SA: Pay attention or pay the price

We ran this article nearly a year ago, but nothing has changed. Read it, practice it, live it. Mad Duo

This is a topic that can’t be discussed too much as long as it’s improving the skill set of those who need it (which is pretty much anyone that doesn’t care to be a victim and all who disdain the term Baaaaaa). You can’t react to a threat if you don’t detect it. You cannot preempt a problem if you don’t see it coming. Be chary (grunts: chary, but not timid), wary (grunts: wary), watchful and wise.¬† Being hard and dangerous won’t do you a bit of good if you never see it coming.

Situational Awareness

Wherein the Mad Duo brings you some more guest pontification from Marshall Bowen of .308 Ghillies.

No amount of tactical training will do you any good if you haven’t got the ability to recognize when to use them. The industry catchphrase for this is “Situational Awareness”. Simply put, pay attention to what’s going on around you. People are generally less aware than they realize. This is why accidents happen.

There are techniques for paying more attention than your average citizen does. The most bang for your buck will come with the realization that there is no such thing as multitasking. It is scientifically proven that the human brain cannot actively participate in more than one conscious activity at a time. All you have to remember is which actions can be regulated by the subconscious brain. For the record, besides autonomous body function (breathing, digestion, etc) everything takes conscious practice to get. That’s why babies and children fumble with motor skills. Picking something up is unconscious to you now, but you’ve been doing it a while.

It’s like Speed and Security. You can’t have both. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other. They are a sliding scale. That’s something to consider when going about your day as well. If you are rushing around in a panic state of accomplishment, the little things suffer. They are easy to miss. For every extra thing you are “trying to do at once”, you are doing them all that much worse.

While it can be detrimental to an operation to “What if…” incessantly, when properly applied, it can be a useful mental training exercise. At the very least, if you have considered an option, it’s less likely to surprise you in the event it actually happens (does not apply to zombies or an apocalypse. That never flies around here). In fact, being in a constant state of “What if” is the same as being Situationally Aware.

For example: If you are in a restaurant, what do you pay attention to? The other patrons? The staff? Most attacks in places like this walk in or happen from the outside. Same with public transportation, except airplanes (on a bus or train sit toward the aisle; planes toward the window). Every single situation is unique for any various reason, so there’s nothing you can decide ahead of time to combat a specific scenario. If you spend all your time training for an active shooter scenario, you’re going to find a madman running people down with his car.

So, besides training the physical fundamentals, what can you do? Pay attention. People watching is your new hobby and you love to do it. There is a trade-off of course. It’s hard to engage in conversation with others when you are actively paying attention to the ¬†cenery. It’s a constant juggle.

Aside from that, you can try to have a plan. Are there avenues of escape?
Is there cover? Do you have a weapon? Do you need one? Can you get one? How far can you actually make it given your level of fitness? I can’t give you a specific checklist. Only the question “What if” and training in the fundamental skills needed to deal with them.

Stay alert. Stay alive.

About the author: Marshall Bowen is, as you might have expected, a former military shooter (providing ballistic surgery and threat reduction in the USMC). He curently works in and provides instruction to PMSCs and assorted other personnel working the sharp end and is an instructor for our brothers-in-arms over at Greenside Training.

Read more here.


Common sense isn’t always terribly common, and sometimes we worry so much about the high speed low drag stuff we forget about the high drag building blocks everything else is built on. If you have something to add, or a topic you’d like to wax didactic about (grunts: didactic), drop us a line at breachbangclear (at) Yes, gmail. We should have our own (at) accounts but we’re Luddites. Deal with it.

Go check out .308 Ghillies on Facebook and let ’em know Breach-Bang-Clear sent you.

Mad Duo, Breach-Bang-CLEAR!


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