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Is Armor right for you?

Armor is not a topic most people talk about. Many people tend to think of body and vehicle armor as only necessary for police, armed security, and the military. And while those professions take advantage most frequently from armor solutions, they are not the only ones who could benefit from it. Considering the frequency that the media covers shootings, I wanted to take some time to dispel some myths and help those on the fence about armor.

First off, Body Armor is legal to purchase and own in the U.S. for most people, except for felons and a few other state specific limitations. All states allow you to purchase body armor, however some require to be face to face in a brick and mortar store and not over the internet. There are also some state specific laws regarding when you can wear the armor, like certain states prohibit wearing armor in a school unless it is part of your assigned duties. The bigger issue comes from intent. If you are wearing armor for your own protection during everyday activities, you are generally allowed to do so. However, if you wear armor during the commission of a crime it elevates the degree of severity of the crime and can carry additional charges and penalties. I would encourage you to check your specific state for any restrictions.

Another myth out there is calling something bullet-proof. This is a misnomer in most cases, the same as saying a suppressor is a silencer. Armor is generally tested or certified to be bullet-resistant up to a standard of protection level. Meaning that particular type of armor is capable of withstanding impacts from several calibers within their level. For instance a level 3a will be able to stop a .357 and .44 magnum, it is also capable of stopping 9mm and .38 special. Now, it will stop those rounds from penetrating that armor up to a point. At a certain number of rounds, or specially designed ammo, the armor will fail. But up to that point, the armor is bullet resistant and can help protect your life.

Now that a couple myths are out of the way, lets talk about the different type of body armor. There is soft or hard ballistic armor. The soft is going to be more flexible, more concealable, and generally weigh less. The hard armor can be composites, ceramic, or steel. These can vary in weight from 2lbs to 20lbs per plate depending on your protection level and any other enhancements. The hard armor is going to offer a higher level of protection than soft and can usually take substantially more damage before failure than soft armor. But the soft armor is less conspicuous and often more comfortable for long durations.

Many people will look at armor and think of the police/military plate carrier style that can often be large and bulky. However, there are a ton of options today, from covert soft armor that is worn under your normal clothing, bullet resistant back packs, back packs that can convert into an armored vest, and many many more. Your specific needs will dictate what kind of armor you would need. If you are looking for something to wear that doesn’t draw attention, the soft covert armor or backpacks are best. If you are looking for more protection and modularity, then plate carriers may be the best option. They also make armor specific for children, teens, and armor designed to specifically fit women as well.

There are a lot of options in levels of protection and materials used in armor, but they can all offer more protection than your standard cotton T-shirt. The media loves to tell you about shootings, but won’t ever give you any help to protect yourself. The proper training and armor can help bridge the gap between the fear some news outlets portray and the safety in uncertain times that we all need. Armor is not meant to be scary, but to give you an additional layer of protection. Other skills like situational awareness, conflict avoidance, and self defense all tie together to help keep you and your loved ones safe. Contact us today to talk about our armor and training solutions to give you the peace of mind we all deserve.

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Basic Situational Awareness

Today I want to take a few minutes to talk about basic situational awareness. Situational awareness has a lot of different meanings and interpretations depending on what situation you are in and what you need to be aware of. A law enforcement professional will have a different situational awareness need than personal security. They both may be looking for similar red flags, but they will react differently to them. When we talk about an everyday person who wouldn’t expect to encounter the hostility or scenarios of most armed professionals, we need to look at situational awareness in 2 pieces, environment and events. This is my interpretation from experience of what people should know, it’s not what you will learn when you go to a class focused on tactical situational awareness. This is more usable for everyone and can be taught at any level.

The environment is exactly what it sounds like, it is the location you are in and the surrounding areas. When we talk about situational awareness of your environment, we are really talking about the conditions you see, conditions you can anticipate, and how you will respond. For instance, when you enter a restaurant, do you recognize how many emergency exits there are? It seems simple but in the event of a fire, care driving through the front door, or an active shooter, how will you escape? Taking time to catalog exits as you enter an unfamiliar area is a basic building block of situational awareness. A great routine to get yourself into when going to a restaurant is to immediately excuse yourself to the restroom once your seated. This gives you an easy way to survey the area and identify less visible exits like one towards the back of a building, or the ones typically found in the kitchen. On the way back to your seat you can get another glimpse of the area from another angle which can show you the direction of possible attackers.

Another aspect of environment is how you move through an area or position yourself. In the idea of a restaurant or any public place you will always hear people say never sit with your back to a door. That’s a great practice, but unrealistic. I would say position yourself with the best vantage point to give yourself options. You may find you have your back to a door, but that door is to the kitchen where there is a lesser likelihood to be attacked from the kitchen than the front door or patios. As you move through areas you should be looking at not only exits and vantage points, but bottlenecks. Areas that people could pile up making escape less viable. Humans are creatures of habit so they will typically exit using the same door they came in, even when there are several options. Identify your best route and exit to avoid crowds.

Once you have defined your route, identified your exits, and picked a position that best gives you line of sight to possible incidents, you can relax a little. Now you can focus on identifying potential threats. I’m not suggesting you are looking at every person in the room and doing a risk assessment on them. I am talking about determine how you would recognize the first signs of trouble. It could be smelling something burning and smoke from the kitchen, it could be someone near the bar getting louder and belligerent, or the sound of the first round fired from a gun. That is the difficult one because our brains are trained to identify the safety of a situation based on experience, and most of us will not have heard what a gunshot sounds like in a confined area, without hearing protection. Our brains will try and calm us by making us thing initially it was a shattered glass from the rowdy guy at the bar, or fireworks nearby, or a car backfiring. Our brain will lie to us to prevent us from panicking. Most people will freeze at first because their brain lied to them and they are arguing internally between what their brain is telling them is safe and what their eyes are seeing as danger. These precious seconds are where you need to decide…Run, Hide, Fortify, or Fight.

I can’t make the decision to act for you. You need to have the situational awareness to be looking for these threats, your exits, and how you would respond. The more often you practice your situational awareness, defining exits, bottlenecks, and planning your actions the easier it gets. You will learn to do it instinctively, which is what you want. When shit hits the fan, you want your actions to be muscle memory, you don’t want to waste time thinking of what to do next. Training is key, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training”, Archilochus.