THE SHOOTING CHANNEL MARCH 2014 TACTICAL AWARENESS AND MINDSET In the USA owning a gun is a right and not a privilege. Law abiding citizens should be able to purchase weapons to protect themselves, their homes, their families, to hunt or for sport. Every gun owner also needs to know that once you purchase a gun your training is just beginning. The bad guys are out there and they are always on the prowl. They are sizing up productive members of society and looking for the easy targets. Whether you own a weapon or not or whether you are allowed to carry that weapon or not…depending on what state you live we need to be constantly on the lookout for the bad guys. Raise your level of situational awareness and adopt that tactical mindset. Here in the Northeast and particularly in New Jersey a game called “knockout” has become popular. Basically, a group of kids / thugs walk down the street and when an unsuspecting person walks by the thugs will punch the person walking by in the face in an attempt to knock him out. Now aside from all the political and social statements that this game even exists what we see on videos are people walking by looking down at their cell phones or reading newspapers and not even giving a second glance to what is going on around them. If you own a gun then you have already made a statement to say I am important and I want to protect what I have. My sensei would tell us that the best way to win a fight is to not get in one, and the best way to avoid a fight is to pick up any little clues that something bad is going to happen. How can we pick up on these little clues? First, be vigilant. Whether you want to call it condition yellow or say walk around constantly looking around and assessing your environment. Someone who is vigilant should never feel comfortable with their back to the door in a restaurant. Bottom line is…if you look like prey then you WILL get eaten, as one instructor stated it. Next, know that distance is your friend. I know we all trained to be nice to everyone, include everyone and do not pass judgment but, the hair on the back of your neck is NEVER wrong. When a situation does not feel right then back out or cross the street. Third, have a plan. No matter where you go there should be a plan involved. Simple things like remembering where your car is parked or having your keys at the ready can make a difference. My wife will make fun of me because before I get out of the vehicle I get geared up, but then I remind her one that ONE time and she quietly says, “take your time honey”. Also, once you have the plan, constantly assess it. A good plan should always be adaptable. Next, training is the key! The more you train and the harder you are on yourself the more honed your senses will get. Anyone that has been through a police academy or a military boot camp can attest to that, but that does not mean that everyone cannot make themselves better. When you own a weapon you need to practice with that weapon. Practice not only shooting, but practice your grip, stance, reloads, drawing and movement. Shooting is the easy part; it is all the other stuff that is going to keep you alive in a critical situation. I would also suggest a robust physical training regimen. During a critical incident your heart rate can increase very quickly and rapidly to about 180 beats per minute. A good PT program can assist you while you have to operate in that zone.