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Situational Awareness Tips

3805 Views 37 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  TN_Mike
I have been reading the forum today looking specifically for information on situational awareness. I know it's pretty self explanatory, but I would appreciate any advice that might be out there, particularly with regard to:

How much of a perimeter do you try to maintain/watch?

What are you looking for?

How much do you rely on intangibles like "spidey sense" for lack of a better word?

I have been trying to practice it to some extent since beginning the security position and when I used to work at a call center in a really nasty neighborhood in north Dallas and often left late at night. I am trying to practice it 24/7 now, particularly after dark.

I don't have a carry weapon yet but am trying to get in the right mindset before I do.

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Watch everyone and every thing...if it walks like a duck, be prepared to become a duck slayer if need be...always have a plan.

It's hard to teach someone to be alert. It's a mental attitude, a way of life, so to speak. One has to stay aware of those around and/or moving closer.

The fact that you are aware and asking about awareness is a step in the following direction.
My wife and I will sometimes ask each other about strangers who pass us or are a ways away, i.e. color of hair, number of children, etc. It is sort of a game of awareness.

Stay armed (with knowledge, if that's all you have)...stay alert...stay safe!
Pay attention:

If is doesn't seem/feel right=====it isn't. You subconscious can/will register things your conscious mind can/will ignore.

You can train you subconscious to ignore the warning signals.

You get a feeling to turn right at an intersection when you normally go straight. Just turn.

You may never know why or you may read something about it on the news the next morning.
Train yourself to be situationally aware. During your day take note of the times you're the most vulnerable and develop strategies to combat it. You'll soon find that your awareness grows as you learn to identify and defend it. It's not paranoid, it's life.

Profile. Sure it's not politically correct but it's necessary to your defense. Anyone is capable of crime but you'll identify the most threatening and prioritize.
Glad you are trying to get in the right mindset
before getting a gun permit and carrying but hope
it doesnt take too long. Not having a weapon puts
you at a big disadvantage and someone can be aware
all they want and thats great but being aware and then
not being able to stop an attack or whatever does slip by
doesnt mean much.
I could go on for an hour about this. I have tried to hone my situational awareness over time, but it's hard to explain or teach. I'm sure it's different with every person, too. I think you also learn a lot from incidents that happen before you get good SA...and even then, we all slip and fall into condition white when we shouldn't. It's just a normal occurrence. I was sucker punched from behind and beaten up by neighborhood punks at age 14. From that I learned to be aware behind me, as well as in front. To this day, even a kid can't run up behind me without me knowing it or assuming a defensive posture. It just happens. I was mugged at gunpoint in the Bronx when I was in my late 20's. I learned how to remain calm and talk my way into staying alive. I also learned how to watch the street in front of me...well past where I'm immediately walking. I had to suppress my fear and remain reactive to the situation, so as not to escalate it. Had I learned to take in a wider and longer view I could very well have avoided this mugging. I didn't carry then and New York City is like another country as far as permits go, anyway. Sadly, the majority of gunholders there are the criminal element. Most of what I do today, had it's roots back then. I never approach a van in a parking lot from the sliding door side. I walk wide past dumpsters on the street. I will cross the street if something doesn't look right. Many of these things are just automatic, and I'll never know if they prevented anything...I just do them. These are just a few examples of how I remain situationally aware. I've got tons others, but you get the idea.
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Do not discount the "spidey senses".
The have saved my sorry behind a few times.
I had a situation in England back in 1996 where I was walking with a girl who was on the study tour with me and we unwittingly walked into a very bad neighborhood while looking for a fish and chips shop we'd been referred to. The hookers standing around should have alerted me. About the time we realized we were in a bad area we got to the restaurant which was next to a pub and 3 guys stepped right in front of us completely blocking the sidewalk and "asked" for 18 pence for a pint. It was a ridiculously small amount, and a definite attempt to intimidate us into giving more. I grabbed my friend's arm, said "no thanks guys, we're going now", and stepped off the curb and went across the street. I remember one of them said something about not being scared, but it was pretty clear their intent was to scare us into parting with some money. Truth be told, if they had been intent on actually robbing us, they probably would have forced the issue and there wasn't much we could have done. I still kick myself for not seeing it coming. She was mad at me for taking over and manhandling her off the curb, but then she was a liberal. :)

Oh, I forgot to mention, thanks very much for the advice. I agree about carrying as soon as possible.
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As far as tips go of course always visually scan the area you are in.
Learn some good tips like dont walk close to vehicles in parking lots.
When you do get a carry permit or even now get some
good training dvds to watch and then practice the tactics
I like the ones by Lenny Magill. Also its good to practice some
self defense moves I think the best styles are Krav Maga and Jui Jitsu.
As most physical altercations go to the ground practicing Jui Jitsu is best
for this. Krav Maga is geared more towards weapon takedown tactics.
Get a good knife too for close quarters a knife can be far more deadly than
a gun. Also a good bright LED flashlight that fits nicely in your hand when you
make a fist. Someone can punch a lot harder with something in their hand and
you cant shoot what you cant see or at least its not a good idea to start shooting what you cant see clearly.
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ALWAYS, ALWAYS walk with your head up and on a swivel. BG's like victims that are not paying attention or looking at there feet.

like everyone else said, situational awareness is a way of life.
In New Orleans, my daughter (13 yr old at the time) kept walking a bit ahead of us, and no matter what I said she would not stay right with us. I kept noticing a guy across the street who seemed to be watching her. Next block, same guy across the street watching her. Next block... same thing, next block (after we turned a corner) same thing, and on and on..... for numerous blocks.

So, I alerted my son, who was 18, 6', strong, etc. to be alert for this guy. Sure enough, at one point..... when she was in a more secluded spot with no people around her.... he made a b-line for her. My son and I were instantly between him and her. He went chest to chest with me (leterally) and I had a time getting him off me as he kept trying to get past me... and I began double fist him in the chest knocking him away and he still kept trying to go for her. I finally promised to lay the @#[email protected]#$ flat if he made any moves like that again, and he wouldn't get back up. He didn't advance anymore, but wouldn't leave either. I told him "police were called & are on the way", and he changed the look on his face and ran away really fast. We had no way to contact the Police, so it was BS.

Ask yourself at times, "what if" ... what's my out, my escape, would I be in a good place / position to get out or behind/under protection if needed.

Does someone seem out of place, or be in a position or acting in a way that's not normal.

Is someone "looking around" a bit too much, nervous, etc. Someone with hands in their pockets, wearing a jacket or hoody in summer, and things out of the normal, act differently if you look their way. Scan the crowd, people, etc. noticing .... keep things in the 'corner' of your eye.... who's coming & going, etc.

There's a host of things..... and you will never be 100% with it.
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Watch everyone and every thing...if it walks like a duck, be prepared to become a duck slayer if need be...always have a plan.

I love that! Can I use it?

I try to always sit where I can watch those who walk through the door and familiarize myself with potential evasion/escape routes should I need one. I also make sure my wife knows where my carry is should I go down and she remains capable.

In my line of work I've learned to be able to spot a potential perp before they have a chance to ever do anything. Everyone's body language tells a story. Once you learn a little of the carry language, you'll learn to spot potential threats by body language; you'll also start spotting more folks that are carrying.

The military taught me to keep my head on a swivel. Best advice I could ever give. Hypervigilance can be good and bad.
Look at hands before faces.
Well for me, it may sound like paranoia, but everyone arond me is suspect, that is until I deem them no threat. I always watch my surroundings, beit cars, buildings or people. I just know that there are BG's out there and they want to find an easy mark.

I will continue to show that me and my family are just the opposite. Alot can be said about a person and how they carry theirself. I project a healty, strong unintimidated person that does not look like an easy target....

And if they think I may be and try to out forth any harm towards me, well they are going to realize that they made a HUGE mistake..

If youre working in a bad part of town now, and you know of this already, then I would say you have already started to work on your SA. Keep fine tuning it and stay vigiliant...
Keep your head on a swivel, look at everything, take note of things that don't fit in. Look up Kim's Game, its good for observation skills. Don't let yourself look like an easy target.

Trust your spidey senses, they usually know what is going on better than you think.
Go to work as a Correctional Officer, LOL. It did wonders for my SA.
Use all of your senses, look and listen for anything out of place or inappropriate. Think about distractions. One tactic convicts will use, is to start a fight on one side of the prison to draw attention away from what is really happening.
I try to pay attention to things both close to where I am and quite some distance away.
I also try to think like a BG.
I am 6'2 225lbs some say a little scary looking:tongue: and i am always surprised at how close I can get to people, especially women, then never see me, too busy looking at their phone or whatever. Never even make eye contact. I am always looking around the parking lot, store, mall wherever I am, for out of place people and escape routes if need be. I have found if you say hello to possible bad guys in a cheery manner it puts them off, one you are acknowledging their presence and two your demeanor shows you aren't afraid. But I am far from an expert, just my rambling ideas of situational awareness.
Being aware is a great step for sure
but I am reminded of Teddy's quote
"speak softly and carry a big stick"
He had a brown belt in Judo and was also involved
in boxing and wrestling and of course
his service in the Rough Riders all meaning he
could take care of himself if needed.
Good to be aware but if someone does attack you
ya gotta know some moves and carry a gun
How much of a perimeter do you try to maintain/watch?

What are you looking for?

How much do you rely on intangibles like "spidey sense" for lack of a better word?
I can draw and fire an aimed shot in about 2 seconds. A human can run about 15' in less than two seconds. I'd say, conservatively, 20'

I'm looking for anyone taking an undue interest in me. Someone standing and staring, walking aimlessly around my perimeter, or headed towards me, especially if he changed direction to approach me.

"Spidey Sense"...if someone makes me nervous by his actions, posture, or words. If he puts his hand in his pocket or under his shirt as he approaches. If his demeanor is threatening.

And on approaching...I let NO ONE approach me in a parking lot or on the street. I'm real quick with, "STOP! Stay back." And an alert posture.
Read "Principles of Personal Defense" by the late Col. Jeff Cooper. If you adopt these principles and practice them on a daily basis you'll increase your odds of avoiding (or surviving) a potentially lethal encounter.
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