Most everyone tends to start life with very low levels of what is called situational or tactical awareness. These words are often mentioned in the same conversations along with the term OPSEC (Operational Security). These same men are wearing MOLLE covered gear talking about fields of fire. They might also include fatal funnels, eyeballs on targets, heads on swivels, and other tactical lingo. However, in case you didn’t know, situational awareness is for everyone.
So where do we begin with this discussion? I’m glad you asked. I believe that tactical awareness, just like kindness, should start in the home.
Mom and Dad’s Roles
My childhood in the 1970s and 80s may be seen as an unusual childhood by today’s standards. But growing up I felt like I had a very normal, stable childhood. I had parents who made a wonderful home life for me and my siblings. My mother was our nurse, teacher, homemaker, financial advisor, and life coach. My father was our PT instructor, outdoor guide, professor, and provider. We were not home-schooled in the current sense of the word, but we were educated at home constantly. There was always a discussion of what we had been taught in public school. Often there was many a correction made to what we had been taught. I guess my parents did this because they believed we were important to the family.
Children Taught the World Was a Dangerous Place
One aspect of my childhood that I believe was unusual for the time period was that we were told at a young age that the world was a dangerous place and that we were to be on guard against its perils. My parents taught us that if we were ever kidnapped that we would fight to the death. This may be partially due to it being the 1970s still heavy with social unrest and the drug fueled crime explosion of the proverbial Age of Aquarius. However, it was just as much to do with the fact that both my parents are very independent and deeply self-reliant people.
Trained To Use Knives and Firearms At Young Ages
My dad taught us what his father, a Marine, had taught him regarding using a Ka-Bar. We were instructed in the basics of vital organs and where to put the pointy end. He even went so far as to demonstrate the vertical strike severing the carotids through the neck when butchering a hog. He gave us the smaller Navy pilot knives that look like mini Ka-Bars to carry fishing and hiking. We were also trained to shoot before age five using a very small squirrel gun; it was a .22 Stevens Favorite. A few years later my dad trained us to shoot a Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver. He let us shoot a few .357s rounds but mainly trained us on .38 Specials.
We were taught to fish and hike and spent summers in the forests of northern New Mexico, the canyons of Utah, and the pinion covered mountains of Nevada. Every outing was used to prepare us and arm us for life on our own. These activities built confidence, and confidence is needed to act in tactical situations. Even if it only starts out as the confidence to walk down the street and look people in the eye.
Family Team Meetings
We held family meetings every Monday that were about us. At these meetings, we discussed family issues and were informed about situations that were happening regarding our security, potential threats, family moves, church activities, job issues, et cetera. Yes, we were children, and of course our parents didn’t discuss everything with us. Even so, we were a team, a unit, and we relied on God, ourselves, and no one else. These family meetings taught us that we didn’t exist just to play with toys and whine about each other. On the contrary, we were trusted members of the family unit who had responsibilities and were expected to be responsible for them.
Operational security was also ingrained in us from a young age. We didn’t betray the trust of the family by discussing family matters with outsiders. Curious people’s questions were answered very politely and equally vaguely. It wasn’t their business. Family business stays within the family.
Scenarios Discussed and Planned
My parents never told me “It won’t ever happen to you.” They always discussed scenarios and outcomes and the consequences of various decisions. We were held responsible for our own actions and disciplined when needed. We were told true, sometimes gruesome, stories of things that had happened in the news so we understood the world, good and bad. I wasn’t protected from the knowledge that predators exist in society. I already knew I was going to fight the abductor and do my best to kill my kidnapper and escape. If offered drugs and other substances, I knew what my answer would be. I didn’t have to decide when it happened, because I had already decided before at the time I thought through the scenario.
There are probably some parents shrinking from the idea that a child would be contemplating these scenarios. I would point out to them that as children, we have enormous amounts of creativity and the same what-if scenarios thought out by the security-minded or law enforcement will not be wasted on the mind of a child. The same child that can turn a pair of pants hanging on the door into a monster can easily visualize themselves engaging in their own defense.
Observation Skills Training
The easiest way to teach observation skills to children is to spend time in nature, even if it’s only at your city park. In the forest with my father and mother, there were so many things to observe, so many little details that would be pointed out to us on our fishing and hiking trips. This trained me as a child to look up, to scan the sky, and to scan my surroundings. I then had as my reward all the things I got to see that I in turn reported to an interested parent. These habits that were created in youth will last a lifetime. (Later, when I worked in law enforcement, I was only augmenting, re-purposing, and fine tuning the skills I had already learned.)
Social Training Through Observation of Parents
In my childhood I watched over and over how my parents dealt with social situations. I observed their dealings with people and how they defused and deescalated confrontations. They were polite, gracious, kind, and also at times, absolutely immovable in their strength of mind and force of will. My father would immediately check and call those out who overstepped their bounds, and not in visible anger, just resolutely. He wouldn’t be “pushed” by another male, and so they didn’t. I knew he had fought many times growing up in a rough mining town, but he no longer needed to, such is his presence. My mother, a kind and loving yet very practical woman, lead by example and also wasn’t hesitant to stand up for the underdog. Mother was very keen in the field of consumer education/advocacy and could spot snake oil a mile away.
The experiences of my parents’ lives made them excellent teachers, when it came to avoiding scams, con men, and the like, and they did educate us very well in this area. That said, they were very generous and helped those in actual need using Jesus Christ as their example. As a child I could observe these behaviors and the independent strength of self awareness that became tools for me later on in life when I arrested and interviewed the criminal element who so easily employ deception, distraction, and manipulation. The mind is a weapon, and a strong mind is a good defense.
Situational Awareness “Vaccinates” A Child Against Being a Victim
It is in the environment of the home that we can learn so much in our early years that it becomes an essential part of who we are. Proverbs 22:6 wasn’t wrong where it states “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. This is why if you have your child incorporate being tactically aware of where they are, who they are with, who else is around, and what is happening around them, then this mindset will just become the way they move through their day.
The situational awareness mindset isn’t a mistrust of everyone and everything, although it may seem like that to some. It is actually the requirement that people prove they are trustworthy and the understanding that situations are not always what they seem. It’s the vaccination to help prevent being a victim, mark, “sucker”, or dead.
Childhood Is Preparation For Who We Become
It only takes parents understanding that childhood is the time when we prepare to become who we will be. It is certainly true that these skills can be learned later in life, because life will teach them to us, sometimes in not very nice ways. So it becomes a decision that each family will have to make as to when their child should know what the world is really like. I believe that there are many great parents who take amazing care in raising, training, and preparing their children for this uncertain world. I understand the desire for parents to just “let kids have their childhood” and to shelter children from the realities of this life.
However, if you provide your children with the defenses they need, then they will have their childhood, but they won’t be blind to the world around them. What is the alternative? It’s for your child to be the sheep walking along with their face in a smart-phone and their ears blocked with headphones blissfully ignorant of the predator watching from the shadows. You’ve seen these oblivious sheep walking home from school, on the fitness trail, or walking to their car in a dark parking lot. You rolled your eyes and shook your head at the absurdity of it. They didn’t notice you do that, and they also won’t notice the predator in the shadows wearing an evil grin.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 72 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
- Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
Round 72 ends on September 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.