Our favorite action star starts taking fire, shouts “TAKE COVER!” as he dives behind a car door, or a sheet rock wall or some equivalent. As I watch this, I have to bite my tongue for the benefit of my wife.
Cover is a fundamental tactic. It is fundamental because of its importance to our safety and survival in a fight. Cover, however, is more than a hiding spot. Cover is only part “hiding”; but “hiding” can be broke down to two groups: Cover and Concealment. Let’s look at both of these.
Concealment is just that, concealing your presence. What it is not, is bullet proof or even resistant. Car doors, the walls in your house, glass, a couch, among countless other items are concealment and not likely to stop a bullet. This does not mean that you cannot seek out and go to concealment, sometimes it is all we have! There is an old saying that says: You can’t shoot what you can’t see. Now, that is in the context of you cannot take aim at something that you cannot see; however, that does not mean just because the bad guy can’t see you, does not mean that you cannot be struck by a lucky (or unlucky) round.
Cover, the reason we are here. Cover is usually also concealment, but not just. It will more than likely conceal your location, but it will also absorb rounds and not allow penetration. Concrete or block walls, large trees, steel and metal doors and walls, among numerous other items could be considered cover.
Now that we have an operating understanding of the difference of the two concepts, we can start to go outside the box. When we don’t have weapons, or we are in some other way unprepared to fight back, we run and/or hide. This is our natural response. Both cover and concealment are usually good for hiding, but cover of course is preferred. But, how can we use cover while engaging a threat?
We utilize cover to protect as much of our body as possible while exposing only that which is absolutely required to still engage. For example; using a heavy steel trashcan in a park for cover, we squat low and peek out the top or side. This keeps out torso and legs well protected, making you a smaller target and more difficult to hit. The same goes for a wall, you can even stand up and peek around the corner while keeping your torso and legs remain protected. Yes, our head and arms are exposed. There is no way to engage without this though. This is called a critical vulnerability; learn more about critical vulnerabilities by clicking the link.
If we are in a situation in which gunfire is being exchanged, seek cover! Get behind an engine block in a car, a concrete planter, block wall, etc. I say that understanding that is not always practical or even possible. If you are jumped on the street or carjacked, it is not necessarily practical to seek cover. You will have to engage without that luxury. When you find yourself in a situation in which you can get to cover, do so!
Another major tactical consideration is being able to see. If you are hiding, you are not likely to see where the bad guy is or what he is doing. If you are engaging the bad guy, and take full cover to reload or just get away from the bullets, you are taking your eyes off of the threat. In that time he may move and get a leg up on you, which is very bad. This was one of my main tactics when playing competition paintball. Lay down fire on a guy, make him hide, move to a flanking position. When he comes back up, I am not where I was and he catches paint in the side.
This is arguably the most simplistic tactical fundamental, as it goes with our natural response to a threat.; hiding. The complexity of it comes in when we try to distinct cover from concealment. I have faith you will get a good grasp on it.
What can we learn?
Cover is very important in a gun fight. Begin to look for cover and concealment and distinguish the difference.
When you can, get to cover and utilize it!
Don’t just hide; be prepared to engage from cover.
Try and keep good tabs on the bad guy and what he is doing, if safe to do so.
This concept also works for knives, intermediate weapons, and so on.