In any survival scenario, situational awareness is critical. We often think of that term solely in the context of observing your surroundings — for example, looking or listening for signs of incoming threats. But situational awareness also extends to your every-day carry gear. Is your gun always in the same place on your body, and have you confirmed recently that it’s maintained, loaded, and ready to use? Is your flashlight battery dead? Is your knife sharp and ready to draw consistently? What about medical gear? These are questions you must answer before an emergency occurs.

In the following RECOILtv video, Bill Rapier of Am Tac Shooting discusses a technique he calls “the circle of awareness.” It was derived from skydiving, where each participant has to be continually scanning for external issues (e.g. other divers they might collide with) as well as internal issues (e.g. problems with the altimeter or chute handles). Overlooking either one of these factors could lead to a jumper making “a very insignificant divot in the earth,” as Rapier says.

The circle of awareness is “a lifestyle, a way of thinking about things continuously” as well as a means of loading a concealed-carry firearm. Rapier explains how it involves framing the weapon in an elevated work space, seating a magazine, racking the slide while keeping the muzzle on target, and confirming that a round has been chambered properly. Whether you’re going through these steps in your bedroom before leaving the house or during a chaotic firefight, they could mean the difference between being confident your gun will go bang and finding out the hard way that it didn’t.

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