We recently discussed active shooter type situations and I want to continue to build on that.  The reality is sometimes it’s a no-win situation and that’s something we should all be training for.  We should train for the worst day of our lives and hopefully when it happens it is nowhere near the level we trained for.  If we’re lucky, our preparations and training will have paid off.  However, the reality that we should always keep in the worst-case scenario box is that we will not win.  I want you and others to get comfortable with this beast and embrace it.  You’re going to be spending more time together than you may think.  When we understand and embrace the fear, it allows us to rationally respond.  In some moments, you will recognize the beast you’ve become comfortable with.

“You fight like you train.” – George S. Patton

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” – Norman Schwarzkopf

Now let’s take a different approach to this.  I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “climbing the ladder to success.”  Let’s change this up to say, “climbing the ladder to survival.”  You get to this ladder, and you climb up it, using the rungs on the ladder to better your situation.  If the situation dictates you stay on the ladder, you stay on it.  If you can’t stay on it, you want to be positioned to jump off the ladder and onto your enemy with speed, surprise, and violence of action to finish the fight.

In simple terms an unarmed man without body armor, has little chance of taking out a threat/aggressor that has both weapons and body armor.  The odds just go downhill fast from there if you’re lacking training or haven’t thought through the path you would take up the so-called ladder to survival.  Let’s take this by the numbers for a minute.

1. What is Happening

Assess the situation at hand.  What indicators do you have?  Do you hear gunfire?  Do you know what gunfire even sounds like vs a backfiring car?  Are people screaming?  Are alarms going off?  If you lack key indicators, you will likely be making decisions from assumptions or guessing and that’s something we want to avoid ever doing.  Some indicators could be rapid fire gunshots, or it could be the moment you see injured people and blood.  In the worst-case scenario, it could be the moment the attacker(s) come through the door or around a hallway.  Once you are certain there are actions taking place that warrant a response, you have started taking steps up your ladder to survival.   

2. Find Your Ladder If Possible

Now you should’ve already played the classic “what if” game or like a choose your own adventure book in your head.  If you did you should have a course of action (COA) in mind and taking action.  The ladder of survival could figuratively be right in front of your face as the attacker(s) rush into a store at the mall or meeting room at an office location where you are.  If that is the case, you may have reached as high as you’re going to be able to climb on your ladder.  So now it’s time to lay it down and make your stand for better or worse.  I don’t recommend you cower under your ladder of survival as that will do nothing to help you or others.  If you have advance indicators that something is about to go down, you have time to move/climb further up your ladder of survival. 

Here I’ll touch on getting to your ladder.  That ladder could mean climbing into the ceiling or it could mean locking/barricading the door.  Or it could mean running out the back door, emergency exit and call 911.  The point is you must get to your ladder and start climbing/positioning yourself for success now.  The rungs on the ladder are somewhat like the tools/wpns and actions you gather/collect along the way, but none of those things happen while you lean up against your ladder waiting for the threat/aggressor to bring the fight to you and or your family.  At this point, the threat/aggressor has initiated an attack/assault and you need to respond, or you could die in place on the “X”.  More than likely you will only have seconds to make your move and the rest of your life to question it.  Welcome to the fluid world of dynamic warfare.   

Things to consider:

Now this may sound cold, but I’m not going to sugar coat it because that only does you and others a disservice. 

  • Are you alone?
  • Do the people around you really matter to you?  This may sound harsh, but this is where you will decide if your coworkers, children, family members or strangers are worth your own life.  I highly recommend you do a deep dive into this.  Ask yourself the hard questions and look yourself in the mirror as you give this some serious thought.  If it is a stranger, do you care?  What if that stranger is a small child?  What if you run into a classroom on a school campus?  Are you willing to give your life for a stranger?  Maybe not, but are you willing to lay down your life for a stranger’s child?
  • Do you need to move?
  • Is the location you find yourself in secure?  Is there a place to make yourself and or others secure?
  • Do you have cover or concealment?  What about both?  Do you even know the difference between the two?  FYSA:  car doors are not cover; concrete is.
  • Are there any exits that you can get to that won’t require you to expose yourself to the threat/attacker(s)?

3. Climb Your Ladder

Now that we have reached our ladder, it is time to start climbing.  Remember every rung you grasp, pulls you closer to a better position or is a tool that will aid you in your follow-up actions.  Those actions could be building a barricade to make your last stand or even search for medical supplies and or improvised weapons.  The point is we are always improving our position at every stage possible. 

Things to consider:

  • Are you in the best possible place you can be till you decide to jump off your ladder?
  • Can you find items to better your situation?
  • Can you get to a better place/position/location with an acceptable risk?
  • If you have to make a stand here, what can you do to make your advantage greater?

4. Leaving Your Ladder

This is the final stage in the process.  You have either reached a safe position and are no longer in danger, or you have to face your attacker/aggressor.  If you are being rescued by police/first responders, here is some tips to keep yourself, family and others safe.  First, do not run towards them.  Advise others to stay calm, lay on the ground and expect that police/first responders have to secure the scene before they can take a friendlier demeanor towards you and others.  Keep in mind, this is not personal.  This is what needs to be done in order to protect themselves and those around you.  Remember that police/first responders are approaching this situation from an entirely different perspective.  They are responding to an unknown situation in most cases with numerous variables and have no idea who is who in the zoo or who are the friendlies and who are the bad guys.  As such, they have to check everyone for their own safety, as well as for the safety of others.

Here’s the hard part.  Let’s say you’re not being rescued, your unable to escape or evade and the attackers/aggressors are going to find you.  You need to prepare yourself for violence.  This includes both mentally and physically.  In general terms most people are averse to violence in our society.  This is a good thing in a peaceful society with rule of law.  Imagine how much worse our society would be if people were not wired in this way.  However, now is the time to flip the switch and put in some work.  You must be prepared and willing to use violence to protect and defend life and all that you love in this world. 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

-Edmund Burke

Remember you are about to literally fight for your life and or your loved ones against one or more aggressors that are fundamentally opposed to your survival and want to take your life.  This is where you spit on your hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.  Find anything you can use as a weapon and think outside the box.  There are no rules at this point. Position yourself to execute an ambush style attack if possible.  This is where you climb as high as you can on your ladder and prepare to win the fight!  The bottom-line here is just find an excuse to WIN!

Things to consider:

  • Improvised weapons
  • Ambush your attackers
  • Think outside the box
  • You have the rest of your life to win this fight.  Go Hard!

Everyone has a ladder to survival.  However, many are unaware till you point it out to them, and they know what to look for.  Times are getting more violent.  It may be time to get familiar with your own ladder to survival. 

Train for Life.


By:  Travis N. – Director of Operations at Bellevue Gun Club

Travis N. – LinkedIn

If you, your family or organization is interested in private or group training please contact us.

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