Most of us go about our daily lives with nothing too shooty or stabby happening. We go to the grocery, to the bank, to the gun store, to the range, to a café, to the car wash, to the mechanic, to work, and so on.
These things become familiar, habitual. We get complacent, loosen our focus, relax our alertness. It happens like wear and tear happens to a car: it’s slow and sneaky, builds up, and can be quite problematic without regular attention.
Remember the T.H.O.T. Process? Use it every week if not every day. Think Hard On Things and evaluate why you do what you do and if it’s the best practice. Stay on top of yourself and avoid complacency and laziness.
Efficiency follows logic. And to be tactical we’ve got to be both of those things. Remember: to be tactical is to be adroit (skilled) in planning and maneuver. So, do recon, plan, then move. It takes time, but becomes a rapid process, completed many times a second in high pressure situations and even just walking down the street.
One way to keep from slacking attention and focus is through the minutiae of situational awareness. Be constantly in a relaxed alert state: estimating distances, counting exits and cameras, watching people’s hands and body language, tracking movement.
A game I like to play with myself is trying to see the details of what’s behind me (at the store, sitting in a coffee shop, etc.) without turning my head or moving my eyes all the way to the side like a weirdo. I have to figure out what’s behind me by using what’s in front.
Look behind you — without turning your head or making your desire obvious — can you do it?
You can always see what’s behind you by looking at what’s in front of you. I promise.
Most of the time it’s easy: there’s a reflective surface (like a window, the side of a napkin dispenser, a cup, someone’s glasses) somewhere in front of you that you can look closely at to see what’s going on elsewhere.
A lot of times there’s nothing reflective. This is when attention to detail comes in handy. Find something, some small thing in the deep background of what’s in front that can give clues to what’s out of sight over the shoulders.
You may have to use your other senses as you sit in a booth at a diner/bar during the midday rush…
A tingle, the settling of the hairs on our neck. A signal! The air flow, the current that was constant until now has been interrupted. A clue…
Look very closely at the details ahead of you…
There! The slight change in the shading on the wall at your 1-o’clock, the spectre of shadow — movement! Another clue…
Listen, always listen. There are millions of soundwaves all around you, though the loudest will try to convince you that they are the only in existence…
Discord! Behind dozens of conversations, under the rhythm of music: the creak of wood, a chair resettling. There’s more: a sigh of effort, the click of an ankle joint resetting. The clues paint a picture.
Someone has leaned over into the walking path and started to leave their chair at the bar. If you hear footsteps and see the near-invisible shading of their shadow on the wall grow larger, they’re coming toward you (or walking toward the dominant source of light in the room).
There are millions of clues all around you that you can tune into without giving your interest away. Keeping your intentions and attention secret will help you retain tactical advantage (element of surprise) in these places and situations. And that’s most important.
Practice that same thing Luke Skywalker had to: reaching out with the senses. Feel the world around you, hear it, see it, smell it, and blend in. Take it all in stride, like a wave in the ocean, not standing out or causing a fuss, but ready and able to break the strongest rock if the need arises.