How to Practice Good Situational Awareness

It’s likely happened to most of you at one point or another. A phone call, text, or TV show distracted you from cooking dinner…until the smell of scorched chicken drifts your way. It’s easy to be distracted, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. As Tom Givens, owner of Rangemaster firearms training school in Memphis, shared with us, “Alertness and awareness are not innate behavior traits” for most. It takes practice to establish good situational awareness and to become more aware of your surroundings, whether you’re cooking, driving, or trying to keep your family safe.

But how do you practice becoming more aware? It’s actually simpler than you may think. As Givens writes, all it takes is to “Get your head up, open your eyes and look around.” To get started, he provides basic examples of walking into a room and giving it a quick scan as you sit down to see who is nearby, or to glance in a window as you walk down the street to see who may be walking behind you. By observing the people around you, you’re not as defenseless as you would be if you were totally oblivious of your surroundings.

Givens also suggests stepping your awareness training up a notch through more specific observation. For instance, he suggests taking note of a car that passes you as you are driving and then looking away. After looking away, would you know the following?

  • The make, model, and color of the car?
  • The number on the license plate?
  • How many doors are on the car?
  • The gender of the driver and any passengers?

A similar approach to practice good situational awareness can be taken the next time you’re out shopping. Take a moment to observe the people you pass, try describing them to yourself, and check to see how accurately you were able to describe them. Or, simply sit down, close your eyes, and try to visualize every aspect of your living room. By taking the time to train yourself to become more aware of your surroundings, you’ll naturally start paying more attention to them within a few weeks, decreasing your chances of becoming a victim, should the unexpected occur.

Have you ever used techniques like these to train yourself to be more vigilant to take in your surroundings? Share your experience in a comment below.

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Related: If you were forced to defend your family would you know what to do?

You'd do anything to protect your family.But did you know... You're still vulnerable to criminal charges and financial ruin…even if you did everything right? Your USCCA Membership arms you with the self-defense education, training, and legal protection you need to protect your family with confidence. Because, after all, doing the right thing shouldn't cost you everything...

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