Cover vs Concealment

To cover, or to conceal

That is the question! But the answer is slightly more complicated. In basic terms, it sounds quite easy to differentiate. Cover is anything that effectively stops bullets. Concealment is anything that hides you from someone else's sight. Pretty simple right?...Wrong!
The most important thing you have to always remember: Cover is the one that's going to save you when things take a turn for the worse.
Cover
Cover is something that will not necessarily conceal your location but stop a bullet, or any other projectile being lunged toward you for that matter. Do keep in mind that some forms of cover can also deflect high-velocity projectiles and send them off into the unknown. You do not want to unwillingly send rounds to a teammate or someone else, and you probably will not be able to control this either. And, then there is the initial "kick" it will project onto whatever it is hitting, for example, a thick plate of steel hanging loosely in front of you will stop or deflect an incoming round, but will also probably kick back a bit and still send you off balance or if it is light enough, give you a nice slap in the face! The important thing, however, is to not be penetrated by any projectiles. Think of your bulletproof vest, for example, if you take a round from a 9mm at say 10m out, it will stop the projectile, but the force that was initially behind the projectile is now being spread into the size of your plates and that can leave you with a proper bruise and send you off balance.
It is also dependent on what the bad guy is shooting. Materials that will stop a 9mm or other pistol rounds will likely not stop more powerful rifle rounds for example.
In general, something that provides you with good cover also conceals you, but there are exceptions, like bulletproof glass for example. In the movies you see guys flipping dinner tables for cover or hiding behind some wooden wall while rounds are hitting it with no mercy, and walk away unscathed. That is not a good idea at all! Unless you have a table that's at least as thick as a small tee! And no, the door panels on your vehicle is not likely to stop even a .22 round! Unless you upgrade it with some good quality steel of proper thickness.
The only few things on your vehicle that will properly stop incoming rounds, are the engine, an axle (if it is big enough to hide behind anyway, and a good thickness wheel.
Keep in mind that cover should not limit your maneuverability too much, as you might still need to deal with the threat. You should either be able to shoot from behind it or when the threat changes position, you should be able to change accordingly as well. You do not want to be stuck in a small space and have a threat walk straight to you. The human body can also stop some projectiles, just do not use your spouse for that duty...

Concealment

If it doesn’t stop a projectile, then it is only hiding you. Which essentially is concealment. If you had to quickly hide behind a couch, you are concealing yourself from who/whatever is trying to find you. You know, like when the debt-collector makes a visit and you quickly lock the door, dive behind the couch and wait for him to leave. If he had to fire off a few rounds into the living room, you would likely have been hit behind the couch. Using darkness or shadows to hide in during the night or in poorly lit hallways are also a favorite way to go for criminals. You often do not see them there, but if you had to throw a rock into their direction, you would probably get a reply. Whereas if they were behind cover as well, you would have a hard time to know they are there.
It is just like the camouflage hunters use, they blend into the environment and conceal themselves from the unsuspecting game. Here in SA for example, our police forces wear a kind-off light blue uniform, which is not that easy to see during the night and is not reflective at all.

I often talk about not setting up bright lights facing toward your home, rather than facing outwards toward exterior walls, as that can be a great form of concealment for criminals scouting your home. Just as much as you cannot see a person from behind a flashlight during night time. The same concept applies. See this post to read about lighting up your yard.

Two dead giveaways exploit you from behind concealment: Noise and motion, Heavy breathing is very audible, and shaking from fear tends to shake and rattle lighter concealment, like curtains for example.

Conclusion:

Good cover is not that easy to find, especially when you are inside a building. So for this reason, you will need to utilize the concealment you have access to and move unnoticed to a place with decent cover, or to escape the threat. So if you're thinking about adding some decent cover to your home defense plan, I would suggest adding some bulletproof vest or blanket of some sorts in your safe room. If you do not have a safe room, I suggest you make one! However, adding some simple pieces of furniture, filled with something like solid wood, cement, or plating.

For more on home defense, read here.

Choosing your armed response

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Choosing your armed response

With armed robbery being a credible and constant threat not only in South-Africa but all around the world, it comes as no surprise that more and more armed response companies are popping up. Although I do not mind the number of manpower available to combat crime. The more armed response officers we have driving around, the quicker response times can become (client to vehicle ratio). But naturally, the influx of companies makes it somewhat more complicated to choose the correct one. It's simply not a price comparison that dictates the ultimate decision.

So I compiled a guideline for you:

  • Cost - Obviously you need to pay a realistic price.
  • Company portfolio - You need to make sure the company has relevant experience and has been around for some time, younger companies might not have the expertise and resources needed to provide an effective service, where some older companies again might be overstretched and ill-developed.
  • Is the company properly registered at the relevant authorities? - For example in SA, a company has to be registered with PSIRA and SAIDSA (South-African Intruder Detection Services Association, and, each of the armed response officers also must have relevant PSIRA registration and firearms training as per the Firearms Control Act.
  • What is the companies client to officer ratio? - Too many clients and not enough response officers could cause a back-log of alarms and have a dramatic impact on response times, usually when you will be needing it the most.
  • Supervisors - Does the company have sufficient supervisors on duty to handle break-ins, reports, and client complaints?
  • Vehicles - Is the company using relevant vehicles for your area - Rural areas or areas prone to heavy rain might require more rugged vehicles. And do they have enough vehicles up and running to get to all clients in a reasonable time?
  • Equipment - Is the company using relevant equipment? Armed response officers should have relevant equipment necessary to complete their tasks, such as flashlights, body armor, ladders, etc. (SAIDSA, By-law no.3)
  • Technology - Is the company utilizing new technology on the market that may better their overall services? Now and then the equipment is upgraded and new technology rolls out that help companies stay on top of their game.
  • Training - Probably the most important aspect of any company. Generally, any officer should go through relevant training to be able to register as an armed security service provider, but refresher training is not controlled at all. Is your company developing training to improve its officers, such as firearms training, first aid, vicious dog training, fire training, crime scene contamination, and criminal law?

Conclusion:

So I would like to say that all companies are good, but just like every other industry, money talks and shortcuts work. Following these guidelines should keep things in order. Selecting the right response company does not have to be a daunting task, but it most definitely should be a careful decision! What complicates things more is the fact that not all the same companies can be found all over the country, nevermind across borders. So it's not a clear decision from town to town. What's more is that some smaller or up and coming companies will likely be the best fit for you, even if only for the next few years or so. Make a wise choice.