random people as possible before they get neutralized.

How To Prepare For a Mass Shooting

Not to instill fear to some readers, but no identifiable pattern could be derived out of the data from the authorities. So if you get stuck in a crowded place with less security personnel, just keep a survivalist mind, pay attention to your surroundings, and act fast. The following tips will help you if you find yourself in that dangerous situation.

Always Wear The Right Gear

survive mass shooting kick heels off


It’s always best to wear clothes and shoes that will allow movement if the need to flee arises. Apart from shooting, this also applies in the case of fires, earthquakes, and other disasters where you need to quickly leave an establishment or a dangerous area.

Keep a pair of prepper running shoes under your office desk or be prepared to ditch the high heels.

The best way to realize your vulnerability is to imagine how you will exit a burning high-rise building with the clothes you wear for work. What about the outfit you wear for parties?

Since they randomly shoot people, there is no pattern to follow and get ideas from. But if in case you need to run with other people from an active shooter, you wouldn’t want to wear a shirt with a huge print “shoot me” or a glowing shirt – while the rest are wearing black or gray.

Learn First Aid

first aid

First aid is one of the most important skills you should learn. This will come in handy if you get wounded while fleeing.

Remember to treat your own injuries first before assisting others. Educate yourself about different ways to stop bleeding. Moreover, always keep a modern tourniquet in your first aid kit.

Identify Emergency Exits and Hiding Areas

Take time to locate fire exits in your office building. Find out the shortest/quickest escape route depending on your location. Experts recommend to know at least two escape routes – in case your first option won’t be accessible.

Find a good area of concealment and cover. But first, know the difference between the two.

Finding concealment means searching for a hiding place to conceal you from the active shooter’s line of sight. On the other hand, cover is also a hiding place but prioritizes more on protecting yourself from bullets such as behind walls, steel bars, and other bullet-proof materials.

Remain Alert in a Shared Environment

Whether you are in an office or restaurant, stay alert. Be perceptive of the sound of gun fire and try to locate where it came from. This will give you enough lead time to flee before the active shooter arrives.

Learn How To Barricade

Identify which rooms have shockproof doors with multiple dead bolts. Just make sure you can still go out quickly because some mass shooters start fires out of frustration.

Moreover, rooms with furniture and sturdy materials for barricading serve as good hiding places.

Bring Prepper Gear

survive mass shooting tactical weapon

As much as possible, avoid the active shooter’s line of sight. But if worst comes to worst, you may end up hiding or engaging with the attacker. Some pocket-friendly tools may come in handy:

  • Whenever possible, conceal carry your own handgun.  It’s the most surefire way to neutralize a shooter.  Any other gear may be pointless and futile, but here are other gear that would be better than nothing…
  • A light-weight taser or stun gun – Remember to get as close as possible and stun the enemy with this tool. Once distracted, grab the gun or inflict a debilitating damage such as hitting the crotch, breaking the neck, or poking the eye with a sharp material.
  • Tactical pen – A good poking tool that is useful in many close quarter situations.
  • Tactical flashlight – Distract the enemy with a blinding flash and follow up with a critical hit. Take the chance to grab the gun or get close to him to avoid getting shot. The tactical flashlight itself serves as a good melee weapon. It would also be useful to find hiding spots in dark less know areas such as furnace, maintenance rooms, duct shafts.

How To Survive A Mass Shooting

survive mass shooting

Image: Campus Safety Magazine

Imagine a working day at the office where everyone’s trying to make an impression. You stand up to grab yourself a cup of coffee at the nearby lounge.

As you take a sip of your company’s premium espresso, you hear a loud bang. At first, it seemed like another pyrotechnic stunt, but it’s daylight!

You entertained the thought of an intruder who got past the security. A few seconds later, a rushing employee confirmed that a man with a firearm has infiltrated the building and started shooting anyone in sight.

Thoughts of fear and what ifs may bother you. However, this is not the right time to entertain them. Remind yourself of the standard rule when an active shooter wreaks havoc in your work environment: run, hide, or fight back. Take note that these options may also apply in other establishments and public areas such as shopping centers, restaurants, and more.

Run And Escape

survive mass shooting run


The best chance to survive a mass shooting is by running away from the location of the active shooter. Know where the attacker will come from and head the other way towards the fire exit or escape route.

React immediately. Stop any work you’re doing and leave your belongings. Kick off your heels and only think of escaping.

Run for the exits. You should prepare in advance by identifying all exits of the place. If you can’t find any during the attack, consider second story windows or windows you can break. Make sure that it won’t take a long time for the window glass to shatter. You can survive cuts from the broken glass or a broken leg due to a fall.

Maintain a safe distance. As much as possible, maintain distance from where the gunfire comes from. Avoid the shooter’s line of sight.

Hear the gun fire. You will hear the shots getting closer and closer if you stay at the same spot. Remember that 98% of active shooters do their attacks alone. As long as you can avoid him, you will remain safe.

Bring people with you. Tell other people to run. If someone’s distraught, shake her up, or drag her with you. Run with a group of people if possible. With numbers, it will be hard for the shooter to target you individually. Also, you can work together to take down the attacker if in case you run up against him.

Hiding and Barricading

barricade and survive mass shooting


It will only take a few seconds to know if it’s possible to run. If you need to get past the active shooter to reach the possible exit or if he is quickly approaching to your area, start to hide or barricade.

Find a good hiding place. The culprit will most likely chase anyone trying to escape. A massive shooter only cares about killing a lot of people. He will not spend time scouring every room just to kill an individual. But even so, give your best shot at hiding for better survival chances.

Turn off the lights. Once you decided to hide in a room, turn the lights off. This will give the impression that no one’s inside that room.

survive mass shooting hide

Image: San Diego Union Tribune

Keep your phone silent while hiding. Avoid making noises that can catch the attention of the active shooter. Call 911 and speak softly to the agent. You should not post anything to social media to avoid revealing sensitive and misleading information.

Lock the door and barricade. Some guys may decide not to barricade to commit to the disguise. However, it makes a safer choice to lock the room and barricade in the event that the attacker attempts to enter. As active shooters only have a few minutes to spend, they will likely give up and pursue other targets.

Find cover. Find a hiding place that also shields you from stray bullets. When the police arrive to neutralize the attacker, they will not hold back so make sure to take cover to keep yourself safe from the exchange.

Grab weapons while hiding. If worst comes to worst, you may need to engage with the active shooter. Use the element of surprise and attack him if he’s about to find you.

Ask others to keep silent and hidden. If you’re with some people in that same room, distribute the tasks. Ask someone to call 911 while others start barricading. Someone also needs to search for possible weapons.

survive mass shooting silent

Image: Rock Valley College

Play dead as a last resort. If you got no more cards up your sleeve, pretend to be one of the dead bodies. A great concealment would be lying beside your unfortunate co-workers.

However, mass shooters know this tactic and may likely shoot lying bodies just to make sure he killed all of them. This may work best if running or hiding is not possible and you got shot while trying to fight back.

Engaging with the Shooter

survive mass shooting fight

Image: San Diego Union Tribune

Fight the attacker just as a last resort. Don’t just jump over to the active shooter from a perfect hiding place. As much as possible, avoid engagement especially if you’re not trained in hand to hand combat. Let the police handle the firefight.

Do not try to persuade the attacker. There’s zero percent chance that an active shooter would change his mind and spare your life. This tactic is bound to fail. You got better odds with fighting.

Get a weapon. Prior to hiding, try to grab a weapon you can use such as a fire extinguisher,emergency ax, a Swiss army knife, or a gun from a dead security personnel.

Work with others to escape. If you’re with other people and can’t avoid the shooter, create confusion for the attacker. Make noises, shout, throw objects, and run from different directions to buy some seconds to run away or escape.

Work with others to fight. Using numbers is the best way to stay alive. Attack the shooter with everything you got. You can use scissors, fire extinguishers, chairs, and other materials you can find. Aim to steal the gun while others are trying to land a hit.

Close range combat. Get close to the attacker without him knowing and try to grab the firearm. Hit high to discombobulate the shooter. You can hit the head, eyes, nose, throat, or ears. Also, you can hit his crotch to extremely weaken his defense.

survive mass shooting commit to attack


Commit to the attack. When you attempt to make the first hit, do not hesitate. Give him everything you’ve got. More importantly, do not be afraid to kill the active shooter if that’s the only way you can stop him.

When A School Shooting Takes Place

The tips provided in the previous section of this article may also apply to a school shooting. The tips below include additional information relevant to a school shooting.

Report suspicious persons. Clues and information might have been revealed by the shooter days or weeks before the shooting incident.

If you’re a relative, a close friend, or a partner of someone who talked seriously about killing people, report this to a teacher or to the authorities.

According to studies, many perpetrators give hints or bluntly make announcements to show off. Don’t take this too lightly.

Communicate through radio. When a shooting takes place, inform everyone in the campus to escape or avoid the active shooter by announcing it to a nearby radio if you happen to run across one.

Be prepare to fight. It would help to sign up to a martial art class just in case you need to engage with the enemy. Knowing some tricks will make you feel confident in a close range combat if the need arises.

survive mass shooting martial arts

Image: Krav Maga Federation of America

Follow the lockdown procedure if applicable. Keep yourself aware about school protocol regarding this kind of event. However, not all school lockdown procedures may apply to a shooting.

When Emergency Services Arrive

When the law enforcement arrives, it does not mean you can go lax and assume that everything’s safe. Here are some things you need to remember.

Do not get out of your hiding area. Continue hiding behind a bullet-proof cover since a shoot out will likely commence between the police force and the active shooter.

Do not run to the responding policemen. The first law enforcement group to arrive in the area is the team who will locate and annihilate the active shooter. You will just get in their way. Stay in your hiding place and don’t come out. If you’re wounded, wait for the medic or rescuers to arrive.

Keep your hands up. If you managed to get out while the cops arrive, raise your hands and spread your fingers. This will tell that police that you are not a threat. Keep it visible.

survive mass shooting police arrives

Image: Vimeo

Inform the police of everything you know. Tell the officers about the active shooter’s location, his appearance, his weapons and other important things that will help them neutralize the attacker as quickly as possible.

Head to the direction where the police came from. Don’t get in the way just to ask questions about the safest way to get out. The SWAT team should remain focus on finding the culprit and neutralizing him. Go in the direction where the police entered since it’s most likely safe.

Follow the officers’ instructions. Do what the police asked you to do without argument.

Three Most Important Active Shooter Responses

Run, Hide, or Fight.

It should only take a few seconds to determine the most applicable active shooter response.

Assess the situation carefully and keep a survivalist mind for a higher chance of survival. Finally, always remember that the first five seconds in a mass shooting incident matters, so think and act fast.


  1. It is unfortunate that we have to have these conversations. However, this is a great article with with a lot of important tips to take into consideration. We used to think “this won’t happen to us”. As every day passes and more mass shootings happen, our mindset has changed. It seems like the odds of us being involved in something like this has increased ten fold.

    Thanks for your insight!

  2. The “How to Survive” section is pretty lame. Just shoot the perp between the eyes and be done with it. All that other nonsense likely just delays the inevitable.


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