3 More Drills To Practice Situational Awareness


Situational awareness is key to personal security. While its definition goes beyond just this realm, it can be summed up by this very basic concept – knowing what’s going on around you.

It sounds simple enough, and you may think that you’ve got it or that you are aware of what’s happening around you, but in reality most people are not aware as they should be. And in fact, while observing those in our modern world today – it appears that a great many of them are entirely unaware.

Here are three ‘drills’ to practice your own situational awareness:

Earlier, I gave you 5 drills to practice. You might want to try them too ;)


Use Your Peripheral Vision

We all have peripheral vision, but what we see there is often ignored while we ‘tunnel vision’ what’s directly in front of us. When you are out in public it is especially important to ‘see’ with your peripheral vision. Practice looking ahead (as you normally would) but while doing so – mentally notice what’s in your peripheral. You can do this even while talking with someone. Monitoring a wider field of vision will enable you to see (or be more aware) of anything which may be out of the ordinary.


Use Reflective Surfaces

When you are walking in an area where there are windows along the side (e.g. walking downtown, etc..) practice glancing at these reflective surfaces to see what’s going on behind you and areas which you cannot see while walking forward.



No matter where you are, it’s good practice to visualize a threat or emergency, and figure out what you would do – right then. The more scenarios you practice, the more mentally prepared you will be for the ‘real deal’.

If you’re interested in more on situational awareness, here are more articles I’ve written on the subject.


  1. Look for things out of place. Like warm weather everyone in shorts and tee shirts and some guy wearing a jacket to cover up a firearm.

    Two or more people seemingly not connected but making eye contact and exchanging nods, even moving in the same direction.

    A panhandler or simply a stranger asking directions being too friendly and getting too close.

    A man standing/loitering in a doorway or a chokepoint.

    Someone walking towards you with one hand behind their back, in a pocket or otherwise hidden from view.

    Two or more people walking towards you who line up to pass you on both sides.

    Someone who passes you and then turns around behind you.

    Someone who as you approach stares at you or purposely does not even look at you.

    A group (2 or more) of teens or young men walking towards you who become silent as they get near you.

    A street person who is talking loudly and/or confronting people on the street.

    When you encounter suspicious people force them to either commit earlier than they wanted by crossing the street, changing direction, stopping and standing in a defensible position like a doorway, entering a business/store etc.

    Do not stop to talk to a stranger/panhandler, keep moving, keep an eye on them and be ready.

    What you have to prepare for or expect is a sucker punch which will put you down where you can then likely expect to be kicked into unconsciousness. You must prevent anyone from getting close enough to punch you and whenever someone does get close you need to have your hands in a ready position. Be careful to not take a fighters pose that might be misinterpreted and cause exactly what you are trying to prevent. Something less provocative like a hands out in front of you with open hands palms towards the threat.

    Be careful to not walk around with both hands full such as carrying packages or using a cell phone. Avoid head phones and other electronic devices while walking in public.

    Look like you are aware and ready don’t look like a good target.

    1. Good advise. Try to develop a fighting stance, which doesn’t LOOK like a fighting stance. Open hands, not fists, is absolutely mandatory. Making a fist only signals a fight, without doing YOU ANY GOOD. A fist cannot grab things, for example. A fist makes the altercation look like mutual combat. A fist qualifies as an intent to assault, then touching anything as battery. Open hands make the bad guy confident enough to make a mistake on their attack, which allows you to exploit. Simply put. Do not give an enemy any information about your ability which could improve their chances. Let the enemy find out you are lethal by surprise, as they pass from this world.

    2. Make your everyday stance your fighting stance and your fighting stance your everyday stance-Musashi (Expert Japanese swordsman)

    3. Doing a similar tactic. I clean my g*n as I walk.

  2. I live in the forest so my situational awareness has a lot to do with wildlife, noises, odors, tracking, and trespassers.

    Last year I smelled smoke and followed it from the wind direction to seeing the smoke –and then a forest fire heading toward my home. I packed my survival gear, food, and mementos that could not be replaced in my truck ready to leave. The fire was put out in two hours before it reached my property and I never saw and heard so much activity with airplanes, helicopters and the town firemen helping me and a neighbor down the road. It was like a war zone. Situational awareness is survival.

  3. Your comment about the seagulls made me laugh because I’ve seen contrails/chemtrails in so-called “Westerns” set in the 1800’s. ;)

    1. ROFL….I caught a wind turbine in a relatively new western.
      Dang, those cattle ranchers were a smart crowd!

    2. One of the reasons I like to watch old episodes of Mystery Science Theater are the “observations”.

  4. I try to do this watching a basketball game. Your first instinct is to watch the ball and where it is going. Try watching the other players instead of the ball. It’s not as easy as you would think. You keep getting drawn back to the ball especially in an exciting game. It’s a good way to practice your situational awareness.

  5. Wow. This has been great information. I usually in a restaurant facing the door and at all times, watching exits and people. I will not sit in a booth, only a regular table, easier to get out of quickly. I do not stare at my phone. Again, this is been some good info. Thanks.

  6. Yep. I remember the Luby’s incident in Killeen in the early 90’s. That was very scary. Still gives me the chills.

  7. While driving I play Apache with my kids. Driving along I say Apaches are attacked from that draw what do you do? We then have a discussion on what would be best to do in that area. I ran a Sally for street people for seven years and I learned to read body language and eye movement to know what was going on among the transients I could walk out the door and be instantly aware something was up. In other situations I have walked in on a robbery in progress and played with the robbers who just did not understand why I was not following the script. It was funny but not a good idea to do. You have to work out mentally what you are going to do if physically attacked so you are not standing there in indecision A guy grabbed my elbows from behind and his friends ware in front of in a half circle walking towards me. Due to practice of marshal arts I easily removed the guy behind me without even thinking about it. Reflex action due to practice. He was laying on the ground groaning and his friends just walked away I was as surprised as they were that it worked in a real situation

  8. I have been cruising this site for a year now, and this is the first comment on here. One thing I do and my wife doesn’t even realize that I do it, if I can’t sit facing a door, I take my phone and turn on the front camera, line it up to see what is behind me. Now you need a kickstand for your phone to make it work, but those are pretty cheap.

  9. Sorry, but can someone please explain “The Apache Game” to me? I’m really trying to teach my 5 year old to be more aware. So far, we play “find the emergency exit” and we try to find certain things while we are out & about (ie. A green truck, a man with a hat & sunglasses on, etc).

    I will say, she has a great, natural ability to notice reflective surfaces, but, while I am using them to scan behind us, she is usually using it to make funny faces at herself! ;-)

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