Situational Awareness

This is a discussion on Situational Awareness within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; 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 ...

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Thread: Situational Awareness

  1. #1
    Member Array shooter380's Avatar
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    Question Situational Awareness

    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

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    Member Array rcain007's Avatar
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    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.

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    Member Array OldLincoln's Avatar
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    I asked the same question quite a while back. I got good advice and found the best comes from the scenarios. There is usually comments re SA in responses. Just put yourself in their situation and ask what would you have done and learn from others.

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    Senior Member Array EvilMonk'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
    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!
    That which does not kill us leaves us broken and bleeding...

    Don’t mess with the guy who can barely stand up. His remaining options for self-defense don't include your survival.

    Convenire Volui Spectatus

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    VIP Member Array Hiram25's Avatar
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    Just "Pay Attention"!
    Hiram25
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    Retired DE Trooper, SA XD40 SC, S&W 2" Airweight
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    Member Array JeffMRC's Avatar
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    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.
    "I wish I would have done the hard things when they were easier to do."

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    VIP Member Array friesepferd's Avatar
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    Try not to concentrate on specific things like staring at every person that walks by and decided what kind of threat they could be (although not a bad idea, there are better things for you to be thinking about).
    Just do a sweep view of everyone in the room. Take quick note of where all the exits are, where places to hide are. Think about where you are sitting in a resteraunt relitive to all of that. While having a convo with someone, or directly after, take a moment and think about what movement had recently gone on around you. You didn't need to count how many people that walked by, but did you notice the family of kids sitting down at the booth behind you, or did you see the big angry guy stomp out of the bar area?
    Wo die Notwehr aufhört, fängt der Mord an
    (Murder begins where self-defense ends)
    Georg Büchner

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    Member Array TheFreeman's Avatar
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    Parking lots are a big one where SA goes up for me, especially in the evening. There is a lot of cover in a full parking lot that is dark.

    Someone I know was driving through a WalMart parking lot one evening. He noticed that a car had followed him in and down several lanes to the area he was planning on parking. Instead of parking, he went ahead and circled around to see if the car would keep following. Sure enough it did. About the time he got on the phone and called the police is when the car decided they had been spotted and took off. The manager of the store informed him that a few times in the past month, someone would "bump" someones car, then when the other individual got out to inspect, they would rob that person, and leave.
    One of the most dangerous political philosophies afflicting America today is the belief that we can’t allow anyone to suffer the natural consequences of their own stupidity.

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    Member Array tawcat's Avatar
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    Never herad it called SA. But I always tell the wife "to be aware is to be alive."

    Falls in line with SA; I say again "to be aware is to be alive."

  11. #10
    Distinguished Member Array MinistrMalic's Avatar
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    IMO the biggest thing is to constantly be aware of your surroundings. By "being aware" I mean more than being awake; I mean being pro-actively aware of what is going on around you.

    My kids and I practice this little game by scanning around us for license plates when we are driving. In the game you get one point for 2 numbers or letters together on a plate (like 2ARG5776 has two 7s next to each other); you call out the numbers to the others and get a point! ("Sevens!"; "Rs!") You get a point as well for two numbers or letters separated by a letter...we call that a "sandwich" so the plate 2ARG5756 would be a "Seven Sandwich" because the meat in the sandwich is a 7. There are more rules in the game but you get the point, and it makes my kids proactively look at their surroundings. We also look for certain things in people (mullets, odd t-shirts, and the like) that make my kiddos look at people not look past them.

    These kinds of "games" make you look at people more actively and see who they are and what they are doing. It's not paranoid, but you'll DEFINITELY start to notice when things don't seem right around you. I also have a real habit of looking people in the eye and greeting them as a SA tool. When they are in my vicinity I will make eye contact and say "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" and see how they respond. It's a SA tool that can tell me a lot about their attitude in a hurry.
    "...whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one." (Luke 22:36)
    Christianity and Self Defense from a Biblical Perspective

  12. #11
    Ex Member Array Deanimator's Avatar
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    It's like being in the military.

    Look for "key terrain" - entrances, exits, paths to and from entrances and exits, cover and concealment, etc. Do you have clear fields of view (and fire)?

    Look for essential elements of friendly and enemy information - Who's hanging around? Who's a likely potential threat? Is somebody acting in an odd or threatening way? Who or what is out of place? Long trench coat in 100deg heat? Somebody muttering to himself or a nonexistent person?

    Common sense works as well at the ATM as it does in the Korean DMZ.

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    Senior Member Array cz75luver's Avatar
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    "Tactics"? I think it's a little simpler than all of that; just trust your gut.

    If you're coming up to a red light, look who's around and see if anyone stands out. When you come to a stop, is anyone approaching your car? Are they jittery?

    Keep an eye on your rear view mirror.

    If you're walking in a parking lot and someone else is there, are their eyes focused on you and are they walking towards you? If you change direction, do they follow?

    If in a parking lot and getting out of your car, do a quick scan while getting out to see if anyone is approaching. Do they follow changes in your direction? Basically, are they on an interception course?

    While walking around, look behind to see who's there and again if anyone is focused on you or following. If in doubt, pull into a shop or somewhere safe and see if they pass. What do they do after they pass?

    If in a store, is there anyone that doesn't seem like they belong. Do they seem anxious? etc.

    Always have an exit.

    Seems like common sense to me, but I grew up in the city.

  14. #13
    Member Array alienbogey's Avatar
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    Another thing to keep in mind is to be asking, "What doesn't fit in this picture?"

    Example 1: Evening, full dark, I needed gas and pulled into a gas & grub. The ill-lit pumps were off to the side of the brightly lit, full glass front of the convenience store. Parked on the side of the building, next to the pumps, was a ratty old car with two young males sitting in it. It struck me - why park & sit there? If they had (legitimate) business in the store they would have parked right in front in the most convenient spot and they'd be in the store, not sitting in their car. No one in the store could tell they were there but they sure had a great spot for watching the gas pumps. I never stopped, just circled the pumps and got gas a few miles away. For all I know they were completely innocent of any bad intentions, but they didn't fit the picture.

    Example 2: Briefly, a friend of mine in a big city noticed a pair of young men who didn't seem to fit the area. When they followed and accosted him he was ready, drew, and they suddenly had urgent business elsewhere. His initial SA that made him think that they didn't 'fit the picture' gave him the tactical advantage when they made their move.
    Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.

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    Member Array bubbahoundog's Avatar
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    Talk to a Yoga instructor, Tai chi, or martial artist about "grounding the self". Finding your "tandien" (or center) with your breathing. You must first "ground" yourself so you know your strenghts, and your weaknesses. That will dictate correct action. Instinct development.

    After that, well, I like Col. Cooper's color coded awareness practical, and simple for the armed civilian.

  16. #15
    Member Array Pepsi's Avatar
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    every time someone stops me and askes me a question, i feel like i drop my SA just a lil bit, like scanning to see if any body else is gonna come up on me

    my gf's got some good SA,

    me and her was walking to our car from the grocery store, and i was at the car, too busy paying attention to what im doing. and my gf " hey turn around" and i thought she was just nagging again, but there was this guy that was walking in our direction and too close. but he walked passed us and we looked each other in the eye and he said hi or something.

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