How to survive an active shooter

Published: Feb. 1, 2016 at 6:35 PM CST|Updated: Jun. 13, 2016 at 8:50 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Van Sickles of Arlington, Tennessee, are a military family. They understand and appreciate self-defense, and, if necessary, the use of force to accomplish it.

Mom, Francine, and her 15-year-old daughter Samantha are two tough generations serious about surviving an active shooter scenario.

"I just worry about my children, so I want to do my best to protect them whether I am home or out in the streets," Francine said.

That explains why they signed up for USA Karate's Active Shooter Survival class. Instructor Robby Beard said from a state office in San Bernardino, California to a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, active shooter situations are facts of life.

His class -- with smoke, screams and sets mocked up like movie theaters, conference rooms and campus apartments -- is designed to give people like the Van Sickles a fighting chance.

Beard said the edge goes to the family whose survival plan starts with an exit plan wherever they go.

"If you have your wife and your kids with you, as soon as we get to a restaurant, a movie theater, the mall, whatever that environment is, sit down, identify where our exit plans are going to be," he said. "Sit near the closest get-away. If you're sitting in a booth, sit with your wife or child on the outside in case you have to physically shove or carry them out to the quickest escape."

When a deranged shooter destroys your exit plan, Beard said the drill is 'Run, Hide, Fight':

* RUN. Beard teaches if there's any chance to run away, take it. With children or a smaller adult in tow, he demonstrated a technique called folding. Grab that child or smaller adult by the belt or waist band, draw them into you and frog-walk them out as fast as you can.

"I want to be able to protect him, and I want to be able to control him with where we're going. So if I want him to move a certain way, I run with my legs on the outside of his legs."

"I didn't know anything about that, but I think it's pretty cool," Francine Van Sickle said. "I'll be able to control either one [of my children], and my husband can control the other."

* HIDE. In the office conference room scenario, the Van Sickles barricaded the room with whatever they could. Also, Beard taught them to choose solid cover that might defect a bullet over flimsy concealment.

"We teach that there's a difference between cover and concealment," Beard explained. "So in a restaurant, maybe instead of hiding behind a fake tree or bush or plant, you might be turning that table over and getting under that table, which would be better than concealment. You can't be concerned about damaging property. It's about saving your life."

* FIGHT. When run and hide fail, Beard teaches his students how to fight back. He shares teamwork techniques on how to take charge in a life-threatening situation.

"You may have to be the one to direct others, direct strangers," he said. "Enlist others in taking a gunman down when there's nowhere else to go. Someone take the legs, another take his arms, another take his weapon. We teach how to do that in ways that will increase your chance of survival."

Beard's lessons teach people how to think and react out-of-the-box, even to destroy property, in order to defend your life -- and in the Van Sickles' case, preserve their family's future.

"One day, I'll be alone. What if a gunman comes up to me? I've got to be able to defend myself somehow," Samantha said.

For details on active shooter class opportunities, contact Robby Beard at USA Karate's Bartlett, Tennessee, location by calling 901-373-7338.

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