I teach concealed carry classes and I have three main takeaways for my students. The legal portion, the gun safety portion, and that the best weapon you have is the one between your ears. By that, I mean situational awareness. I strive to teach the importance of simply paying attention to the world around you. I want people to live in condition yellow, and to understand that situational awareness is an amazing tool.

 I hope I never have to use my weapon. I carry every day, but the thought remains the same. I remain aware of my surroundings and the people in my surroundings to limit my chances of ever having to use my gun. In situations where I cannot carry, situational awareness is the best weapon I have. People serious about self-defense commonly call this condition yellow. Jeff Cooper created a series of color codes that relate to situational awareness and it is still widely used by the United States Military and police.

Defensive Driving and Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is just being a good, defensive driver. We call this defensive driving. You are paying attention to the people (vehicles) behind you, in front of you, and to your left and right. Good drivers watch the road, and they are ready to react to danger. Good drivers aren’t paranoid. Good drivers simply react to danger and are ready for it. It is not paranoid to live in condition yellow. I exercise situational awareness so I can detect a potential threat as early as possible. If I detect a threat I can either actively avoid it, or I can prepare to react to it. Proper situational awareness reduces the chances of a threat taking you by surprise.

If you are serious about self-defense then you understand the benefits of situational awareness. Even concealed carriers do not give proper credence to situational awareness. If you want to see how people walk through this world without paying attention to anything, go find players of Pokemon Go. They will drive you crazy. 

Pokemon and SA

Situational Awareness and Pokemon GO
Pokemon Go! (Credit Nintendo)


If you’ve been living under a rock for the last week or two, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game. In Pokemon Go you use your mobile device to capture Pokemon in real life. The game uses a map app similar to Google Maps that requires people to get out, and run around the map to find Pokemon, gyms, and items. Users can add Pokestops to let other players know about cool items or Pokemon in the area. 

My five year old absolutely loves the game, and as a 90s kid, I have fond memories of Pokemon. The game is genuinely fun, and it is certainly getting more people outside. We’ve found some cool locations, like a Veteran’s Memorial. I’m simply his escort on our adventures. While he plays I get to people watch and what I see is disturbing. We were in Gainesville recently and I saw countless people headfirst into their phones trying to find Pokemon. I watched as numerous people crossed busy streets and parking lots without ever looking up from their phones. My heart skipped a beat a dozen times watching people play. 

Pokemon Go is an absolute testament to how important situational awareness is. In just a few weeks thieves have robbed more than a dozen people. In O’Fallon MO. a group of thieves targeted at least 11 Pokemon Go players. Thieves targeted four people in Maryland. Three were playing Pokemon Go and the fourth was using his phone as a GPS. In Austin, a Pokemon Go player had his wallet liberated from him by an armed robber. Three goons jumped and robbed a player in Long Island as well. 

Some People’s Kids

Some people playing this game aren’t exercising even the smallest amount of situational awareness. Their lack of situational awareness is directly contributing to these robberies, and these thieves are targeting people because they aren’t paying attention. This makes it possible for these thieves to get very close to a victim before the victim notices. People playing at night are basically beacons for predators. The glow of their phones makes them obvious targets. The light from the phone kills night vision and makes it difficult for victims to describe their attackers. The ability to add Pokestops is being used by criminals to draw victims to them. SA is being aware of both the people around you, and the area around you. Do not become isolated. 

Situational awareness is a radar for normal behavior. The radar pings when someone is behaving oddly. Behaviors like loitering, staring, and following give us a gut feeling. That gut feeling is radar pinging. We get the same gut feeling when isolated and in the dark. That gut feeling is your instincts. Your instincts are invaluable, do not ignore them. Modern man got to the top of the food chain because of those instincts.

If the game remains popular there will eventually be a situation that a person is harmed or killed. Eventually, a concealed carrier is going to be put into a bad situation as a result of not practicing proper situational awareness. The thought of this makes me worried for my fellow concealed carriers.

Reality doesn’t care about Pikachu

I’m not trying to pick on Pokemon Go, I find it entertaining. My son and I are exploring different areas of our community. We are having fun as a family. This is not the game’s fault, this is a people problem. The game isn’t the issue. It’s just an example of what happens when people drop situational awareness. Pokemon Go has just shown us what happens when a massive group of people lose their minds a bit. This is what happens when people forget the world around them can be a dangerous place.

Situational Awareness and Pokemon GO
You need more than this for Self-defense

If you take the defense of self seriously and the defense of your family seriously, you need to take situational awareness seriously. A gun can stop an attack, but situational awareness can prevent it all together. If you practice situational awareness in the first place you may never need your gun. 

(featured image courtesy of usatoday.com)