The human brain is an interesting machine that somehow manages to survive the ongoing contrast between conscious and sub-conscious. For our part we tend to see the conscious as the equal and, if we were honest with our egos, the "better half" of the brain. After all, this is where we as individuals do our daily living. Yet the conscious mind has a problem. It is subject to preconceived notions, prejudices, memories that fall into the spectrum of truth and half truths and our own idealism.
And we bring these pre-packaged synaptic firings with us into every self-defense situation we face. The sub-conscious however is free from such clutter. Take for instance when you unexpectedly hear an explosion of some type. The neurons fire so fast that your head and upper body cringe into a protective posture almost as fast as your ears can hear the deafening noise. It is only after the incident, even if it is mere seconds, or less, that your consciousness kicks in and a threat assessment is conducted, "Oh that's thunder" or "that was a rifle shot, a pistol shot, etc.."
Much like our conscious brain is filled with pre-conceived prejudices that can impact an outcome, so can our tactics in a self-defense scenario. Take for instance cover and concealment. On the surface we all agree that anything that stops a bullet from making contact with you is in fact a very good thing. However once we start talking about concealment, we transcend from cover "AND" concealment to "versus". For many people within the self-defense and dare I say "tactical" communities, seeking out concealment during a hostile encounter is often little more than an afterthought.
We live in a world of inconsistency when it comes to finding cover and concealment and we have to understand how they can work in concert with one another. Because while concealment is about hiding it is not about cowering and whereas cover does in fact act as a barrier against incoming fire it can also become a trap. If you can not effectively fight and stop an attack from that cover or if need be, move and take flight from it, then it is only as good the time provided until a shooter re-positions themselves to change the angle of fire. Ask yourself this, in your daily life what do you encounter more of? Concealment or cover? Which offers more flexibility to fight and move or possibly just move. A large dumpster in a parking lot next to a thirty foot section of hedge is going to stop a lot of small arms fire, while the hedge row, to borrow a term from executive protection world, can get you out of the kill zone. The more distance you create the smaller the target you can become.
While the covered areas won't stop incoming fire, they provide a good avenue for strategic exit.
And while you may have thoughts in your head of crouching behind a small concrete barricade and returning fire, the first question I would put forth to you is, is there enough cover to protect anyone and everyone who is with you. Because alone is one thing, with your family is quite another.
Do not misread the intent here. This is not a campaign to minimize the importance of cover. It is intended to encourage you to think differently and to make tactical decisions amidst violent situations. Concealment's role against an armed attack is do to precisely that. Conceal you. If properly done, or done enough to be sufficient for the time being, it can help you move to cover and hopefully keep moving. A bad guy can not target with any effectiveness that which he can not see. Hence concealment. Therefore, while a concrete support pillar or wall might be your ideal cover, if you look around you'll see that such things are limited in the world, and who's to say that once the shooting starts they won't become quickly occupied by other people trying to do exactly what you are doing. An office hallway lined with drywall and hollow core doors doesn't offer any protection against bullets going through it. They can however by you time to get out a window, find secondary cover within that concealment or find something in which to mount a defensive response.
Along with facing the possibility of not being able to find cover there is also the distinct possibility that you won't have your favorite handgun with you when the feces hits the impeller. Ever travel where you are not armed? Mind you it doesn't have to be any place exotic, it can be your child's school or where you work. In July 2002 Hesham Mohamed Hadayet walked up to the El Al ticket counter at LAX International Airport and proceeded to shoot at more than ninety passengers waiting in line until he was shot and killed by Chaim Sapir, who was employed as security by the airline.
Going to the range and shooting seven yards, running through an IDPA match, or continually practicing mag changes are all good things but they are also rudimentary elements that are not going to prepare you for the shock and awe of real world violence. You have to think differently and train accordingly.
Confucius once wrote that when a wise man points at the moon the imbecile examines the finger. If you are of the mindset that you don't need to seek out training in order to better prepare yourself for a gunfight I can assure you, you're not pointing at the moon.