Facing the Active Shooter July 2016 Updated Edition Book Review

| August 22, 2016 | 2 Comments

I reviewed the first edition of Facing the Active Shooter by CR Williams in July of 2015. The good news is that CR has continued to update and add material to this book through several revisions; the bad news is that he’s had reason to do so.

Attacks like the one at Pulse in Orlando or the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France will continue to happen for the foreseeable future.

I encourage you to read my initial review of Facing the Active Shooter, as the vast majority of that material is still in the current version.

These updates are the biggest changes, in my opinion:

Multiple-shooter attacks

Facing the Active Shooter goes into far greater detail about the probability of dealing with multiple attackers. All of CR Williams’s books have a mix of the philosophical and the tactical. I like the amount of time and detail devoted to realizing — ahead of time — that the single threat you eliminate may not be only shooter you’ll have to deal with. This may seem obvious, but the majority of fight-focused training prepares the student for fighting a single mugger, or robber, etc. We should feel good about stopping any threat, but not allow it to lull us into a false sense of security.

This section also discusses how to move to and from cover, and why athleticism is a critical part of your self-defense skill set.


Bombs bother me a lot more than attackers armed with firearms. The bomb portion of Facing the Active shooter describes the various types of devices we may face (belt/vest, bag, car, etc), as well as how bombs are usually used in a terrorist attack. Safe engagement and retreat distances are also discussed.

If you’re reading this review, you’re already in the minority of gun owners who are more interested in training than in tools. If your training includes disabling attackers who are wearing bombs, you’re in a further minority. If you haven’t started training to deal with bombs, Facing the Active Shooter will help you get the conversation going with your training group and instructors.

Head shots

Discussions about head shots (specifically destroying the medulla oblongata) have increased considerably in the last 18 months. What used to be considered an “advanced” skill for disabling a hostage taker is now being talked about (and taught) to more novice students.

The brain stem shot is the best way to defeat an attacker who is wearing body armor, is on drugs, or is holding a remote detonator.

There are some good drills in this book that should gradually and effectively build confidence in making this difficult shot at increasingly long ranges.

what do you want front

Shooting from supported positions

If one believes that brain stem shots are critical, and that active shooters / terrorists may be wearing or carrying bombs, then we must be able to make brain stem shots at very long distances against motivated attackers.

Facing the Active Shooter does a reasonable job accepting the difficulty of making such a shot, and offers two ways to increase your odds: ambushes and shooting from supported positions. You may not have had the opportunity to train shooting a handgun (or possibly even a rifle) from supported positions, but after reading this book you may be able to practice them on your own.

Pistol handling in public

New to this edition is how to handle a drawn pistol in public. Obscuring a handgun during an active shooting or terrorist attack has several advantages:

  • Increases retention compared to other positions such as ready, low ready, or temple index
  • Decreases your chances of being considered a threat by attackers (or responding LEO or other civilian defenders)
  • Decreases your chance of scaring people away from you and into potentially dangerous areas (I covered this in a prior article)
  • Decreases the chance bystanders will cling / gravitate towards you

CR illustrates a few different techniques, including my favorite: covered Sul.

Continuing Education

CR Williams could have made a book out of just the expanded and new material in Facing the Active Shooter, and sold it for another $5 / $10. Instead, he chose to release it as an eBook update. If you are part of the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program (a great value at $10/mo, in my opinion), you would get Facing the Active Shooter at no additional cost — as well as many of CR’s other works.

If you prefer paper books, you can buy the updated version at the same price as the original, about $6.

In a world where terrorist attacks and active shootings evolve, so must our tactics and understanding. By providing content updates for “free” or by extending the scope of the paper version at the same cost as previous editions, CR is providing an ongoing service to our community.

That’s pretty awesome, and so is Facing the Active Shooter.

Tactical Oprah Book Club

I believe that it is critical for training groups to read new things and discuss them. A tactical Oprah book club, if you will.

Facing the Active Shooter is a blend of history, philosophies, tactics, and techniques that you should discuss with your peers. We don’t have to incorporate everything that is in the book. You may not like some of the suggestions.

However, it is important that we think about the content of this book and make our own decisions.

Facing the Active Shooter would be a great value at $20, and for $6 (or free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription), it’s basically CR Williams’s gift to the civilian defender community.


I received an advanced evaluation copy of this book for free as a thank you for my review of other CR Williams books, including Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts About Doing Violence and the first edition of Facing the Active Shooter, both of which I paid for myself. I was not asked to review this book in return, nor was there any explicit or implied compensation for my reviews. These are my honest thoughts.


About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

2 Comments on "Facing the Active Shooter July 2016 Updated Edition Book Review"

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  1. CR Williams says:

    If anyone has questions about the book don’t hesitate to ask them either here or directly through email.

  2. CR Williams says:

    The 2018 Update Edition of this book is now available in Kindle format. The print version will be available on Amazon in the US and Europe not later than the middle of next week. Other regions will have it available soon after that.

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