“Awareness and Self Reliance”
Many years ago Jeff Cooper the father of modern day gunfighting came up with something called the Color Code of Mental Awareness and the Combat Mind Set. What is that you say? Well you may be the top shot of your class with blazing speed out of the holster, but if you can’t see trouble coming it won’t make any difference because the bad guy will have the upper hand. So how do you acquire these levels of mental awareness and combat mind set? It starts with the adopting the Color Code as your own, and using it in your everyday life.
As this has been written and rewritten by so many over the years the version I am sharing here happens to be the Front Sight one, as I happen to like what they have done with it.
In a perfect world, this is the condition we would all enjoy living in, unaware and unprepared for any type of threat. Examples:
- You are unaware of any threat in your immediate surroundings.
- You are focused on creative thoughts or planning your day while driving to work.
- You are reading the newspaper or engrossed in a good novel on the park bench.
- You are shuffling along the sidewalk, head in the clouds, hands in pockets, whistling the last song you heard on the radio.
In Condition White you are totally unprepared for attack. You don’t see it coming and it takes several seconds to register mentally that you are in danger and then begin to prepare to defend yourself, if at all. When attacked in this state, you are easily defeated. If the attack involves deadly force, you most likely will not survive.
This condition is best described as a relaxed alertness. It is the condition that you should be in any time you are not asleep–even at home and especially away from home. You are aware of your immediate environment. Examples:
- A late model Ford truck with two males in their 20’s is in the lane to your right, a late model sedan with a woman and her two kids in the lane to your left.
- A couple holding hands is approaching from across the street.
- An empty delivery van is parked two houses down from your home.
- Someone is sitting in the car next to your car in the parking garage.
- You are walking along the side walk, head up, eyes observing what is around you, hands at your sides.
- You know that a man is walking behind you.
In Condition Yellow you are relaxed, aware, and alert. This is not a state of paranoia. You are simply aware of everything going on around you. You are not prepared for any specific threat and have not been alerted to any specific threat. However, in the event of a specific alert, youare ready to immediately move to a higher level of readiness to defend yourself. You are less likely to be attacked when in Condition Yellow because predators look for easy prey. When in Yellow, you are very difficult to attack, because you can see the attack coming and defend yourself within seconds.
This is a condition of specific, potential threat. You are alerted to a specific potential threat. You continue to observe the situation and evaluate to determine if the potential threat is developing into a real threat. Examples:
- The couple holding hands and approaching you from across the street, suddenly break contact from each other and approach you from opposite directions.
- The person sitting in their car next to yours begins to exit his vehicle as you approach your car.
- The late model Ford truck pulls up behind you and follows you through three consecutive right turns.
- The apparently empty delivery van two houses down, now has a driver who is watching you.
- You are walking down the side walk, but now change direction to avoid the potential threat while keeping your eyes on the threat and unbuttoning your jacket.
In Condition Orange you have identified a specific, potential threat. You possibly made an evasive maneuver to minimize your exposure and gain a tactical advantage and you are formulating a plan to deal with the threat should it fully develop. You have not produced a weapon yet because the specific potential threat may be a harmless set of coincidences or may be a predator who, upon seeing your actions decides it is in his best interest to hunt elsewhere. From this condition of readiness you are prepared to defend yourself in the time it takes to present your weapon from your concealed holster.
This is a condition of a specific, real threat. There is no doubt in your mind that the threat is reaL Examples:
- The couple approaching you from opposite directions again shifts their direction and follows you as you quickly dart across the street. The female places her hand in her purse and keeps it there as they converge on your flanks. You plan to run to a brick building for cover, draw your weapon to ready and shout “Stop!” If they don’t stop or the woman’s hand produces a weapon you will shoot her first.
- The person exiting his vehicle as you change direction in your approach to your car, motions to another vehicle and two more men exit a vehicle parked a few cars away. As you tum and head back to the shopping center, they pursue, but then give up the chase as other shoppers enter the parking garage.
- The late model Ford truck that has followed you through three consecutive right turns, rear ends you at the next stop light. The driver and passenger quickly exit their vehicles, one has a gun. You anticipated this problem and left plenty of distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. A quick tum of the wheel to the right and you accelerate around the comer.
- The delivery van driver pulls the van up to you and asks for directions. At a distance you give the directions but hear the rear doors open. Quickly gaining distance from the van you see two males with contact weapons quickly moving toward you. You draw your weapon and shoot the closest man holding the knife. The van screeches away as the second man drops his knife and runs away.
In Condition Red, your observations and evaluation of the actions of the specific potential threat, leave no doubt in your mind that the threat is real and dangerous. You have already attempted to avoid the threat when it first appeared to you. You have formulated a plan of defense, and are now carrying it out, and have set a mental trigger that will tell you when to deliver your defensive response. Your mental trigger is a “line in the sand.” If the threat crosses the “line” your response is already determined. There is no hesitation as your response is instantaneous.
The “line in the sand” is crossed by your assailant(s) and you are engaged in combat and delivering lethal force. At this point, your survival depends on the level of training you have received and your ability to control your mind. This is where the Combat Mind Set insures your success.
The Combat Mind Set is the state of mind that replaces your astonishment or fear of a lethal confrontation with the knowledge and confidence that you have trained for this; you expected it to happen at some time; and you are ready, willing, and able to handle it. In lethal confrontations that you recognize from a Condition Yellow and follow through to Condition Black, you most likely will not experience astonishment or fear. This is due to your awareness, anticipation, concentration, controlled decision making, and actions not leaving any room for fear to enter your mind. You cannot think about (or fear) the possibility of being killed if you are concentrating to obtain a crystal clear focus on your front sight while you smoothly press the trigger for a surprise trigger break.
Should fear enter your mind, the results can be debilitating because you will not be focusing on the task at hand.
Along with adopting the Color Code of Mental Awareness as your own and using it every day, you further develop the Combat Mind Set by advance mental preparation of lethal force scenarios. The more scenarios you visualize and develop plans to handle, the better you will perform in similar real life encounters. Live fire, tactical training scenarios will further validate and reinforce your Combat Mind Set.
So are you safe?