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One of the most important aspects of any self-defense system is situational awareness. By paying close attention to your surroundings, and knowing which warning signs to look for, you can see a potential attacker coming and prepare yourself for quick action. Without situational awareness (SA) you might end up oblivious to threats right in front of your nose, and be blindsided by a sudden attack. Even if you're a trained martial artist or shooter with years of combat training, you're automatically at a disadvantage when your attacker has the element of surprise.
Carrying a concealed weapon is an excellent tool for self-defense. However, concealed weapons are also sometimes carried by dangerous criminals, muggers, and thugs. So, in order to avoid being taken by surprise when a malicious individual draws a handgun, it's helpful to be aware of anyone in your vicinity who might be carrying. Even if that individual ends up not being a threat, it's wise to keep an eye out at all times.
In poker, a “tell” is an unconscious action that may reveal an opponent's true intentions. Similarly, there are many identifiable “tells” that might give away someone attempting to conceal a weapon. Keep in mind that many of these tells are far more subtle if the individual is equipped with adequate training, a high-quality holster, and appropriate clothing. Fortunately for us, most bad guys won't bother with those formalities, so their tells may be much easier to spot.
The following threat identification infographic was created by Megan Jaegerman with input from former NYPD detective Robert T. Gallagher. It shows a few common mistakes made by individuals attempting to conceal a handgun. Law enforcement officers are often trained to spot these behaviors, and with a little practice, you can learn to identify them too. (Click here for a full-size version of this infographic.)
We should also mention that this guide works both ways: if you carry a concealed weapon, you should be careful not to exhibit these behaviors. Otherwise, an attacker might notice you're carrying a weapon when you're trying to remain discreet. Also, even with a proper holster, printing through clothing can be a giveaway. Click here to read more about the importance of printing from our friends at RECOILweb.com.