Friday, January 20, 2012

You are a TARGET!!

Make no mistake, when you walk down a street, across a parking lot, take out the trash or drop your kids off at school – you are a target. Obviously the other ingredient to make this fact a problem for you is some asshole out there looking for a soft target – you. You may go your entire life and never have these two elements meet. Or, it may happen tonight when you take the garbage out. So how do you reduce the threat in the event these two elements do, indeed, join? It’s called “Situational Awareness”. Let’s explore what that means for just a bit.

The individual that really introduced America to modern-day gun fighting is LtCol. Jeff Cooper. In the mid-70s he started the American Pistol Institute to teach his skills to military, law enforcement and civilian shooters. This grew into the world famous “Gunsite Training Center”. One of his most famous contributions to shooters is the “Cooper Color Code”. Do some more reading on your own about this, but I will do a short break down here:

Condition White: You are unaware and unprepared. Here the only thing that will save you is plain dumb luck.

Condition Yellow: You are Relaxed and Alert. There is no specific threat that is obvious, but you are scanning your surroundings, continually updating your “Situational Awareness” level.

Condition Orange: You have identified a specific threat. Your “gut” tell you something is off. It may be an individual or individuals that seem to be paying undo attention to you. You may notice you are being followed either while you are walking or driving. You begin to remind yourself where your weapons is, how to access it, begin evaluation exit routes, types of cover.

Condition Red: You fight. All your “lines” have been crossed, you believe that you are in “mortal danger” – if you don’t fight, you will die. It is an E.T. – an Existential Threat.
I have adopted this color code for a target – with YOU in the middle. It looks like this:

Distant Threat - +100 Feet
You’re aware, you identify a possible threat. It’s time to move towards safety, evaluate possible scenarios and your probable action.

Near Threat - +50 Feet
The probable threat has identified you as a target. It becomes more obvious that they are moving towards you. Their manner is more aggressive. Their gaze is more intense. You prepare for flight or engagement.

Immediate Threat - +30 Feet
You are an obvious target. Your hand is on your weapon. Loudly announce you are armed and you will engage them if necessary. Draw and present when they within 25 Feet. (note: at this distance you have less than 2 seconds to draw and acquire the threat) Engage if required.

Existential Threat - 5 Feet or Less
This is an immediate threat that has given you no warning. It came from around a corner, was waiting for you when you opened your door. It completely bypasses all preceding levels.

Immediately cover your face and head with your forearms. Move into attacker. Pivot your strong-side away. Take your weak-side arm and secure your attacker’s arm that is nearest to your weapon. Draw weapon, index and engage.

From a practical point of view, a person simply can not maintain “Condition Orange” – the level of awareness displayed at the “Immediate Threat” ring for a long period of time. The reality is that you’re NOT under direct threat for most of your life. Not every one is your enemy – yet they may be. Perhaps General Mattis says it best: "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet." (Check out famous “Mattisisms” just for fun.) Conversely, if you simply plug in your iPod ear buds and walk on down a crowded street you simply scream “pick me, pick me”.

Condition Yellow – that used in the “Near Threat” region of your target - is where I would encourage you to work towards. At this level you are not paranoid, not amped up, not on edge for the whole day, you are simply more aware of your surroundings, the people around you and the vehicles in front and behind you. This is also a great time to “game play”. What would you do, right now, if you identified a threat? Where would you go? What cover is available? What are your escape routes? Can you get to your weapon? It’s the perfect time to work on your preparedness while not working yourself into a state of mental exhaustion.

One other thing to notice about the “target” – it covers a full 360 degrees. An attack on you can come from any direction. Get used to looking all around you. Use your car’s mirrors, use reflections in windows, swivel your head around, don’t take the same routes, don’t keep the exact time table (you ALWAYS take the trash out each morning at 6:30 AM). Change things up, take different routes home, walk a different path. I know this is all common sense. The trick is to – CHANGE YOUR LIFE STYLE. Be proactive. Refuse to be a target each and every day of your life.

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