Target training for active shooter response

Submitted by:
Scott Buhrmaster, PoliceOne Managing Editor


Active shooter situations—incidents in which a gunman is actively firing at people at the point of your response to the scene—can be among the most harrowing events in any officer’s career. In these situations, time is tremendously critical. Every second that passes can give the shooter a chance to claim another victim. Clearly, the main goal of responding officers is to immediately terminate the threat by ceasing the gunman’s ability to fire, which typically means killing him. However, if a fatal shot is not readily available, firearms expert John Farnham urges you to remember that ANY target on the shooter’s body should be leveraged in an effort to distract him from his intended targets. That means you should train yourself to be prepared to shoot an elbow or knee sticking around a corner, a leg dangling down from above…whatever part of the gunman's body you can hit.


When training with your firearm, Farnham suggests masking your targets to isolate sections that can represent small areas of the body—knee, elbow, etc.—and become proficient at head and neck shots. These small areas may be the only targets available to you.



Scott Buhrmaster is a longtime contributor to, as well as former Publisher of Police Marksman magazine. He has also served as Contributing Editor for Law Officer magazine. Scott has been a member of the law enforcement training community since 1989, when he began work as Director of Research with Calibre Press, Inc., producers of The Street Survival Seminar.

Throughout his tenure at Calibre, Buhrmaster was involved with virtually every aspect of the company’s officer survival training efforts, from the planning, creation and marketing of the organization’s award-winning textbooks and videos to developing and securing training content for the Seminar. In 1995, he was named Director of the Calibre Press Street Survival Newsline®, an Internet-based officer survival training service he helped found. In less than five years, Newsline readership grew from 25 officers to more than 250,000 in 26 countries, making it one of the most popular training vehicles in law enforcement history. His efforts now focus on providing training and information to the nearly 400,000 officers worldwide who visit every month.

Prior to joining PoliceOne, Buhrmaster, who also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Force Science Research Center and stands as an active member of the American Society for Law Enforcement Training and the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, was President of The Buhrmaster Consulting Group, an international consulting practice for the law enforcement training sector and the publishing industry.

Contact Scott Buhrmaster

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