Self-Defense>Techniques>Concealment and cover

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Concealment and cover


The goal of self-defense is to prevent the attacker from harming you. Sometimes this involves fighting, but it also may involve escaping and hiding. A good hiding place will:
  • Allow you to move quickly or counterattack.
  • Allow you to observe the attacker
  • Provide protection against a weapon the attacker may have, such as a firearm.


Concealment is anything that hides you from view. Six factors affect the effectiveness of concealment:
Shape. From any distance, your outline will give you away. Change your shape to match that of your surroundings.
  • Shadow. Stay in the shadows and do not allow your own shadow to be seen.
  • Texture. Beware of smooth, shiny surfaces such as watches, weapon barrel, glasses, etc. Most smooth surfaces will reflect light.
  • Color. Blend in with your surroundings. Bright colors attract unwanted attention.
  • Position. When choosing your position, make it appear as though nothing is out of the ordinary
  • Movement. Motion naturally attracts the eye, so keep still.
Camouflage refers to the process of making something less obvious. Humans, like animals, can recognize things by their shape or silhouette.  Camouflage is used to make a person, or an object blend in with the surroundings. One way to do this is using light and shadow.

Light and Shadow

An opaque object absorbs light and creates a shadow. If the source of light is a small object, the object absorbs all light striking it and creates a shadow of uniform density, such as a shadow created by a streetlight. If the source of light is larger, such as from windows in a room, the shadow varies in intensity, creating the umbra and penumbra. In the umbra, all rays of light are obscured so it is the darker part of the shadow, while the penumbra is the lighter part. Thus, someone hiding in the penumbra is not entirely hidden from the observer. Someone trying to hide will stay in the deepest shadow, the umbra.
When eyes detect objects, they see movement first, then silhouette, and then color. To see in dim light after being in brighter light, the eyes must be given time to adapt to the low level of light. It takes about thirty minutes for the rod cells of the eyes to produce sufficient visual purple to enable the eyes to distinguish objects in dim light.
When an object is looked at directly, the image is formed on the cone cell region of the eye, which is not sensitive to low levels of light. When the eyes look five to ten degrees above, below, right, or left of the object, the image falls on the rod cells, which are more sensitive to dim light.
 When looking at an object in dim light, the visual purple of the rod cells bleaches out in five to ten seconds and the image fades, so you must keep the eyes scanning so that fresh rod cells are constantly used. Move the eyes in short, irregular intervals over the object without looking directly at it, pausing a few seconds at each point of observation. In darkness, objects are faint, have no distinct outline, and have little or no color.
At night, keep your opponent in the light so he or she is looking from an area of light, which means his or her pupils have constricted. This means the opponent is looking into an area of darkness, where insufficient light exists to display an image on the cone region of the retina.
When moving in shadows, select a path from one shadow to the next, crossing any exposed areas quickly and quietly. If you stand still in darkness in an unusual stance, such as a squat, so the opponent will not recognize your silhouette as that of a human. Assume a posture which conforms to the shape of a shadow and remain within it.


Cover is anything that provides protection from an attacker's weapons. The cover required depends upon the weapons the attacker has available, and whether he or she has a light source, such as a flashlight. Remember that a type of cover that protects against thrown rocks may not be sufficient to stop a bullet. Cover should be thick enough to stop expected incoming projectiles and large enough to protect the entire body. Examples of cover include:
  • Natural cover, such as rocks, logs, rubble, etc., is best because it is hard to detect a person hiding in the jumble of objects.
  • Good cover also includes buildings, structures, concrete, etc. Propane or other fuel tanks do not make good cover.
  • Cinder blocks that are used as foundations for houses or walls are not impenetrable cover. Although they are made of dense material, they are brittle and may shatter upon impact from small arms fire, causing injury by secondary fragmentation.
  • Wood, such as trees, logs, power poles, etc., is a relatively dense material and offers good cover but bullets tend to fragment when they penetrate wood. Live trees have a greater resistance to bullet penetration than dead wood. Wood that has been treated with creosote, such as telephone poles and railroad ties, offers better protection from projectiles than untreated wood.


  • Concealment may hide but not provide cover, for example, hiding behind a dense shrub offers concealment but little cover.
  • Cover may protect but not conceal, for example, bulletproof glass offers cover but not concealment.
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