by John Boch
GSL Defense Training

Illinois remains, for the time being, a disarmed state and as such, the single best weapon you can carry with you is your situational awareness.

Bad guys like people who aren’t paying attention.  They make great victims.

We sometimes refer to those unaware people as sheeple in our classes.  “Don’t be a sheeple!” we tell our students.

By being aware of your surroundings, you can identify potential threats and react to them before it’s too late, and at the same time, your awareness and confidence will make you less attractive to a bad guy’s victim selection process.

How do you acquire situational awareness?  It’s not difficult.

Pay attention!
What you’re striving for isn’t paranoia, but a relaxed state of vigilance.

Look around; keep your head on a swivel as necessary.  Assess those around you – does anyone look mentally disturbed, intoxicated, or upset?  Is anyone carrying an obvious weapon or acting suspiciously in some way?

Defining “suspicious” requires use of your intuition and judgement.  Trust your instincts.

You’re also looking for someone dressed inappropriately.  Someone walking around in a trench coat in the summer?  Wearing a hat, or a hood inappropriately?

You’re evaluating those around you for clues as to potential “threats”  to your well-being.

Distance is your friend
If you’re attentive to your surroundings, you’ll notice potential threats or suspicious individuals.  Once you’ve observed them, put distance and obstacles between them and you.  Distance gives you time, and time gives you options on how to counter the threat if things go sideways.

If a stranger seems to notice you and approaches you, be on guard.  Always watch their hands.  Any threats will come in their hands.  Always watch their hands.

Pre-attack indicators
Years ago, some street-savvy detectives would teach people that bad guys sometimes approach their intended victims in a pre-attack “bump”, sort of like sharks often do, to see if their prospective victim is a soft target or a hard target.

Obviously, be a hard target, not a “nice guy”.

In his book, “The Gift of Fear”, Gavin de Becker writes about some other pre-attack indicators often employed by bad guys.

  • Forced Teaming.  This is when a person tries to pretend that he has something in common with a person and that they are in the same predicament when that isn’t really true.
  • Charm and Niceness.  This is being polite and friendly to a person in order to manipulate him or her.
  • Too many details. If a person is lying they will add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible.
  • Typecasting.  An insult to get a person who would otherwise ignore one to talk to one. For example: “Oh, I bet you’re too stuck-up to talk to a guy like me.”
  • Loan Sharking. Giving unsolicited help and expecting favors in return.
  • The Unsolicited Promise. A promise to do (or not do) something when no such promise is asked for; this usually means that such a promise will be broken. For example: an unsolicited, “I promise I’ll leave you alone after this,” usually means you will not be left alone. Similarly, an unsolicited “I promise I won’t hurt you” usually means the person intends to hurt you.
  • Discounting the Word “No”. Refusing to accept rejection.

(de Becker’s indicators courtesy Wikipedia.)

If you recognize any of these techniques being employed upon you, look out.  You may be in trouble.  Your success in deterring your would-be attacker will depend on your willingness to be very assertive, and even rude as needed.

If you have a  weapon, now would be a good time to access it discretely and be prepared to fight back – violently and viciously as necessary.

In short, by maintaining a confident demeanor and situational awareness, you not only deter attack from predators looking for sheep, but you’ll also be better positioned to react so you can minimize any danger from attack should the predator fail in their victim selection process.

Situational awareness is a good habit to acquire as it will help protect you wither or not you are armed.

The author is a practicing firearms and personal protection instructor with fifteen-plus years’ experience.

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