Top 8 Principles of Shooting From Cover and Concealment

shooting from cover and concealment

What is the Difference Between Cover and Concealment?

A while back, we published an article about the difference between cover and concealment. This article is to guide you in some of the general principles of shooting from behind cover. I have also concluded the effectiveness of cover and concealment in a gunfight. I wrote about it here.

Much of the current instruction about cover and concealment is incorrect and jeopardizes any tactical advantage you have gained in the fight. These key tactics will give you the insight you need to gain the advantage. Many of these are hard to put into practice, even in a training environment. Train and practice each and consider playing some CQB paintball to practice these movements and ideas (Yes, I'm serious about the paintball tip).

8 Concepts of Using Cover and Concealment:

  • Fire around cover instead of over it. Positioning your body over cover creates a silhouette that makes it easier for your attacker to get a sight picture and see you.
  • Move back away from the cover. When you keep your body up against the object you are using for cover, it seriously limits your field of fire and limits your ability to move or shift locations. Put some space between you and the cover.
  • Be flexible with identifying open angles from different shooting positions. Learn to shoot from a crouched or leaning position without exposing your body.
  • Use different positions when exposing yourself to fire. Become unpredictable, so the attacker doesn't know where to aim as they wait for you to expose yourself.
  • Your odds of winning the fight increase as you move. Moving to a new covered position has two significant advantages. First, it disorients your attacker and, if done well, might even leave them questioning where you are. Second, it helps you gain a better angle on your target to increase your odds of having the upper hand.
  • When breaking cover, build momentum before entirely breaking cover. Study the terrain and have a clear path to your new cover before you move. If you have the ammunition, a few shots toward the target will generally put their head down long enough for you to make it to your next position safely and hopefully undetected.
  • If you have a wingman take turns putting shots on target while the other person moves to a better position.
  • In the defense, try to strengthen your cover by adding objects together. Moving furniture together, stacking boxes, or doing whatever possible to increase the odds of stopping the oncoming fire will help keep you safe.

More Resources:

Here is a video from our course Fighting From Cover that also features John Correa of Active Self Protection.

Learn how to use cover and concealment effectively in a gunfight; consider taking our course titled: Fighting From Cover.

fighting from cover and concealment

Have you given any thought to this? Have you ever used these techniques when training? Let us know in the comments below. Be sure to check out Guardian Nation, where we offer up real shooting tips and drills to help you be more proficient in your self-defense and concealed carry training.

About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.


  1. Chris Ewens on April 30, 2015 at 11:54 am

    These comments are intended to add to what what written, not contradict what was written. There are occasions when hugging cover and using the cover for artificial support are appropriate. A good example is when you are facing a fan-shaped ambush. If you pull back from the cover, you could expose yourself to incoming fire from shooters to the right or left of your position. Another example is when the shooter is out beyond YOUR effective range of shooting with an unsupported handgun. Use of the artificial support to improve accuracy would then be critical in order to make hits. Generally speaking, during the fluid dynamics of a gunfight, staying back from cover would be preferable. Try out these options during force-on-force training with airsoft handguns and/or rifles.

    • Jacob Paulsen on April 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Great thoughts Chris!

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