active shooter training programs

Active Shooter Training Programs : Need to be Customized?

Should active shooter training programs be customized to your group’s specific needs or does one-size-fit-all suffice?

I created our very first active shooter training programs specifically for schools. As a law enforcement officer, I had experience creating safety plans for schools. I was familiar with some of the challenges the teachers and administration faced with protecting themselves AND the students. I knew this type of program would be unique to their needs.

After establishing our company and interacting with more clients, people began requesting active shooter training programs for the workplace. After giving just a few active shooter training classes, it became immediately obvious that this training was very beneficial to all types of professionals, but we knew their needs were different than those of teachers. We’ve continued to bring this same thought process of customizing the active shooter training programs when we worked with other organizations like places of worship and higher education settings.

Unfortunately, active shooter incidents have not been limited to the places where we work and pray. The recent increase in national headlines has sparked civilian fears about active shooters in the public arena: concerts, nightclubs, airports, and movie theaters. People struggle with the horrible thought of what they would need do to protect themselves and their family.

Lastly, our law enforcement officers approach active shooter and active threat situations from a completely different angle. They receive training on how to deal with these threats, but are always looking for additional information about best practices.

All these interactions and thoughts have led to the inquiry, is there a need for customized active shooter training programs?

And if so, is it possible to customize active shooter training programs to meet the needs of every group?

Active Shooter Training Programs Unique Needs by Group/Industry

This section highlights what makes certain groups unique in terms of active shooter training program needs.




●       Staff are responsible for protecting dependents in addition to themselves

●       These dependents vary in age, maturity and abilities

●       State and governing bodies vary in their requirements for lockdown drills and emergency threats

●       Security features vary: Do they have a full-time SRO, security officers, or rotation of police presence on campus?



●       Should students be taught active shooter training the same way as staff?

●       Do they have campus police, armed security or unarmed security officers?

●       Do they have the capabilities to run drills?



●       The broad nature of work at each workplace

●       Do they have dependents? If so, what is their dependents’ abilities?

●       Do they have an obligation to protect their clients or tenants?

●       Does OSHA and other governing bodies of the organization have requirements for active shooter training?

●       How is the office space arranged (i.e. building with a series of offices with doors versus a wide-open area with cubicles)?



●       What extra challenges do they have for being religiously affiliated?

●       What are their vulnerabilities of being an open-arms/welcoming environment?

●       Are there full-time staff or volunteers?



●       What to do if alone, with others, or with dependents

●       How response changes when in different types of places (i.e. open area like a concert versus a limited exit area like a movie theater)?



●       Transforming from old-school of thought of approaching the threat utilizing a 4-man team, to now a single officer response or “first-officer-on-scene” entry approach.

●       Understanding their role when off-duty and in public with their families.

The items for each group listed above and not yet mentioned could go on. Is the organization a 24/7 operation? Does your team of staff mostly work “in the field” rather than in an office space? This table highlights just a few of many identifiable differences.

Is It Possible to Meet the Needs of Every Group?

  • Clearly, the staff at a daycare should utilize a customized training plan that differs from that of the staff at a coffee shop.
  • Although basic principles may overlap, we know responsibilities for the staff in these two cases are different when it comes to a threat.
  • When comparing two workplace environments, the true customization comes in the instructors’ ability to understand the workplace’s culture.
  • The expert in the active shooter training programs field must embody the qualities of reading the staff, understanding their specific fears, and working with their strengths.

In a mixed group of civilians, the need to read the vibe of the audience exists. Reading the undertone of the questions. Understanding how each individual views the information.

Wrapping Up the Customized Approach

When it comes to the staff at a school, business, or place of worship; or a law enforcement officer, active shooter training programs do embody a level of customization. Specific needs of every organization should be addressed, and at times, presented differently depending upon the circumstances of the group or place of work.

Along that same line, there are some principles that can be shared and understood between all groups. Ensuring that the instructors have the ability to read their audience is a happy medium to presenting the basic principles while still addressing those specific needs of the group and culture.

Administrators should recognize these unique factors do play a part in the way staff are presented with active shooter training programs and seek instructors who can provide such training appropriately.


To learn more about our active shooter training programs, please visit our homepage. Once there you may navigate along the menu bar to select a customized approach for you. If you are looking for a civilian course, join our notification list by entering your email address in the white box below the video and look out for upcoming courses in your area. You will also receive instant access to a short video training that highlights the Five Immediate Actions to an Active Shooter!