Target Indicators – Part 1 of 10 – Shape; How to avoid it yourself and how to spot it in others.

Target Indicator Shape AK47

It doesn’t even take the whole firearm to be a Target Indicator, just a portion or even just a magazine can violate the Target Indicator Shape characteristic.


Anyone that carries a gun, the concealed carry holder, those that keep a firearm for home defense, to those in the armed services should be aware of Target Indicators and recognize if they are violating any of them, and be able to identify the bad guys when they violate them.

The first Target Indicator we will explore is SHAPE.  Nearly everything that is man made looks different than things that were made by nature.  Nature *rarely* creates anything in straight lines, or right angles, or true cylinders.    Here is an example of a SHAPE violation.

AKM Black 72 dpi compressed

Nearly everyone on the planet recognizes this for what it is – a military style assault rifle (or the civilian semi-auto equivalent).


There is obviously nothing made by mother nature that looks like an AK, an AR or any other military assault rifle (or any of the civilian equivalent clones). We know they are man made and they are target indicators.  We want to eliminate that for ourselves (painting works well) – and we hope our enemy keeps his rifles “black”.  Note that even portions of the firearm are target indicators – it doesn’t take the whole thing.  Just the upper barrel as it is sticking up above a wall or a vehicle can be a SHAPE violation.  Notice that anyone can tell what is hiding behind that vehicle – someone with a rifle. TARGET INDICATOR.

AK barrel above vehicle compressed

Almost everyone we know that is a gun barrel sticking up from behind the car – TARGET INDICATOR.


Note that be simply painting the longarm it disguises the shape to large degree.  Some people think that you should only paint your rifle if you use it out in the woods, or desert or something.  However notice how well a painted rifle’s shape is disguised when in a cement “urban” background.  That is why I paint all my rifles.  It reduces the Target Indicator potential.

2 AK against a cement wall compressed

Which is easier to see against an “urban” background? That is why we paint our longarms, to break up the shape.


It is not just our tools that can violate the SHAPE target indicator characteristic.  

Our face and head can be huge violator too.  The SHAPE of the human head and face is very distinctive.  Therefore we need to be aware of that and if the situation warrants it, we need to do something to mitigate the fact that our face can give us away.

One of the simplest things to do is to wear a boonie or floppy hat. The wide floppy brim helps break up the shape of the head.  Adding a mosquito net disguises the shape even further.  The Israeli’s have taken that one better and use a large floppy camo net on the helmet that totally disguises the shape of the head and helmet.

Helmet cover avoids Target Indicator

The Israeli’s use this camo helmet net to disguise the shape of their helmets. This lowers their Target Indicator potential.


Camo face paint can also be used to good effect in breaking up the shape of the human face.  Be sure to adhere to the proper principles of applying camo face paint.  It isn’t necessary to look like a tree, it IS necessary to “flatten” the face.  This is accomplished by putting lighter camo paint around the eyes and other areas that are sunk in, and putting darker colors on the nose and eyebrows and other areas that stick out.  By doing this it will flatten the face and help disguise it.

It is also not necessary to have to visibly see the object in order to have a SHAPE target indicator violation.  

SHAPE violations happen all the time with people that carry concealed handguns, particularly those that carry “appendix” style.  Appendix style is where you carry your handgun just off center on the front of your body, sort of where your appendix is, hence the name.  However, if you have an ill fitting holster, or a large handgun, or a too tight of shirt, everyone will witness your SHAPE violation.  Here is an example, note the SHAPE near my appendix area.  This is an obvious Target Indicator violation.

Appendix carry Shape Violation compressed

Here is a classic Target Indicator Shape Violation while CCW’ing in Appendix position.


There are plenty of people that carry concealed handguns in other areas besides the appendix carry that violate the SHAPE target indicator.  

In the concealed carry world this is called “printing” – but in reality it is a SHAPE violation.  Care must be taken with whatever carry method you choose to minimize the odds of violating the SHAPE target indicator.

The goal is to develop your mindset so you are aware and cognizant that you are not violating the SHAPE target indicator, and be situationally aware to the point where you will pick-up and recognize when the bad guys does violate the SHAPE target indicator.

If you have any questions or comments about the SHAPE target indicator, please post them below, or hit me up on any of the social media linked on this page.  It is my passion to help you develop your Warrior Triad.

If you found that the information I publish has helped you, I would appreciate it if you would help me by sharing, or reposting any of my work.  It would also help if you clicked on any of the advertisers on my pages, you don’t have to buy anything from them, just merely clicking on them helps me out.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and take care until next time.

Here is a video of this blog.


tire iron



Categories: Mindset


  • Bob Sommer says:

    Thanks TI. Excellent
    I used to be an old deer hunter, now I’m just old. BUT, on several occassions in the forests and fields, I have detected glint from other hunters. Sometimes wet leaves and stuff will glint, but seeing another hunter because there is a reflection from the lens of his scope seems unacceptable to me. I have not used a scope much, normally iron sights/peep sights on my trusty 03-A3 or Garrand. However toyed with the simple expedient of putting some cylinder on the front of the scope to cut the chances of side light presenting a glare. Can’t protrude too much or it restricts the view.

    Have always adhered to the idea that there are no straight lines in nature but that is not right. Fallen trees and limbs, fractured rock outcroppings and probably other stuff will probably be straight.

    Peace, Looking forward to reading the rest of your stuff. Son and dad were marines and I am inclined to BELIEVE you guys are on the top of the stack.
    VR Bob

    • tire iron says:

      Thank you Bob! I appreciate you taking the time to post your thoughts. And “glint” is one of the next Target Indicators we will discuss – only we will call it “shine”.

  • Claymation says:

    Thanks, a lot to think about and put into action. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  • Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your web site by chance, and I
    am shocked why this accident did not happened in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

  • motorhommie says:

    Good info TI. This is critical stealth info. I see too many “black rifles” and exposed hands and face skin on drills. Obviously they did not get your memo! Keep up the great info.

    • tire iron says:

      Thank you motorhommie – I appreciate the kind words. You are correct – this is critical info when hunting/being hunted. Thank you for reading and for posting!

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