How to Avoid Being Shot

Four Methods:When You Are Not the Direct TargetWhen You Are the Direct TargetIn Police ConfrontationsAvoiding the Situation

Once the trigger is pulled, it is nearly impossible to "dodge a bullet". It is way too fast for a human being. However, you can follow these steps to avoid getting shot at in the first place.

Method 1
When You Are Not the Direct Target

  1. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 1
    Leave the area if you can. If you are in a situation where other people are shooting each other or someone is shooting at people that aren't you, your main goal should be to get as far away as possible. If you see that you can reasonably get away, do that as soon as you hear shots. If you don't know where the shots are coming from but you know there is a secure room very near by, go there.[1]
  2. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 2
    Find cover. If you do not see a way to leave, then you will want to find cover. Get behind something that can stop bullets, preferably, like a car or other very solid object. Thin walls or a door is not enough, though it can keep a shooter from realizing you're there. Stay behind the cover, and if it is large enough get on the ground. Lying on the ground significantly reduces the likelihood of your getting shot.[2]
  3. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 3
    Leave your belongings. Do not stop to gather your belongings before fleeing an area. This can significantly impact the amount of time you have to get away and make a big difference in your ability to get away before the shooter realizes you're there. Just go. You're more important than your wallet.
  4. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 4
    Stay quiet. While taking cover or fleeing, be as quiet as possible. Breathe slowly and avoid crying. Alerting the shooter to your presence can put you in danger. Don't talk with people nearby or make phone calls. If you can, turn a phone on silent. Text if you want to get someone's help or attention.
  5. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 5
    Don't move. Once you are in cover, stay in cover. Do not move from one cover to another unless you absolutely have to. Staying put will also reduce the amount of noise you make and draw less attention to your presence.
  6. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 6
    Barricade yourself. If you can take cover in a single, secure room, be sure to barricade the entrances. Lock doors, move heavy pieces of furniture to block the doors, cover windows if you can, and turn off lights and anything which makes sounds. Stay quiet and move as little as possible.
  7. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 7
    Wait for help to arrive. Once you are in a relatively safe place, either barricaded or at least under cover, simply wait for help. This is the only thing you can do. Most shootings last less than three minutes, so while it may seem to last forever, you are unlikely to have to wait for help for very long.

Method 2
When You Are the Direct Target

  1. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 8
    Assess the situation. If someone is trying to shoot you specifically, you will first want to evaluate the situation. If you are being mugged, comply with everything the person is asking, following many of the instructions in the first section. If you are in a fight, your options are more limited.
  2. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 9
    Escape if you can. If you are being pursued, do what you can to get away. If you have been caught but see an opportunity to escape or distract the attacker, do that but only if your chances of getting away are fairly good. Turning your back on an attacker makes you easier to hit. As you escape, run in a random zig-zag pattern (this will make you harder to hit). If you can, create visual distractions for the attacker, such as spraying a fire extinguisher.
  3. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 10
    Take cover if you can. You may not be able to buy yourself enough time to get away completely, but getting yourself to cover can at least be helpful. Also, if you see that they are about to shoot, dive for cover if you can.
  4. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 11
    Try to find a weapon or distraction. During your confrontation, look for an object that can be used as a weapon. Heavy objects, especially ones with sharp corners, make good weapons, but if you have access to something a bit more potent, that is best.
  5. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 12
    Talk to the shooter. If you have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide and no other options, your best bet will be to talk to the shooter. Do not beg for your life or try to get him to feel sorry for you. Instead, sympathize with him and try to ask him what he wants. Offer to help him and ask him why he's doing what he's doing. This could buy you time until help arrives.
  6. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 13
    Get out of the way if they appear to be preparing to shoot. If they appear to want to shoot anyway, the best you can do is try to get out of the way. Moving at least increases the chances that you will be hit in a less important area, since it is very difficult to shoot accurately while moving.

Method 3
In Police Confrontations

  1. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 14
    Remove sunglasses or hats if you have not been seen. If you are stopped by police while you're in your car or otherwise have time before they get too close to you (such as before you go into an area known to be frequented by cops), take a second to remove your hat and sunglasses if you are wearing them. If the police are able to see your eyes, they will be much less nervous. However, if the police are already looking at you or next to you, this is inadvisable as the movement will make them nervous.
    • Again, you should only do this if you have not been seen. If you do this and the cop sees you, they may think you are going for a gun.
  2. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 15
    Make your hands very visible. Whether you're in a car or on the street, you need to make your hands very visible to the officer. If you're in a car, put them up on the windowsill. If you're on the street, hold them slightly up and out from your body. This will also reduce the officer's tension.
  3. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 16
    Move as little as possible. Do not reach for anything or move around any more than you absolutely have to. Certainly do not make any sudden movements, as this can be taken as a sign of reaching for a weapon.
  4. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 17
    Be very calm. Do not try to argue with the officer and don't let yourself be visibly angry. Even if you feel your rights are being violated, which they very well could be, don't take that up with them. Lawyer up when the confrontation is over and sue them, but absolutely do not get into a fight with them there.
  5. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 18
    Talk slowly and don't shout. Speak with officers slowly, calmly, and with an even tone (don't yell at them). This will help show that you are not hostile and will help keep them from panicking. Yes, the burden should be on them to keep their cool, but thinking about what you should've done isn't going to keep you from getting shot.
  6. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 19
    Do whatever you are asked. If they tell you to stop, stop. If they tell you to get out of the car, get out of the car. If they tell you to put your hands on the wall, put your hands on the wall. Like we said, the time for standing up for your rights is later, not now. All it takes is one overly stressed cop and you're dead.
  7. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 20
    Tell the officer what you are doing. Every time you do need to move, tell the officer what you're doing. Let them know why you're moving, where you're moving to, and make those movements slowly. Say these things to them calmly. This will, again, keep them from thinking you are reaching for a weapon.

Method 4
Avoiding the Situation

  1. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 21
    Stay in safe parts of town. Avoid areas that are high in crime and gun violence. Sometimes these areas are unavoidable, but stay inside as much as you can if you need to be in these areas.
  2. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 22
    Travel quickly through unsafe areas. If you must go outside in areas that are unsafe, go through those areas quickly, rather than hanging out on the street with friends or on your own. Avoid walking to places that you need to go to and instead take the bus or a car (a friend's car or your own).
  3. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 23
    Avoid going out at night. Crime rates go up at night, so avoid unsafe and even relatively safe areas once it gets dark. Really, nothing good ever happens at 2am. Just get inside and spend your evening safely.
  4. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 24
    Dress to avoid attention. Certain types of clothing will attract the notice of cops and suspicious neighbors. While you should be able to wear whatever you want, this doesn't do anything to change the reality. You'll also want to avoid wearing gang colors if you know you'll be going through gang territory. Dressing gangsta and wearing red in certain parts of LA, for example: not very smart.
  5. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 25
    Avoid drugs, gangs, and crime. Don't get in to drugs, don't get involved with gangs, and don't start a life of crime. In fact, don't even go anywhere near gangs if it can be helped, it's a myth that you need to murder a random person to become part of a gang, but that doesn't mean that it is a good idea to join one. Putting yourself in these dangerous situations will significantly increase the chances of you getting shot at.
  6. Image titled Avoid Being Shot Step 26
    Don't start trouble. A wise man once said, "Don't start none, ain't gonna be none". This means if you don't start trouble, you'll go a long way towards avoiding trouble. Stealing some guys stereo or sleeping with his girlfriend is just not a smart move. Avoid crazy dudes by just avoiding trouble.


  • If you have a cell phone, when hiding call the police, do not threaten your attacker with the fact that you have a cell phone. If he knows you have it, he'll want it.
  • Remember, these instructions are meant as suggestions, and are not intended to replace common sense, or be used in preference to instructions, orders, or aid from proper law enforcement authorities.
  • If your attacker is using a handgun, the more distance between you and the shooter, the better. Contrary to movies, handguns are extremely hard to fire with accuracy, and only skilled shooters can accurately hit targets at long ranges.
  • As you are hiding, you should pick up a rock or tool that could help you inflict damage upon the gunner when he approaches you.
  • Do whatever you need to do to increase your immediate chances of survival. If the gunman wants you to agree to some demand, do it! If he wants you to be quiet, do it! If he wants you to quack like a duck, do it! Do whatever he demands, and wait for your time to escape or be rescued. There is no point in dying because of pride.
  • If in a situation where you are speaking to the gunman, maintain direct eye contact. Making eye contact establishes personal contact between people. Pulling the trigger when looking into someone's eyes is a lot bigger personal commitment for the assailant than just shooting an unknowing person.
  • If your assailant is using a revolver at point blank range, remember that the cylinder must rotate before the shot will fire. So, if you manage to get a hand on the gun make sure you hold it such that the cylinder cannot rotate. Do this only when the gun is not already cocked. You can tell if the gun is cocked or not from the position of the hammer, which is located above the grip, behind the cylinder. If the hammer is up, it means the gun is not cocked.
  • If the person holding the gun hasn't shot you yet, try not to give them reason to do so. Pretend to agree with their demands. Pretend to sympathize with their troubles.
  • On most semi-automatic pistols, if the slide (the top part of the gun) is not resting in the forward position, the magazine is out of ammo and you are safe from them for a moment.
  • It is always better to risk dodging than getting shot.
  • It is a good idea to have some prior knowledge of guns, at least enough to identify what you are facing, max amount of bullets it could have in one magazine (a safe bet nowadays is 7-15), and their effectiveness. Most people who are shot die literally from giving up. It helps if you know you've only been shot by a 9mm Parabellum or .45 ACP.
  • Try to get in the habit of carrying some sort of self defense weapon, like a folding blade or boot knife, or a self defense pen.
  • Run away in a zigzag motion because it is harder to hit a moving target.
  • Common thugs and criminals are notoriously bad shots; they don't get much practice time; so make their shot depend on their luck and keep moving erratically.


  • Never charge a gunman. Unless you are close enough to touch the gun or not directly in the shooter's view, you shouldn't run at the shooter. This could frighten him/her and cause them to shoot instinctively.
  • If a semi-automatic pistol does not have a magazine in it, it may still have one bullet in the chamber.
  • If all else fails don't try the "you ain't got the guts" line as you stand to lose a lot more than you stand to gain.
  • Realize that the best response when confronted by an armed assailant is passive response. On the rare chance you are faced with a weapon, increasing the tension or aggravating your assailant greatly increases your chances of being injured.
  • Tell the assailant "don't do this to yourself" implying that the assailant has more to lose than you, or the potential gain.
  • Attempt to talk your way out and wait for outside help. Resisting will increase your chances of being killed, so unless following the attacker's orders represents increased danger like abduction, complying with their demands is the best way to survive. (Often even with abduction as a possibility it is better to comply. The police may find you. They can't do much for you if you're dead.)

Article Info

Categories: Guns and Shooting | Self Defense