Closing Distance: Personal Space and Body Alarm Response

by May 8, 2012 05/8/12

ClosingDistanceMainYesterday morning while stopping at a gas station to put air in my tire, I was approached by a stranger. The first words out of his mouth were to ask “if I was from around here,” immediately sending me into condition orange.

It’s interesting to note that this happened just a day after I sat through a CHL (Concealed Handgun License) renewal class, where we got into a good discussion during the class about muggings, vehicle thefts and how you’d react during those situations.

We all have our preconceived notions of how we’d react in a violent encounter, but the truth is that we’ll never truly know until we’re put in that exact situation.

Cooper Color Code

I’d like to explain my statement earlier about condition orange and provide a brief example of the Cooper Color Code here for reference. We’ve previously mentioned Colonel Jeff Cooper here on ITS, in regard to his carry conditions and firearm safety rules, but he is also known for advocating a color code to describe a person’s state of mind. Not so much in regards to a level of alertness, but purely the mental state.

The following comes from his book, Principles of Personal Defense:

  • Condition White – You are unprepared and unready to take lethal action. If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.
  • Condition Yellow – You bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.
  • Condition Orange – You have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.
  • Condition Red – You are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant.

Condition Orange is definitely what my body kicked into when presented with this stranger that approached me in the parking lot of the gas station. I’d like to explain one more principle of what occurred to me though, before going into the rest of the story.

Body Alarm Response

The body alarm response is what naturally happens to your body during an elevated state of awareness and the adrenaline dump that comes along with it. This is typically referred to as “fight or flight,” but more appropriately described as BAR.

During a body alarm response, the characteristics exhibited are rapid heart beat and it’s counterpart, rapid breathing; tingling of the extremities, degradation in fine motor skills, tunnel vision and that sinking sensation in your stomach. You should embrace these characteristics as your body’s early warning system and be glad they’re working, not let them control you and succumb to the “fear” you might think this means.

As blood is drawn into your core from your extremities (that tingling sensation and possibly numbness), you may recall the smallest of details during this heightened level of awareness. Blood being drawn away is also what can cause loss of fine motor skills, which aren’t as “fine” as you might expect. Check out this article on ITS for more on the loss of fine motor skills.

There are ways to control body alarm response through, meaning that through training and preparing yourself, you can mitigate it’s effects. One of the most powerful training tools is embracing it.

My Experience

Now back to my story. What happened is, as I was walking inside to get change for the air pump at the gas station, I was approached by a cleanly-dressed stranger. He had come from the direction of a nicer vehicle that was parked alongside the convenience store building of the gas station. I immediately assumed that it was his vehicle, but I quickly flipped through a memory of just a few seconds ago where I’d noticed him floating around a gas pump.

As he approached my path to the convenience store entrance, my plan was to ignore him and keep walking inside. This plan quickly went out the window, as he encroached rapidly while asking the question, “are you from around here?” That particular question, along with the quick approach into my personal space, immediately sent me into condition orange.

My first reaction, even before answering him was to look at his hands and start walking backwards. I’m actually really proud of myself, as this is what I’ve been over and over with in my head, “watch their hands, watch their hands.” I’ll ding myself on walking backwards rather than stopping prior to when I did, but I think a lot of that is how we realistically encounter people every day.

In a perfect world, I’d like to say that I follow the 21 ft. rule, which was highlighted by an article in SWAT Magazine in 1983 called How Close is Too Close? In that article, it states that a healthy adult male can cover the distance of 7 yards (about 21 ft.) in 1.5 seconds. Coincidently, the study also showed that took about 1.5 seconds to draw a sidearm and put two rounds center mass on a human-size target at 7 yards.

You make that quickly approaching adult male an armed attacker and you can see why it’s called the 21 ft. rule. Realistically, we allow people within this 21 ft. perimeter each and every day; for me this day was no exception.

Putting distance between myself and this stranger was also something I was proud of, although moving backwards is never a good thing. Just like the guy in the movie Snatch say, “whenever you’re in reverse, things come from behind you.

As I put distance between myself and the stranger I answered yes to his question. At this point he continued to approach with his hands down by his side, while stating “Do you know if there’s a Petsmart around…” I cut into his statement, putting up my left hand and saying “Just wait right there and I’ll answer your question.” My right hand also moved backwards towards my gun. I never placed my hand on it, or gave away its position, I was just cognizant of where I was moving my hand to.

His immediate response was to put both his hands up and say “Ok, I was just trying to find the Petsmart… I found the Petco, I just can’t find the Petsmart.” By now I think he realized that I didn’t like him invading my personal space and he finally seemed aware of me putting distance between us.

I gave him some simple directions to Petsmart, but was very short with him, continuing to watch his body position. After he said thanks for the directions, he turned around and walked off as I walked closer to the building’s door. I noticed him walk right past the car I had assumed belonged to him and round the corner behind the building. After getting change for the air pump, I exited the building.

Ensuring to keep my head on a swivel all the way back to the air pump, I didn’t see the stranger again. I brushed off the encounter until I was back in my vehicle and on the road. It was then I really took stock of what happened and the indicators that warranted my elevated condition. I truly feel that my actions prevented me from becoming a victim, or at least made me appear to be a hard target. I think the stranger was up to no good and my reaction to his closing distance made him rethink his battle plan.

I wanted to share my story with you today, because I think it helps to reinforce how important it is to listen to your body and an example of how your conditioning can take over, even when you don’t plan for it to. I think that If I hadn’t mentally rehearsed this scenario thousands of times in my head and been exposed to it during my training, the outcome would have been dramatically different.

If you’ve got a similar story to share, post it in the comments, I’d be interested to hear of situations like this that might have happened to you.


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Anonymous
Anonymous

This is strange how similar your story is to mine. I was pumping gas in Atlanta, Georgia at about 6 AM and it was still dark out. While pumping I noticed a man floating around the gas station wearing a semi ratty suit and messy hair. He began walking my way, and I instantly had a bad feeling about his demeanor and how intently he stared me down as he walked toward me. He was about 3 yards away from me when he began to reach into his coat pocket and pull out a napkin with writing on it. I started thinking that he was going to try and distract me with reading whatever was written on it, and pull whatever shady move he had planned. And to make matters worse my Glock 19 was in my glovebox as I was wearing sweatpants in prep for the 14 hour drive back home. Thankfully the pump hose separated us, and I opened my passenger door to grab it if necessary. 


The writing on the napkin explained that he was deaf and needed money to ride the bus back to wherever it was he was from. I gave him no money, and he finally wandered to the next pump over to harass a girl that was fueling up. At this point i threw my 19 into my waistband and watched to make sure he wasn't trying to do anything but ask this girl for some money. 


He eventually left the gas station without incident and I was on my way. That was a very strange encounter, and I'm thankful that nothing became of it. The biggest mistake I had made was I didn't scan the rear of me as I was talking to this allegedly "deaf" man. I hadn't even thought of a two-man team with one man being a distraction. I am very lucky that this wasn't the case. 


Anonymous
Anonymous

About a decade ago I was driving across town. I noticed I was running low on gas, and pulled off the interstate in the decaying urban core. There was a gas station right at the off ramp, but while the pumps accepted my card, the store was closed. A man in his mid thirties approached the station on foot walking directly toward me, with unkempt hair and disheveled clothes. He smiled, looked me in the eye and loudly yelled a greeting at me, something like "Hey, buddy! Can you spare some change?" just as he was about thirty feet from me. I stepped backward between the pumps and scanned my exposed rear. There, twenty feet from me was another similarly maintained man, moving quietly toward me. I quickly moved my back toward the store, threw open my jacket and prepared to draw and kill both of these clowns. My hand hovered inches over my right hip.


Both men turned smartly and walked quickly to the sidewalk where they talked quietly to each other, casting wary glances in my direction. I gave a loud involuntary laugh, and they jogged across the street. I cleared the perimeter of the gas station, finished pumping- and left promptly.

He was too loud, he stared too intently, as though he wanted me to focus on him and ignore my surroundings. It almost cost both of them their lives.

Ceyla
Ceyla

I have spent a lot of time on this planet and have been attacked or accosted several times. These incidents came from totally blind spots and I can identify with everyone who has written of bad or nearly bad situations. I am one of those individuals who somehow "collects" people. I can be in a line of folks and be the one selected to give assistance of some type. I have learned to listen to my "little voice" which clues me in to negative people and situations and I totally agree with the people who say that you should always pay attention to your instincts. Fortunately I have great peripheral vision which also helps me out a lot. Now I am always aware of situations around me and I make mental notes of areas I enter and compare them to conditions in these areas as I get ready to leave. On several occasions I have avoided precarious situations by asking for store security to see me to my car. A female nurse I know was at a large shopping mall (before the invention of cell phones) in an early summer evening. She was stopped by another woman who said that earlier she had seen an unsavory person hanging around that isle of vehicles. My friend thanked her for the information and opened the trunk of her car to put in her belongings. As she closed the trunk something drew her attention to the backseat. Crouched on the floor was a male individual with a long bladed knife. My friend calmly walked from the car and flagged down a mall security van. They called police who apprehended the man. He had been wanted in nearby cities for rape and assault with a deadly weapon. Nowadays I don't ever go to a gas station after dark, and I don't frequent any place where I know I'll be leaving after dark, but am constantly vigilant regardless of the time of day.

MarySmith3
MarySmith3

I was walking in the parking lot towards my car (grocery store), and a man about 6-6 tall was walking towards me. My natural reaction was to avoid walking right into him and thus, I veered off the track we were both on, but he then mirrored my veer-off and was once again on course for colliding with me. I veered off a bit more and he mirrored me, until we were right up to each other. I refused to back down. We both stopped right up against each other. He said nothing as he looked down at me, and I said nothing as I looked up at him. But I made sure he got my vibes: That I had no fear and that he had better NOT mess with me -- even though I was a woman at least eight or 10 inches shorter. For several seconds we just locked eyes. Then he exited my personal space and continued towards the store. What the heck was THAT all about, I wondered. "If you act like prey, you'll be treated like prey." He was much bigger than me, but then again...a zebra is much bigger than a lioness, but guess who always wins the fight!

Liz
Liz

Years ago, I was approached by a man in a parking lot as I was getting out of my car. I jumped, moved so the car door was between me and him, and he told me that he didn't want to hurt me he just wanted to know where the liquor store was. I told him, got back in my car, and left. Since it was New Year's Eve and the liquor store was kind of hard to spot, I later felt that I was being silly. After reading "Gift of Fear" I realized that I did the right thing. Why would you approach a stranger and say I don't want to hurt you, unless that's exactly what you want?

Cristyn
Cristyn

Both of my grandparents are funeral directors and it is not unusual for them to get death calls in the middle of the night. One particular night, my Poppy had to go to the funeral at approx one in the morning. My gg was asleep in bed when she heard a noise in the kitchen and she figured it was my Poppy and that he had forgotten something. When she came into the kitchen, she was unarmed, half asleep, and in only a robe. The back door is located in the kitchen. A man had broken the window and was walking around, and had seen my grandfather leave clearly thinking the house empty or of no threat. As soon as she realized the situation, she got closer, and yelled "WHAT are you doing in MY house?!!?" This was not smart at all but still she scared the guy so bad he ran out of the house and she called the police. She definitely should not have confronted him but seeing as she was unarmed and alone and had already alerted him to her presence, there was not much to do.

Darla Castleberry
Darla Castleberry

20 years ago on "Oprah" of all places someone made a comment. " Humans are equipped with the same fight or flight as any other animal on the earth, yet humans, especially women will put them off and down play them". I have kept that in the forefront of my head. I listen to my gut, keep my distance and don't allow others into my space. This is an excellent site and I will be sharing it and back often.

Doug
Doug

The posts in this thread and the book "The Gift of Fear" all hit home with me as I reflected on an incident that occured to me in Latin America a few years back.

I had lived in country for several years, grew up in South America, spoke Spanish like a native, and felt as comfortable as one can in a big city in a third-world nation. Like most people, I had my daily routines and tended to slip in into "condition white" if I wasn't paying attention. On this particular day, I felt and did not disregard, the alert signals that come from something that isn't quite right.

I was walking into a park on a Saturday morning with the plan of enjoying a cigar and reading a book in the sun. I'm sure I looked like a typical American, with my wrap-around shades, jeans, and "fanny pack" when another pedestrian asked me for directions to a nearby mall. I told him how to get there and moved along the path to a bench. The conversation struck me as strange, however, since nobody would normally engage a stranger in conversation in this town, much less ask a foreigner for directions. Without even being aware of it, I moved my awareness to the next level.

As I entered the park, two men walked towards me. One wore a suit and another stood at a distance, but I could tell he was with with him even though he was dressed casually and tried to seem uninterested. The man in the suit commented on my cigar, asked where it was from (the Domican Republic), and tried to find out if I was from the Dom Rep. My immediate reaction was one of danger and I believed these two people were planning to mug me (Was this paranoia? More on this later). I moved my hand to my waist pack and told the man in no uncertain terms that I was American but that I lived in the country, taking an agressive stance. His only comment was that I was obviously at home. He then turned and walked away.

I kept my eye on him (and his partner) as they walked out of the park and passed by the man who had asked for directions. They all continued along the road away from the park and towards a nearby tourist area.

Nothing had happened and many would say that I was unjustified in sending a physical signal that I was perhaps about to draw a gun.

A few weeks later a friend of mine was approached by the same people (based on descriptions) who told him that they were with the local police and tried to convince him to come with them. He ened up striking the man in the suit and running away but grabbed the fake police badge they had shown in him during the incident. The difference in this case was that my friend did not speak good Spanish and appeared to be an easy target since he was older and overweight. What they did not know is that he was a former Marine and also a long-time resident.

After reading "The Gift of Fear" I could see many of the pre-incident threat indicators were present in my situation and that my reaction was justified both by my sense that something was wrong and by the later incident with my friend. Would they have mugged me or just tried to con me out of money? Who knows? But the whole thing makes clear to me the difference between paranoia and unjustified fear versus an awareness of people who are in your personal space and things that aren't quite right.

Doug
Doug

The posts in this thread and the book "The Gift of Fear" all hit home with me as I reflected on an incident that occured to me in Latin America a few years back. I had lived in country for several years, grew up in South America, spoke Spanish like a native, and felt as comfortable as one can in a big city in a third-world nation. Like most people, I had my daily routines and tended to slip in into "condition white" if I wasn't paying attention. On this particular day, I felt and did not disregard, the alert signals that come from something that isn't quite right. I was walking into a park on a Saturday morning with the plan of enjoying a cigar and reading a book in the sun. I'm sure I looked like a typical American, with my wrap-around shades, jeans, and "fanny pack" when another pedestrian asked me for directions to a nearby mall. I told him how to get there and moved along the path to a bench. The conversation struck me as strange, however, since nobody would normally engage a stranger in conversation in this town, much less ask a foreigner for directions. Without even being aware of it, I moved my awareness to the next level. As I entered the park, two men walked towards me. One wore a suit and another stood at a distance, but I could tell he was with with him even though he was dressed casually and tried to seem uninterested. The man in the suit commented on my cigar, asked where it was from (the Domican Republic), and tried to find out if I was from the Dom Rep. My immediate reaction was one of danger and I believed these two people were planning to mug me (Was this paranoia? More on this later). I moved my hand to my waist pack and told the man in no uncertain terms that I was American but that I lived in the country, taking an agressive stance. His only comment was that I was obviously at home. He then turned and walked away. I kept my eye on him (and his partner) as they walked out of the park and passed by the man who had asked for directions. They all continued along the road away from the park and towards a nearby tourist area. Nothing had happened and many would say that I was unjustified in sending a physical signal that I was perhaps about to draw a gun. A few weeks later a friend of mine was approached by the same people (based on descriptions) who told him that they were with the local police and tried to convince him to come with them. He ened up striking the man in the suit and running away but grabbed the fake police badge they had shown in him during the incident. The difference in this case was that my friend did not speak good Spanish and appeared to be an easy target since he was older and overweight. What they did not know is that he was a former Marine and also a long-time resident. After reading "The Gift of Fear" I could see many of the pre-incident threat indicators were present in my situation and that my reaction was justified both by my sense that something was wrong and by the later incident with my friend. Would they have mugged me or just tried to con me out of money? Who knows? But the whole thing makes clear to me the difference between paranoia and unjustified fear versus an awareness of people who are in your personal space and things that aren't quite right.

Jennifer
Jennifer

And Also had an incident just happen the week before. Going to walmart by myself. I look a few years younger than I actually am. I was going to get food items for a christmas party that I was going straight to. A women that did not look in great condition and disshoveled. And carrying a toddler on her hip. Came straight up to me as Asoon as I got out of my vehicle, not even giving me time to lock my car. Having heard of this before as a lure. I tried to distance myself. And with her coming closer as each time as I did this. She went on to say about just having moved her and getting a job. But needed money for a hotel. She kept looking over at someone in the distance. I pulled my side bag closer to me. Said I didn't have that much money. And started walking backwards for a bit. Locked my car, then went on to turn around and walk into the store. As I came out of the store, I saw her walk up to a odd looking man standing next to a car. I then hurried to my car and left.

Jennifer
Jennifer

I have had this kind of encounter at my family home. Growing up with a father in the military and being a young women, it has been embedded into me to always be aware of your surrondings. It was a late evening were my parents were out, leaving me home alone. Waiting on my boyfriend to arrive and help tutor me when school work. The front porch light was out, I heard a knock on the front door. And seeing someone with the stature of him I went to open it for him. But for whatever reason i had an odd feeling. So i turned on the light, and it wasnt him. It was an older gentelman. He was asking if the tires in my front yard were for sale. I told him that there were not any tires in my yard. This went on for a couple minutes. And then I realized that my neighbor had some out for sale. I went on to tell him it was my neighbor, but he kept on saying it was mine. Feeling a bit uneased because I was home alone and there was no cars in the drive way, I silently got my dogs attention to come by the door with me. Making it were the man could see him. Thinking maybe he was just confused. He then went to say that for me to come outside and look to prove it to me. But I knew we didnt have any tires for sale nor any in our front yard. I then started to think about the things my father has taught me. Its visibly dark outside, around 8o'clock, no cars in the driveway. Something isnt right. He then said is your father home. Full alert went on. I told him my father was sleeping and would not like to be bothered. I told him to leave the property and then proceeded to call my grandfather which lives a house down. And he knew to come down, and he was armed. Then to call my parents to have them come home. I then watched through a window and saw the man walk down the road some and get into a car. Knowing that the man had other plans than to buy tires. Be happy that there was a door between us. And that I know always to be aware of my surroundings, Even in my own home.

peter
peter

Back in high school gym class, one day I was late and went into the locker room.

I smelled smoke, but didn't think much of it because it was common.

After this, I heard footsteps. The person, likely high at this point, was still in there. Their footsteps were enough to identify their location.

Condition Yellow.

The shower was turned on, I heard a snap, and they began to move towards the lockers (where I was).

I created distance, moving towards the back of the locker room so that they would never see me.

At this point, they did something unexpected, taking a route by which they would see me. I relaxed my eyes so that I could more easily identify reflections on the lockers, as he was behind me. Hearing spiked.

From a combination of a minor, fast change in light on locker I was watching and the sound of something moving rapidly through the air, I elevated immediately to condition red. Ducking right, I narrowly dodged the shower knob that had been hurled at me, which shattered on impact. My second reaction was to turn around to face the attacker, but they were already gone.

peter
peter

Back in high school gym class, one day I was late and went into the locker room. I smelled smoke, but didn't think much of it because it was common. After this, I heard footsteps. The person, likely high at this point, was still in there. Their footsteps were enough to identify their location. Condition Yellow. The shower was turned on, I heard a snap, and they began to move towards the lockers (where I was). I created distance, moving towards the back of the locker room so that they would never see me. At this point, they did something unexpected, taking a route by which they would see me. I relaxed my eyes so that I could more easily identify reflections on the lockers, as he was behind me. Hearing spiked. From a combination of a minor, fast change in light on locker I was watching and the sound of something moving rapidly through the air, I elevated immediately to condition red. Ducking right, I narrowly dodged the shower knob that had been hurled at me, which shattered on impact. My second reaction was to turn around to face the attacker, but they were already gone.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Adam, that's a hell of a first comment from you on ITS Tactical and equally as ignorant. You straddle the line of making good points and blatantly name calling for no reason. Calling me an idiot and referring to my training as being nothing more than "articles I've read on the internet" and a "stupid basic concealed carry class" is more ignorance that I typically care to listen to, but I wanted to approve your comment to let everyone witness your thoughts as your own, just as my words in the article are my own.

Adam
Adam

I have to kind of lean towards the guys that are saying this article airs on the side of paranoia just a little bit. Of course everyone will come back and say that I clearly have "no tactical experience" or I'm a "naive moron waiting to be attacked" but thats fine, I do not need to validate myself or post my resume. I can tell the writer of this article is a little less than a trained professional and is definitely misinterpreting the 21' rule, which is actually a great rule of thumb, if used correctly.

There is a very fine line between being overly paranoid and "listening to your instincts." You can be assertive and have good situational awareness without reaching for your gun any time an individual gets within 21' of you. That gentlemen, (and ladies) is a mild case of paranoia no matter how you look at it. Suppose that guy looking for pet smart was also a tacticool concealed-carry operator like you and saw you shadowing your intentions to pull a weapon on him? That could have turned into gun-fight at the OK Corral for absolutely no reason, endangering the lives of anyone else that could have been standing around, while you two idiots shoot it out with each other with absolutely no real world experience whatsoever except for reading some articles on the internet and taking a stupid basic concealed carry class.

Of course, be aware of your surroundings, and if anything seems wrong, it probably is, but just like in hand-to-hand fighting, you never want to show your opponent what you intend to do before you do it. That is ASKING for something bad to happen, whether the person that is your potential opponent actually means to do harm to you or not.

Adam
Adam

I have to kind of lean towards the guys that are saying this article airs on the side of paranoia just a little bit. Of course everyone will come back and say that I clearly have "no tactical experience" or I'm a "naive moron waiting to be attacked" but thats fine, I do not need to validate myself or post my resume. I can tell the writer of this article is a little less than a trained professional and is definitely misinterpreting the 21' rule, which is actually a great rule of thumb, if used correctly. There is a very fine line between being overly paranoid and "listening to your instincts." You can be assertive and have good situational awareness without reaching for your gun any time an individual gets within 21' of you. That gentlemen, (and ladies) is a mild case of paranoia no matter how you look at it. Suppose that guy looking for pet smart was also a tacticool concealed-carry operator like you and saw you shadowing your intentions to pull a weapon on him? That could have turned into gun-fight at the OK Corral for absolutely no reason, endangering the lives of anyone else that could have been standing around, while you two idiots shoot it out with each other with absolutely no real world experience whatsoever except for reading some articles on the internet and taking a stupid basic concealed carry class. Of course, be aware of your surroundings, and if anything seems wrong, it probably is, but just like in hand-to-hand fighting, you never want to show your opponent what you intend to do before you do it. That is ASKING for something bad to happen, whether the person that is your potential opponent actually means to do harm to you or not.

Martha
Martha

Thanks for another great article. I'm not a gun owner so all of the comments about paranoid gun bozos bother me--it's not about being trigger-happy, it's about being prepared and aware!

Miranda
Miranda

My mom is a manager at a local gas station. One day about 3 months ago she needed to get some shelves from another station in the next city over and asked me to go with her. While she was talking to the maintenance guy to get him to unlock the back door so she could pull the truck around there, a man with his arm in a sling asked me if I would help him carry his stuff. At first, I didn't get any creepy crawlies or anything because we were in a gas station in the middle of the day with a bunch of people there, but he just kept asking me to do more and more stuff. I helped him with his stuff out to his car and that's when I hit "condition orange." As he was putting his bag of stuff in the back seat, I asked him what he wanted me to do with his milkshake things that he got. He then told me to sit them in the front cup holders, and instead of being a stupid little girl, I said no. I'm almost positive that he would've kidnapped me if I had reached into his car because he would've been in a perfect position to just grab me and throw me in. To beat it all, he stood there in front of me, took his arm out of his sling and reached into his pocket for his keys. Thank God I know karate and basic defense techniques.

Dina G
Dina G

This is for the negative comments about this article:

Ted Bundy looked harmless but was lethal to most women who had the misfortune of crossing his path. Is it better to be polite or to be alive? To all the idiot morons who call instinct paranoia, I hope to god you do not have daughters! If you do, and pass on your ignorant sophomoric ideals to them then you have given birth to just another victim who will be one of the sad statistics we read about in the papers. I have a friend who was approached by Bundy and is alive today because she trusted her instincts to not get in his car. He was wearing a fake cast at the time, was clean cut good looking, and looked harmless but looks can be deceiving. So if you want to think that acting in a manner that shows you are not an easy victim is somehow wrong, thats fine but shut the Fu*k up with your stupidity and keep it to yourself, you dumb tool.

Thank you for a great article. I just found your site and think every woman should be trained on how to get out of restraints. You are doing a community service and I have book marked your site.

Dina G
Dina G

This is for the negative comments about this article: Ted Bundy looked harmless but was lethal to most women who had the misfortune of crossing his path. Is it better to be polite or to be alive? To all the idiot morons who call instinct paranoia, I hope to god you do not have daughters! If you do, and pass on your ignorant sophomoric ideals to them then you have given birth to just another victim who will be one of the sad statistics we read about in the papers. I have a friend who was approached by Bundy and is alive today because she trusted her instincts to not get in his car. He was wearing a fake cast at the time, was clean cut good looking, and looked harmless but looks can be deceiving. So if you want to think that acting in a manner that shows you are not an easy victim is somehow wrong, thats fine but shut the Fu*k up with your stupidity and keep it to yourself, you dumb tool. Thank you for a great article. I just found your site and think every woman should be trained on how to get out of restraints. You are doing a community service and I have book marked your site.

Trapperjess
Trapperjess

This is a good article, i had an exipernce a few years ago. I was 19 and working a gas station in my small quiet hometown when a nice newer car pulled up and pumped a tank of gas, noting too extreme. What changed the situation was when the man opened up his rear car door and pulled out a long gun (looked like a shotgun but i couldnt be certan). The man then walked around the front of his car and moved twards the front door. I saw this and hollered for my co-worker to get to the back and call the police. I reached under the counter and hit the panic button and grabbed the pepper spray under the counter. The man must have heared me yell and ran to his car and left, never to be seen again. It ended well but still sends chills up my spine, had i not been looking he could have very easily breached the door and it could have ended badly. What further concers me is that many gas station employees dont even look out the window to see whats going on. A week after turning 21 I had my CPL in hand and a 38 in my waistband. Good article and keep up the good work.

philip
philip

had a similar situation not to long ago and got my brain turnning too. pulled into a gas station late at night on my way home from work. as i started to pump i noticed a sketchy guy comming out of the store. looking around i noticed there were no other cars and he just kinda hung around the entrance. as i watch this guy i have alarms going off because of the way he was acting. he kept look over my way and then he started approching me. about now my mind is in over drive and im thinking about my gun under my shirt. im standing behind my open door wich is almost touching the pump so it is creating a barrier between me and him. as he approaches me he is saying something but i cant hear him because i cant hear well. i raise my voice and ask what. so he would have to answer before he got up to me. he was asking if i could spare a dollar. i didnt want to pull out my wallet so i grabbed 4 quarters and handed it to him. no real threat but it got me thinking.

Cameron Gray
Cameron Gray

I really enjoyed this article. My wife and I were talking about this last night. She has come to realise that she really doesn't pay attention to her surroundings and doesn't like the idea of becoming a victim through negligence on her part. She read an article about women being prepared (not armed) but prepared by simply by having situational awareness!

On another note. I notice that every negative comment has been left by someone who did not use a real name!

Cameron Gray
Cameron Gray

I really enjoyed this article. My wife and I were talking about this last night. She has come to realise that she really doesn't pay attention to her surroundings and doesn't like the idea of becoming a victim through negligence on her part. She read an article about women being prepared (not armed) but prepared by simply by having situational awareness! On another note. I notice that every negative comment has been left by someone who did not use a real name!

Katie
Katie

I found your website through my interest in trauma/emergency medicine and I really enjoy learning new things since I don't know much about military medicine/equipment/tactics. I am a medical student that moved to a new city to start med school last fall. I went to popular (60+ cars in parking lot) grocery store that is in a busy shopping center in a safe area of town during broad daylight. When I walked out with my grocery cart and grabbed my two grocery bags, a 6'2-6'4 well-built (~200 lbs) man walked toward me from around the corner of the store. My gut told me something was off about his body language so I was ready. He asked if he could help me carry my groceries but I took a step forward and faced him directly, pushed my cart directly between us, and firmly but calmly said "No" and stepped back two steps into the store (He came at me right as I walked out the door, before I actually got out into the parking lot so that was the only place to go without turning my back to him). He approached and grabbed the next woman who walked out immediately after this happened, punched her, and took her purse and ran. Keep in mind he could have easily over-powered me - I am 5'4 and 115 lbs and I was wearing a freaking sundress - but I think the reason he left me alone was because 1) I was calm yet confident and 2) I didn't make an easy target to someone who wanted a quick steal. When I am out and about my head is always on a swivel (15+ years of playing competitive soccer as a defender means if you have my attention and you move, even in a crowd, I have your butt tagged so I can predict your next move) and I don't dig around in my purse or talk on my phone while I am going to my car even during the day. The woman he robbed was on her phone and not paying attention (I am not blaming her, but it could have been the reason he picked her over me). I stayed with her while EMS and police arrived. She was VERY lucky - only contusions and no fractures, concussion, or lacerations - especially since she got punched since she didn't immediately give up her purse. I was able to ID the douche bag on the security cam and give a detailed physical description but they never found him. I was ok until I got back home to my house and then I started shaking...it could have so easily been me that he hit and robbed! Both her and I were lucky he didn't have a gun or knife! On the security cam, he was at his closest only about 3 feet from me so reading about 21 ft/1.5 seconds gave me chills.

My daddy always told me that your most important defensive weapon is your brain and your ability to fight the urge to panic and not let the adrenaline cloud your judgement. This was the difference between giving a police report and being treated at the hospital that day.

To everyone on the forum who has more experience and training than I do, do you have any advice? Did I do the right thing by backing up in to the store? Would you have done anything differently? Thanks ahead of time for any advice, I really appreciate it!

Katie
Katie

I found your website through my interest in trauma/emergency medicine and I really enjoy learning new things since I don't know much about military medicine/equipment/tactics. I am a medical student that moved to a new city to start med school last fall. I went to popular (60+ cars in parking lot) grocery store that is in a busy shopping center in a safe area of town during broad daylight. When I walked out with my grocery cart and grabbed my two grocery bags, a 6'2-6'4 well-built (~200 lbs) man walked toward me from around the corner of the store. My gut told me something was off about his body language so I was ready. He asked if he could help me carry my groceries but I took a step forward and faced him directly, pushed my cart directly between us, and firmly but calmly said "No" and stepped back two steps into the store (He came at me right as I walked out the door, before I actually got out into the parking lot so that was the only place to go without turning my back to him). He approached and grabbed the next woman who walked out immediately after this happened, punched her, and took her purse and ran. Keep in mind he could have easily over-powered me - I am 5'4 and 115 lbs and I was wearing a freaking sundress - but I think the reason he left me alone was because 1) I was calm yet confident and 2) I didn't make an easy target to someone who wanted a quick steal. When I am out and about my head is always on a swivel (15+ years of playing competitive soccer as a defender means if you have my attention and you move, even in a crowd, I have your butt tagged so I can predict your next move) and I don't dig around in my purse or talk on my phone while I am going to my car even during the day. The woman he robbed was on her phone and not paying attention (I am not blaming her, but it could have been the reason he picked her over me). I stayed with her while EMS and police arrived. She was VERY lucky - only contusions and no fractures, concussion, or lacerations - especially since she got punched since she didn't immediately give up her purse. I was able to ID the douche bag on the security cam and give a detailed physical description but they never found him. I was ok until I got back home to my house and then I started shaking...it could have so easily been me that he hit and robbed! Both her and I were lucky he didn't have a gun or knife! On the security cam, he was at his closest only about 3 feet from me so reading about 21 ft/1.5 seconds gave me chills. My daddy always told me that your most important defensive weapon is your brain and your ability to fight the urge to panic and not let the adrenaline cloud your judgement. This was the difference between giving a police report and being treated at the hospital that day. To everyone on the forum who has more experience and training than I do, do you have any advice? Did I do the right thing by backing up in to the store? Would you have done anything differently? Thanks ahead of time for any advice, I really appreciate it!

James E
James E

First Bryan, thank you for telling your story with open honesty. Second to all those that criticize ANY of his action, I say to them, when and if you are ever in that type of situation, you just know something's not right, in my team we called it your Spidey Sense.. Listen to it and your right 100% of the time, don't listen and it drops to 50%.. Bad odds if it's a man with bad intentions your gambling on!

We've all had our Spidey Sense go off, especially if your a parent, something tells you not to let them go, they hate you for and the next day you find out someone got in trouble or hurt, or worse.

One last comment, Evil only announces itself in the movies, in reality it rips through your life in a nano second, only leaving the unprepared only enough time to think "this can't be happening to me?!"

Thank you ITS for making this continuing well of knowledge available to all..

James E
James E

First Bryan, thank you for telling your story with open honesty. Second to all those that criticize ANY of his action, I say to them, when and if you are ever in that type of situation, you just know something's not right, in my team we called it your Spidey Sense.. Listen to it and your right 100% of the time, don't listen and it drops to 50%.. Bad odds if it's a man with bad intentions your gambling on! We've all had our Spidey Sense go off, especially if your a parent, something tells you not to let them go, they hate you for and the next day you find out someone got in trouble or hurt, or worse. One last comment, Evil only announces itself in the movies, in reality it rips through your life in a nano second, only leaving the unprepared only enough time to think "this can't be happening to me?!" Thank you ITS for making this continuing well of knowledge available to all..

CCW-Jim
CCW-Jim

Before I offer my opinion I'll share some quick background information. First, I love this blog and have been a long time reader. I have my CCW, am a former Marine, have trained extensively with Suarez International, am an assistant instructor at a self defense school, and am very involved in the gun community.

Although this will probably get down voted I'm going to offer my opinion. Unlike some of the other guys here I'll do it respectfully (as a gentleman should).

This article reinforces my biggest problem with the gun community. Paranoia. Trust me, I understand wanting to keep yourself safe and I understand being aware and trusting your instinct. I do both of those things.

I live in a big city which is good for me because I'm a VERY social person. I go out a lot and I make conversation with many people along the way. Its because of this I have so many friends. My city is also full of other very social people as well. For me, personally, when someone approaches me who doesn't look like a gang banger I don't automatically "move back and get ready to pull on them if I have too." Just the other day I was outside a store when I man, decently dressed, in his mid 20s comes out to me. "hey sir!" he shouted. I turned around and looked at him, sized him up for a moment, and seen that he was most likely not a threat. He returned 20 dollars to me that he seen me drop inside the store. Nice guy. 99.9% of people who approach you in the day, and who doesn't look gang related or homeless is harmless. Could that man have wanted to hurt me? Sure... but I could also win the lottery.

Yes, I let him into my personal space because he didn't seem like a threat. What if I was wrong? I would have to assume that with all the training I've had I would have had an edge.

The fact is, I've met some VERY amazing people in my life that has contributed a lot to my growth, both emotionally and financially, who I have met randomly on the street. If I would have been paranoid and acted cold to them I would probably not be in the great position I am in today.

I think many people in the community forget that most American's go their who life without carrying a gun and they get by just fine. Obviously, I have a CCW and I carry pretty much every day. Its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. That being said, as long as I continue to follow the "three S rule" (Don't go to stupid places, with stupid people, who do stupid things), and continue to use common sense (like going the other way if a person walking towards me looks suspicious, not walking donw dark alleys at night, ect) then I know I'll probably never need my gun.... like most Americans never do.

There are so bad people out there but don't let the fear of them stop you from living life and meeting people.

Thanks for reading and keep up the great work on the blog. :)

CCW-Jim
CCW-Jim

Before I offer my opinion I'll share some quick background information. First, I love this blog and have been a long time reader. I have my CCW, am a former Marine, have trained extensively with Suarez International, am an assistant instructor at a self defense school, and am very involved in the gun community. Although this will probably get down voted I'm going to offer my opinion. Unlike some of the other guys here I'll do it respectfully (as a gentleman should). This article reinforces my biggest problem with the gun community. Paranoia. Trust me, I understand wanting to keep yourself safe and I understand being aware and trusting your instinct. I do both of those things. I live in a big city which is good for me because I'm a VERY social person. I go out a lot and I make conversation with many people along the way. Its because of this I have so many friends. My city is also full of other very social people as well. For me, personally, when someone approaches me who doesn't look like a gang banger I don't automatically "move back and get ready to pull on them if I have too." Just the other day I was outside a store when I man, decently dressed, in his mid 20s comes out to me. "hey sir!" he shouted. I turned around and looked at him, sized him up for a moment, and seen that he was most likely not a threat. He returned 20 dollars to me that he seen me drop inside the store. Nice guy. 99.9% of people who approach you in the day, and who doesn't look gang related or homeless is harmless. Could that man have wanted to hurt me? Sure... but I could also win the lottery. Yes, I let him into my personal space because he didn't seem like a threat. What if I was wrong? I would have to assume that with all the training I've had I would have had an edge. The fact is, I've met some VERY amazing people in my life that has contributed a lot to my growth, both emotionally and financially, who I have met randomly on the street. If I would have been paranoid and acted cold to them I would probably not be in the great position I am in today. I think many people in the community forget that most American's go their who life without carrying a gun and they get by just fine. Obviously, I have a CCW and I carry pretty much every day. Its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. That being said, as long as I continue to follow the "three S rule" (Don't go to stupid places, with stupid people, who do stupid things), and continue to use common sense (like going the other way if a person walking towards me looks suspicious, not walking donw dark alleys at night, ect) then I know I'll probably never need my gun.... like most Americans never do. There are so bad people out there but don't let the fear of them stop you from living life and meeting people. Thanks for reading and keep up the great work on the blog. :)

nitpicker
nitpicker

This article should be called, "I'm very, very paranoid."

Josh Thompson
Josh Thompson

My apologies, it appears I missed a bit of information in the article, and that it took place in the morning, not at night. However, the end result is the same. The writer of the article is safe, and in the worst case scenario, only feelings were hurt (oh boo, hoo)

CodeNameNero
CodeNameNero

Ignorance leads to death.

If someone I did not know approached me in the middle of the night with no witnesses around, I would be on alert as well. Especially after trying to maintain distance with the individual, while the individual continues to close the gap. There are always warning signs of danger, you just have to learn to listen to them. And yes, we may be paranoid, but at least we (and our families) are safe because of it.

Prepared
Prepared

'Bonzo,' you're simple: you're simply confusing preparedness and caution with 'paranoia,' you're simply forgetting- or at least omitting- that just because you "don't know anyone who's been attacked" in "one of the most dangerous cities in Europe," there are those who have been; after all, it's "one of Europe's most dangerous cities." And you're simply afraid and unfamiliar with firearms and conceal law and practice. But simply? Your unfamiliarity with these things isn't anyone's fault but yours, and the sooner you realize we "live pleasantly" with firearms, the sooner we can get you on the range. Hey, perhaps you'll enjoy it, and we can start getting you actual experience with what you're talking about.

Time Cop
Time Cop

"Strangers walk within 21 feet of me every single day. Often they’ll walk within touching distance. Sometimes they even ask questions yet I never feel the need to treat them like they’re about to attack me."

Hey buddy, could you bend over and pickup that bar of soap I dropped?

Tim Ingram
Tim Ingram

I find this discussion to be funny. If you consider self defense to be brooding violence then you are not using the brain you were given. Being prepared for any incident life may throw at you is not a moronic ideal. First of all my life is important to me and so is my family's. I have a savings account incase I lose my job or any financial burden arrises. Then I think it would be smart of me to do the same with my life. I do not know where you are from, but I would prefer to come off rude, if that is the case, over being robbed or physically harmed when I could protect myself. I was a police officer for a while and was also in the military... one thing I learned from both employments is that violence in inherent in human nature. Being prepared and paranoia are two different concepts. Preparedness is being ready for anything life throws at you, while paranoia is believing everyone is out to get you.

I was out with my brother one night after going out and we were driving back through Jackson, MS. We stopped at a gas station so that he could go in to the restroom. While sitting outside with the car running I was approached by a homeless individual. As he got to my car I couldn't get my passenger window up because it was manual. The guy reached into my car and grabbed a bottle of cologne out of my cup holder then stood there for a minute before running away. This happened before I had the military and police training. Had that man wanted anything more or had a gun I would have been s*** out of luck. I learned that any person will do whatever it takes to survive. I am sure he thought that it was going to be something more valuable when he grabbed the cologne.

I was only 18 and unprepared for that. Now I understand that in those situations I would rather be the one ready to protect my life because there may not be anyone else there you can rely on. The next time I was approached with a similar situation things went differently because I was prepared for it. Whether or not that guy was wanting a bottle of cologne or more, I took a different stance and was prepared. I was calm and just showed that I was aware of the fact that this individual was approaching me. Before he got halfway to me, he turned and walked in the opposite direction. I want to preserve life and not take it, but I will do what it takes to protect myself and my family. I am sorry if you find it that violence breeds violence, but sometimes to preserve life you must take it.

I hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Tim Ingram
Tim Ingram

I find this discussion to be funny. If you consider self defense to be brooding violence then you are not using the brain you were given. Being prepared for any incident life may throw at you is not a moronic ideal. First of all my life is important to me and so is my family's. I have a savings account incase I lose my job or any financial burden arrises. Then I think it would be smart of me to do the same with my life. I do not know where you are from, but I would prefer to come off rude, if that is the case, over being robbed or physically harmed when I could protect myself. I was a police officer for a while and was also in the military... one thing I learned from both employments is that violence in inherent in human nature. Being prepared and paranoia are two different concepts. Preparedness is being ready for anything life throws at you, while paranoia is believing everyone is out to get you. I was out with my brother one night after going out and we were driving back through Jackson, MS. We stopped at a gas station so that he could go in to the restroom. While sitting outside with the car running I was approached by a homeless individual. As he got to my car I couldn't get my passenger window up because it was manual. The guy reached into my car and grabbed a bottle of cologne out of my cup holder then stood there for a minute before running away. This happened before I had the military and police training. Had that man wanted anything more or had a gun I would have been s*** out of luck. I learned that any person will do whatever it takes to survive. I am sure he thought that it was going to be something more valuable when he grabbed the cologne. I was only 18 and unprepared for that. Now I understand that in those situations I would rather be the one ready to protect my life because there may not be anyone else there you can rely on. The next time I was approached with a similar situation things went differently because I was prepared for it. Whether or not that guy was wanting a bottle of cologne or more, I took a different stance and was prepared. I was calm and just showed that I was aware of the fact that this individual was approaching me. Before he got halfway to me, he turned and walked in the opposite direction. I want to preserve life and not take it, but I will do what it takes to protect myself and my family. I am sorry if you find it that violence breeds violence, but sometimes to preserve life you must take it. I hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Jacomus Winterhart
Jacomus Winterhart

First up, I want to say thanks for sharing and it was sure interesting to read the 21' article.

With regards to where you say you moved your hand towards your gun, but didn't give away it's position... you go on to say that the guy's next response was to hold his hands up (I'm assuming up from the elbows, not above his head!). His response tells me that he clocked that you were moving your hand towards a weapon. People only put their hands up like that for one reason - to try and show that they don't mean any harm, it is a psychological response to a close quarter threat. If you had raised your fists into a boxing stance (for example), he likely would have had an identical response. I'm not trying to take anything away from you by saying that, its just my interpretation from what you wrote combined with a security training course where I learned that someone carrying a weapon will move their hand closer to it when they are under stress, which is usually backwards, whereas an unarmed person under stress will move their hands closer together and forwards. Of course, that doesn't always hold true, but I think it's a fairly good 'in general' tell-tale to keep in mind.

I'm a big believer in listening to your gut, because if you get used to ignoring it - you may ignore it the one time you really need it.

Jacomus Winterhart
Jacomus Winterhart

First up, I want to say thanks for sharing and it was sure interesting to read the 21' article. With regards to where you say you moved your hand towards your gun, but didn't give away it's position... you go on to say that the guy's next response was to hold his hands up (I'm assuming up from the elbows, not above his head!). His response tells me that he clocked that you were moving your hand towards a weapon. People only put their hands up like that for one reason - to try and show that they don't mean any harm, it is a psychological response to a close quarter threat. If you had raised your fists into a boxing stance (for example), he likely would have had an identical response. I'm not trying to take anything away from you by saying that, its just my interpretation from what you wrote combined with a security training course where I learned that someone carrying a weapon will move their hand closer to it when they are under stress, which is usually backwards, whereas an unarmed person under stress will move their hands closer together and forwards. Of course, that doesn't always hold true, but I think it's a fairly good 'in general' tell-tale to keep in mind. I'm a big believer in listening to your gut, because if you get used to ignoring it - you may ignore it the one time you really need it.

Bonzo Bananas
Bonzo Bananas

I have never read such insanity in my life. Some poor guy politely asks a regular question and you treat him like this? I'd love to hear the story he tells about the mad man who freaked out when he asked where the pet store is.

I can only presume that you either live in a war zone or suffer from paranoid delusions. Acting like this you are more likely to kill an innocent person that protect yourself from anything. Time for a mental health checkup.

GI JAKE
GI JAKE

@Anonymous haha, sweet

Anonymous
Anonymous

@Jennifer Had a similar experience, once. My friend and I had shaved heads, were wearing black leather jackets, and had our wallets on chains. She started her pitch to be interrupted by my buddy with, "What do you want?"
"Money."
"NO."
"Diapers?"
"Okay, come in with us."

Turns out diapers come in sizes. So, we got her $20 worth, bought our beer, whiskey, and smokes, and left. We watched her get into a station wagon that she seemed to live in.

I walked over, assessed her situation, and told her there was always room at the women's shelter, and they would help her find some kind of work AND child care. Despite the tough guy look, I volunteer at charities. Never saw her again, but we got drunk and toasted our good deed as proper Boy Scouts.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Thanks for your thoughts and feedback Cameron. It's amazing how negative comments are typically left by anonymous people LOL! Stay safe!

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

And your screen name fits you well LOL!

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

I think you may be in need of the checkup to the one thing that's never going to lie to you, instinct.

Bonzo Bananas
Bonzo Bananas

My instincts are often wrong as are most people's. If you live your life in a state of paranoid fear, your instincts will tell you everyone is about to attack you.

Strangers walk within 21 feet of me every single day. Often they'll walk within touching distance. Sometimes they even ask questions yet I never feel the need to treat them like they're about to attack me.

Guess what? Despite living in what is one of the most dangerous cities in Europe, I've never been attacked in over 50 years. I can't think of anyone I know who has been.

Isn't that a more pleasant way to live?

Bonzo Bananas
Bonzo Bananas

My instincts are often wrong as are most people's. If you live your life in a state of paranoid fear, your instincts will tell you everyone is about to attack you. Strangers walk within 21 feet of me every single day. Often they'll walk within touching distance. Sometimes they even ask questions yet I never feel the need to treat them like they're about to attack me. Guess what? Despite living in what is one of the most dangerous cities in Europe, I've never been attacked in over 50 years. I can't think of anyone I know who has been. Isn't that a more pleasant way to live?

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Your instinct or gut is all you have brother, it has nothing to do with paranoid fear. People walk within 21 feet of me all the time too and I don't "try to shoot them" as some have suggested in these comments. Please continue to put your head in the sand and pretend it can't happen to you, I certainly won't.

Time Cop
Time Cop

"Strangers walk within 21 feet of me every single day. Often they’ll walk within touching distance. Sometimes they even ask questions yet I never feel the need to treat them like they’re about to attack me." Hey buddy, could you bend over and pickup that bar of soap I dropped?

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