Situational Awareness 101

Situational Awareness 101


The term situational awareness gets thrown around a lot in the concealed carry and self-defense world. Rarely do people talk about what it is, what it means, and how to apply proper situational awareness correctly to everyday life. The purpose of this blog post is to tackle just that, and give an overview of what it is, as well as give you some tips to be more aware of what is around you. 

Let’s first start by answering the following question --

What is situational awareness?

Situational awareness can be described as having a general sense of what is going on around you at most times so you can react appropriately to a threat, should you be presented with one. 

The biggest threats tend to come when people are distracted, and it is very easy to be distracted in today’s society. 

Ambush mentality

To fully understand situational awareness, we have to try and understand how a criminal thinks. While it’s never a good idea to make blanket statements, a lot of the time you won’t see the attack coming because it’s an ambush. 

What’s interesting about this, is that the attacker won’t always know who his victim is until the attack is about to happen. An ambush is usually when a predator hides, jumping out at the last second. However sometimes, an ambush is nothing more than an opportunity. Some criminals won’t know their victim until they see him or her firsthand. 

In other words, they may set out to commit a robbery, but they won’t know you’re the victim until they see you walking down the street with your earbuds in, sitting on a park bench on Facebook, or otherwise distracted. When they see you distracted, they know you’re an easy target. 

It’s still an ambush because you had no idea it was coming. The only difference is that they didn’t know either, at least, not until they saw how distracted you were and, thus, making yourself a soft target.

The goal for remaining aware of your surroundings is to stay undistracted in this busy life we live in. Let’s take a look at some of our bigger distractions. 

Cell phones

Perhaps the biggest vacuum to the normal American being aware of their surroundings is that the entire world can be had at their fingertips in the form of these things we call smart phones. Think about how many times each day you look at your phone to check your favorite social media account, check to see what time it is, check to see if you received any text messages or calls, etc.

There is a cost to having the world at our fingertips, and it is that we lose our situational awareness because we’re constantly distracted by these little rectangular things. They consume us. And, because they do, our minds are always on them. It’s not our goal with this blog post to say that these things are bad, just to point out that looking at our phones so very often distracts us from seeing the world as it might be. 

If you’re like the average American, you check your phone while stopped at traffic lights, walking around the street, right after you load your groceries but before you get in your car, etc. These are all times that are perfect for a determined criminal to get the jump on you before you even know what was going on. And why? All because your friend Sally posted a picture of what she ate for dinner last night. 

So, how do we combat this? The best way is to try and make a mental note of how often you check your phone and try to check it less. Try to not check it while you’re out and about unless you need to. If you’re just grabbing it because you’ve got a few seconds at the red light because it’s second nature to do so, try to stop. 

Every second of distraction is the perfect opportunity for a crook to take advantage. 

ATM Machine

People use less cash these days than ever before with so many different ways to pay for our goods. However, there are instances when we need to get cash out of the bank, and once again, the ATM Machine is a distraction. 

Not only is it a distraction, but it’s the perfect opportunity for a criminal to ambush you because your back is turned and you’re accessing your money.

Think about it, you’ve got to insert your card, punch in your pin number, figure out how much money you need, or if you’re making a transfer, and anything else that may take brain power. When you’re at the bank machine, doing whatever, you’re distracted. 

Next time, try to blade (turn) your body at an angle that allows you to use at least some of your peripheral vision as you’re making the transaction. And, in between inputting your pin and other info, glance around behind your back. 

It also pays to know exactly what you need to do beforehand, so you minimize your actual time spent at the machine, distracted. 

Walking or running

There are many instances for distraction while walking or jogging down the street. In keeping with the overall theme of this article up until this point, we’re once again going to say that it’s in your best interest to remain distraction free.

The cell phone comes into play again here, as it contains every bit of our lives on it, or as we use it for some other task. For example, some people feel safe on their phone talking to a loved one at night as they need to walk to their car, but the truth of the matter is that it’s a distraction. And, if you’re holding the phone up to your ear one of your hands is now busy and unable to get to your gun or to sufficiently defend yourself. 

Another thing people like to do while jogging or otherwise exercising, is listening to music with their ear buds in. How can you hear a potential attacker sneaking up on you if you’ve got music in?

If you want to exercise, do so in a more open setting where you can still listen to music in the comfort of a gym, or with a running buddy. And, it may seem like a good idea to be on the phone late at night because that person knows where you are and can call the police if something bad happens, but the cops are still at least minutes away and you’re down an arm because you’re holding a phone up to your head. 

The better bet is to always be aware of your surroundings so that a criminal can’t get the jump on you.


Situational awareness is key to avoiding an attack. It’s our hope that this blog post was able to get your gears turning as to how you can be better aware of your surroundings.

Check out some more helpful CCW tips here --> Tips For Concealed Carry

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