No matter how familiar you are with firearms, looking down the wrong end of the barrel is intimidating.
Still police say the most important thing in a dangerous situation involving a gun, whether you're involved in a robbery to a store or getting robbed yourself, is to keep a cool head.
Madison Police Department Spokesperson Lt. John Stringer advises, "Remain calm. Be aware of what's going on around you. Be aware of the person that's there with you. And try to remember as much as you possibly can for police officers."
They emphasize in almost every situation, fighting back is not worth the risk.
Lt. Stringer explains, "For a robbery at gunpoint, what's worth your life? A few valuables, some credit cards, a wallet, those are things that you have to make that decision. How important is it to you?"
Even if you have a weapon of your own, striking back is rarely your best option.
Lt. Stringer says, "Remember that action is faster than reaction. Somebody already has a weapon pointed at you. The odds of you being able to react to that and not get hurt are probably going to be very, very slim."
The biggest thing you can do is prepare yourself mentally, and take some time to think about how you would act in a dangerous situation.
Lt. Stringer adds, "The body will only successfully go where the mind has already been. So in order to remain calm in those circumstances, you've got to think about what could happen to you."
No matter how tense the situation gets, keeping a cool head might be the difference maker that helps police catch a criminal, but it could also save your life.
In fact, police say the way you handle the robbery itself might not be as important as the way you handle your call to 911.
Police say dealing with dispatch appropriately can make the difference for cops as they try to find robbers.
First, the most important thing is to stay calm. It's difficult in the situation, but it's critical for dispatchers.
Second, don't flood the dispatcher with information. The dispatcher has to work in a certain order, and they can't take down everything at once.
Third, answer the dispatchers questions. They have a specific order they work in to make sure the right personnel get to the right place. Answering their questions in order expedites the process.
Finally, don't get frustrated with dispatcher. They're doing their job to best help you, even if you don't understand the way they're collecting information.