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When you’re getting out of dodge or escaping a crisis, you need to be aware of one of the biggest risks when you’re in transit. And that’s the ambush. Criminals who are now preying on unsuspecting travelers to sustain themselves, who will happily leave you dead or dying on the side of the road while they escape with all your gear.

The difficulty is in surviving, because ambushes by their very nature are a surprise attack, one that catches you off-guard. Of course, being heavily armed and in a defensible vehicle is a good first step, but in my opinion avoiding an ambush altogether is a better place to start.

What is an ambush attack?

Designed to take the victim by surprise, the trouble with an ambush is they can take place almost anywhere. To counter such an attack, you need to understand how the different elements work together, so you can avoid getting caught out.

The first step is getting you to stop. By whatever means necessary there will be an obstacle in your path. Perhaps it’s a few parked cars crossing the road, a felled tree, or even just a person on the roadside waving you down. The goal of this initial action is to get you to stop.

But not to stop just anywhere. You’re in an exposed position where your ambushers can open fire from their own defensive locations. It could be heavy wooded areas on the side of the road, large cliffs that gives them a superior position, or another tactical advantage.

Finally, is the trap. This is where you’re locked into position, so you cannot escape. Maybe another tree is dropped to cut off your retreat, or other cars are driven right up behind you to lock your party in place. When you’re trapped in the fire zone, you’re in a perilous spot.

Of course, surprise is the key here. It gives the attackers an edge as they can start firing before you’ve even brought your weapons up to bear. You’ll be shocked, surprised and may even freeze as it’s all going down. Exactly what the bad guys want.

Here’s how to counter it.

Don’t go headfirst into a trap

Have you ever done something against the feeling of your gut that something’s not quite right? That’s your intuition, and in a survival situation, you should be listening to it.

If you’re approaching an area that feels a little off, or looks like the perfect place for an ambush, it may be best to simply stop, and consider your options. Perhaps it’s smarter to find another route, or if not, pay attention and look for the signs of an ambush.

  • Is there a road block or another obstruction in your path?
  • Is there anyone acting suspiciously or erratic in your path?
  • Is there someone trying to wave you down to stop?
  • Is there any cover (man-made or natural) on the sides of the road?
  • Are there any unnatural sounds, like gunfire or shouting?

Don’t go unarmed on the road

Anytime you are travelling in a crisis, you and your party should be armed. Rifles and shotguns are hard to maneuver inside a vehicle, so my advice would be to have pistols and handguns at the ready. Safety’s on of course, unless you’re approaching a danger area.

The downside here is that shooting from a moving vehicle is incredibly inaccurate, and you’re unlikely to make a clean shot, especially at those attacking you from behind well-thought-out cover. But returning fire can give your opponents a little pause, in that you’re not the unsuspecting victim them believed you to be, and that can help you escape. Oh, and having a canister of pepper spray handy can give you a close-quarters means to defend anyone approaching your car.

Don’t lose communication

Another important aspect of travelling on the road, especially if you’ve more than one car in your party, is to stay in communication with each vehicle. They may spot something you didn’t notice, or you can at least alert the trailing cars of the situation you’re approaching and they can hang back until you’re clear and through. Each member of our survival group has a simple CB radio in their car, so we are always able to communicate on the road.

Don’t freeze and do nothing

No matter what happens, even if you’ve been surprised by an ambush, you need to act, and fast. Your attackers are counting on you to freeze up in shock, that’s part of their advantage. You can counter this by being vigilant. If you’re still in your car, perhaps you can speed up to break through the roadblock that’s been setup. If you’re not yet too deep, perhaps you can reverse out before the trap is sprung.

The hardest targets to hit are the ones that are moving, so whatever you do, don’t freeze and do nothing. You need to move and get out of there. If your car is immobilized, you need to exit and dive for the best cover you can find. Don’t worry about returning fire at this stage, your primary goal is to get out of the firing zone and get behind cover. Then you can start looking for targets to shoot at.

The best way to avoid an ambush is to keep your eyes open, and stay vigilant when you’re driving after the SHTF, especially if the landscape or situation seems like an ideal ambush location. Use a little caution, and even if it takes a little longer to reach your final destination, it’ll take far longer if you’re ambushed on the road and you lose all of your gear along with your vehicle. Be smart when you’re bugging out people, and stay safe.

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