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Cover vs. Concealment

Cover vs. Concealment

If you are ever in a position where you have to duck to avoid bullets whizzing by you — maybe a home invasion or active shooter at your place of employment or in a public place — escape if it is safe to do so. If fleeing is not an option, you need to quickly find concealment and cover. While both concealment and cover are important, knowing the difference between these methods is critical to your survival.

By maneuvering around barricades and concealment, you are training with determination to take your shooting skills to a higher level — for competition or survival.

If you are ever in a position where you have to duck to avoid bullets whizzing by you — maybe a home invasion or active shooter at your place of employment or in a public place — escape if it is safe to do so. If fleeing is not an option, you need to quickly find concealment and cover. While both concealment and cover are important, knowing the difference between these methods is critical to your survival.

Concealment

Concealment “conceals” you from view. Good concealment will allow you to observe your threat without being able to be seen yourself. Elements like thick bushes, shadows, fabric, closed window blinds, closed doors, and non-reflective surfaces are good options for concealment.

Avoid placing yourself in high contrast with your surroundings. For example, if you’re wearing dark clothes and your back is against a lightly colored wall or vice versa then you will be extremely visible.

Use buildings to limit your threat’s field of fire. When possible, avoid long, narrow corridors and exposed open ground. Stay close along the edges of buildings, using cars and hedgerows, and any other features of the landscape to make your way out of the active shooting environment.

In summary, concealment will not stop a bullet and conceals you from view. Examples include walls, furniture, doors, bushes, and shadows.

Cover

Cover will stop a bullet fired from handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Good cover will prevent a bullet from reaching you. Steel, concrete, water, packed earth, and thick wood are resources for cover. At work large items like the copy machine or refrigerated vending machines would be good places to seek cover. Vehicles would be suitable for cover if you can position yourself behind the parts that maximize your protection, such as behind the engine block and wheels.

In your home a refrigerator will stop most calibers, but it is extremely difficult to get behind it in a moment of crisis. Other options that may be in your house include: a safe, freezer full of frozen items, steel door, brick fireplace, or concrete walls.

In summary, cover will stop a bullet and shelters you from gunfire. Examples are bricks, rocks, steel, and large engines or appliances.

Safe Room

If you don’t have an option for cover in your home, make a plan. Create a “safe room” where your family can meet and be as protected as possible. This will probably double as a reinforced room for storms or other types of emergencies as well. A bathroom with a cast iron bathtub is an option, or the designated room that has your “safe direction” for dry-fire drills, such as a brick fireplace or packed bookcases.

Stock your safe room with items you will need in an emergency:

  • Phone and contact numbers
  • Firearm, ammo, or other weapon
  • Trauma kit and Boo-boo kit
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Food and water

Hopefully you will not need any of these items, but it is better to have them and not need them, than it is to need them and not have them.
Review “what-if?” scenarios and plan accordingly. Identify tasks for everyone: who will use the firearm, who will call 911, and who will assist children or others who need help? You may not have the ideal set-up, but perhaps you can make something work at least until help can arrive. Being prepared – even if it isn’t the perfect plan – will go a lot farther in helping you improvise and survive than not being prepared at all.

Safety Rules

When you are hiding, mute anything that is reflective on your person. This includes:

  • Cell phones
  • Sunglasses
  • Watches
  • Earrings
  • Buckles (Shoes, bags, belts, etc.)
  • Reflective jackets
  • Reflective athletic shoes

Use caution when moving through buildings. Buildings can provide concealment or cover, but navigating can be difficult because of:

  • Limited entry and exit points
  • Limited time to identify friend/foe
  • Tight restrictions on rooms/hallways
  • Vulnerability in movement between buildings

If the bad guy has a direct line of sight on you, reduce motion to a minimum. Do not wave your arms, call for others, or make any fast, erratic movements.

Competition

IDPA defines “concealment” as the shooting vest or shirt that is worn to conceal the firearm prior to the beep. “Cover” is keeping 50% of your upper torso and all of your lower body behind the wall, barricade, or prop considered as hard cover.

In a competition stage, reality is suspended a little. A tarp hung up to act as a barrier would technically be concealment and therefore not be the place to engage targets from; however, for the purpose of the game, it is designated as cover and used to shield yourself from those targets.

Everyday Safety

How do you determine what is cover and what is concealment? Sometimes it just comes down to common sense. Knowing that, at the mall for example, the main pillars supporting the building make for good cover because they are solid concrete.

Other items like a couches and car doors are concealment. In an office setting, walls and cubicles are also concealment. These will not stop bullets from passing through.

As you go about your everyday life, make sure you look around and assess where you would go if a gunfight were to break out. Where are your options for concealment? What are your options for cover? Where are reinforced walls or engine blocks, and how quickly can you get behind them?

About Robyn Sandoval

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