“Don’t Run in a Straight Line” and other Bad Advice
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Thread: “Don’t Run in a Straight Line” and other Bad Advice

  1. #1

    “Don’t Run in a Straight Line” and other Bad Advice

    by Greg Ellifritz
    When listening to experts describe how to flee from an attacker who is shooting, the most common statement heard is "Don't run in a straight line." Many people advocate running in a zig-zag pattern or running in a crouched position instead. A target that is small or that moves randomly will theoretically be more difficult to hit.
    A simple internet search find that zig-zag running is recommended by Wiki-sites, tactical "experts," martial artists, university police departments, and military instructors. Running in a crouched position is advocated by universities, self defense instructors, and survival experts. It is rare that you will find anyone who recommends running in a straight line away from the shooter.
    Despite all these recommendations, the idea that running in a zig-zag or crouch is better than running in a straight line is pure conjecture! There really isn't any documented evidence to suggest that any one technique is better than any other. The "experts" are just guessing!
    In a recent Active Shooter Response class I was teaching at the Tactical Defense Institute, I decided to create a test to see if there was any real difference between running in a straight line, running in a zig-zag pattern, and running in a crouched position. Using some Simunitions weapons (Glock 17 pistols that fire a type of paintball) and the students as test subjects, I attempted to simulate an active shooter event.
    For the full article: ?Don?t Run in a Straight Line? and other Bad Advice | Buckeye Firearms Association
    Although not completely conclusive, they do present some interesting facts to consider on a individual basis. IMO
    I'd rather be a Conservative Nutjob. Than a Liberal with NO Nuts & NO Job

  3. #2
    That's pretty interesting. No question that situational awareness at all times and in all places is your best bet to surviving any situation. Knowing where exits are and where cover can be found is the first step and if you do that before any shots are fired you are one step ahead of the herd. If possible you can combine the speed of running straight with the zig-zag to give you the best chance. In other words if possible don't run directly away from a shooter but run away at an angle. This way you have more of your side exposed including arms and legs and you still have all the speed you are capable of. I know it is easier said than done and you may not always be able to tell who is actually shooting if there is a large crowd.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    At 7-10 yards, acquiring your target and shooting it, even if it is moving, I would think should be higher than 50-55%. Did you notice whether most of the people missed one shot, or if half of the people completely missed and the other half got both shots on? If the latter is the case, then the experimental data isn't about how they ran, it's about how good the shooters are.

    In general, I like the experiment and would love to hear more about this. I'm looking forward to you doing more studies and sharing. Thank you for this dogshawred
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."
    ~ Benjamin Franklin (maybe)

  5. #4
    Wow! What I got out of that was if someone's shooting at you, you'd best be shooting back, not running!
    Lewis - NRA Life - Oregon Firearms Federation - National Assoc. for Gun Rights

    Gun control is NOT about guns, it's about CONTROL.

  6. #5
    Good article with some good food for thought. Good post!

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by K7lvo View Post
    Wow! What I got out of that was if someone's shooting at you, you'd best be shooting back, not running!
    That's called cover by fire, and it works!

  8. #7
    Excellent! Thanks. Lot to think about. I'm a straight Lin or shoot back guy. Unless the BG is pretty good I'll take my chances with my weapon (course how do you know?
    Typos are for the entertainment of the reader. Don't let it go to your head!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    South Carolina/Charleston
    Always the "what if", which, when mentioned, cannot be discredited. Straight line, zig zag line, crawl on your belly for all I care---Situational awareness is still the numero uno self defense mechanism. There is very little reason for anyone to be at a point where the closeness of realizing imminent danger and the evasion from same is necessary. Crimps your style because you wanted to go to that club at midnight in a seedy area of town? Needed cash at the ATM at midnight? Not me--never me. "What ifs?" Not me--never me. 72 years of never. Please do not reply with your "what if"--I have no answer for you other than to shake my head.

  10. #9

    “Don’t Run in a Straight Line” and other Bad Advice

    I would say running in a straight line away from your attacker is inherently a bad idea especially if you know you're the specific target. I would much rather run in straight lines between cover, working my way away from him. If you're only 7-10 feet away from him though and you have no cover and no weapon, you're pretty much screwed if he's ever shot a gun before.

  11. #10
    I would contend that gunfights are a mathematical equation of time and distance. The only problem being, you never know the digits of the equation until its too late. Time and distance in a fight are your friend. John Boyd's OODA loop theory proves this.
    Now that said, why would anyone move straight forward or straight back in a fight? All it does is make you a larger or smaller target.
    One of the first things I think most tactical instructors teach, is getting off the line of attack. Another words. Make your attacker track you with his sights as oppose to just straight sighting.
    Just my humble opinion.

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