Criminals suck, and you need to keep your head on a swivel to ensure you're not about to turn into a victim. This statement, head on a swivel, is also known as “situational awareness.”
Why do we say you need to keep your head on a swivel, and/or have proper situational awareness anywhere you go? Because crime can and will happen just about anywhere and you stand a better chance at surviving if you can see the attack coming.
That's one of the reasons why we firmly believe that you should carry a gun just about everywhere you're legally allowed to do so (we cannot condone violating local or federal ordinances for hopefully obvious reasons).
We also believe, however, that just carrying your gun isn't enough. You also have to be able to use it to defend yourself, and there's also the topic of this article: which is that you need to be able to recognize the threat in order to do that.
Bad guys generally use a few different methods for an attack:
The ambush usually comes when you don't expect it. You never even see the bad guy coming, or hiding in the wait for you. He usually sneaks up on you when you're least expecting it.
This is perfect for him because if you're not expecting an attack and if he catches you off guard, there isn't a whole lot you can do about it unless you've got a super fast draw with a round in the pipe at the ready.
(We always recommend carrying a loaded gun. And, if you're not comfortable with one yet, carry however you feel comfortable as you work up to the point where you can carry with a round in the chamber.)
The alternate, is to be completely aware of your surroundings to the point that you can defend yourself to some degree if someone ambushes you.
Carjackings are often the result of this method of attack, and so are ones in and around your house. Though, these types of attacks can happen just about anywhere to include walking down the street.
Gaining Trust —
The other popular method when an attack usually comes is when a criminal tries to gain your trust. He'll ask you questions like:
- Do you know what time it is?
- Do you know how I can get to this destination?
- Do you have a cigarette light?
And any other marginally deceptive question where a close proximity is required. And, that's the key here, for the most part (unless they're using their question as a diversion so another can attack you by ambush).
Here's the deal with each of those questions … Everyone these days has a cell phone so in theory everyone should know what time it is.
I don't smoke cigarettes so I never have a lighter on me. The last one can be a bit tough, but I usually just say no I'm not sure how to get there (because I am actually bad at giving directions).
These questions are immediate droppers of guard. Psychologically, we have an instinct to help other people. It's kind of like the damsel in distress sort of thing.
The main point here, is that you should try to create space as much as possible whenever someone strange is approaching you. When I'm approached by someone I don't know with a question, I create space.
It can be awkward, especially if the person has decent intentions. But, I'm unaware of their intentions until after the scenario has passed and my comfort level and willingness to survive always trumps any awkwardness anyone may feel.
Always try to create space between you and anyone else you don't know so you can react appropriately.
As I create this space, I bring my hands up in front of me. That way if I have to protect myself from a physical attack my reaction time will be that much faster and I can still get to my gun with my strong hand if I'm protecting myself physically with my support hand.
This type of attack will usually come when you're walking somewhere. Though, this has happened to me once when I was in the car with my daughter and I was on edge because of it. Thankfully, nothing came from it.
The above two methods are usually premeditated types of attacks. The distraction method can be premeditated or an opportunistic method that some criminals will use. While I list them both here, they are both totally different.
The premeditated distraction usually has a team of at least two bad guys. One distracts you while another attacks you. Again, create space upon first interaction with someone, bring your hands up to a more defensive position, and be aware.
Prevent yourself from being distracted by someone.
Finally, we have the opportunistic distraction. Sometimes, bad guys don't know their target until they see him or her being distracted by their own worldly cares.
Are you a tourist in an area with a camera taking pictures?
Are you filling up your gas tank?
Are you at the ATM machine in your bank?
Are you changing your tire at the side of the road?
Are you window shopping walking down the street?
Are you staring at your phone?
If you're doing any of these things, chances are good that you're distracted to the point that you don't see a bad guy ready and willing to hurt you to take your stuff.
You've turned yourself into a target.
Many times, the bad guy doesn't know who he is going to attack, but he is on the lookout for some distracted individual to take advantage of.
This type of attack can happen just about anywhere because we're all distracted, all the time.
Make yourself a hard target. If you're aware of your surroundings, and can react properly to these situations and even practice them in your mind, you'll be better off. Leave your thoughts on this as well as anything I may have left out in the comments below.
You may also want to check out some of our training: