What was that? A balloon? A backfiring car? Or was it…gunfire?

In a world where active shooter incidents can begin in an instant and end just as quickly recognizing gunfire can give citizens, students, and employees the split-second advantage they may need to survive. Most active shooter scenarios resolve in less than five minutes. Training the ear to identify this specific sound from the moment of the first shot can mean the difference between life or death.

How to Recognize Gunfire

But recognizing gunfire isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many people mistake gunfire for pranks, accidents, fireworks, or other non-threats. This is largely because we’re conditioned to understand the sound of gunfire as what we’ve heard on TV or in movies. However, unlike what we’ve experienced in popular media, genuine gunfire sounds less like a blast or small explosion and more like a crack or sharp popping noise, like a firecracker. Notably, gunfire is also often rhythmic.

The sound of gunfire can also be influenced by extenuating circumstances. Shots will be louder indoors. Both inside or out, if there are hard surfaces like walls, buildings, or mountains nearby, the sound of gunfire will reverberate making it difficult to determine the location of the shooter. 

What To Do When You Hear Gunfire

How do these simple pieces of knowledge change things? Well, statistics tell us most shooting victims have no personal experience with guns and, as a result, don’t recognize the sound. Still, even those who do use firearms may only be familiar with the sound of gunfire at close range while using ear protection and may not readily identify gunfire in the context of an active shooter incident.

The bottom line? If you commit these facts to memory, you’ll be better prepared in the event of an active shooter scenario. Should you find yourself in such a situation, don’t hesitate—act. Run to the nearest exit or hide in a lockable room even if you don’t know where the shots are coming from. And if it comes to it, be ready to fight. 

An active shooter event can happen anywhere at any time. Make familiarizing yourself with the sound of gunfire part of your preparedness plan.

With expertise including Run-Hide-Fight, situational awareness, active shooter training, conflict avoidance, and verbal de-escalation, The Power of Preparedness provides critical guidance that can save lives. Contact us to learn more.