Situational Awareness

Getting ready to head out the door- we go through our Pre-flight checklist:

Draw stroke with sight picture, press-check, smooth reholster, knife? Yep. 500 Lumen light? Check. TQ? Youbetcha. Spare Mag? Yes. Back-up blaster? Oh yeah. Credentials/CPL? Darn tootin. Sturdy shoes? Nike defense is a ‘Go’ flight. Cigar? Most definitely….and so on and so on.

Then, weighed down with our belt-carried armory, we get in our cars and venture out into the sea of wandering masses and horde of civilization living in condition white.

Even as prepared as we can be with the latest and greatest gear and training, we still all fall into the old adage that should stick in our psyche as prepared, responsible citizens:


“3 Feet, 3 Rounds, 3 Seconds.”


Now, the above info is NOT a statistic. It might have been sometime long ago, but what we do know is that statistically, a defensive scenario will be a close-in, fast and potentially life-ending moment where our years of training, intestinal fortitude, stress management, gear selection etc. will be tested in a vacuum of violence.

So why does this statistic exist with so many prepared citizens roaming about? Shouldn’t it be, “21 Feet, 1 round, No Time Limit, fire for effect”?

The answer is easy; Situational Awareness.

We live in a world of things that update, beep, flash, email, call, play music, list GPS coordinates, IM, chat, Tweet, purchase, etc. that like the real-world, have a funny way of pulling our eyes from where they should be to where they do us no good in the game of life.

One could argue that the rule of “3,3, and 3” come from a scenario where badguy 1 is meandering down street A and bumps into Responsible Citizen 2 who is out for a stroll. The proximity to the two as their paths collide spontaneously cause Badguy 1 to remember that he is in fact a bad guy and the attack happens as random as a gust of wind.

If you believe this then I have got a really special deal for you on this new 5.7×28 pistol from ATEi. (Mike Wagner just A. spit his coffee out and 2. Wrote down, “Take Trek off of my Xmas card list.”)

If we as responsible citizens believe for a second that a ‘professional’ criminal waits for divine intervention prior to an attack- it’s time to hang up the spurs and not leave the house.

Like us- they plan. Their pre-flight checklist is most likely different, and possibly not as lengthy or in depth as ours, but it exists. They are thinking about their intended ideal target, the location they will prowl, and their end-goals for the day.

So in knowing this, we can picture a map where we are operating in, a possible bad guy is located and then we fill it with everything else- people, cars, stores, little Sally on a bike, Nuns, puppies, etc.   Essentially Real life, Everywhere, USA.

This is where it is critical to tell Siri to shush when we are not in an area that we control and do what the public are more and more losing as a life skill; Pay Attention.

Our ability to keep our eyes up and on those around us can virtually stop us from ever having to exist in the “3-foot circle of doom” just by staying frosty.

As we go about our daily business, we should be paying attention to what I call the, “3-S’s: Sights, Sounds, and Sneers.”

I look at the sights. What is happening in the world around me? Is that smoke? What is that group of people up to? Etc.

I listen to the world. Is that screaming? Was that a gunshot? Was that, “On a Boat” with T-Pain??

I look at the faces of the people around me as 90% of communication is done non-verbally.  Are those two people angry at one another? What is that guy staring at? Is he motioning to another across the store?

Whoa. Those two guys on the sidewalk 40 yards ahead are coming at me and they have their eyes locked on me. They are moving with purpose. They have their hands in their pockets. They are dressed almost identical.

Time to act.


Stop. That was a joke. PLEASE DON’T DO THAT. But seriously, something isn’t right in this scenario and we need to know more, right now.

At this point in time we know that in a few moments, the range between the two parties will be in the danger zone. (LAAAANNNNAAAAAAA!!!!!)  and although creepy, we have no way to know if they mean us harm or if they are on their way to an Ass-hat convention.

By using a Vector Change, we can 1. Open up the distance between us and 2. Ascertain if we are indeed being targeted.

A Vector Change is quite simply, an intentional and direct off line to another direction that would force a potential threat to make an unmistakable change in direction and cause them to lose the element of surprise.  Successfully using a Vector Change allows us to bring additional training skills to the top of our mind and prepare for spatial positioning and tool usage (Voice, Less Lethals, Firearms)

In this environment, we also have Barriers at our disposal. Barriers come in two forms: Cover (Like a brick wall, car (limited) or curb (depending on weapon, threat distance etc.) and Blockage. (Like a chain link fence, etc.)

By placing a Barrier in between us and a perceived threat, we gain more time to act on our defense. Barriers come in all shape and sizes, and one size does not fit all threats.

As a note, Barriers that we notice before bad things happen generally work in our favor. Barriers that we didn’t know existed usually work in the inverse. (Law Enforcement officers often back up into their squad cars that they just got out of when increasing a reactionary gap while walking backwards)

The last option that we have is the tried and true method of Avoidance. Farnam’s old adage, “Don’t go stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things.” Is sometimes the best defense.   If you walk into Wal-Mart and hear what sounds like a verbal altercation getting louder, guess what? Right across the street is ANOTHER WALMART – Shop somewhere else.

Just because we are prepared to meet a threat does not mean that we need to meet a threat.

In short, A gun, knife, gun, pepper spray are tools to assist the greatest weapon that you have- your mind. Work on looking back and saying, “Man, what a great gun, it gave me a life of service and I never needed it.” Versus, “Take a look at these scars.”

More tools for the toolbox.

Take care and stay safe all!

– Trek

Situational Awareness

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