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Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing By Abner Miranda

There’s a notion that when an active killer starts taking lives around us that we, the warrior class, are going to rise up and take action. However, based on what I normally see in the training environment, few of us are prepared to take action against a well armed and motivated threat. Know that I am preaching at myself here too. I used to think that my considerable skills would prevail and that I was going to get things done! It wasn't until I attended active killer training that I was made to see the error of my ways.

Reality Check

The idea that owning top notch EDC weapons and gear will somehow help you rise up to the challenge is a problem that is becoming more and more mainstream as the internet generation convinces themselves that they’re awesome! Just because I believe something doesn’t make it so. There’s a present movement where people are posting videos of themselves doing these seemingly blazing fast shots from appendix carry rigs onto obligingly still targets. The person then turns the shot timer towards the camera to show their time. Well yay, you put a shot through an inanimate target at high speed. Sure I’ve done those blazing fast shots on my range too. I’ve wowed myself, and fooled my ego into thinking I was awesome-sauce! But then I realized that I needed to look at the problem realistically. Conscious competence is far less common place than unconscious incompetence. That is to say that few of us know what we know, and know some of what we don’t know. However, it is a fact that there are far more people out there who don’t even know what they don’t know.

Last man Standing by Abner Miranda tourniquet

Active Killer

When death comes looking for blood you’ll be doing any number of seemingly normal things, but no matter what you're doing you won’t be thinking “there’s a fight about to happen here.” When it does begin it’ll take a moment or two to recognize what’s happening. At that moment your first actions need to be moving, identifying the threat then deciding what you’re going to do about it, if anything.

That last statement caught a lot of you by surprise and I know that it’s making you question where my mind is on this. As difficult as it is to say, there may come a time when you may have to get on the gas and leave an area when you see trouble coming. I decided a long time ago that if I was already in a venue and something got started I would do something about it, if possible. My training has opened my eyes and helped me temper my planned response to an attack.

If you happen to be inside a venue and something kicks off you have no choice but to do something about it. You’re there, it’s you and yours that they’re attacking. But if you’re outside that same venue and see three dudes running in with rifles you’re best choice is to get on the gas and drive away. Oh yeah, that just set a lot of you off. Right about now there are a lot of guys saying “not me man, I’m still going in and stopping this crap from happening on my watch.” Guess what guys, that used to be me too. Here’s your reality check. First and foremost, like Dave Spaulding says “you need to be an active participant in your own rescue.” The people in that venue that you’re just now driving away from need to be living in a state of preparedness, it is not your responsibility to save humanity from its bad choices. If there are hundreds of people in a venue that chose to leave their guns at home…oh well. Yeah that’s hard core but that’s reality.

Last Man Standing by Abner Miranda Shooting Stance

The other considerations that would make you drive away from an active killer are. You don’t know what’s going on in the building. You don’t know how many more of them there are in there already. For example, when I’m at church I eyeball people who I don't know. Yeah they might just be visitors or they might be killers scouting a location for a future attack. They could even be there that day to execute an attack. I don't know, but if I'm already in the building I have pre-identified potential problem people. If I’m just driving up to the church and I see three men running into the sanctuary with weapons it's pretty obvious what their intentions are, and as much as I hate to do it, I must drive away. If I choose to go in I could accidentally be killed by another legally armed citizen who chose to not leave his gun at home that day. This fellow might be a visitor to my church and sees me entering the sanctuary with a weapon and thinks that I am now the fourth killer coming in.

Or, here's a scarier idea, an attack these days must be assumed that it has been orchestrated by someone, and that the handler will be outside watching to be sure that it’s properly executed. This handler could be across the street in a vehicle with a rifle and scope waiting to pop first responders when they arrive, and you just gave him a juicy target because guess what, you are a first responder. The cops are not the first responders, you, me, we are the first responders.

The legally armed citizens of this nation are on the front lines every day, and every night. We are the vanguard. We drive what happens inside of the borders of this nation. It’s our job to put down terror the moment we clearly identify it. And yeah that’s the key “a clearly identified threat” and that would be what…? I don’t have enough room in this blog to even begin to articulate for you what a difficult thing it is to do to have the mental and tactical preparedness for an active killer. Rest assured that hotdogging around on the square range with your camera and shot timer wont get it done. You have got to seek out weapons and medical training with folks such as Handgun Combatives, Talon Defense, and Tactical Defense Institute. Moving, planting, and shooting accurately is the only way we’re going to effect a change in the repeated attacks that are becoming more and more prevalent in our nation. The only way to truly be prepared to be a help and not a hindrance is to spend time in training.

Every time I hear someone say “I don’t have money for training I remember all those years that I was a lowly payed officer making $32K and I always found a way to go to training. One year I burned all of my vacation and overtime on classes. My wife was bent about that one, but she is now able to look back and see that I had to do it. If you want to be the last man standing you have to rise up out of the apathy of false self assuredness and go train, and train hard.

As always, God bless you all, get those guns out and practice. Have a good one!

~Abner Miranda is a former Police Officer, an FBI trained Hostage Negotiator, a First Responder, and Spanish Interpreter. He is currently a Firearms Instructor, an Armorer, and a regular contributor to our industry of both written and digital media. You can see more of Abner’s work on his YouTube channel:

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  • This to me, this is a well composed "common sense " article. I’m in my early 60’s. Like a lot of folks my age we sometimes think we are 18 again, not quite true! Years ago it was every Thursday practice at the police range. We didn’t have any of the available tactical training available today.

    Life today is not what it was 40 years ago. I’m not PHYSICALLY the person I was just 20 years ago! So, where does this leave me? I look at it in this light. First, I carry my 12+1 Plus 2 spare mags everywhere I can do it legally. I speaking by law, not recognizing some stores objections. I’m always aware of my surroundings. My wife has now become more aware of our surroundings! I can believe that the “cowboys”, (No disrespect to my Western friends), that carry an armory with them will “flip” when they read, flee instead of fight! Having been in some really bad places at the wrong time I learned, as mentioned earlier, a “good guy/gal” can be killed while rushing into a bad situation!

    At the range I talk with younger people. Some carry two back-up firearms? Why? In most shooting situations you’re lucky if you can get the first round off before the bad guy does! Some people just don’t understand how their life will never be the same if they kill someone. I do get tired of the “Rambos” telling me of their heroics before they ever have a problem. I try to explain this “ain’t Dodge City or Tombstone in the 1800’s”. This isn’t like shooting paper at the range. There will be incoming fire. It ain’t t.v. it ain’t the movies! I usually end up telling them that when I holster-up, most the time I tell myself I hope I don’t have to use it. Will I, yes. Do I want to, No! Your article just reaffirms the “Discretion is the better part of valor”!

    Walter Miner Nov 17, 2016
  • Bottom line up front; which, failed in this article. If, your a current or former 11B, 18 series, 03, you never learned how to be effective w/a handgun. You can argue that; as, this is the internet, You may still actually believe, that you can MISS an entire upper torso target, 40% of the time, under a 4 second or no “par time.” Got it; but, for those of you that actually want to survive. Put on your big boy/big girl pants & compete in a local IDPA, USPSA, Steel Challenge, GSSF, Pro-Am, 3-gun, etc match. Do a personal assessment afterwards
    Shit can the “Active Killer” training. Best wishes & good shooting/hunting.

    Jay Shebuski Nov 17, 2016
  • Very good article.

    Dhruv Nov 16, 2016
  • That was an eye opener article

    Hayward Whitehair Nov 15, 2016
  • Excellent training – especially the point about not rushing into a venue with an active shooter(s). Over 26 years ago the Army taught me ambush survival – NEVER GO INTO THE KILL ZONE!

    Greg Nov 15, 2016

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