You can be chary without looking like a dog trying to shit a peach pit. You can teach your family to do the same.
ARE you a soft target? Do you conduct and present yourself as a predator or something that eats veggies – something other things prey on? Today’s article from guest writer Kerry Davis (of Dark Angel Medical) asks that question. We figure it’s the perfect follow-on to the previous pieces about the Blue Collar OODA Loop and Brian’s take on EDR (both from yesterday). Mad Duo
Are You a Soft Target?
Kerry “Pocket Doc” Davis
There’s a good sale going on, so you head out to the crowded mall with your spouse. As you are exiting a store you hear muffled ‘pops’ and seconds later, screams. Suddenly a human tidal wave is careening towards you, a crush of humanity madly rushing to reach the nearest exit or seemingly safe area. Then you hear an ear-splitting explosion, glass shattering, then a shockwave washes over you. It punches the air from your chest. Your mind is screaming, “Get out!” but your body won’t respond. Because of the stimuli overload it just refuses to budge. Finally, after what seems like an eternity that is in actuality only a couple of seconds, you grab your spouse and sprint for cover. The ‘pops’ getting louder. Security personnel run past you, telling you and others to get out. You come upon a young lady on the ground clutching her left upper leg as bright red blood squirts between her fingers. You drag her behind a stone planter box, reach into your jacket pocket and apply a CAT to her leg and control the bleed. Your spouse is talking with you and communicating with you about what she is seeing as you work. After you scoop the injured female up in your arms, you make your way to the main exit. There you see figures with handguns. You, your “patient”, and your spouse duck into a store and head to the back. Your spouse calls “911” while you reassure the young lady that all will be fine. What do you do? What has happened? How could this happen here? Why did this happen here?
We are trained to eat, write, read, dress, drive and perform a multitude of other daily functions. We are taught simple acts of self-preservation like looking both ways before we cross the street and to stop completely at stop signs but I believe where we are absolutely, critically failing is in teaching the fine art of situational awareness. We are failing in the instruction of, and daily activity of, how to be a ‘hard target’.
What is the difference between a ‘soft target’ and a ‘hard target’? Look around you the next time you’re out and about. Look at the staggering numbers of folks who are walking around, heads buried in technology, only glancing up in front of themselves occasionally, paying absolutely zero attention to anything or anyone around them. How hard would it be for someone to come up to them, if they had the intent, and do harm? These people are soft targets. Look at the lack of security, real security, at schools, shopping centers, churches and hospitals, just to name a few places. How hard would it be for someone with ill-will to go to those places and do bad things to good people? Those are ‘soft targets’ as well.
How do we remedy that? The sad fact of the matter is, most of those locations will continue to be ‘soft targets’, not because they have to be, but because they choose to remain so, for whatever reason, however misguided.
We, however, we as “the people” can choose to be a ‘hard target’ within the soft one. Trained, responsible, citizens, maintaining situational awareness and EDR, practicing the Blue Collar OODA Loop – we can be the hard target.
How? Here are a few points.
-Give yourself a safe zone or buffer zone.
-Put the technology down.
-Keep your head on a swivel.
-Make a plan.
-Blend in and be the “Grey Man”.
-Carry your equipment. Discreetly.
-Know your limitations.
-Know your laws.
-Train. Then, train some more.
Practice constant assessment of body mechanics of others. Watch for visual cues like nervousness, sweating when it’s not hot, wearing clothing that doesn’t match the season, irrational or odd behavior (though that rules out a lot of teens already 😉 ). If something doesn’t fit, go with your gut, place distance between whatever it is and yourself. Distance buys you time, and during that time you can possibly work your way to good cover or even an exit.
Don’t become so engrossed in that awesome sale or that hilarious social media post that you lose track of what’s going on around you. That stuff isn’t going to alter your life, no matter much the discount is or how much money you’ll save.
Know where all of your exits are and plan for a hasty escape. Escape may not be possible, so keep an eye out for a place to “hole up”, a place that provides you good cover if something goes pear-shaped. Utilize your ability to scan your surroundings and buy yourself some time
Carry your CCW gun and spare ammo. Carry a med kit. Carry a flashlight. Carry spare batteries. Carry a good knife. Carry a phone charger. This may seem like a lot of kit but it can easily be done. You don’t have to have the same loadout as an infantryman in the Hindu Kush to be reasonably, rationally prepared – which is a good deal different than being paranoid.
Blend in, don’t stand out. Be as low-key as possible without appearing vulnerable. By doing so you’ll be able to observe more while being observed less. Carrying all of your gear in a discreet “shoulder bag”, messenger bag or low-key backpack or sling bag is a good way to go because you don’t draw attention to yourself. Like your gear carrier, your clothing should be discreet. I love MultiCam as well as the next guy, but it’s not too discreet. I wear Arc’Teryx Bastion pants and can carry all of my gear easily in those. There are other garments that serve just as well.
Know your limitations, make a plan, be flexible and realize that the best-laid plans never survive first contact (which brings us back to the flexibility aspect). Be able to think on the fly and outside the box
Stay physically and mentally fit. Staying physically fit increases your chances of surviving situations where folks whose health is less-than-optimal would not. It helps you maintain mental acuity under stress. Mental fitness comes from keeping yourself in the fight, whatever that fight may be. Mission first, welfare second. Those are your priorities.
Train yourself in skills of observation games. Train yourself in hand-to-hand combat. Train yourself in emergency medical skills. Learn how your body responds in stressful environments and train yourself and your family members to react appropriately. Hopefully this will help keep them from freezing when you need them most. Train them to cover your six, weapon or Mk I Eyeball. Give them practice scenarios to see what they’d do. Observe them and talk to them when you’re out and about.
Train yourself to shoot, then move…accurately. Don’t affix yourself to one location. Movement and speed are the keys to life in a dire situation. Train yourself to know when to deploy your weapon and, equally important, when not to. Know your laws concerning use of deadly force. Realize that law enforcement responding to this situation will deem anyone with a gun as a threat. Remember that in a stressful situation we will fall to our lowest level of training. Train hard, train often and train realistically. Train like your life depends on because one day, it just might.
At the end of the day we owe it to our loved ones and ourselves to be an asset, not a liability. As much as our system tries, understand that we cannot legislate morality, sanity or lawfulness. Being prepared for the worst case scenario is not being paranoid, it is being realistic. It is our job as responsible citizens to fend off those who would do ourselves or our loved ones harm. Our job is not to meekly surrender. Our job is to make those bastards fight for it. Our job is to be a hard target.
Life isn’t a video game. There is no “respawn.”
Keep your head in the fight. Keep the fight in your heart and mind.
Simplicity Under Stress.
Read The Blue Collar OODA Loop: http://tinyurl.com/ll4bxvk
Read Mindset: more than acronyms and color codes part 1: http://tinyurl.com/kv7678t
Read Fight Like a Girl: Practical EDC vs. Frumps & Rucks: http://tinyurl.com/loe2v5b
Read Are you a soft target? http://tinyurl.com/koxpne2
Read Every Day Carry vs. Every Day Ready: http://tinyurl.com/mjh58hk
About the author: Kerry Davis is a a former flight medic and paramedic in the USAF before going to work in the civilian sector as a critical care RN in an emergency room. When not dressed like Archer eating candy and sipping cocktails, Pocket Doc teaches classes for both Dark Angel Medical (his own company) and the Sig Sauer Academy. Davis believes in addition to being prepared for everyday life eventualities such as motor vehicle accidents and hunting mishaps, shooters should be prepared to fight like they bleed. Though he is justifiably proud of the Dark Angel Medical proprietary medical kits, he will be the first one to preach preparation of any kind. “Roll your own if you need to,” Kerry says. “Buy our kit, by another kit, put a kit together, but have one and know how to use it.” You can learn more about Dark Angel Medical on line or via their Facebook page.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang & CLEAR!