What Happens in a CCW Class?

I often get asked what to expect in a concealed carry class. Really, it varies greatly. There is a wide range of abilities for instructors and can be a lot of diversity in what it taught.

If it is a straight up NRA Basic Pistol course you’re going to learn a lot about safe gun handling and proper shooting technique but often not much about actual carrying a firearm or using it for self defense.

If the instructor created his or her own course it can be a grab bag as to what to expect. Ohio law only has a few specific requirements and not required curriculum. But I can give you an overview of my class which begins similar to the NRA Basic Pistol course but then goes into defensive topics. I use a mixture of lecture, discussion, powerpoint presentation, pictures, and video.

We start with the basics: type of handguns, types of actions, terminology, proper operation, safe storage, and ammunition. We talk a bit about how to select a handgun that is right for you and how to clean and maintain it.

Then we’ll get into safe gun handling and proper shooting technique. We cover what to do when the gun or ammunition fails to function properly (stoppages and malfunctions).

After that it is on to the basics of self defense. Risk management, managing unknown persons, environmental awareness, conflict avoidance and deescalation, defensive mindset, etc.

We talk about keeping a firearm in the home, workplace, and on your person for defense as well as the accompanying issues like holsters, belts, off-body carry, and cover garments.

There is also time spent covering some of the legal issues with armed self defense ranging from how to apply for a concealed handgun license to some of the legal requirements for using deadly force.

From there it is on to the stages of violence, things like pre-assault indicators, criminal interview, positioning, and attack as well as recommendations for dealing with each stage. We end the classroom portion talking about what to do afterwards if you’re forced to use deadly force to defend yourself or someone else.

After that is the range portion. I usually do the range portion on a separate day because I like the students to be fresh and focused. We start shooting 15′ from the target and then move back to 21′. There are various drills that are kept pretty basic since this class is more about safety and basic shooting technique than an intermediate or advanced shooting skills class.

If you’re interested in taking my next class, check the training calendar!

Man stabbed for defending girlfriend’s honor

Lot’s of things for the armed citizen to think about in this story.

Overview: a man was walking with his girlfriend at 4:45am when someone started catcalling her. The man told the offender to knock it off and was stabbed nine times for it. He survived and is now calling for catcalling to be made illegal.

He’s mad that some are questioning why he was out walking at that time of night/morning. If it was a bad neighborhood that’s certainly a valid question. But they were walking home from a friend’s house which is a good reason so I give him that one. Though his argument that he shouldn’t be afraid because he lives in the area isn’t a good one to make.

You can also question the wisdom of being out unarmed, though the majority of people are. We can look at the options from both angles.

Many guys would find it difficult to remain silent if their significant other was being verbally harassed. We don’t know what words were exchanged but the fact is an unarmed person tried to correct the behavior of an armed and dangerous person. Whether there were threats or not, obviously the situation escalated.

Whether you are armed or unarmed, there are two common responses to such harassment: ignore it or respond to it.

Ignore it while unarmed
It is highly likely that the catcaller was out to have a good time and was looking for trouble. Had our hero and heroine ignored him he may have pressed the issue but oftentimes it is the fish that take the bait that get reeled in. You may scoff at someone who just “let’s it happen” and may feel it was worth it to end up in the hospital with 60+ stitches. However his woulds were nearly fatal and being dead leaves our fair lady alone as a witness to a killer. Better to ignore and see if the situation escalates.

Respond while unarmed
Well, we see the results of responding while unarmed. Pain, suffering, and nearly killed. Our hero may have thought he could verbally intimidate the bad guy. He may have escalated the confrontation by the manner of response by being so verbally aggressive he forced the villain to attack to save face. In other circumstances a verbal response may have stopped the catcalling but that is a big chance to take when you have nothing to back up your words. This time ended in a trip to the hospital. It could easily have ended in a trip to the morgue.

Ignore it while armed
The possible outcomes of ignoring the behavior while armed are very similar to ignoring it while unarmed but there is the added benefit of being able to defend if the bad guy then follows to escalate while unprovoked. Ignoring is still the best option with a possible armed response an additional benefit.

Respond while armed
There are some who will claim this is the best response. In the fantasy, the hero shuts down the harassment and knows he has the firepower to deal with any response. Or does he? This guy was armed with a knife. He could just as easily have had a gun. Or could have friends with guns. Maybe you get the desired approach, the villain is admonished, and the hero goes home with the girl. In this particular example, let’s say it played out exactly as it did only our hero is armed. Maybe the bad guy stops his attack at the sight of the gun. Or maybe the attack continues and the defender is forced to fire. We end up with a dead or wounded bad guy only the scenario isn’t over.

Bear in mind that indictments in shootings are far more common for regular citizens than police officers. Odds are very high you’re going to court over this and will probably spend at least a little time in jail during the process. You’ll get your day in court and then have to explain to the jury why a man deserved to be shot for making vulgar comments, which is the argument the prosecution is going to make. And remember that your jury isn’t a group of self-defense experts, chivalrous former marines, and gun forum junkies. It’s going to be soccer moms, barristas, waiters, department store clerks, and plumbers. Just regular ordinary folks who might not agree that you had to pull a gun one someone over mere words (and if the bad guy lived, he may sing a different tune as to what those words were).

It may be a hard pill to swallow, but whether armed or unarmed, ignoring idiotic comments is your best bet. The alternatives just aren’t worth death, imprisonment, or the loss of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Gun show accidents reinforce safety policies

I often get asked how I can support policies banning concealed carry at gun shows but completely oppose it for other public places. The answer is simple: you’re not handling guns at those other locations.

In any other public place, your gun stays in your holster unless needed. But at a gun show, you’re showing guns to people, trying out holsters, and otherwise handling firearms. Even for someone who has no intention of touching their concealed firearm, a split second’s lapse of attention could have disastrous results.

Several accidents from this weekend illustrate why gun safety rules and policies at gun shows are so important.

In the first, a private seller bought a gun from one of the show attendees that turned out to be loaded. While attempting to unload the gun he failed to follow proper procedure and ended up shooting his friend who was working the booth with him in the arm and groin. He correctly removed the magazine first, but only racked the slide once and didn’t check the chamber before pulling the trigger to decock. The extractor failed to remove the chambered round and the gun discharged.

When unloading a semi-automatic handgun you must remove the magazine first, of course. Then, the slide should be racked three times to provide ample opportunity for the extractor to do its job. Then, after locking the slide back, insert your finger into the chamber to feel for a round and visually inspect the chamber. Finally, if you do decide to decock a gun without an external hammer by pulling the trigger you must do so with the gun pointed in a safe direction. At your buddy is NOT a safe direction!

Of course, the entire situation could have been avoided had a loaded gun not been brought to the show in the first place. The seller should not have handed a loaded gun over to the buyer without unloading it, and it should have been checked at the door in the first place. Since the identity of the seller is not known, it may never be determined if he negligently bypassed the screeners or simply made a mistake.

In another accidental discharge, a shotgun fired while the case it was in was being unzipped for inspection prior to entering the show, injuring three. Firearms should not be kept loaded during long term storage (this does not apply to guns kept ready at hand for defensive purposes, but this one was not in that category). It is likely the owner of the gun forgot he had left it loaded and also negligently left it in a condition ready to fire without a safety engaged or the hammer cocked back. Safe storage is extremely important!

A third incident left a man self-injured when he was trying to load his gun after the show and it discharged. Anytime a firearm is handled there is an opportunity for an accident to occur, which is why I generally favor leaving a carried firearm in its holster and not loading and unloading it in public. In this case, the victim had likely unloaded his gun to take it into the show and was re-loading it as he was leaving. He made a mistake, the gun was not pointed in a safe direction and perhaps he had his finger on the trigger, and he ended up injured.

Guns should always be loaded or unloaded while pointed in a safe direction and while you are fully focused on the task. If he wanted to show that firearm for sale it should have been unloaded at home and if not sold then reloaded back at home. Another gun should have been his defensive firearm, not only to avoid loading and unloading in public but also since if he had sold it he would not have it available anyway.

All of these accidents could have been prevented had the three NRA rules of gun safety been followed:

1. Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction
2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
3. Always keep guns unloaded until ready to use

Ohio Concealed Handgun License numbers are up, one sheriff concerned

The number of Ohio Concealed Handgun Licenses issued in Ohio are up 40% over the last two years.

“The Dayton Daily News reports that advocates are crediting recent law changes with making it more comfortable for people to carry concealed weapons. That includes allowing them in restaurants and bars that serve liquor, as well as in school safety zones.”

That may very well be part of it, but a bigger part is that more and more people are realizing that the police and gun control laws are not enough to keep them safe at all times and are starting to take responsibility for their own safety. With the bad economy having the dual effects of pushing desperate people towards crime while reducing the budgets of law enforcement agencies, the good guys are increasingly on their own and are starting to embrace that responsibility.

Incidents like the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting have not had the full result the anti-gunners had hoped. While they have been able to get some support for banning certain rifles and magazines, most people have realized that all the other laws didn’t stop the shooter and putting more laws in place would only disarm the law-abiding. Not to mention when they consider what they would do if they found themselves in a similar situation, cowering on the floor and hoping for the best leaves a desire for an alternative, armed, response.

Of course, not everyone likes the increase in permits issued.

Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander said he’s concerned about a surge in the number of residents applying for a carrying concealed weapon permit.

“I think you have to understand in today’s society, we don’t know who is carrying weapons out there,” Alexander said.

Neither do the bad guys. Sheriff Alexander would do well to remember that he’s a public servant, not a public master and that just because he doesn’t like the fact that he’s not the only one with the right to armed self-protection doesn’t mean he gets to dictate the terms under which citizens enjoy those rights.

Alexander said he supports the 2nd amendment, the right to bear arms, but is bothered that Ohio’s CCW law only calls for 10 hours of firearms training in a classroom and an additional two hours of experience shooting at a range.

He would like to see those hours increased and more thorough background checks conducted.

While I believe citizens should obtain as much training as possible to give them the best chance of successfully defending themselves if attacked, I do not agree that it should be legislated. Pennsylvania, for example, has no training requirement at all for obtaining a concealed carry license yet there are not rampant errors and accidents from their permit holders. The argument just doesn’t hold water.

People have a right and a responsibility to take steps to ensure their own safety and more and more Ohioans, and more and more Americans, are stepping up to that responsibility.

3 men arrested for falsifying CHL training certificates

For those that haven’t seen this story, 3 men in the Columbus area have been arrested and 600 concealed carry licenses invalidated due to falsification of training. Let this serve as a reminder to everyone to be sure you are meeting all of the legal requirements when conducting concealed carry training!



Three people are facing charges, accused of helping falsify permits to carry a concealed weapon.

According to Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, an undercover investigation began in April 2012 into the issuance of fraudulent training certificates to obtain a CCW permit.

The sheriff’s office said that through the investigation, it was determined that three people were allegedly involved in the permit scheme.

It is alleged that 62-year-old John Michael Marshall, a certified firearm instructor, was selling his signed training certificates to 41-year-old Adam Chaykin and 48-year-old Ken Fouch, who were allegedly conducting illegal training classes, which fell far short from the required training.

Investigators said that in some cases, no training occurred.

Read the full article: http://www2.nbc4i.com/news/2012/aug/09/investigation-reveals-more-600-invalid-ccw-permits-ar-1132179/

Convicted by the media

When it comes to a choice between following the law and being rendered defenseless, I often hear people say they’d rather be convicted by twelve than carried by six. What they don’t consider is that many times before they even get to the twelve they’ll be tried and convicted by the media. Take, for example, the case of Scott A. Smith.

Saturday night, Smith was arrested after being caught with a handgun in the Crocker Park Regal Cinemas in Westlake prior to a showing of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises”. News reports vary in some of the details, but he reportedly had the handgun in a “military-style bag” with two additional magazines, three knives, and a fourth knife on his person. Smith does not have a concealed handgun license and the theater reportedly prohibits firearms. After the arrest, his home was searched and turned up “seven rifles, five or six handguns, lots of ammo, gas masks and bulletproof vests” in addition to prescription drugs.

His attorney claims he simply had the weapons to protect himself and had no nefarious intentions. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. He will get his chance to be judged by twelve. Already, though, he has been all but convicted by the media who is having a field day with the story.

Arcuri said Smith sat in a position of “tactical advantage” with his back to the wall at the top of the theater. “What concerns us is where he was sitting in the theater. He was the first guy in there,” Arcuri said. “If he chose to do something there, all his potential victims were in front of him and he had an advantage over them.” – The Plain Dealer

Smith was arrested and charged with carrying concealed weapons and three other weapons offenses. He did not have a permit for the weapons. That may go some very small distance toward squelching the contentions of those who will now argue that a universally armed and dangerous society is the only effective response to an armed and dangerous society. – Phillip Morris, The Plain Dealer

Police are trying to figure out why a man took a bag of weapons with him to an Ohio movie theater showing the latest Batman movie. – NBCNews

“Our contention is that he’s drug dependent,” [Nicole DiSanto of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office] said. “And as a result, he should not be possessing a firearm.” – The Miami Herald

“For an officer to observe that, take the initiative, approach him,” Westlake Police Lt. Ray Arcuri said. “Basically, avert a tragedy if he pulls a pistol out and starts shooting.”  – The Miami Herald

The talking heads on the news and radio were far worse with their snark and derision.

I can’t help but think of the similarities if I were to accidentally walk into a “no guns allowed” zone. Sure, I have a concealed carry license so at least that part wouldn’t be an issue, but the accusations of paranoia would still be there. It doesn’t matter that the police, too, have stepped up security at many theaters in the aftermath of the Aurora Theater Shootings out of concern for potential copycats, but if a citizen takes steps to increase his security out of a similar concern then he is obviously paranoid.

Continuing with this line of thought, I typically carry a Beretta 9000s (an evil black plastic gun, easily concealed loaded with .40 caliber bullets even bigger than a 9mm!). I often don’t carry extra magazines, but I do on the occasion I’m carrying my 1911 (para-military semi-automatic able to be rapidly reloaded with .45 caliber ammunition!). I routinely carry a Swiss army knife and a small lockblade (multiple knives!). If my house were searched, they’d also find multiple rifles, shotguns, and handguns since I hunt, target shoot, and am a firearms instructor. They’d also find prescription drugs! Of course, I have a prescription for them, but none of the news reports I’ve seen have bothered to say whether Smith has a prescription, either.

The point is, there isn’t much difference between what Smith was caught with and what I routinely carry for personal protection and I’m certainly not a threat to anyone but a bad guy. I wish they’d wait for the facts to come out before sensationalizing the story, but I suppose that doesn’t sell papers or get people to tune in.

Armed Lorain woman repels intruder

An as-yet-unnamed man’s drunken antics nearly cost him his life when he broken into the home of an armed nurse, 36-year-old Deborah Krasienko.

“I would have shot him had my daughter been home, just out of fear for her safety,” she said. “I almost killed this man, just because he was too dumb and drunk to know what he was doing.”

From the story, Krasienko had just gotten home from work Saturday morning when the drunken intruder began pounding on her front door. She retrieved her handgun as he went around the house and entered through the rear door, breaking the screen door and using the keys she had left in the lock to unlock the back door. He eventually realized she was armed and fled the scene, later to be picked up by the police, positively identified by Krasienko, then driven home.

Hindsight is always 20-20, and it turned out the intruder was non-violent, but it certainly could have ended much worse.

Krasienko was wise to arm herself when her home was threatened but admits exhaustion lead to her mistake of leaving the keys in the back door lock. Had she not done that, he might not have even been able to enter the house.

Once he entered the house, some would recommend using deadly force immediately. It takes only seconds for an intruder to charge and close the distance in most rooms, and a person impaired by drugs or alcohol has diminished capacity to feel pain. Even if such a person was fatally hit he may live long enough to cause significant bodily harm or death. In fact, Krasienko acknowledged the danger by stating she wouldn’t have taken the risk had her daughter been home.

That said, I believe she made the right choice. Pulling the trigger is a last resort and she still had options available. Hopefully she had furniture between herself and the intruder, but even if she didn’t I think it was a reasonable risk to avoid loss of life.

She stated that once he had entered the house he had gotten distracted by her puppy and hadn’t even acknowledged her presence yet. Although he had entered her home it seems clear he didn’t know where he was and was not yet a threat. Once the reality of the situation sunk in he quickly fled the scene. Had he advanced towards her then she would have been forced to defend herself.

When confronted by a situation like this you will have just seconds to make decisions that will affect your life and the lives of others. Using situations like this as a learning experience can help prepare you for what your response will be and make the decision easier.

Securing your home should always be a top priority. Be sure to lock all your doors and windows and remove the keys from the door. Everyone gets tired but you must focus on this detail.

Arm yourself at the first sign of danger. Had Krasienko waited and the intruder been violent she might not have had time to get her gun once he gained entry.

If an intruder does gain access, get him/her out. Do not try to capture the intruder. They could feign compliance while waiting for the opportune moment to attack. Getting them out is a much safer option. Order them to leave clearly and simply.

During the confrontation, try to maintain your distance and keep furniture between you and them as an impediment. Watch for signs of aggression or weapons. A weapon in hand is an immediate cue to act.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in a situation like this but if you do, and have considered your options in advanced, it is more likely to end in a positive manner.

Lessons from Aurora, Colorado theater shooting

In reading some of the accounts of the survivors of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting there are multiple lessons the armed citizen can take away from them to help be better prepared should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Let’s take a look at some of the statements made and accounts printed in the news to see what can be learned.

The suspect [James Holmes] marched up the aisle in the stadium-style theater, picking off those who tried to flee, witnesses said.

I’ve read this account multiple times and there are several explanations. Holmes may have been focusing simply on keeping as many people from escaping as possible. Or, like a cowardly dog, he was most willing to attack when the victim’s back was turned. Along those lines, and based on the body armor he was wearing, he was most fearful of an armed response and was watching for threats to himself. Fleeing victims could be safely engaged.

In this case the best course of action for an armed citizen would be to remain still until an opportunity for a counter-attack presented itself. For example, when the shooter turned to engage a fleeing victim there would be a reduced risk of return fire while attempting to subdue the threat. Your incoming fire would also have the likely effect of distracting his attack and facilitating escape for the victims.

Holmes, used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol, stopping only to reload.

While low light would have made it difficult to determine what Holmes was doing, a pause in gunfire and the sound of a reload might make then a good time to attack. Depending on his skill, though, there might only be a few brief seconds to engage.

[Aurora Police Chief Dan] Oates said the gunman wore a gas mask and a ballistic helmet and vest, as well as leg, groin and throat protectors.

The body armor would have made it very difficult to get stopping hits on Holmes, but it might not have mattered. Since he surrendered without incident is is likely that numerous rounds slamming into his vest, helmet, and visor would have been enough to make him flee or at least distract him enough to allow more people to escape and slow down the engagement to give the police more time to respond.

“I didn’t think it was real,” [Jennifer] Seeger said. She said she was in the second row, about four feet from the gunman, when he pointed a gun at her face. “I was just a deer in headlights. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

Being stunned into inaction is a common occurrence when confronted with extreme violence. Despite what the media attempts to portray, it really isn’t all that common and most people go their entire lives without facing a deadly threat. Being prepared and having the mindset that bad things do happen to good people can help you to shave precious seconds off beginning your response. If you know what to do and are trained what to do, your body will just start to do it until your brain has a chance to catch up.

Holmes is also believed to have hurled a gas canister into the theater before opening fire.

It has not yet been officially announced whether the substance used was smoke, tear gas, pepper spray, or another substance but it would certainly complicate an armed response. If a chemical irritant and you were close enough to be exposed, you might have a very difficult time engaging. If smoke, it would combine with the darkness to make it even harder to hit the attacker. A flashlight in the darkness could help or hinder. It would make it easier to see the attacker but might draw his fire. If smoke was used, the smoke could reflect the light and make it harder to see instead of easier. Regardless, in the darkened theater having illuminated sights on your firearm would be a help.

A young family’s last-minute decision to sit in the balcony may have saved their lives in the “Dark Knight” movie massacre…Though the couple had planned to sit in the front of the theater by the exit through which a gunman later entered, they decided instead to sit in the second-floor veranda.

It can be hard to govern your life by what is the best tactical location in any given room, and the best location may very well be determined by the source of the threat. If you’re on the right side of the theater and the shooter is on the right side, you’ve got a problem. If he’s on the left side, though, you may be in a position to quickly escape. For these people, being in the balcony was a safe location for them. Had the shooter been in the balcony, it would not have been.

Personally, I don’t like to be in a position where I’m trapped from reaching an exit or cover/concealment. In a theater, for example, I tend to move a few rows up and sit towards the center giving some cushion for response time and equal opportunity to move left or right depending on need.

Matt McQuinn’s last living act was to shield his girlfriend from the hail of bullets sprayed by the gunman behind the Aurora, Colo., multiplex massacre.

If you’re unarmed, you obviously have fewer options. McQuinn chose to shield his girlfriend with his body, sacrificing himself so that she could survive. Another option might be to charge the shooter when he is distracted and try to overpower him. Very difficult without a weapon unless you are well trained or physically larger/stronger. The end result might be the same, or you might survive your injuries or even escape unharmed. Personally, I’d prefer to go down fighting.

Recently, [Aurora victim Jessica] Ghawi survived the June 2 Eaton Centre mall shooting in Toronto that killed two people and sent several others to the hospital.

There are those saying if we had tougher gun laws in the US and banned “assault rifles”, handguns, and severely restricted gun ownership that tragedies like this wouldn’t happen. Yet Ghawi, who was killed in the attack, was unlucky enough to be present at another mass shooting in Canada, where the gun control movement has met many of their goals. Gun control laws don’t stop madmen like this, they only ensure a safe working environment for the killers.

Response of gun grabbers to Dark Knight shooting as predictable as it is wrong

It is inevitable that every tragedy involving a firearm will lead to an attempt by some to broaden gun control and disarm people who didn’t commit the crime. As soon as I heard about the tragic shooting at the Aurora movie theater screening “The Dark Knight Rises” I knew that this would be no exception.

Information is still coming in and the currently known facts of the case will likely change, but most reports indicate that soon after the movie began showing, a little after midnight, James Holmes, a 24-year-old doctoral student in neuroscience, opened fire in the crowded movie theater. Reports also claim that he detonated at least one device releasing tear gas, pepper spray, or smoke and that he was clothed in body armor. He had at least four guns including a shotgun, rifle, and multiple handguns. Some witnesses say he reloaded during the attack, others claim he did not.

How much traction it gains remains to be seen, but you can expect some attempt to revive the failed “Assault Weapons Ban” from the nineties. Since Holmes allegedly used an AR-15, aka an “evil black rifle” this will be Exhibit A for creating a new ban. It does not matter that only cosmetics make these rifles different from common deer rifles, except that deer rifles are more powerful.

Shotguns are too popular to be subject to a complete ban, but it has long been a dream of the gun ban movement to ban semi-automatic shotguns so they may make the attempt there. Regardless of the capacity of the magazines used in the pistols, there will be an attempt to ban “high-capacity” magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

There will likely also be an attempt to expand the locations where guns are banned to include theaters and any other place where large numbers of people congregate despite the fact that the Cinemark theater already bans guns on the premises.

There may also be efforts to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms. Much has already been made of the fact that Holmes was able to buy these four guns over a period of several months, though the length of time would have negated two of the gun grabbers favorite throttles: one-gun-a-month schemes and mandatory waiting periods.

Of course, reality doesn’t come into play when attempting to further the agenda of the gun control movement. It doesn’t matter that none of these measures would have stopped Holmes, they only need the argument that they might stop someone else in the future. And if law abiding citizens lose gun rights in the process, all the better.

The mindset of situational awareness

Spend any significant amount of time with self-defense experts and the idea of situational awareness will come up. In its simplest form, situational awareness is nothing more than being aware of your surroundings; but even more than that is being able to correctly interpret what is going on around you to determine what threats might be present.

Many of us who choose to carry a gun for self-defense train regularly to increase our shooting skills. But skill is sometimes not enough. Every year, thousands of highly trained law enforcement officers are assaulted and dozens are killed in the line of duty showing a stark example that training is not always enough to survive. As civilians, we have a luxury they do not: avoiding the confrontation. The best way to avoid the confrontation is to see the threat before it becomes a confrontation. Yet, for all the time we spend training our physical skills with the gun, how much time do we spend training our minds for the mental aspect of situational awareness?

Just like we use repetition to build muscle memory shot shooting skills we can use awareness drills to shift situational awareness from a conscious action to an effortless state of mind. Some examples:

  • Note how many people in sight are wearing the same color shirt. This trains you to look for details and patterns.
  • Count how many rings people are wearing to get you used to watching hands for threats.
  • Watch how many people around you make eye contact with you. Criminals don’t like eye contact because they want their victims to be unaware of their approach.
  • Every time you walk into a room look for things that are different from the last time you were in there. This can help you spot things that are out of place.
  • As you walk up to a store, look through the door or window and try to guess who will be the first person to notice your arrival. This can lead to you identifying a dangerous situation before you enter the building.
  • Observe the faces and demeanor of passersby and try to guess what mood they’re in. This will get you used to reading emotions and can help determine who might be a threat for violent behavior.

These practice sessions will build the “muscle memory” for your brain to continue subconsciously observing your environment and raise your awareness. This projects an air of alertness that most criminals instinctively avoid. A potential victim who is paying attention means a lesser chance of success for an attack. It also helps you to spot potential trouble before it is too late or you are forced to employ deadly force so that you can take steps to avoid the encounter.

You don’t need to be paranoid or constantly on high alert to be safe. In fact, trying to maintain the highest state of awareness at all times can lead to fatigue and burn out which can in turn cause you to miss the threat when the time comes. In contrast, a state of relaxed awareness where your subconscious mind does most of the work is easy to maintain.

It is also important to note that since you are training your subconscious, you might not always realize exactly what the threat it. You’ll just have a feeling that “something’s not right.” Trust your gut and go on conscious alert! You have to discipline yourself to listen to your intuition and not dismiss it as “nothing.” With a little practice, you’ll be much more aware of your surroundings and prepared to avoid threats if possible and less likely to be caught unawares if avoidance is not possible.