Situational Awareness, by David
The world we live in goes unobserved by many. When events occur, often times they are unforeseeable and come as a complete shock to the world, or so they seem. Training the mind to perceive these threats is possible and may save you and your families lives.
The vast majority of society goes about their days, commuting in the same traffic to their 9-5, 5 days a week. Once work is done for the day, they return in the same traffic back home. They stop at the store and pick up a few things and carry on. These people exist as sheep. It isn’t their fault, it’s the society we live in. They exist with their heads down, unaware of the world around them, going about their day. It is important to note that in regard to situational awareness, these are the targets of opportunity.
If you are one of these people, and you wish to change that, this article is for you. If you are the sheepdog, the one who protects the sheep but is outcast because you resemble the wolf in many ways, then you understand. The world is full of wolves, or people that prey on the sheep. I aim to help those who wish to become sheepdogs.
Observation saves lives
In the moments leading up to an attack, the attacker may give off cues as to their intentions. Many times, these people are nervous and display fidgety behaviors. They’ll seem off, and generally cause you to double take at them if you are paying attention. These red flags are what you must recognize. If it seems off, it probably is. This is what prevents these attacks and saves lives. Now, that doesn’t mean that every weird person you see in a bar wants to shoot the place up. It’s a delicate balance and one that takes time and practice. However, it may just save you on a late-night putting gas in your vehicle.
I like to take note of everyone in the area, and if I get any red flags (things like strange behavior, clothing that doesn’t fit the area, obvious weapons, shifty eyes, hands in pockets) I really take note of them as they have earned my attention. Early on, you can practice scanning rooms and developing a procedure that works for you. Left to right, right to left, it doesn’t matter. It’ll feel weird and probably look even more weird, but this is what creates good habits. Practicing will develop the ability to subconsciously conduct this as routine, just like locking your car. Many people who teach this have hard and fast rules, and I don’t believe there are any. It isn’t a crime to look at someone at Target because they look weird, regardless of what this generation thinks.
Personally, I am constantly observing everyone, it’s habit. As a former police officer who worked the street, you get used to having a conversation with someone and not looking them in the face necessarily like is normal in conversation. Faces don’t hurt people, hands and arms do. I’ll carry on the conversation, but my focus is on weapons (obvious or concealed that are printing). I’ll observe common social cues that generally tip off an imminent attack (bladed stance, balling of fists). Again, this doesn’t mean that I’m a robot in society assuming the worst 24/7. If I am stationary, I naturally gravitate towards walls, as I like having one area that I don’t have to focus on. I count egress routes and am aware of windows, as these are common avenues of ambush, as well as my escape.
Our best weapon is the ability to deescalate a situation verbally. If someone you observe decides that they have an issue with you, you don’t have tip your hand just because they did theirs. Let them talk and if you can talk your way out of it, that’s a win. Violence is our last resort and needs an entire article on its own. (See my EDC article for a bit more).
This school of thought is especially important for women. Being vigilant can not only save you, but your children. In today’s age, it is clear that pedophiles exist and are thriving. Women are considered soft targets but being a step ahead can save your life. Always practice situational awareness, and if you can legally carry a firearm, do so.
Be observant, build it into your daily routine to watch the world around you. If it feels off, it is. Learn your environment, at a minimum egress routes. Be vigilant, and remember that with great power comes great responsibility (haha, if you get it). You are your own first response.
Article by David
US Army 2012-2015, 2018
LEO Special Operations 2017-2019