Situational Awareness - Page 2

Situational Awareness

This is a discussion on Situational Awareness within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Originally Posted by shooter380 In many post there is talk of increased Situational Awareness (SA). Other than keeping eyes and ears open what can I ...

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Thread: Situational Awareness

  1. #16
    Distinguished Member Array Pro2A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shooter380 View Post
    In many post there is talk of increased Situational Awareness (SA). Other than keeping eyes and ears open what can I do to increase my SA. Do any of you have any special tactics that you employee in usual situations such as retail stores, driving through town or city, while eating out or even while you are at home. All ideas are welcome and appreciated. Thanks
    I play games. For example I try to find the next person with something in their right hand, and then try to figure out what it is. I look for the next person with a red shirt, or a blue ball cap etc... If I am in the grocery store I make it a point to look for the next person who has XYZ item in their cart, and actively seek that.

    The key is to watch peoples hands. When I am in line, I like to watch the people in front of me exchanging goods and money. Keeping up with exercises like that will keep you aware.

    Whenever I am in a store or resturant and can see the door, I make a point to look up at every person that walks in and a mental note of their demeanor, dress, what they have on them etc...

    Anyone that doesn't seem "right" I keep an eye on, or make a mental note of where they are in the establishment that I am in.

    There are plenty of things you can do to keep sharp and aware.


  2. #17
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    Just be congnizant of your surroundings...always!

    The wife and I will play a "did you see that" little game. If/when we pass someone (or a group), one of us may ask questions like "What color was that guy's shirt?", or "How many kids did that family have?".

    We both will coment on women (or men) chatting on a cell phone in a parking lot, etc.
    It keeps us both looking around.
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  3. #18
    Senior Member Array jhh3rd's Avatar
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    I usually look for anything that can be used as an expedient blunt weapon. An example would be in movies where someone is trapped in the bathroom. How come the trapped person never comes out swinging the tank lid? Sure beats a can of hairspray.

  4. #19
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shooter380 View Post
    Other than keeping eyes and ears open what can I do to increase my SA. Do any of you have any special tactics that you employ ...
    Being more aware of situations you're in. That's all that's really involved. The trick is how to do it more frequently, or with better reliability.

    The goal of the exercise is, of course, to ultimately be better prepared to handle a situation that goes sideways on you. Having even a few seconds of extra time to prepare can mean the difference between surviving a situation well, versus being caught completely off-guard and being in a very dangerous position. Another goal is to avoid false positives in your "radar" system, so that you sense things when they're strange but don't get strange when nothing's a problem.

    Techniques?

    To improve my ability to see the risks in my own neighborhood, I find it useful to occasionally imagine being a burglar or home invasion idiot, trying to think through which homes have features that appear the most inviting, or would have features that would help me (hypothetically) to complete my crime successfully. Is there bad lighting, cover from visibility, evidence of poor maintenance, evidence of someone not being there, evidence of unlocked doors/windows, and so on. Trying to think like a criminal when viewing your own neighborhood can help you begin to see some of the risk points, particularly when you put that together with information you get from your local sheriff/police departments regarding your own neighborhood.

    When walking along a street, I pay particular attention to my blind spots. If in town, I try to cross the street now and then, so I have an opportunity to see behind me. Anywhere, I try to see what looks out of place with the following elements: attention being paid by someone to me, those around me, the situation; excited or nervous behavior for no apparent reason; dramatic chances of direction for no apparent reason; people following too closely. I always try to give corners and "openings" some distance.

    I also play "games" to keep the mind fresh. Count the number of people, those with a certain type of shoe or color of jacket. Count the percentage of folks who seem fidgety, nervous or otherwise out of place (though they'll likely just be the local druggies). Always, I try to maintain a sense of the "pulse" of the street, to feel how things are flowing. Occasionally, you can get a feeling about the "electricity" (excitement) amongst the people, or whether people are on edge. The general level of other peoples' concerns can also help suggest a need to pay more attention and be more on guard.

    When sitting down in a restaurant, I typically look to have a table or seating arrangement that's nearer to the back exit than not, certainly facing the forward area if possible.

    When driving in a car, I have always maintained a frequent scan of my surroundings. It's more of a holdover from my motorcycling days, when paying attention to the surroundings could mean the difference between getting struck by an inattentive driver or avoiding such cars. Know who is to your left or right; be aware of tailgating; frequently change your lane or pattern, to see if someone's "sticking" to you (changing/moving when you do). Don't let the gas get below 1/2 to 1/3 of a tank, just so you can be sure that you'll have your choice of where to fill up, instead of getting stuck and being forced to fill up in a bad area. When driving up to a spot, review the area and be on the watch for things that are out of place or danger signs.


    None of these things are foolproof. None will catch everything. In some places, some of these tactics will help get you noticed, with you standing out like a sore thumb. So, adjust to fit the situation, locale.

    Hopefully, some of that helps.


    Quote Originally Posted by rcain007 View Post
    Some people seem to confuse SA with paranoia.
    Yup, many do. Their loss.
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  5. #20
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    In traffic, keep enough space between you and the car in front of you to be able to get around it and take off if need be. You don't want to be in a situation where you can be hemmed-in in your car if you can avoid it.

    The biggest thing I see people doing in which they are oblivious to their surroundings is talking or texting on their cell. They are clueless as to what is going on around them.

    Notice details to see if you could describe someone or a car. Pay attention to where you sit in restaurants so that you can see everything going on.

    My wife has told me for years that I don't miss anything. I notice minute details...always have. Way before I knew what SA was.
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  6. #21
    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    Sometimes SA is not always an active trait. SA is also dependant on passive observation, and not placing yourself into situations at a disadvantage (wearing sunglasses at night, sleeping at a family picknick, walking around with headphones on, bluetooth yacking away while walking, etc).
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  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcain007 View Post
    Some people seem to confuse SA with paranoia. To me, situational awareness means to always be aware of your surroundings. Keeping a constant scan on people, vehicles, or just anything out of the ordinary, as well as knowing possible escape routes ir cover locations if the "situation" should present itself. This is especially important when in a strange or unfamiliar place, or in a vulnerable "situation" such as having to use an ATM machine at night in a bad part of town.
    Great response. I would say this about covers it.
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  8. #23
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    Thanks to all for their thoughts and ideas on this topic. Lots of good suggestions. Thanks again.

  9. #24
    Senior Member Array Sky Pilot's Avatar
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    When you come out of the store into the parking lot, a common error is to tunnel vision in on your car and follow that straight line.
    Don't do it.
    Come out of the store, look around.
    Look hard left and hard right.
    These are ambush points where predators wait for people who come out of the store looking at their car and following that narrow line of tunnel vision.
    A previous poster mentioned leaving "escape room" between yourself and the vehicle ahead, this is an old professional chauffeur's trick: stop so you can still see the other vehicle's rear tires. You'll have enough room to escape left or right, traffic permitting.
    Much good advice on this thread!
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  10. #25
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    Excellent posts!

    Being more aware and playing the games is a big part of my thing. Nobody is beyond the potential 'enemy' list. I becomes a habit very soon and part of your daily life.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilMonk View Post
    It has less to do with tactics, and more to do with training. The Survivalist, Tom Brown, pointed out that past times such as television have made us a culture of Tunnel Vision Automatons. You go through your day simply going about your business and not watching anything that occurs around you.

    Try this:

    Instead of watching someone directly (surefire way to get noticed and draw unwanted attention), watch them with your peripheral vision. Place your eye's focal point on something nearby and observe the individual's actions in this way. You draw less attention, and you appear to be staring off into space. In a way, you are using everyone's assumptive psychology against them. You blend right in with this one.

    Remember that your eyes are older in design than your legs are. Your genetics still remember that some of the worst threats come from flying predators. This is why your upper register of sight is more attuned to motion than any other section. When turning a corner, I routinely look down about 10-15 feet ahead of me to give that area of my sight to what may be in front of me. Just a split second of extra "heads up" time. Again, this appears to everyone else like you're simply playing along with social norms and minding your own business.

    Try closing your eyes in familiar settings and noticing what they sound, smell, feel, and even taste like. You can improve hearing by opening your mouth just one inch. This better tunes the ear canal for auditory waves. With your mouth open like this, you can taste the air as well. Take a mildly deep breath through your nose and mouth with your tongue slightly raised. If you've ever been to a wine tasting, this is almost the exact same process. Allowing the tongue to maximize its exposure to airborne particulates will increase your ability to smell. Remember the old trick with a blindfold, an apple, a potato, and a plugged nose? Same principle. Not to mention, with your mouth somewhat agape, you again blend right in.

    Come up with games to play with your children, spouse, or friends while "out and about" that emphasize covert observation and awareness.

    It just takes time to reprogram your mind after years of being told to "mind your own business" and sitting in front of the "Tube" for hours each day.

    Remember also not to "stare down", or obviously observe in too many places. While these actions have their place, widespread use will attract attention and give you the unwanted label of "busybody", "tough guy", or "trouble maker". You will also look like you're casing the joint. These aren't good, and not at all what you want. The idea is to blend in, not establish your "alpha-male dominance" or territory.

    I would rather appear to be a complete dullard and let everyone around me assume as much while discussing what they think within my hearing, than try to look like some "Bad *****" and not have a clue what's going on beneath the surface.

    One more thing...

    Trust your instincts! You have them for a reason. I don't really believe in Super Powers or Psychic abilities and such, but I do believe that the Human Brain is exceptionally complicated and capable of much more than we give it credit for. Your subconscious is going to want to survive no matter what. Listen to it. If something just "feels wrong", don't feel silly about getting yourself and your loved ones out of there. They may complain, but when and if it turns out that you were right, you will be vindicated.

    Good luck!
    thanks for that post....good to hear!!!!...keep em coming!

  12. #27
    Senior Member Array Luis50's Avatar
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    Born in NYC. Raised in the South Bronx. Everyday was an exercise in SA. It's how I was brought up. See everything without looking. Run if you can...fight if you must. If you must fight, make it explosive and fast with finality as your objective.
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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffMRC View Post
    Here's a simple practice for SA I read about for survival. Everytime you check in to a hotel find the staircase exit. Then count how many doors you are away - this comes in handy in the event you have to crawl out of your room with a hallway filled with smoke. Next, look at every fire extinguisher on the way to your room - are they full? Now expand on that every chance you get and repeat every time. Where are all the exits, are the doors chained shut (recent nightclub fire disasters), hall cameras, what side of the building are you on, who doesn't fit in, etc. Practice everywhere you go.
    Practice makes perfect and speaking of nightclub fires.....I sometimes patronized the Station nightclub in West Warwick, RI. I had planned on being there the night of the tragic fire but had hurt my back earlier in the day pushing some ladies car out of a snowbank.

    As I saw the news unfolding on TV, the news anchors said that they did not know much about the club. I grabbed the phone and called the TV station. From having been there maybe 5 previous times I was able to recall each and every exit in the building, the layout of it's interior, how many fire extinguishers were visible, and where and how the bathrooms were situated. I advised the TV station and they used my info for a preliminary diagram about the clubs interior during their special bulletin that night.

    My point here is that...being aware of exits, layouts, and hazards has become so second nature to me (via practice practice practice) that I was able to draw up an entire floor plan from memory without ever really thinking about it. Ive become so accustomed to subconsciously mapping interiors of places I go that I retain the info with little or no effort. Knowing where you are, where you can go to escape or where you can go to find cover and concealment are huge SA factors that can really pay off.

  14. #29
    VIP Member Array cmdrdredd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shooter380 View Post
    In many post there is talk of increased Situational Awareness (SA). Other than keeping eyes and ears open what can I do to increase my SA. Do any of you have any special tactics that you employee in usual situations such as retail stores, driving through town or city, while eating out or even while you are at home. All ideas are welcome and appreciated. Thanks
    I watch the doors, see who's going in and out of restaurants and convenience stores. I don't stare but I casually glance. I try to observe hand gestures and body language. You can tell when someone is nervous for example. I don't usually look for specific things or people. I am just observant of what's going on around me. When I'm driving, I watch everyone who is crossing the street between cars. Especially if they come near me at a red light. I'll never understand why they can't use the crosswalk, but that's a different matter.

    Situational awareness isn't rocket science. There's no right and wrong way. The key is to be observant of your surroundings and don't get into the mindset of "nothing will happen". As long as you keep an eye out for any possible trouble and are casually observant, you can be a step ahead of the average Joe.
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