(Watch) A well executed ambush – how do you survive one?

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An ambush, done right, is almost impossible to survive. So how can you improve your odds?


Principles of an ambush

Watch this video of an ambush done properly:

(Facebook isn’t letting me embed the video, so you have to click HERE to watch it.)

What do we notice?

  • Guy doing the shooting is calm and focused.
  • The guy getting shot is unaware of what is about to happen.
  • There’s minimal time to react.

Put another way: Speed, Aggression, Surprise.


So how do you survive something like this?

Let’s start with the fact that you don’t survive getting shot in the back of the head. And you definitely don’t survive the 2 insurance shots once you’re lying on the floor in your own blood.

So if you ask me “How do I survive this?”, I’d answer “Don’t get shot in the head.”

Which sounds obvious, stupid, and about as helpful as a third nipple growing out your left ear. So let’s dig deeper. How do you not get shot in the head?


How to avoid getting shot in the head

In order to not get shot in the head you either need to:

  • move out the way
  • shoot him first
  • not let him point the gun at you

All of the above have 1 thing in common: You need time to react, time to respond, time to make him respond to you.

You need time to cycle through your OODA loop.

  • Observe that there’s a man pulling a gun out his pants/with a gun in his hand
  • Orientate your thoughts around that fact (seeing a gun being pulled needs to over-ride you thinking about what groceries you need to buy)
  • Decide what course of action is best
  • Act on that decision

There’s only 1 thing I know that can buy you the time you need. And it’s the most un-sexy aspect of self defence. Because it’s so not tacticool, it’s also the aspect we let slip the most.


Situational awareness

The first aspect of situational awareness is the awareness. The decision-making cycle (OODA loop) starts with Observe. Well, you can’t observe someone trying to pull a gun to shoot you if you aren’t looking around to actually see the bastard. If you aren’t aware, then you won’t see.

The second part of situational awareness is the situational bit. You can try be aware of everything around you all the time, but being aware of the colour of the leaves on the tree next you won’t help you live through an ambush. You need to know what to look for.

“Awareness without knowledge is just paranoia.” This is why I write so many lists of short-cuts for seeing crime coming. What are the mental shortcuts (the heuristics) for spotting trouble before shit happens. That’s why I called this blog PRE defense.


What should I have seen coming in this ambush?

The waistline reach. Let’s go back through Southnarc’s 3+1 list of indicators that violence is about 1 second away from beginning:

  1. Facial grooming – sub-conscious touching of the face
  2. Witness check – looking around to see who’ll see what’s about to happen
  3. Weight shift – setting up his feet so it’s easier to generate power into a punch

Southnarc calls it a “3 + 1” because the above 3 signs add up to a warning. And because the “+1” on its own is all the warning you need or will get:

+1. Waistline grab – grabbing at, reaching for, or any kind of movement involving the waistline

People carry their weapons on their waists. Almost exclusively. BG’s don’t usually bother with shoulder holsters or ankle holsters. Or even holsters for that matter. The knife or gun is either in the pocket (if they’re not in too much of a rush), or it’s stuck into the pants. Anybody starts reaching for or furtively grabs at his waistline, you need to drop what you’re doing and start acting.

Oh, seen from behind, the waistline grab often shows itself as an elbow coming way up high. Unnaturally so.


These are the stakes

Next time you find yourself slipping, remember that these are the stakes when we let our situational awareness drop.

True, this was most likely a gang related, a taxi-violence related, or a politically-motivated hit (apparently it was a taxi boss getting shot). You’re less likely to be the target of a dedicated assassination. But use this video as motivation anyway.


Grey areas

Keep these things in mind because one day you may need to ambush someone. An ambush is a tool, to be used for good or for bad.

“What?!? I’m a Good GuyTM, why would I ever ambush someone?”

Because it’s safer. Ambushing someone is waaaaay safer that risking getting into a gunfight or knife fight.

Active shooter at the shopping mall? You can ambush him as sneakily and smoothly as possible. Or you can risk alerting him to your presence and give him a fighting chance to kill you.

Maybe there’s a home invasion/farm attack. Maybe you’re in a different room from your family & the BG’s. Or maybe you’re in the same room as them, but they’ve looked away from you. What’s safer than fighting for your family’s life? Straight up ambushing the BG’s and giving them no chance to fight back.

Assassinating the BG improves your family’s chances of living.


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