3 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Your Situational Awareness

April 21, 2021 3 min read

Being aware of a threat before everyone else can keep you and your loved ones safe. It sounds easy in principle, but requires a lot practice to get it right—especially when adrenaline is pumping through your veins!

Maintaining a high level of situational awareness is a necessity when you're carrying a firearm, since that same heightened awareness is what will give you the opportunity to protect yourself if you're ever involved in a self-defense situation. It's also a key factor in getting away from a situation before there's a problem, which is always the ideal response to a potential threat.

Just like shooting, situational awareness is a skill you can develop with practice. Here are three things you can do to improve your situational awareness.

Scan Your Environment and Look for Things Out of the Ordinary 

The best way to stay out of trouble is to leave an environment before anything bad happens. While you can't predict the future, you can find a lot of clues in any environment if you take a few minutes to look around to see if anything or anyone looks out of place. This is something that only takes a little extra effort and the more you do it, the better you will get. The more aware you become, the more your chances for survival increase when faced with a life-threatening situation.

The Cooper Color Code is a tool that can help you open your eyes to your surroundings. This sliding scale was invented by self-defense expert, Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper, who recognized that learning to observe your environment and react appropriately to what you see can help you achieve a large degree of control over your circumstances. The color scale goes from a state of being oblivious (white) to a condition of being ready to protect yourself with lethal violence if required (red). Instead of being in white (unaware of your surroundings), practice staying at yellow as long as possible to help you get into the habit of noticing what's going on around you.

Put Your Phone Away

We're positive you've heard this advice a million times before, but it's important to repeat. Ask yourself - do you keep your phone put away when you're in an unfamiliar situation or do you peek at it from time to time? It's important to resist the urge to distract yourself by looking at your phone, especially if you're carrying a firearm. Keeping your head down to look at your phone makes you completely unaware of what is happening around you, and that significantly increases your chances of not being able to react in time if you run into a problem.

If you do need to use your phone, wait until after you’re in a relatively safe area and don't forget to keep scanning your surroundings and make note of any changes. If you’re using headphones, try to keep the volume low so you can still hear the things that are going on around you.

Have a Plan In Advance

One of the best ways to protect yourself (and your family/loved ones) is to have a plan for action before something happens. When you enter a building, make sure to look for exits and identify potential barriers that could prevent you from escaping. Once you know how to get out, it's important to make sure your family knows 

Being able to understand and apply these three tips everywhere you go will greatly decrease your chances of being caught off guard. It may sound exhausting to constantly be on your toes and assessing potential threats, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature to you.