The absolute best way to guarantee that you survive an armed encounter is to stay out of one. I do not care how well you think your training is or how many skills you think you have developed and mastered behind the gun, once you get involved in an armed encounter, the outcome is never certain. Lets face it, bad guys aren’t exempt from getting lucky from time to time.
Predators, be it a lion, or a wolf or a violent criminal will always try and pick the easiest target. Why chance defeat when you can all but guarantee victory by going after the weakest, least capable prey. And just like lions and wolves, violent criminals have a keen ability to spot the easiest targets among us. Many people make it way to easy.
The “tactical” term for being aware of what is going on around you and making decisions based on your surroundings is situational awareness. Learning to be situationally aware is the key to reducing the odds of getting into trouble. If you possess situational awareness, you will be able to navigate even the worse of neighborhoods successfully. Of course, staying out of bad neighborhoods is probably the first rule to follow if you want to reduce the risk of an encounter with a violent offender. But I know that there are many reasons that this may not be possible, so reducing your risk is key.
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You first need to understand where you are and what goes on it that neighborhood. If rapes, robberies and assaults are a daily occurrence, you need to on high alert for trouble, especially if you are there at night as the hours of darkness is the most likely time a violent encounter between strangers will occur. If you are in an area that has never seen a violent crime, the odds of one happening while you are there aren’t very high. But be aware that anything can happen, so be alert just the same.
Next, you need to keep your eyes and ears open ALL the time and keep your attention on your surroundings. I can’t tell you how stupid it is to walk around texting or with earbuds in listening to music. There are times when those kinds of things are perfectly okay, but while walking out in public isn’t one of them. First of all, a smart phone in your hand with your attention being focused on it, instead of the world around you is a major invitation to thieves. Smart phones are a major attraction to bad guys and the reason for many robberies. I have literally seen people run into stuff and each other because their nose was buried in the phone. Earbuds are also a no-no because even if you are aware of what is going on around you, anybody can walk up behind you and assault you before you even know they are there.
Now it isn’t enough to just be keenly aware of what is going on, you must also process correctly that information and make the correct decisions based on it. It’s not enough to know that a particular location is a bad place to be, you must weight the pros and cons of being there. If you are aware that an area is high in crime, and you go there without just cause, then you haven’t practiced good situational awareness. Maybe staying out of trouble is as simple as taking a detour around a particular location that might not be wise to be in. The route might add ten minutes to your trip, but you will arrive at your destination safely.
Sizing people up isn’t as hard as you might think and it is critical to being situationally aware. Is that guy down the street with a gun a potential threat? Well, if he is wearing a police officers uniform, he isn’t likely a threat. If he is wearing his gun on his hip and pushing a baby stroller, he isn’t likely a threat. In fact, most armed bad guys hide their guns until they are ready to use them, so when you size people up, let your instincts take over and trust them. Bad guys come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and yes, sexes, but more times than not, you will know one when you see one.
Now I could talk for hours on the tactics of situational awareness, but you should have gotten the point by now. Pull your head out of your ass and pay attention to what is going on around you and trust your instants. If something doesn’t seem right, take action, be aggressive by taking a proactive approach to your personal protection. If you keep your senses actively scanning for trouble, you will see it coming before trouble sees you. More times than not, trouble can be avoided without incident, and thats our main objective anyway.
Don’t just survive, thrive!
Carrying a firearm for personal protection brings with it an awesome responsibility. You have the power to change a person’s world forever, and even the power to take their life. It is you duty as a responsible gun owner to always obey the cardinal rules of firearms safety and to understand the laws where you live and travel with your gun. Do your due diligence become educated on the use of force continuum and become proficient with your firearm before you leave home.