Cultivating situational awareness

Cultivating situational awareness

This is a discussion on Cultivating situational awareness within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I am aware of the need for situational awareness. I try to practice it, but I know I could probably be doing a lot better. ...

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Thread: Cultivating situational awareness

  1. #1
    Member Array Ishmael's Avatar
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    Cultivating situational awareness

    I am aware of the need for situational awareness.

    I try to practice it, but I know I could probably be doing a lot better.

    I also know that people who are really situationally aware must have some techniques or patterns that they follow, little benchmarks they set themselves, lists of steps they always take to be sure their scans are as complete as possible. Anyone have any hints? Also, any good books or other resources I could look into?


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    This should help get you started.

    http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...ness-Exercises
    "I do what I do." Cpl 'coach' Bowden, "Southern Comfort".

  3. #3
    Ex Member Array hamlet's Avatar
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    Situational awareness is more about NOT doing some things as opposed to some trick or active exercise. It's not getting lost in thought as we all do, for example when walking alone at night, or getting "kidnapped" by one sight or sound too long, or so intent on a conversation if you're with another that your "forgetter" turns on; in other words you let your attention roam on the environment around you, HERE, NOW: sounds, sights, and/or that subliminal sense something is nearby, helps to move your head around instead of just your eyes because peripheral vision then actually can allow you to take in close to a 360 - though not the direct back. Stick with roving awareness of sensations, sights, sounds etc., rather than thought.

    I lived in NYC for many years - and go frequently now; for all there this is 2nd nature when on the streets.
    Last edited by hamlet; November 21st, 2010 at 08:15 PM. Reason: spelling

  4. #4
    Ex Member Array EB31's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamlet View Post
    Situational awareness is more about NOT doing some things as opposed to some trick or active exercise. It's not getting lost in thought as we all do, for example when walking alone at night, or getting "kidnapped" by one sight or sound too long, or so intent on a conversation if you're with another that your "forgetter" turns on; in other words you let your attention roam on the environment around you, HERE, NOW: sounds, sights, and/or that subliminal sense something is nearby, helps to move your head around instead of just your eyes because peripheral vision then actually can allow you to take in close to a 360 - though not the direct back. Stick with roving awareness of sensations, sights, sounds etc., rather than thought.

    I lived in NYC for many years - and go frequently now; for all there this is 2nd nature when on the streets.
    Well said. I agree, being from Jersey, SA was second nature at 5 yrs old lol. Sounds funny, but is the truth.

  5. #5
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    I'm a people watcher anyway...my head is always on a swivel. This has develop over time since I began to CCW about 10 years ago.
    The wife and I will questions each other, even in the mall, about someone we both should have observed, i.e., color of shirt, how many kids, kind of hat, etc. This 'game' helps with SA.
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    VIP Member Array shockwave's Avatar
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    This is a life-long skill you work on, and it never ends.

    There are no tips or tricks to it. The best analogy I can think of is from a movie titled, The Missouri Breaks. In it, Marlon Brando talks about how you can't see a distant star if you look directly at it. But if you tilt your head to the side, it becomes visible from the corner of your eye. SA is like that.
    "It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."

  7. #7
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Tips......be suspicious of everything and everyone. Don't be paranoid. Have excellent eyesight and judgment. Have good night vision. Set yourself a perimeter that will take you from a condition yellow to orange. Be able to feel your immediate surroundings and the aura that's present. Know when you're in a bad or compromising environment. Avoid those environments if at all possible. Be aware.......folks who walk around looking at the floor are not aware. If you home in on something.....don't get distracted. Be aware of obstacles (can work against you) and possible cover (can work for you).
    I realize that as with most things.......people generally think anything can be learned with the proper materials...textbooks, videos, a formal class, etc...... Many of these things can assist in ways only each of us could describe individually. A formal schooling on the subject would almost dictate some hard and fast rules as a basic foundation, but from then on, it's how each individual takes the approach. Situational awareness could be a slight kin to some of the martial arts in as far as a move for a move, or a dedicated response to an incoming advance. But that's close quarters battle. You never want to be in that position if you can help it. Concealed carry is a remote discipline.....one that should keep one from ever getting that close to begin with. Situational awareness goes very deep for me. So much so that I assess what others are capable of in their own situational awareness. As an example, I even assess law enforcement officers when I see them in public, on duty, and on foot. What they are carrying, how they are carrying, and what types of interactions they are performing at the moment that may have them distracted from their own situational awareness. I have the opportunity to observe them more since they carry openly. In my state, I have to conceal. I've also observed armed guards carrying large bags of money out of stores...those like Brinks and such out of the armored cars. IMO........most of them I've seen and scrutinized have poor situational awareness. I'll tell you why. I've seen several that will carry the money bag on the same side as their duty weapon. Typically a mistake in my book, and they always seem to be looking for the door instead of around them. Routine and repetitive I'd imagine. I've carried openly myself in places I've been allowed to do so lawfully. It takes me to the next level of situational awareness because I've scrutinized others (professionals) while doing so. Carrying is most definitely a bit more than carrying a card in your wallet and a pistol now and then. It demands a change of life, and in a lot of ways. Situational awareness will more than likely befall you from experience within your normal environment and scrutinizing every aspect of it and what you're surrounded by, and what types of situations you enter into willingly after assessing the environment. A formal military background never hurts, but then again....your in a group with a team effort most of the time and an objective. Thinking that I have enemies here, on domestic soil, is something I've had to come to terms with myself. A formal military background only good in so many ways. We're not actually at war here, and yet we are in a way. Best thing we can do is stay smart, alert, and think. Lots of times I think things over after I've encountered them, then work over some different scenarios. The mind works in mysterious ways. Always think on your feet, and take in everything your environment has to offer and turn it into a learning experience for yourself. Gather intelligence. Intelligence only comes from the outside....we were just born with the basics to build on.

    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    This is a life-long skill you work on, and it never ends.
    Nice reply.

  8. #8
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    I keep a $20 bill sitting on the hall tree in the entrance way. IF someone is in/was in, my home it would be missing. Bill still there? I walk to the end of the hall where I can glance and see if any windows have been broken.

    When I leave my house, or ANYWHERE, I look 20-30 feet to the left, then the right, then back to the left. Anyone sitting in a car? Anyone out of place? Any cars that I don't usually see?

    When I leave a store/office building I will NOT let someone walk directly behind me. If I hear steps I stop, glance back, stop, allowing them to pass and pretend to look at my cell phone.

    When stopping in traffic I try to stay in the inside lane with 20-25 feet from the car in front. If an 'issue' arises I can steer left into the next lane, or go over the sidewalk.

    I have alarm stickers on my doors and windows ( don't have a ADT alarm? Not to worry. You can get the stickers from e-bay.)

    I replaced the screws in my door locks, and frame, with 3 inch screws that i coated in Carpenters glue.

    My windows have 2 locks PLUS dowel rods cut to size that I painted bright yellow so they can be seen when walking by.

    EVERY SINGLE thing listed you can do on a daily basis with NOBODY being the wiser.

  9. #9
    Distinguished Member Array Jason Storm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1 old 0311 View Post
    I keep a $20 bill sitting on the hall tree in the entrance way. IF someone is in/was in, my home it would be missing. Bill still there? I walk to the end of the hall where I can glance and see if any windows have been broken.

    When I leave my house, or ANYWHERE, I look 20-30 feet to the left, then the right, then back to the left. Anyone sitting in a car? Anyone out of place? Any cars that I don't usually see?

    When I leave a store/office building I will NOT let someone walk directly behind me. If I hear steps I stop, glance back, stop, allowing them to pass and pretend to look at my cell phone.

    When stopping in traffic I try to stay in the inside lane with 20-25 feet from the car in front. If an 'issue' arises I can steer left into the next lane, or go over the sidewalk.

    I have alarm stickers on my doors and windows ( don't have a ADT alarm? Not to worry. You can get the stickers from e-bay.)

    I replaced the screws in my door locks, and frame, with 3 inch screws that i coated in Carpenters glue.

    My windows have 2 locks PLUS dowel rods cut to size that I painted bright yellow so they can be seen when walking by.

    EVERY SINGLE thing listed you can do on a daily basis with NOBODY being the wiser.
    -I avoid parking beside a van if possible. If not, I keep an eye on the window and door of the van prked next to me.
    -I shield my hand dialing my pin number on the ATM machine or card scanner at the register.
    -I keep a decoy wallet w/ false ID and $3 in chump change in my back pocket in case I get accosted or pickpocketed. My real wallet is in my front pocket at all times.
    -I keep myself bladed when facing the ATM enabling myself to get ready for action anytime.
    -I do not use ATMS outside or at the driveway.
    -I have my keys/OC in my hand before I exit the building.
    -Just like you, I let anyone that is behind me pass by me.
    -I also walk against the traffic, if possible.
    -When walking past a suspicious group of people or past a corner, I raise my hand close to my face to protect myself pretending to rub/scratch my head. Some pre-emptive defense against a sucker punch. I may also have one of my hands on either my OC or tactical knife that are clipped to my front pants pocket.
    -Some vehicle tales me for a while, I do a series of turns to see if it is after me. If so, I do not head home and instead go to the police station.
    -I also keep a pen and notepad on my console in case I have to jot down a suspect/suspect vehicle description.
    -I also do a quick clear of my house w/ my pistol out just to make sure it is not broken into. I also check in closets, the wndows, and under the bed. Good practice too. If I see something broken into, I call 911.
    -I also avoid parking directly in front of a building.
    -I always try to find a seat facing the entrance and cash register. I seat close to the exit is also the best thing if I have to escape a robbery or hold-up.
    -I check my car before entering it and I check outside before exiting it.
    -All valuables are kept out of sight and in the trunk of my car.
    -Windows always rolled up, even in the summer. If it's hot, I use the A/C. Doors also remain locked at all times.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Array stevem174's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ram Rod View Post
    Tips......be suspicious of everything and everyone. Don't be paranoid. Have excellent eyesight and judgment. Have good night vision. Set yourself a perimeter that will take you from a condition yellow to orange. Be able to feel your immediate surroundings and the aura that's present. Know when you're in a bad or compromising environment. Avoid those environments if at all possible. Be aware.......folks who walk around looking at the floor are not aware. If you home in on something.....don't get distracted. Be aware of obstacles (can work against you) and possible cover (can work for you).
    I realize that as with most things.......people generally think anything can be learned with the proper materials...textbooks, videos, a formal class, etc...... Many of these things can assist in ways only each of us could describe individually. A formal schooling on the subject would almost dictate some hard and fast rules as a basic foundation, but from then on, it's how each individual takes the approach. Situational awareness could be a slight kin to some of the martial arts in as far as a move for a move, or a dedicated response to an incoming advance. But that's close quarters battle. You never want to be in that position if you can help it. Concealed carry is a remote discipline.....one that should keep one from ever getting that close to begin with. Situational awareness goes very deep for me. So much so that I assess what others are capable of in their own situational awareness. As an example, I even assess law enforcement officers when I see them in public, on duty, and on foot. What they are carrying, how they are carrying, and what types of interactions they are performing at the moment that may have them distracted from their own situational awareness. I have the opportunity to observe them more since they carry openly. In my state, I have to conceal. I've also observed armed guards carrying large bags of money out of stores...those like Brinks and such out of the armored cars. IMO........most of them I've seen and scrutinized have poor situational awareness. I'll tell you why. I've seen several that will carry the money bag on the same side as their duty weapon. Typically a mistake in my book, and they always seem to be looking for the door instead of around them. Routine and repetitive I'd imagine. I've carried openly myself in places I've been allowed to do so lawfully. It takes me to the next level of situational awareness because I've scrutinized others (professionals) while doing so. Carrying is most definitely a bit more than carrying a card in your wallet and a pistol now and then. It demands a change of life, and in a lot of ways. Situational awareness will more than likely befall you from experience within your normal environment and scrutinizing every aspect of it and what you're surrounded by, and what types of situations you enter into willingly after assessing the environment. A formal military background never hurts, but then again....your in a group with a team effort most of the time and an objective. Thinking that I have enemies here, on domestic soil, is something I've had to come to terms with myself. A formal military background only good in so many ways. We're not actually at war here, and yet we are in a way. Best thing we can do is stay smart, alert, and think. Lots of times I think things over after I've encountered them, then work over some different scenarios. The mind works in mysterious ways. Always think on your feet, and take in everything your environment has to offer and turn it into a learning experience for yourself. Gather intelligence. Intelligence only comes from the outside....we were just born with the basics to build on.



    Nice reply.
    +1
    Don't do things you don't want to explain to the Paramedics!

    Stupidity should be painful.

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array chiefjason's Avatar
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    My wife has a great way of doing this. She pays attention to who is watching her. If she sees someone watching her in a store, then see's them repeatedly in the store, she starts paying more attention to them. I've said it before on here, she is scary good at it. And she reads people better than anyone I have ever met.
    I prefer to live dangerously free than safely caged!

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    I am aware of the need for situational awareness.

    I try to practice it, but I know I could probably be doing a lot better.
    No training needed with this stuff.

    If you understand, things are just as they are... If you do not understand, things are just as they are....
    - Zen Saying

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    Distinguished Member Array kelcarry's Avatar
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    Hey Sig: I think you received some great advice from several repliers. I am 69 and lived all but the last 10 years in NYC and NJ and have never had occasion to even think about a need for CC--maybe I have just been lucky but I have followed many of the repliers' very well-defined ideas and thoughts. Bottom line in my book is that situational awareness is the precursor to anything CC or overt defense. You can have all the firepower you want but if you are wandering aimlessly, or are drunk, or are just daydreaming, and doing it in an area that is "ripe" for a ripoff, it is not going to do you much good when someone "surprises" you.

  14. #14
    Member Array Ishmael's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone. I know there aren't "tricks," I guess I'm more trying to think about systems or schemas to help me make sure I'm keeping track of things. An example of a schema is, if you know the game of chess really well, you can memorize the board more quickly than someone who doesn't. Or because you know how many digits a phone number has, you can memorize a number faster than someone who's never used a phone. Similarly, when walking around, as much as I *know* I need to keep aware, I'll suddenly realize that, while I'm watching the sidewalk around me, I've forgotten to look for signs that someone might be sitting in a car ahead of me. I feel like some of these oversights will only change if something bad happens to really teach me the consequences (not a desirable way to learn), or if I come up with systems to help me scan more effectively--systems that will eventually become second nature.

    Anyway, thanks for the link, Guantes (http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...ness-Exercises). There are some good hints there about observing people, etc. But I'm still looking for a good, I don't know, maybe a mnemonic device to help me remember to scan systematically. Or, if I realize I've been daydreaming, to get "caught up" efficiently.

  15. #15
    RKM
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    I've been working on my SA for months. I'm not perfect but I work on it everyday. I have some off days where I have no idea whats going on. Maybe I'm tired, sick, etc. That all affects your SA. I practice practice practice and it doesn't come easy. Though, I'm way more aware and cautious now that I have been carrying then I ever was.

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