Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Primary skill

Anyone that has been to one of my courses knows that I teach one skill above all others...AWARENESS. Now I am sure that most everyone has heard this concept before, perhaps as Situational Awareness or Battlefield Awareness or any other of a number of two dollar phrases, but this is not a skill that you just bring to the range or snap into when you put on your uniform. It must become a way of life; and when properly implemented will cause the subject to go through some noticeable lifestyle changes. To include; devoting more of your conscious thought to all the seemingly benign activities happening around you on a daily basis, and even simpler things, like, what pockets you use. For example, being a right handed person, I had always kept my wallet in my right pocket (made sense....easy access), as well as my keys. Well, while coaching some students through a shoot-house scenario one day, I noticed something....what was in the students  hands when a violent encounter erupted had a tendency to stay in the students hands. In this particular scenario, the student was sitting in a restaurant and just lifting a drink to their mouth when all hell broke loose. I watched in amazement as the student jumped to their feet and tried to draw their pistol with a water bottle clenched in their primary hand.....didn't work so well. They went on to transfer the bottle to their support hand and successfully draw their pistol. Okay, good to go, except their first shot malfunctioned (gotta love sims!). I then watched in disbelief as they attempted to perform an immediate action drill with a water bottle still in their support hand! After a couple attempts they were able to finish the fight.... albeit, with several "bullet" holes in their torso. This whole scene got me thinking about things like.....what if I am pulling my wallet out of my right side pocket (the side my holster is also on, of course) at an ATM and I am attacked....not good. If I keep my wallet on my support (left in my case) side I can still strike the attacker with that support hand, wallet or not, and be drawing my pistol with my primary. Of course I can hear you as you say, "If you had good awareness Kris, you would not have had someone sneak up on you at the ATM". One would hope I have trained to the point that I would have surveyed the scene before approaching the ATM (which I am pretty sure stands for Ambush TerMinal), and that I would have heard the approaching footsteps and that I would have gotten that uncomfortable tightness in my gut that some would call a sixth sense. But, the story serves it's purpose in that it begins to delineate the different aspects of awareness. Not simply a heightened set of senses directed at the bubble that is your current locale.....but also a degree of forethought about what may occur and how you can set yourself up for success. Something to consider the next time you are digging in your pocket for keys in a dark parking lot.
     It's an enormous topic and can hardly be explored to fruition in this short article, but I hope I got the mental gears turning.........more to follow..... 

2 comments:

  1. I always thought that "I'm up, he sees me, I'm down" was brilliant in its simplicity and its capacity to teach situational awareness. "I'm up." I'm exposed, I'm moving and movement attracts the eye. I am, in essence, a target and I know it. "He sees me." I am anticipating that the enemy will notice the movement, acquire me as a target and if I stay up any longer he will engage me as a target. "I'm down." I've already picked out my next cover before moving, but I need to get down by the end of this mnemonic or at a minimum very close to the end of it before I get shot and killed.
    Like I said it's simple, conveys the message, trains the situational awareness relfex and even the dumbest private can remember it. Brilliant IMHO. Pete

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  2. Excellent point. Not sure who originated that particular training concept, but for many of us it was our first real introduction to the awareness principal. I would consider it a fundamental building block, along with Col. Jeff Cooper's Color Code Awareness system and Dave Grossman's work on the subject. I think what is key is that it is a concept that must be employed beyond the battlefield and occupy a prominent place in our daily lives. It must be actively exercised or we risk losing that skill set in our rather homogenized society.

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