Everyday Tactical: 5 Situational Awareness Tips

being aware of your surroundings

As we've covered in depth so many times before, the dynamics of a deadly force encounter happen at lightning speeds, often escalating quickly, out of nowhere, and thrusting us into a reactionary role. Thus, our decisions and actions are made and executed instinctively from muscle memory, rather than through calculated decisions based on the clarity of hindsight. The tips I present are intended to help the responsible gun carrying citizen be best prepared to survive a deadly force encounter.

One thing that is an absolute “must do” is maintain awareness of your environment. This is commonly referred to as situational awareness. It is a simple concept about being in tune with your environment.

  • Be aware of the people around you, where they are in relationship to you. Are they in your personal space and placing you at a disadvantage if they are set on harming you?
  • Continue to scan your surroundings, especially if in an unfamiliar place. Criminals are predators and most often are looking for the easiest target. Criminals do not like to be seen by their victims because the victims will know what they look like, and because it will be more difficult to take them by surprise. So, keep your looks to your cell phone as glances and not long zombie-like stares.
  • Observe your surroundings noting exits or areas of cover in case you are thrust into a deadly force situation.
  • Identify situations or areas that place you at a significant disadvantage. Dark parking garages or high crime areas should be avoided.
  • Identify when you might be at a higher risk of being a target and remain especially vigilant. For example, when at an ATM, no matter what the time of day, observe the area prior to approaching the ATM for people loitering or waiting in a car. If you cannot clearly observe a large area around the ATM, go to a different one.

These are just a few things you can do to increase your situational awareness and hopefully discourage a criminal from identifying you as a target. Remember, it's always a better idea to avoid a critical incident, if at all possible, than have to defend yourself. When all you have done to stay out of trouble fails and you are forced into a deadly force encounter, rely on your training and your will to survive.

Is there anything else you would add? Let me us know in the comments below. Have you given any thought about what you'd do if you ever did have to defend your life with your firearm, attorney wise? You've probably heard of USCCA, US Law Shield, and the others. But what do you know about them?

We put together a chart to help you pick out the best gun insurance self-defense programs to aid in narrowing down you decision. Make sure you give it a look.

Stay Safe, and God Bless.

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. Borderwatch on May 7, 2018 at 3:18 am

    Thank you for these fine tips Matthew, there are 2 times when I really felt my life was in peril and I thought I was going to have to defend my life , once when I was talking on a pay phone and 2 350 pound drunks got out of a car at a gas station and started yelling at me saying I was stalking them and threatened me with physical violence and the other time I had a guy try to run me down, when I witnessed him breaking into a truck. I am glad I kept my cool both times and was able to walk away. I do recommend that everyone that carries a gun and those who don’t invest in a small flashlight that is at least 250 lumens up to 1400 lumens, because this will make a night attacker think twice when you blind him with the light. Be safe and carry on.

  2. Dan Goergen on January 16, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    Since serving a tour in Vietnam, it seems like i am always on high alert.
    It is something that never seems to leave you.

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