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  • Observation of Sight, Sound, Smell & Time
  • Understanding Behavior (Body Language)
  • Memory, Practice, and Preparation

Situational awareness is the perception of environmental elements with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event.

The formula

Observation + Action Plan = Outcome

But what happens when “X” is thrown into the mix? – Observation + Action Plan + X(Variable) = ???

This is when having the keen ability to assess your environment and make decisions predicated on what you’ve observed decides the result of your next actions. We never know when or what the variables may be. We can only make assumptions based on our observations. If you’re not aware of your situation in it’s entirety that proverbial “snake in the grass” may sneak up and bite you. This is why you need to understand the snakes characteristics, and current behavior. This way if it bites you, or tries to, you’re ready to react.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

The people who perish in unfortunate situations are people who have no situational awareness. They throw themselves in environments without understanding the possible threats. They don’t think the world is as bad as it is, or they think their to hardcore to be hurt.

Conducting A Variable Assessment

So how do you best prepare for the “X“? You make an assumption based on the state of your environment and the characteristics of it. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself while conducting your variable assessment.

  • What’s the weather look like right now?
  • How many people are you surrounded by?
  • What key structures are near you? (Hospitals, stores, police stations, fire departments, etc.)
  • What time is it?
  • What’s the most common crime to happen in this area?
  • How are people around you behaving?
  • Does anything seem out of the ordinary?

There’s hundreds of questions you can ask yourself to make an assumption of what could happen in any given situation. Don’t expect to be able to answer all of them at every given second. Just make sure you always ask the most critical ones.

Observing Sight, Sound, Smell, & Time

The basic foundation of situational awareness is being observant. Most people can see, but have no vision. They don’t pay attention to critical elements that could cause problems. People often listen, but never hear anything either. They only hear what they want to hear. Not the backdoor opening as they watch their favorite TV show, or the couple arguing off in the distance over the cashier ringing up their order. Also, most people show no respect to time. Timing is everything.

  • Spatial Awareness –  is the ability to be aware of oneself in space. It is an organised knowledge of objects in relation to oneself in that given space. Spatial awareness also involves understanding the relationship of these objects when there is a change of position. We are better at this as kids, but as we get older and desensitized to our surroundings we can lose our ability to effectively pay attention to this. But as with anything, you can develop the skill with proper training.

In reality for most people who live regular lives situational awareness is going to be pretty generalized. Unless you’re submerged in a combat type environment and live in the mindset all the time you’re probably not going to be able to process or apply the entire skill set. Most of us have regular lives, families, jobs, etc. This distracts us from our ability to be fully aware all the time, as much as we may think it doesn’t.

This means you need to learn how to control this mindset as much as possible, you have to practice it constantly, and make it a priority in your life just as much as anything else you do on a regular basis.

What can you see?

It’s important to understand your field of vision and how to use it. Most people royally neglect their peripherals, allowing things to slip by in the background.  The great thing about peripheral vision is that it can be utilized simultaneously as you focus on what’s in front of you. Multi-tasking is normally not a good thing to do. It subtracts from your ability to do one thing 100%, but in the case of situational awareness this is a must.

You can focus on what’s in front of you while also mentally making note of what’s going on around you through your peripherals. This allows you to focus on the subject in front of you, but notice things on your sides, without actually having to take your eyes off the subject.

You also need to be paying close attention to everything. Don’t just let everything that comes through your eyes pass through without first analyzing everything about it that you can. Notice road detours, construction sites, the number of vehicles around you, lights, activities and events. It’s vital that you analyze. Don’t just pass it off, because the moment you really should have the most might result in something you don’t want.

Are you being followed? Would you know even if you were? Chances are you’ve never really payed much attention to it because you think nothing can happen to you. Evil people do evil things because they want to. Not because you’re not known as the rich kid on the block. They don’t care. You can become a target for anything at any time. You could see something someone doesn’t want you to see. There’s tons of circumstances that could result in you being followed by someone. Maybe you pissed off your girlfriends ex, or maybe your girlfriend pissed off your ex. The point is that you should never think you’re too unworthy to become a target.

Cyber-stalking is also a very common thing that usually happens before someone starts actually stalking you in public. Be mindful of who you friend online, watch them, watch the content they post, be aware of the things they interact with and more importantly how they react with you. The same rules apply online.

When analyzing your surroundings to check for someone stalking you pay attention to mirrors and windows. This allows you to look at something in a place that you wouldn’t normally be able to see. And the person following will have no idea that you marked them. Once you’ve confirmed your tail you can then create a diversion plan to lose them or entrap them.

What Can You Hear?

Listening is a little different. Our ears are not quite as multi-task-able as our eyes are, but with proper discipline you can remain more soundly aware of what’s happening around you. You have to practice this, and develop it as a habit. There’s really no other way to hone in on this skill than just making it a priority in your mind as something to pay attention to.

What Can You Smell?

Notice anything distinct about a person? Their breath, body odor? The smell of foods, fire or smoke, etc. Any distinct smells can serve as a mental anchor in your memory just as much as what you see and hear can.


Most of society is late to almost every obligation they have. Timing is critical. You should be paying attention to your commute times. How long it takes you to get from point A to point B with, or without traffic, in bad weather, in a hurry, or not. As I said earlier, it’s hard to discipline this mentality for average people. We have many distractions in our day to day lives. If your goal is to be less of a target to prevent violence from happening to you, this is a key element to develop the habit of paying attention to.

Situational Awareness

Understanding Behavior (Body Language)

The human mind and body is a magnificent thing. It’s a combination of a very complex machine controlled by an even more complex operator. The mind is incredibly powerful. Most people just don’t stop to expand on its abilities. A HUGE part of situational awareness is learning how to understand signs.

These signs are delivered to our mind in the form of body language. We know the things that make us uncomfortable, happy, sad, and angry. Most people think they are good at hiding their emotions, and to the average person they probably are. It’s how you’re able to lie to just about anyone and get away with it. To the situationally aware person however, it’s not so simple.

Our body will naturally do certain things in reaction to certain stimulants. Such as:

  • The Personal Bubble – This is a space that our body naturally declares it’s comfort zone. Next time you engage in a conversation with someone pay attention to their footing. If they are not comfortable with you, they will take one foot and step it backwards if you’re to close to them. You’ve infiltrated their personal bubble, and it makes them uncomfortable because they don’t know you well enough, or don’t like you.
  • Eye Contact – When you’re talking to someone, and you notice them glancing off at things frequently, or looking away as if in deep thought, or looking down, this means they are trying to avoid the conversation. Again, they don’t care what you have to say, or are not comfortable with you enough to engage in conversation on that level. People focus deeply on what they care about, and are not afraid to get close to it.
  • Tonality – The tone in which people speak in can tell you a lot about their emotions, their confidence, and how interested they are to be engaging with you. To be a good negotiator you need to understand the language of sales. Which consists of establishing rapport, listening skills, and influencing skills. This comes in handy when you need to maintain control in conversations. Control can be the impression that you’re losing the discussion, or winning it. Depending upon the objective.
  • General Behavior – Shaky hands, acting “too normal”, sweating, talking fast, talking slow, talking loud, etc. These are all general things to pay attention to. You might notice a guy with a backpack in the corner at the mall next week that you saw there last week. Nothing too strange right? But maybe this time when you’re focused on your situational awareness you notice the mans hands are shaky, he’s sweating a little, pacing pack and forth, etc. These could be displays of behavior that can be used to predict something bad about to happen. You would be able to react to stop it, or get out of the danger area instead of becoming a victim.

Memory, Practice, and Preparation

As with anything in life, situational awareness takes practice. It’s a skill set that takes a lot of discipline to develop. One of the hardest parts of it comes down to memory. Asides from eating right and maintaining proper fitness and health, there’s not a whole lot you can do for it. There’s a few things though. You can do things such as play games with it. Pull out a deck of cards and try to memorize them in order for as long as you can. You can do this with your family too. Next time you go to the store, make note of the amount the person in front of you spent, or the ratio of men to women who stood in front of you. You can then quiz your family on these things afterwards. There’s a lot of mental tests you can consistently practice to help you get better at memory. You see, your brain is like a muscle. You can build on it at any age.

Another thing you can do is run simulation missions. Go through your day to day and establish a partner as the OPFOR (opposing force). Their job is to stalk you without being detected. Your job is to mark them, evade them, lose them, or entrap them. Or you can run a “kidnap” style mission where someone has to abduct you, and you have to escape and evade. There’s a few variations of missions you could run. Either way you go this is great for training how to react, and it’s as close to a real world situation as it gets.

Preparation when it comes to situational awareness is being as ready as you possibly can be to handle a threat. It means taking all necessary precautions. Locking your doors, letting friends know where you’re going, or not.

Notice a trend in bad weather? Stock up on groceries before hand.

Notice a local festival is happening next week and is going to be massively congested? Plan your commuting to avoid it.

Notice a rise in terror attacks and random acts of violence? Start training and get prepared. Join the Warrior Tribe now.

The key to memory is to create a mental anchor revolved around what you want to remember. You can do this by associating any distinct traits you pick up on with something you are familiar with. Like the smell of smoke to a fire. Situational awareness will better aid you in making it out of a bad situation as well. It’s not just about prevention. In the event you are kidnapped, instead of freaking out you might remain calm enough to notice the tattoo on the attackers neck, the roughness of their hands, the oddly low pitch of their voice, the color of their hair, and height of their build. Normal people are not conditioned to react this way, but you should be.

Preventative Measures

What are some things you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a target?

Situational Awareness

Training is the most critical element to anything. Reading something doesn’t do you much good if you’ve never actually applied the tactics to see if they work or not. We must train, we must get aware, and we must be warriors to survive this endless chaos that surrounds our lives.

I really hope you enjoyed part 2 of this series. Coming up next is “Gray” tactics, followed by Self defense, ultimately concluding with combat tactics. All of which use the combined application of everything we just went over in regards to situational awareness.

Our objective here is to provide higher caliber resources and information that enhance your preparedness in all aspects. If you’re enjoying the content you get from MASK and want to help support our mission please consider becoming a member of our elite community that we call the Warrior Tribe.

Comprised of those most serious about preparedness, our Tribe will help you take your survivability to the next level through active training, accountability, and advanced resources. Our organization is rapidly growing and we would love to see you become a bigger part of it.


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Author Primal

Owner of MASK Tactical & The Warrior Tribe. Always ready to wage war!

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Jess says:

    Excellent read here. Over the years and multiple trips, I have come to practice many of the tips that you present here. The people who don’t truly know me call me paranoid. I tell them that I am aware of my surroundings in a 50′ bubble as well as most everything that is going on in my 20′ bubble. You bring up many good points as to using not only your sight but your other senses (something that most don’t do). I get asked why do I always carry. My reply is, “I refuse to be a victim, to have and not need is better then need and not have”. I do not want to pull and kill, but if my family, friends, innocents or myself is at harms way, I will react.. Again great read. Keep up the good work.. ~ Whistler..

  • paintball says:

    Great delivery. Sound arguments. Keep up the great effort.

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