Recognizing a threat

We all train for our defense in one way or another. Part of that training should be situational awareness and recognizing a threat.

The Defensive Shooting Fundamentals Class @Zee and I took this last weekend discusses recognizing the threat and how to use our body’s natural responses to react to it. As we were talking about recognizing the real threat, this scene from Men in Black came to mind:

How do you train to recognize the threat?


I’m not sure that it is possible to assess every threat that is out there. We all recognize those that give off the tough guy vibe and the open carry folks but, until someone draws and starts firing, it is difficult at best to determine who might be a threat.

Probably the best you can do is have situational awareness and scan as discreetly as possible, looking for threats.

Active shooters mostly fall into a recognizable group after the fact but, many times they go unnoticed until they act.

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I dunno I scan pretty regularly and yes I look up. I have locked eyeballs with some more than scetchy folks and at that time I projected the “I am a predator.” disposition. That is actually a thought that runs through my head when I eyeball someone that appears to be “hunting” or “surveying” I have had some stand up straighter and flex and give me a chin up nod, I have had more commonly seen them drop their eyes and move off.

Little know often missed “Guy thing”
If I know you and catch your eyes guys nod DOWN
If I don’t know you and catch your eyes guys nod UP

The ones that worry me are the ones that never look up and are NOT on their phone.

Obviously there is quite a bit that can be observed for someone that is overly dressed or are wearing odd combinations moving with a purpose. Don’t get me wrong, flip flops, shorts a wife beater tee shirt wearing an open flannel shirt is a MK1 Mod0 Redneck with a gun. A guy with blue jeans, ball cap a t-shirt and an open Hawaiian shirt (Me) is a regular guy wearing a gun.

Pay attention to your Spidey Senses they are rarely wrong.




That’s easy…everyone is a threat…until they prove themselves otherwise as a non-threat.

I’m only half joking. I try and be aware and think critically of everyone I see and think what if until they behave long enough in a manner that I don’t view as potentially threatening. Yes that 45ish mom with her two kids could be a threat…maybe that’s the day she finally loses it after fighting with the kids, her ex and that rude customer that just jumped in the checkout line ahead of her. No she may not be packing (or she may be) but may decide to take that bottle off the shelf and smash it into that other customer’s head and I don’t want to find myself next in line to that kind of attach either. Just like the little girl with the advanced physics books out at that time of night. :grin:

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I’m going to speak on this. When the video of the White Settlement Church shooting first came out. There was one thing that immediately jumped out at me. The long duster type coat being worn inside.

Now details have come out about a wig, fake beard, and other anomalies. But that coat made me suspicious immediately. So I will say weather inappropriate clothing is a big tell for me? I am definitely going to be interested in that.

Cars that make more than a couple of turns with me is another. I have taken a number of surveillance, counter surveillance classes, offensive driving, as well as defensive driving courses in my life. No, I am not a spy. I used to be a Workman’s Compensation Fraud Investigator. We had continuing education classes we had to take, company paid for them. Seemed like useful skills to have. Actually helped me get the most fun job I have ever had.

Anomalous behavior, such as sweating through a shirt when it’s cold outside. Will draw my attention. Focusing on me while walking toward me with your hands out of sight.

Just a few things that get my attention.