If you watch videos about self-defense and having a “self-defense mindset,” you will hear the term “situational awareness” often. But do you know what it means beyond the surface definition?
In this episode of Pro Tips, Mike Glover from Fieldcraft Survival summons his decades of experience in Special Forces to give you a clearer picture of where your head should be and how to keep it on a swivel.
“I tell people to pay attention,” he says. “Yeah, no crap, pay attention. But what does that mean?”
Glover dives into advice and tactics for increasing your situational awareness, thereby increasing the chances that you will come out on top when the shit hits the fan.
He begins by teaching you how to enter a room.
“I took a moment; I didn’t just rush into the building,” he says. “I wipe my feet, intentional or not. I was scanning from left to right — all of the things that are in my environment, right? If you are consciously observing and taking in information that you see, then that information can be used to make better decisions.”
“The alternative is you’re staring at your cell phone, you’re staring at your feet, you’re staring at one specific place in the environment, and you’re not paying attention at all, which is the complacency of routine that we fall victim to,” Glover explains. “It happens when you’re driving; it happens when you go into the store; it happens when you’re pumping gas, the list goes on.”
So how do you overcome the complacency of routine and stay aware of your environment at all times? Glover says you have to pay attention to 5s and 25s.
“The idea is derived from a tactic we used in Special Operations and the Army of relaying the communication of us practically doing something every time we got outside of our vehicles,” Glover says.
When most people get out of their cars, they don’t have a protocol, he says, and they will be arbitrarily looking around.
“But if I say to you, 5s and 25s over the radio, I mean I want you to get out of the vehicle and scan within 5 meters around the vehicle that you’re standing [near], and out to 25 meters around the vehicle,” Glover says. “The reason we started doing that is because we realized we were getting hit by improvised explosive devices or potential ambushes because we weren’t paying attention.”
He says scanning the 5-to-25 zone allows you to pick up on things that look wrong or out of place — things that look suspicious or deviate from the pattern. But that’s only half of it. You have to be consciously plugged in at all times, so that when you see something that’s off, you react and address it.
“Observe, and then when you see something outside of the pattern, have a plan of action,” he says.
Scenario time: What would you do you heard something outside that sounds like a firecracker but could be a gunshot?
“People go, ‘Oh yeah, I would tactically move to the back of the building and then exfil,” Glover says. “You probably wouldn’t. Most people would be curious, and they would try to confirm or deny what that sound was.”
He goes on to say that, if he’s alone, he might be willing to take the risk and investigate the source of the noise. But, if he’s with his family, he wouldn’t be willing to take that risk and his plan of action changes based on the circumstances.
“You’ve got to have consciousness plugged in with situational awareness. And then you have to have a plan of action based on movement,” he says. “I would rather take the precaution to pay attention to situational awareness than not.“
“Remember, there are very primal and adaptive mechanisms in us to pay attention to our environments. The likelihood is you don’t pay attention to those things, because they’re inconvenient.”
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