Monday, May 14, 2012

Cooper Awareness Levels

The recent posting about the mom caught unaware by an attempted robbery inspired me to review the Mindset Color Codes. These color designations are used to describe increasing levels of awareness and were first coined by the late Jeff Cooper. While anyone who has spent even a small bit of time studying self defense is probably already familiar with Cooper's designations, they are still worth a regular review. Learning to live observently and to properly manage your state of awareness could save your life.

Cooper divided our levels of awareness into 5 stages. When threatened and aware, we will progress from one stage to the next. The rate of that transition will depend on the threat and accompanying circumstances, as well as our level of preparedness.

White: This is the state of being totally unaware of your surroundings. It might also be described as "sleep." Being caught by a surprise danger at this point means we are essentially defenseless. Think of being startled awake at night by a noise in the house. There is a moment of confusion before our minds are able to process the events.

How do we avoid being caught in condition White? Simple, don't go there. Don't walk down the street with your eyes focused in your cell phone, or your ears filled with music from your iPod blasting away.  There are times you must be in condition White. We all must sleep, but we don't have to do so without a secondary alert system in place. When you are relaxing in your home or before you go to sleep lock all the doors. Make it a system by checking that all doors are secure before you retire; don't just assume they are. Set the alarm. Have a dog. Anything to give you some advance warning of a possible threat.

Yellow: This level of awareness is best described as "relaxed alert." This is the minimum level you should be in throughout the day. At this stage you are aware that a threat might present itself. You know who is around you. You are aware of exits and routes of escape. You aren't ready to fight but you will not be surprised by any threats.

To the uninitiated this may seem to be a stressful way to live, or even a bit paranoid. In fact, it can become a fun and relaxed way to go about your day. You can be confident that you probably won't be face danger without warning. You'll be more aware of the pleasant things around you too. By being observant, you'll see things you might otherwise have missed. It's taking time to smell the roses so to speak. When you enter a room do a scan and note where the exits are. When you enter a store, do you know how many people are there? Play a game as you walk down the street by making a point to see anyone you know before they see you. If they greet you before you see them, you weren't aware. Can you find other concealed carriers in the store with you? Living in condition Yellow will soon become second nature. It's something you do without thinking, and it does create a new level of relaxation. Maintaining diligence in condition Yellow will help avoid the need to rise to the higher levels.

Orange: At Orange you have identified a potential threat. You have not yet decided to take action, but something has your attention. You are focused on that possible threat and have a course of action in mind. Perhaps the person crossed the street when you did, or you've noticed them glancing around nervously. At this point you are formulating a plan of possible action — if the person does a certain action next or continues a suspicious activity you have a plan in mind. That could be heading for the exit, or looking for cover. However, you must not focus on this one potential threat to the exclusion of everything else. Wolves travel in packs.

Being on alert at this level is tiring and can only be maintained for a short time. Your decision factor between dropping back to Yellow, or moving the next level should be definite and quickly reached.

Red: At level Red your decision factor set in condition Orange was reached. You have identified a real threat and you are mentally and physically ready to fight. You have a specific plan of action. You now have a mental trigger in your mind that will kick you into action. The decision to defend yourself has now been made. When the trigger point is reached you will react, without hesitation, and with all your training and preparedness brought into full play.

By moving to this level of readiness you have a jump on the fight. You don't waste precious seconds making decisions and formulating a plan. Obviously this level of readiness can only be maintained for a very short time frame. Your focus is solely on the threat and your defensive actions.

Black: This is the actual fight itself. Some have described this stage as "potential death." You are now dealing with a life threatening situation. At Black there are no longer any decisions to be made. You are fighting with all your ability and training. At this point you must be automatic. You must be determined and unrelenting. Cooper didn't include this level designation in his original training, but the designation has been added as the system has developed over the years.

The next time you find yourself wandering about in condition White, stop and take note, and make the correction. Learn to live "relaxed but alert." It could be the most valuable life skill you learn.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Awareness and Planning

With only this short clip of a video of an attempted robbery, a few thoughts come to mind. Being able to react to an attack means being prepared beforehand - mentally and physically. Think about how you can get yourself, and those with you, to safety should the need arise. Talk about this with your children. "If we ever are in a bad situation and I say run - you run as fast as you can to safety" (nearby home, store, etc.) Depending on the situation, physically grabbing a young child and running or pushing them to safety may be the best move. This means being alert to potential threats and having some idea of what you will do. This poor woman and child had no clue what to do, and, as a good friend remarked "This is a good example of how the body and untrained mind reacts." She halfheartedly follows her foolish first thought, leaving her child in danger and confusion.

Besides a strategy, one cannot underestimate the importance of situational awareness. Knowing who is around your car *before* you get out. If someone is too close, wait a few moments. After you get out, keep track of who is nearby and what they are doing. Know where you would go if needed once out of the car. If the unthinkable happens, you have a plan in mind so that you immediately go to it. Be sure those in your care have already been taught - when I say run - RUN. When you enter a building, take a quick look at the exits - knowing how to get out could be of great importance. This woman appears totally unaware of the approaching man and is caught off guard as he threatens her.

Don't let your social graces cripple you. If someone is crowding your space or following too close - jog across a short cut to safety. Any man who is a husband, dad, brother or son, would understand a woman moving to safety. (He would want his own sister, wife, mother, or daughter to do the same!) The bad guy will often push through our socially polite reactions to do us harm. Know there is a threat before you strike, but don't let the bad guy use your courtesy to his advantage.

None of this precludes enjoying life or living comfortably in the world. To be alert and aware of your surroundings takes little time, does not diminish the enjoyment of whatever you are doing, yet it lays the ground work for a safe exit should the need arise. A few moments pause before leaving her car, or a quick determined run to safety with her child when threatened could have quickly ended this encounter.

Read more on this story here.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why People Hate Guns

Rabbi Dovid Bendory and Alan Korwin have an interesting post over at JPFO entitled "Why Jews Hate Guns." Despite the title, the ideas presented in the paper can just as easily apply to any adamantly anti-gun person, regardless of creed, or political leaning.

The authors posit:
The adamantly anti-gun-rights Jews are bowing to: 
1. A desire for utopian moral purity
2. A disproportional incidence of hoplophobia
3. A quest for power through victimization of peers
4. A utopian delusion that if guns would just “go away,” crime would end and the world would be a peaceful safe place
5. Self hatred and a wish to be helpless, acting out guilt-based behavioral problems that develop in childhood
6. The Ostrich Syndrome
7. Garden-variety hypocrisy
8. Adulterated religion -- Jews In Name Only (JINOs)
9. Feel-good sophistry
10. Abject fear that yields irrational behavior
Each of these points is explained in detail. As I was reading the article, I was struck how I have noted these traits in many people. It was an interesting realization, but at the same time somewhat disturbing. On the bright side, understanding the motives behind the anti-gun folks is an important tool in defending against their attacks on our God-given rights.

I strongly suggest you take a few minutes to read the entire posts at "Why Jews Hate Guns."


Friday, May 4, 2012

You Are Responsible For You

A couple weeks ago a young couple was beaten by a group of over 30 youths in Norfolk, VA. Despite the fact that the victims were reporters for The Virginian-Pilot, the newspaper did not mention the story for two weeks. And even then, it was as an editorial, not a crime report or news item. Why? It's anyone's guess, but it's notable that the victims were white, the perpetrators black. Is this the new standard of reporting in America?

The response from the police at the above incident was "It's what they do." They ruled the 30 on 2 beating a "simple assault." That's right, resignation and apathy. It's a fact that the courts have ruled repeatedly that the police have no duty to protect the public. The victims had to call 911 three times before they got a response. As much respect as I have for our law enforcement personnel, we must still face the reality that their job revolves around arresting criminals AFTER a crime has been committed. That's little solace for a family who has lost a father, or mother, or a child due to the uncivilized behavior of some societal misfit.

Race baiters and class warfare proponents like Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, Bill Ayers, and even the president of the United States, are aided by the leftist media in their quest to stir up violence in order to progress their goals. Some are predicting an increase in race-based crime in the near future.

It is also not unreasonable to expect an increase in violence in the coming months based on the "collective" mentality. Watch the police reaction to the pack of anarchists in the Seattle area this week. They essentially stood by helplessly and let the animals wreak havoc. How many innocent people could be hurt by the fires and breaking glass? How long do you think it will take for property damage to escalate to physical attacks on people? We've seen that the "social activists" have no issues attacking the police during "peaceful" protests.

Despite the history of violence perpetrated by Communist governments throughout history, thousands of useful idiots, even right here in the US, stood up and celebrated "collective" rule on May 1. Even the president's reelection campaign is employing the theme of a previous oppressive and violent movement. Violence and dangerous times are looming in the not too distant future. Even if you are optimistic that our county isn't about to erupt into violence, are you willing to sit back and not prepare? Will you take the fire extinguishers out of your home because you don't expect a fire?

In response to the question regarding if it was right to work to build wealth, or if one should simply rely on God to provide, a priest I know replied "Well, you shouldn't be an idiot." In other words, you must take care of yourself and your family. God helps those who helps themselves. It's a sin, and foolhardy, to tempt God and expect Him to do what he has given you the ability to do. I pray the future that seems inevitable won't actually come to pass. I pray that common sense and responsibility will prevail. But in the meantime I will do what I can to prepare.

Every state of the US, excepting one, allows law-abiding citizens to arm themselves for self-defense and defense of their loved ones. The restrictions vary from state to state, but the right exists in some form. Yet the majority of Americans do not prepare. The decision to not carry a firearm is a conscience decision to pass the responsibility for your own safety on to someone else. It is a decision to not be responsible for the well-being of your loved ones. It is casting off that which God gave you the ability to do. That's not something for which I wish to answer someday.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Targets For Practice

Originally published at Musings Over a Pint:

While loading up the car recently for a trip to the range, I was struck by the number of different target styles we have on hand. I thought I'd share a few of them.

There's the USPSA practice target, for obvious reasons. I've have similar targets on order with the IDPA layout. We occasionally use the headshot / hostage target. You can alternate which figure you want to hit. And yes, even as a paper silhouette it adds to the pressure. The two targets with the colored shapes are part of Rob Pincus' "Balance of Speed and Precision" series. There's an unlimited number of drills and games you can create with these. Of course, we also use the ubiquitous "man with a gun" poster. The numbered circles on the side add to the options. The body silhouette with scoring rings is one of the earliest targets we started using. Affectionately known as "postage stamp" guy for the small tiny target in the upper left. There's more than one tiny postage stamp guy with a center hit posted as a trophy on a shooter's refrigerator or office door.

Most of these paper targets are 24 inches wide, which is wider than the typical 18" cardboard USPSA/IDPA targets, and stands. When I made my stands I set them up to accommodate the wider targets. I keep a constant eye out for scrap cardboard wide enough to use with the stands.

Why so many targets? Mostly for the fun of it. We like to mix things up at the range, and we sure don't want to get bored. A lot of our range trips involve "games" we make up, and the various targets add to our options.

Of course, that's just the commercial paper targets. We also use paper plates, index cards, sticky notes, colored construction paper, the occasional lottery ticket or novelty target. We'll haul out the steel targets regularly too.

Both in sport and self defense, one doesn't want to train to always look for an X. I believe that using a variety of targets, and mixing up the drills and games we play, helps to avoid complacency in practice. And we certainly never get bored!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Prepared Are You? Part 2

Last month, we pointed out the first article in the series on preparing for a breakdown in lawful society. This week, Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership posted the second part of this enlightening essay.

What can do, for yourself, right now (part 2)
by Kirby Ferris
© Copyright Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership ( 2012

The disgusting, lynch mob mentality that has arisen from the Trayvon Martin shooting case places us several notches towards race riots this summer. To the balanced observer, Zimmerman really does appear to have likely shot Martin in self defense. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and Barack Hussein Obama started babbling before all the facts were in. These collectivist droids seldom retreat from any lie ... they simply magnify it further.

If George Zimmerman is acquitted the fuse will light. Remember Rodney King? If you live in an urban environment, don't be stupid. Pay attention!

Already there have been brutal beatings of whites by blacks as "payback" for Trayvon's death. In a Maryland incident, although so far not directly related to the Trayvon Martin case, it is stretching credibility to assume that the Blacks were not powerfully motivated by the Florida incident. The leading police officer in that investigation claimed it was not a hate crime. Unbelievable.

However, in an Alabama and a Chicago case, the Florida teen's death is part and parcel of the events. See Fox News and New York Daily Times.

To my knowledge, none of these attrocities has been labeled a "hate crime". Let's face it: had these acts of savagery been perpetrated by a pack of Whites on a hapless Black the sky would be falling. Special commissions, SWAT teams and aerial drones would be brought to the front, accompanied by a never-ending liberal media barrage.

By yourself, there is really nothing you can do to change the reality of this completely hypocritical situation. However, you can do certain things in the next several days that will empower YOU, should you be enmeshed somehow in the racist lunacy. No, I'm not just writing for whites or Hispanics. See JPFO' film "No Guns for Negroes".

In a recent JPFO article I advised the purchase of a pump shotgun and a hundred bucks of ammo. Total expenditure $400.

I'm going to now expand to suggestions for the second type of firearm you want to own: a "compact" 9mm pistol. Sure, we'd all like a custom big bore .45, but this article, like the previous one, lays heavily on BUDGET. That means the question of how much you get (ammo included) for what you have to spend.

( Continue reading at )

The author makes some acute observations on current events and where they may lead. This is not a time to be complacent. Last month he suggested that a shotgun was a wise first choice for home defense. This time Ferris recommends a compact, and inexpensive, defensive pistol. He also makes some suggestions as to what to look for in this weapon.