Situational Awareness

by Drew Beatty

How aware are you of your surroundings as you carry concealed? We carry concealed so that we can respond appropriately should a life or death encounter become unavoidable. If an attack happens without you being aware that it is developing, you are seriously behind the curve. How can you make sure you have appropriate situational awareness at all times?

Think about times when you've crossed an intersection in your car and someone has blown a red light, just narrowly avoiding an accident. Was it a surprise or did you see it coming?

Or, have you ever been surprised by a pedestrian crossing the street against the light? Have you ever been so tired or distracted you accidentally locked your keys in your car?

Alertness is a natural result of a defensive adult mindset. It's important to be awake and alert wherever you go - walking in parking lots, walking in your neighborhood, or driving in your car - especially when you are carrying concealed.

You may have read Jeff Cooper's Color Codes that have been taught to law enforcement for years. Here is a short summary of each of his color codes, and how they apply to concealed carriers:

Condition White - Condition White can be deadly to the person who lives there. Basically, you are oblivious to all that's going on around you. Think of those people walking directly into traffic because they are staring at their smart phone. Don't be Condition White.

Condition Yellow - Condition Yellow is a state of relaxed awareness. Your net of consciousness is extended out in a 360-degree circle. Details are apparent - squirrels in trees, people waiting at a crosswalk a block away, the color of a particular motorcycle. This is the recommended baseline for situational awareness.

Condition Orange - Condition Orange means a possible threat has been identified. Even if it's just a threat to your peace of mind, like a stranger locking eyes with you in an attempt to ask for change. Think of Condition Orange as an unspecified alert that demands more of your focus and attention.

Condition Red - Condition Red means a threat is unfolding. There is more than a mere suspicion of danger present. You must act.

Condition Black - Condition Black means you are actively fighting or running.

It's easy and convenient to apply this mindset of situational awareness to daily life. Think about when you are pumping gas. Where are you? In most situations, you have a big gas pump on one side of you, a vehicle on the other side, and a gas pump hose either behind or in front of you. Guess what? You're ¾ trapped and vulnerable.

How would you apply the color code in that situation? How far out do you cast your radar? Could you be walked up on and robbed or stabbed? And most importantly, a concealed carrier must think about what they would do if the unthinkable happened.

If you jog or exercise in public, do you do so with earbuds in your ears? You are eliminating one of your best survival senses - your hearing - and some portion of your concentration, treading dangerously into Condition White.

Maintaining a level of situational awareness appropriate to the situation at hand will buy you time enough to make the choice to avoid a deadly encounter, or appropriately respond to one that is unavoidable.

Drew Beatty is a 50 year old husband and father, and a lifetime resident of the great state of Colorado. He is an NRA Life-Member, and a long-time firearms enthusiast, as well as a strong advocate for The Second Amendment.