A Place To Hide

Written specifically for moms,
A Place to Hide will equip you
to survive a public shooting.

$12.99 for a limited time only
directly from the publisher.

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About The Book

Written specifically for moms, A Place to Hide will equip you to survive a public shooting.

Sadly, these tragedies are occurring at an ever-increasing rate, and if you have never thought, “What would I do?” then you are simply not prepared.

A Place To Hide covers the following topics and more:

The book’s final section is dedicated to “safety audits” of specific locations such as schools, restaurants, shopping centers, etc.

You owe it to yourself and to your children to be prepared and ready for immediate action if ever the sound of gunfire fills the air. Reading A Place to Hide is a significant first step toward that goal.

– Situational Awareness

– Mental Condition

– Minimizing Risk

– Flight or Fight

– Degrees of Cover

What’s inside


Situational Awareness


Avoiding Risk


Flight or Fight


Finding Cover


Preparing for Shock


When the Smoke Clears


Situational Awareness

Being aware of your surroundings is the first step toward staying safe in any given environment. Experts call this “situational awareness,” which is simply a matter of paying attention to what is around you and adjusting your mental disposition as those things change.

I was first inclined to explain the process of potential mental adjustments in terms of a traffic light because that would be easy enough for most people to remember:

• Green: Relax, all is well
• Yellow: Pay attention, something’s off
• Red: Act now, your life is at risk

If that makes sense to you, then go ahead and use it. You will be more aware of your circumstances and more able to adjust your mental condition than most people are.

The only problem with that illustration is that the “yellow” category is too vague. We need to add another color, and as you might have guessed, it is going to be orange.

I first learned the “four color codes” of situational awareness and mental condition from an old black-and-white video recording of Col. Jeff Cooper (1920–2006). You can probably still find it on the Internet. What follows is a brief summary.

Condition White: Oblivious

This is the condition in which most of us would prefer to live our lives each day.

For a guy like me, condition white would look something like a quiet Sunday afternoon on my homestead, sitting on the couch reading a good book, my dog napping on the front porch, and my pistol sitting on the coffee table.

For a mom like you, it might be a quiet Saturday afternoon, with a warm bath drawn, some scented candles burning, and the steady hum of your husband’s riding mower in the distance.

Those who have intentionally created “safe spaces” for themselves deserve to spend time within them while in condition white, but they must also be ready to make a mental shift to code yellow as circumstances change.

Condition Yellow: Aware

This mental state is only a small step away from white. If, for example, you are soaking in the tub and you hear the UPS truck coming down the driveway, your mind will naturally shift from being oblivious to being aware, but it will be a relaxed awareness. After all, your overly protective husband is out there mowing the lawn. This is code yellow.

Col. Cooper said, “You can stay in yellow for the rest of your life” because it involves no specific alarm or threat. It is just the mental state of being consciously aware of your surroundings and always being ready to shift to the next level of awareness if necessary.

Just so you know, living by the four color code can sometimes make going out to lunch with new friends a little awkward. Whenever the hostess shows us to our table, I always take the seat that best enables me to see the whole dining room, especially the front door.

Do people sometimes notice? Might some think it strange? Undoubtedly. But if anything bad ever happened while dining with us in public, they will probably prove grateful for this personal idiosyncrasy in the end.

Stay aware. That’s code yellow. Don’t be anxious, but calmly scan your surroundings, identify the exits, and glance up whenever new customers enter. This will leave you perfectly equipped to respond if a “yellow” situation escalates into an “orange” situation.

Condition Orange: Alert

While code yellow is a mental state of relaxed awareness, a shift into code orange becomes necessary when a new and specific element is added to the situation.

Think back to our lunch date, for example. If a waiter drops a tray, or someone starts yelling, or a street gang enters through the doors, your state of relaxed awareness should immediately be heightened to a focused awareness. You are now on alert.

If the noise indeed was just a dropped tray, you can quickly shift back into code yellow once they start sweeping up the mess. With the other examples, however, code orange is where your mind needs to stay until the specific disruption or distraction is resolved.

By the way, be mindful of how you appear to others as you actively monitor your environment. Practice the fine art of observing without staring. Prolonged eye contact can be intimidating and can sometimes agitate the wrong person.

Just keep your eyes open. Keep them focused on whatever seems “off,” and start thinking about what you would do if you needed to act. Yes, you have just started running scenarios in your mind. Welcome to the club!

I say that somewhat in jest because I realize I may have ruined your next date night. Rather than gazing into your lover’s eyes, you will now be scanning the room. Don’t worry, though. You can do both. Again, you could live your whole life in yellow.

Code orange is, obviously, way more intense, but in most cases, it is only temporary. An actual threat either materializes or does not. If it doesn’t, then go ahead and enjoy your meal. If it does, the meal is over, and it is time to move.

Condition Red: Action

Quick review: We started in white mode, which was a happy state of oblivion. Safe within the confines of our own homes, we can sometimes “tune out” and give little thought to what’s happening outside.

Then, however, we walked the dog, took the kids to the park, dropped off books at the library, went out to lunch, and that necessitated a shift to code yellow (i.e., a relaxed awareness of our surroundings and strangers present).

If, in one of those imagined situations, something doesn’t seem right, or something gets loud, or something goes wrong, you shift into code orange. Your awareness is now laser-focused on a specific potential threat.

Again, a genuine threat will not materialize most of the time, but if and when it does, you need to respond and take immediate action. This is code red, time to act.

Of course, what exactly that action should be depends on the circumstances and could include a variety of things like running, hiding, fighting, calling the police, etc.

The first thing you should do, however, applies to almost every imaginable situation: Get down! More on this later.

It is not so much our interest in this section to explore these options as it has been simply to explain the four categories of situational awareness that determine your mental state.

Obviously, no one ever wants to be in a code red condition. Sometimes, it is inevitable, but thankfully, it is oftentimes avoidable. We will consider this in the next chapter.



Includes specific “Safety Audits” for:

Airplanes, Aldi, Banks, Bathrooms, Buses, Churches, Concert Venues, Doctors’ Offices, Farm and Fleet, Fast Food Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Hospitals, Libraries, Menards, Movie Theaters, Parades, Schools, and Walmart.

What Readers Are Saying

The greatest defensive skill is awareness. McShaffrey’s book is a must read for everyone, whether they choose to be armed or not. The best fight is the one we avoid.

Jim Wilson (Former Texas Sheriff, Contributor to Shooting Illustrated)


A Place to Hide provides the mindset needed to respond appropriately instead of freezing, since preparedness results in clearer thinking when you find yourself in such a dangerous situation.

Beth Warford (Founder and Owner, Pretty Loaded)


Mindset is the foundation of self-defense. This book is a great read on situational awareness, and the deep dive on threat assessment is spot on. Always have a plan to get out!

Aimee Grant (Firearms Instructor, Field Editor, and Contributor to American Handgunner)


Sadly, our culture is changing quickly... one public shooting after another seems to fill the headlines. McShaffrey's book will help you and your loved ones make crucial decisions no matter where the next dangerous outbreak takes place.

Matthew Everhard (Author, and Pastor of Gospel Fellowship Presbyterian Church)


Christian was born in the South, raised in the Midwest, and moved North to start a family and plant a church. He and his wife Kelly are raising the younger of their six children on a quiet—and very safe—homestead just outside of town.

When not working at church or at home, Christian enjoys a variety of hobbies such as writing, music, website design, hunting, fishing, pistol-craft, and  sailing.

The author has traveled extensively to teach on various topics. He has spoken in America, Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland. If you would like to book him for an interview or seminar, use the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Christian McShaffrey

The Author


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