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Lessons Learned: Mall Shooter!

June 14, 2024
Gun Talk Staff

With a new season of Gun Talk's First Person Defender on the way, we're taking a little time to "deconstruct" previous episodes and isolate key training insights and critical takeaways from them.

In an unpredictable world, being prepared for sudden threats is crucial. The latest episode of "First Person Defender" takes us through an intense scenario that showcases how quick thinking and situational awareness can make all the difference. In this episode, Jake Welch, a seasoned participant from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, revisits the show to face a life-threatening situation in a simulated environment designed to test and refine his defensive skills.

Our Defender, Jake, is a small business owner and FPD veteran who finds himself at the wrong, (or right?), place and time. He’s showing up at a local mall when a rifle-wielding mass shooter begins opening fire. Jake has to decide whether to engage or escape. First Person Defender Season 12 is brought to you by Colt, Crimson Trace, Range Ready, Ruger, Springfield Armory, T4E and Walther Arms.

Scenario Overview

Jake, a small business owner with experience in pipeline work, is no stranger to high-pressure situations. Having participated in the first season of "First Person Defender," Jake returns with a keen sense of awareness and a readiness to learn. The scenario is pulled straight from recent headlines, reflecting the real-world dangers one might encounter.

As Jake arrives at a mall, he is immediately thrust into a high-stakes situation. An assailant armed with an AR-15 begins a shooting spree in the parking lot. Jake is forced to make a split-second decision: engage the threat or retreat to safety. His choice to confront the shooter highlights the core theme of the episode—decisive action in the face of danger.

Jake’s Response

Jake’s response to the threat is commendable. He uses his vehicle as cover and positions himself to get a clear shot at the shooter. After shouting a warning to the assailant, Jake fires, successfully neutralizing the threat. The immediate aftermath involves Jake ensuring the shooter is no longer a danger before calling for help.

Training Insights

The debrief reveals critical insights into Jake's actions. While his decision to engage the shooter was effective, the trainers provide valuable feedback on how to optimize his response:

Use of Cover: Jake utilized his vehicle for cover but was reminded that car doors offer concealment, not substantial protection from bullets.

Maintaining Distance: Keeping a safe distance while engaging the threat is essential. Jake did well to avoid close-quarters confrontation.

Decisive Shooting: Trainers emphasized the importance of making accurate shots quickly to stop the threat, especially when the assailant shows signs of continuing aggression.

Continuous Assessment: Even after the initial engagement, maintaining situational awareness and being prepared to act again if the threat persists is crucial.

Equipment and Techniques: The episode also highlights the importance of being familiar with your defensive tools. From the reliable Walther PDP to the compact Ruger Max 9, having a dependable firearm and knowing its capabilities can significantly impact the outcome of a defensive encounter. Practicing with your equipment in various scenarios, including unconventional shooting positions, ensures you’re prepared for real-life situations.


"First Person Defender" provides an invaluable platform for learning and improving defensive tactics. Jake’s experience underscores the importance of readiness, quick decision-making, and continuous learning. By analyzing real-life scenarios and receiving expert feedback, viewers can gain practical knowledge that could one day save their lives. Stay vigilant, stay prepared, and always strive to improve your defensive skills.


What is "First Person Defender"?"
First Person Defender" is a reality-based training show that puts participants in high-stress, real-life scenarios to test and improve their defensive tactics and situational awareness.

How does the show simulate real-life threats?
The show uses actors, realistic environments, and live-action role-playing to create scenarios based on real-world incidents, allowing participants to react and learn from their experiences.

Why did Jake Welch choose to engage the shooter?
Jake's decision to engage the shooter was based on his assessment of the situation. By taking action, he aimed to neutralize the threat and protect others in the vicinity.

What lessons can viewers learn from Jake's experience?
Viewers can learn the importance of using cover effectively, maintaining a safe distance, making decisive and accurate shots, and continuously assessing the situation even after the initial threat is neutralized.

How important is equipment familiarity in defensive situations?
Being familiar with your defensive tools is crucial. Knowing how to operate your firearm, understanding its capabilities, and practicing in various scenarios can significantly impact the outcome of a defensive encounter.

What should individuals do to prepare for potential threats?
Individuals should seek training in defensive tactics, practice situational awareness, familiarize themselves with their equipment, and continuously seek to improve their skills through education and practice.

About First Person Defender

First Person Defender places everyday men and women from all walks of life into highly intense - oftentimes scary - situations where they must make split-second "life or death" decisions when it comes to their safety, or the safety of their loved ones.The situations are fluid, variable, and unscripted. We use Simunition® guns and marking cartridges that produce painful results - on bad guys and the good guys alike. See what works...and what doesn't.

The First Person Defender series isn't afraid to tackle complex, modern scenarios including: workplace violence, kidnapping attempts, school shootings, domestic violence, home invasions and so much more.Working with premium firearms and tactical trainers, FPD offers a unique learning experience for the participants and the viewers. Each episode offers individual perspectives on unfolding events, with endless outcomes possible.

Beyond the episodes themselves, the First Person Defender series showcases premium training tips from some of the top firearms trainers in the business. These are the people who've "been there and done that".Whether it's professional insight on using the latest gun gadgets and gear, training concepts you can immediately put to use, or a fresh take on your own defensive mindset - First Person Defender is the "infotainment" you've been looking for.

Learn more about First Person Defender HERE
If you're interested in being a part of the First Person Defender Experience, visit HERE

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