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Active Shooter 101

There is a huge misconception that Active Shooter Training should start in the martial arts studio, the gym or even at the gun range. These are all great tools and absolutely should be utilized, but only after you have fully gained an understanding on the dynamics of an active shooter plan, attack and recovery process. While reading this blog by Marko Galbreath, owner / instructor of T4Tactics, you’ll probably find some surprising information.

For instance, prior to starting any pro-active plan of attack (physical fighting, firearm training) you must have an understanding of your local laws and past active shooter attacks. What is the justifiable force you can use during an attack? When do you stop using force on the attacker? What are the multitude of dynamics and consequences if you use your firearm?

Lets look into how past attacks have unfolded.

Unrecognized threats, the developmental stages of the active shooter and the implementation of the attack have been missed in many previous attacks. 90% of active shooter attacks this country has experienced have had signals telegraphed by the attacker. Many times those signals were dismissed or edited out and the attack proceeds. “We” can stop many of these attacks by having a working Threat Assessment Team along with a known and practiced policy. We must be taught ways to be aware and look for anomalies.

To understand fully how to win in an active shooter attack, you must look at the winnings and failures of past attacks.

To win, you must first understand how you can lose.

No practical training can be set up to be as realistic as an active shooter attack. (This does not mean surprise active shooter drills are acceptable) Most training is advertised days and sometimes months in advance. You’ll never be able to simulate how you feel under the real deal. You absolutely must know how and what your brain and body will do medically when faced with such an unthinkable attack. So, back to the beginning, you can practice martial arts and with firearms all day long but until you fully understand the dynamics of past attacks; you’re wasting your time. You’ll probably freeze at 180 bpm like many others have done. Yes, you!

I’ve interviewed witnesses and investigators of a particular attack in Texas who saw a 58-year-old grandmother step up to the plate during an attack. She had almost zero life experience dealing with threats or aggressive behavior. During a horrific, calculated mass shooting event, she rose to the occasion, jumped up in a split second, and covered her grandson taking fatal gunfire, saving his life. On the flip side, I’ve interviewed a seasoned military combat veteran; defensive tactics and advanced firearms instructor freeze during an attack. This veteran missed four reloading opportunities to attack the active shooter. He froze. Another was a seasoned police officer that felt like stopping while approaching the gunfire due to the extreme percussion of the shotgun within closed quarters and the smell of gunpowder. He pushed forward and stopped the attacker. But remember, the thought to stop and run away was there and this was from a 30-year police veteran.

An active shooter attack is not over just because the bad guy has been neutralized. For many businesses it has only just begun. Injury, loss of life, family notifications, dealing with the media, police, and other first responders, the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys and of course, counseling, and loss of business. You absolutely must have a business plan and policy for dealing with this recognized hazard. These are events, that with the proper training can many times be avoided, controlled or contained reducing injury and saving lives.

Active shooter attacks are created to place the victims into submissive behavior. I clearly understand this from interviewing victims, witnesses and law enforcement involved in past attacks. Be careful and cautious from obtaining active shooter training from someone that has sat through a “train-the-trainer” 16-hour class. Be careful of someone that has just read books or done research on the Internet. There are many false and unqualified instructors out there trying to financially capitalize on these events. These “instructors” can actually place your business, employees in harms way. Sure many of them mean well, but the career and life experience is just not there. Choose your trainer wisely. If they focus primarilyon “run, hide, fight” or “avoid, deny, defend”, you may want to seek training elsewhere. It may be the difference between life and death.

After you have a full scholarly understanding of past attacks, then choose your line of defense. Research your martial arts / self-defense trainer and review their background. Take the time to research who will be your firearms / concealed carry permit instructor. Biggest goal is to make sure you are not just trading money for a colored belt or a certificate. There is too much at hand. Please do it right.

Remember, it takes a lot to run towards gunfire. It’s not like the movies. Unless you’re extremely well trained, your best option in an active shooter attack is to have a Plan B and remove yourself from the threat immediately.

I travel the country presenting active shooter / workplace violence to churches, facilities, educational institutions and businesses. In 2018 I presented in 12 states and to just over 8,500 individuals. Facility reviews for a harder target, active shooter presentation to employees, setting up your threat assessment team and reviewing policy, HR and management responsibilities.

I don’t present by fear or paranoia but by delivering a product that will give the attendee the education, confidence and ability to recognize a threat or if that fails, survive!

For more please see my website at, subscribe to our podcast at – T4tactics is also on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Be safe everyone and remember, reduce injury and save lives.

Marko Galbreath

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