The Cobra-Defense Active Shooter Response Plan course by Chris Sutton and John Graden is a combination DVD and workbook that addresses what you can and should do for active shooter situations in schools, businesses or the home. These incidents happen worldwide, and I agree with Sutton and Graden that having a plan before you find yourself in one increases your odds of survival many times over. If you don’t have a plan for this kind of situation right now, or if you want to compare your plan to ensure you have your bases covered, the information in this course will help you become better prepared. I was provided a review copy of the course, and I enjoyed it and found information that will help me with my teaching and writing. Here is more about the program:
It is a short course, with basic information, logically presented in a manner easily understood and remembered. That’s important when the fear and adrenaline from a real situation hit you, and that is why the advice in this course to actually practice these things in your plan is so important.
The Active Shooter Response Plan Manual
The manual can be gone through pretty quickly, but be sure to take time to really understand what is being taught and practice some of the situations and what you would do. Chapters include: The Reality of the Situation, Proactive Versus Reactive, Understanding The Shooter’s State of Mind, What the Shooter Needs to be Successful, The Basics In Responding To An Active Shooter Critical Incident or Situation, How To Engage An Active Shooter, Additional Strategies During an Active Shooter Situation, What to do When the Police Arrive, and Considerations In Planning For An Active Shooter In Your Home. Appendix I through IV include: Active Shooter Behaviors and Events, Active Shooter Emergency Procedures, Facility Assessments, and Photos of Techniques. Again, this is a short manual, Appendix IV starts on page 59, so you can learn these concepts pretty quickly, but you must practice them so you really “know” them.
For most people, the concepts in Chapter 5: The Basics In Responding To An Active Shooter Critical Incident Or Situation, Chapter 6: How To Engage An Active Shooter, and Chapter 7: Additional Strategies During An Active Shooter Situation will be the most important to practice. Fortunately, the video portion of the course illustrates some of the ways you can practice these strategies.
The Active Shooter Response Plan DVD
The video portion of this program begins with Cobra Defense Founder, Chris Sutton, firing a simulated weapon at a group of students in his school to illustrate how fast multiple shots can happen and kill people, and how easily a weapon can be brought into a place. He then states that the first thing we must establish is that we can’t stop these incidences from happening. This is the same thing I often tell groups of people, we can’t stop bad guys, including active shooters, so we must take the measures to protect ourselves and stay safe.
Because we cannot stop them, all we can do is prepare and have a plan. Sutton then goes on to introduce the components of an Active Shooter Plan. These are the same components that are included in Chapter 5 and 6 of the manual, but you get to see them taught live and practiced. The concepts covered in the DVD include: Exit Awareness, Cover and Concealment, Moving Under Fire, Improvised Ballistic Protection, Windows of Opportunity, Engaging Under Fire, the 10 and 2 Rule, Loose Weapon Decision, Stacking and Distracting, and an Active Shooter Plan Recap and Review. The segments also include drills for these strategies.
The filming was done at Sutton’s school, with him teaching a live class of men, women, and younger students. While it is live, and has a bit of a home movie feel rather than a studio production, the instruction and sound are clear, and it has been edited to show just the essential information they wanted presented. The video is 51 minutes long.
The video also has a short two minute bonus segment on home invasion that goes along with the corresponding chapter of the manual. And it is this segment, and this chapter in the manual that I didn’t care much for. A tactic of having your kids and family members lay flat, and you shoot through doors or walls in an upwards direction to hit the bad guy while keeping other family members out of the line of fire doesn’t sit well with me. I understand the concept being taught and why, but maybe it is the old sniper school instructor part of me that just disagrees with pulling a trigger unless you are certain of where the bullet is going and of your target. I teach that you do not fire at anything you can’t see. (In the military when a person needed to lay suppressive fire, that was different, but that’s also why I liked carrying a sniper rifle and not a SAW or M60.) So out of the course, this is one tactic I would not practice or teach.
The Active Shooter Response Plan Course
With that said, this course does have a lot to offer. For individuals who want to develop an active shooter plan, just in case, this course can help you do just that and be prepared if something so terrible every happens to you. For those who instruct, as I do, this course provides not only some good information, but illustrates a way to teach to people and drills to have them practice. I always enjoy learning from others to make my own teaching better, and watching Sutton teach did just that. I picked up some things that will make me a better teacher on these topics, and I’m thankful for that, even if I don’t teach everything the same. The course doesn’t go much into tactics for engaging a shooter if you carry a concealed weapon, or if you are a law enforcement officer or first responder. There are other resources out there that address these more thoroughly. This course is more for the average person, not carrying a weapon, or those who teach such an audience.
If you want to be prepared for an active shooter incident, you need to learn and you need to practice. The authors admit that there is no “perfect” plan or anything that will work in every situation. But by learning the tools presented here, you will have a better chance because you’ll be better prepared. And preparation is key. The Cobra-Defense Active Shooter Response Plan course by Chris Sutton and John Graden can and will help you prepare, if you act upon the information presented. I honestly hope you never have to use any of the strategies or tactics taught in this course, or many of the courses I teach. But I do want you prepared just in case. So study, prepare and practice, and above all, Stay Safe.
This is a promotional video for the course with scenes from the DVD. It shows the location and kind of training Sutton provides in the DVD portion of the course: