Tactical Training for Individuals and Church Security Teams to Thwart Active Violence Incidents (Part 2)

This is the follow-up post to the first article about how Blue Arrow Consultants trains church security teams in handling Active Violence Incidents (AVI) in their houses of worship.

SemperVerus attended the two-day, more-than-six-hour training session at a Michigan church building with that church’s security team. It consisted of two hours of classroom teaching and four hours of live-action AVI scenario training with inert Glock blue guns and Glock 19X Gen5 Airsoft pistols and protective clothing.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Tactical Training for Individuals and Church Security Teams to Thwart Active Violence Incidents (Part 1) ]

The course instructor was Del Kostanko, police trainer and founder of Blue Arrow Consultants, LLC, who teaches that knowing how to assess and respond to threats can lessen the need for force, reduce the chance of physical harm, and minimize liability.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, A Prayer for Church Security Team Members ]

Disruptions during church services and events are generally benign, without violence, and can be solved using de-escalation techniques and skills.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Gentle Response De-Escalation Training for Church Security Teams ]

But, in the rare case of an AVI, church security teams must know how best to work cohesively to appropriately and courageously stop the deadly threat. SemperVerus highly recommends Blue
Arrow Consultants
to expertly train your church safety team in the best practices of SWAT methods to properly prepare for when very bad times happen.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Chart: The Spectrum of Potential Threat Personas in Self-Defense and Church Security ]

The following is merely a small sampling of the excellent lessons Del taught, along with photos of some of the physical execution of those lessons in staged scenarios:

Know the different ways to defend against an attack as a single person versus working with a partner and team.

Movement is better than inaction; “Get off the X;” move using angles; “Keep Moving” should be your mantra.

When moving with a partner, say “Move” not “Go,” because “Go” sounds like “No.”

Situational awareness is always important; constantly scan people for threat indicators such as inappropriate clothing for the season’s weather, excessive adjusting of pants as if a weapon is present, etc.

Remember the OODA Loop.

Limit the access points into your church; unlock only entrances that can be securely monitored.

Every entrance, room, window, hallway, parking area should be labeled for quick identification; mark room windows on the outside with that room’s number.

Clear and regular radio communication with team members is crucial; inform your team of suspicions you observe; communicate when you leave your post and where you’re patrolling; don’t chit-chat; use consistent verbal identity markers such as “North Door,” “West Parking Lot,” labeled locations, etc.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Church Security: Radio Communications Best Practices ]

Equipment suggestions for security team members: • master key to the building and rooms, • cell phone with camera, • two-way radio with microphone & earpiece, • flashlight, • tactical pen & paper, • knife, • multitool, • tourniquet, • IFAK, • discreet body armor, OC Gel (gels don’t splatter and aerosolize like sprays do, resulting in less unintentional contamination of elderly and innocents), • emergency car window breaker, • lanyard “Church Security/Safety” badge, • DSM banners (“Don’t Shoot Me”) (to identify you as a “good guy”), • consider obtaining restraint devices (e.g., handcuffs, flex cuffs, etc.) and getting trained in their proper usage to prevent positional asphyxiation and injury, • concealed firearm & extra magazines.

Become familiar with people at your local law enforcement agencies; notify them about your armed security team.

Conduct “tabletop drills,” both personally and as a team: constantly envision “What if…?” scenarios and role playing; ask yourself and answer, “If such-and-such happened, how would I (we) respond?”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Church Security Training: Decision Decks Help You Think Through a Crisis Before It Happens ]

During an AVI, carry your deployed firearm appropriately for each situation: • SUL position (close to chest, muzzle pointed down to floor); • Temple (side of head, muzzle pointed straight up, don’t impede your peripheral vision); • Combat Tuck (elbow back, arm tight to your torso, muzzle pointed ahead); • Low Ready (hold your gun in the firing position in front of you but with the muzzle slightly pointed down to allow clear observation).

“Aim small, miss small.” To end a deadly threat, students were taught advanced shot placement for quick incapacitation, how to recognize use of body armor, and how to defeat an assailant wearing body armor.

Parking lot: Approach a suspicious driver of a parked car from the rear, staying off the line of rear view mirror sight; blade your body slightly behind the driver’s shoulder while talking to him; watch his hands; scan the interior for weapons (a rifle can be rolled up in a towel or blanket on a seat or the floor); your partner should be on the car’s opposite side, scanning the interior as you talk to the driver, and giving you non-verbal communication signals with his hand above the car’s roof.


Learn to shoot around the corner of vehicles or beneath them; engine blocks are cover, side panels are only concealment.

Carry a window punch for emergency extraction of a person from a hot car or other needs; place it low and in the corner of a side window (not high or in the center).

Hunt the active killer using stimuli indicators: sound of gunfire, shell casings, victims’ screams, blood splatter, people pointing, etc.

Walking a hallway with your partner: in parallel; muzzles held low ready in front and pointing in a cross-over “X” (remember the importance of angles); never muzzle each other; stay close together, don’t get ahead of your partner; communicate with each other. Once a room is cleared, don’t telegraph yourself when exiting by keeping your arms extended; bring your pistol into your chest and minimally look both ways down the corridor.


Avoid hugging hallway and room walls; ricochet wounds are possible.

When hunting the active killer and you must enter a room with multiple doors (e.g., the church auditorium), use the corner door to more readily scan the room.


Smash the door open; attack it; don’t open it slowly. Look at the hinges: see them? = the door opens toward you; don’t see them? = the door opens away from you. Students were taught how to breach (kick in) doors for emergency room entries. Secure your weapon before breaching to avoid a sympathetic squeeze response causing an accidental discharge.

Two rooms with doors in the hallway? Pick first the one that’s open. Two open doors? Just pick one and move into it.

It’s possible to shoot through glass, but bullets can change direction.

When hunting the active killer, two 2-person teams are more effective than one 4-person team.

Communicate with your partner(s) visually (e.g., hand signals, etc.), audibly (e.g., voice, etc.), and physically (e.g., taps, hands on body, etc.).

When with a partner, the first one through a door picks his direction to move and the partner moves in the opposite direction. The decision is made upon entrance; don’t try to pre-plan before entering.

Keep your head and eyes up; don’t look down or at the floor.

If you don’t have a job, find a job that needs doing!

On stairways: Keep your head on a swivel; 450° (around and above you); communicate with your partner, “I’m covering left” or “I’m covering high.”

Immediately at the end of an AVI, think through this list:

  • verify that the killer is down and incapacitated
  • look for anymore killers
  • put your back to the wall and scan the room
  • keep your eyes on the downed killer
  • secure the killer’s weapon
  • start giving people jobs (call 911, direct first responders entering the building, etc.)
  • see if anyone is injured or wounded
  • clearly communicate to your team on your two-way radio
  • take a breath, calm down
  • secure your weapon
  • obey all commands issued by responding officers.

Contact Del Kostanko online at BlueArrowConsultantsLLC.com, on Facebook, or by calling 517-234-1119 or 1-877-TACTIXX.

[ Read SemperVerus articles on the topic of Church Security ]

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