Armed Movement in Crowds Part 2
Part One of the Active movement Crowds article discussed scenarios in which the ability to skillfully move within an area in which a significant number of persons are present during an Active Shooter event is important, as well as the actions that may need to be taken. Whether engagement or disengagement is the objective, concealed carriers should be mentally prepared and able to rapidly access handgun in order to deal with threats. Do I draw or not? The correct choice is based upon the totality of the circumstances, as I need to be concerned about being inadvertently engaged by uniformed, plainclothes, or off-duty law enforcement officers, private security officers, and other concealed carriers.
There are multiple ready positions applicable to armed movement in crowds, including the following:
- Strong-hand grip on holstered handgun (if done under a closed garment the handgun itself may remain largely out of view of others).
- Covertly drawing the handgun and hiding it behind your dominant side rear pocket.
- The Shivworks Position Two ready position. The handgun is drawn and remains in the dominant hand. The inside of the forearm is pinned to the torso, the wrist remains straight, and the elbow is raised as high as possible. This tends to keep the muzzle aimed downwards at 45-degree angle. By using multiple index points the concealed carrier always knows what direction the muzzle is pointed, and in the event of an actual physical collision with the Shooter in a crowd in which the concealed carrier becomes entangled with the Shooter it is actually possible to shoot downward into the Shooter’s pelvis and upper things from this position.
- The Guarded Shivworks Position Two ready position. The only difference is that the concealed carrier raises his or her support arm horizontally to throat level, places the web between the thumb and forefinger on his or her collarbone right below the throat, and leads with the tip of the elbow. The primary purpose of this position is to protect the handgun from being readily grabbed by others.
- Position Sul. This position keeps the handgun close to the torso and is achieved by placing the support hand flat on the lower chest and resting the strong hand on top of the support hand while maintaining a firing grip on the handgun. Done correctly, the muzzle of the handgun is pointed straight down towards the floor and slightly in front of the feet.
- Low Ready. There are two versions of the low ready, one of which calls for the arms to be extended and one in which the arms are retracted. Either version calls for the muzzle to be depressed and pointing to the ground.
- High Ready. This position work well when the concealed carrier is around small children or seated persons. This is the default ready position of choice recommended by some instructors whose opinion that I respect. There are several versions of High Ready based upon the principles of pressing the inside of the upper arm against the torso, bending the elbows, and the elevating the muzzle.
Concealed carriers can cycle back and forth between ready positions as needed. The objective is to never let the muzzle cover, momentarily or otherwise, anything or anybody that we are not willing to shoot while drawing, moving with, or re-holstering the handgun. Not only do people come in all heights from toddlers to professional basketball players, they can be found at all heights. Some churches have second floor balconies. Large malls are often designed so that bottom floor is open in some areas to second and third floors.
Reasons other than safety for not muzzling include causing others to believe that we might be an Active Shooter and accosted or even fired upon by law enforcement or other concealed carriers. It is entirely possible that we could be charged with a crime if we cause others to fear for their safety without good cause. We may not get a pass because we are the “good guy”.
Armed movement in crowds might take the form of a brisk walk, jog, “combat glide”, or outright dash dependent upon the circumstances and its exigences. The combat glide (or variations of the same) is primarily used for moving as quickly as one can see, process, and respond to an immediate threat. This is the same movement seen on documentaries showing SWAT teams or military operators making dynamic entries in residences or structures. The dash is exactly what it sounds like and used to move through more open areas at high speed where the chances of immediate contact are fairly low.
Concealed carriers should be fully aware that there are multiple problems associated with armed movement in crowds that don’t always get attention:
- Chaos, confusion, and ambiguity may make identification of the type and location of the threat difficult.
- Directions of crowd movement may impede or prevent movement by the concealed carrier in the direction he or she wishes to go. If possible, consider moving perpendicular to the movement of the crowd.
- Density of crowd will likely affect the movement of the crowd. While movement in less dense crowds is likely to be easier, concealed carriers should be aware of parties running at full speed without regard as to whether they run into and knock others down.
- Movement in choke points such as hallways, doorways, and even placement of large objects can impede movement.
- Danger is not over until law enforcement has control of the scene. Our body language when encountering them is important. Always holster the handgun as soon as possible and be prepared to lay it down or even drop it if necessary and step away.
By this time, the message should be clear. There is much that can go wrong if we are not fully prepared to safely and effectively move through crowds. Like most things, we can’t address a deficit in our game if we aren’t aware of its presence. There is also much to go right if we have a reasonable understanding of what challenges that we might face, get some training from qualified instructors, and then have pre-loaded responses already in place that might only require some tweaking on the go as opposed to no plan at all.
Steve is a long-time defensive weapons instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (www.ptgtrainingllc.com).