Mundane Movements: Parking Lots, Part 1: Positioning and Movement INTO the Store

This post is universally applicable to the person who wants to decrease a criminal’s ability to close space and gain positional dominance via maneuver and avenues of approach, while simultaneously increasing their own ability to maintain reactionary space, preserve positional dominance and set them self up for an uneventful departure after the shopping is done.

The goal is to make predatory movements more obvious. We are looking for odd behaviors from unknown contacts. For instance, someone rapidly changing direction when you do, stopping when you do, or anything else that makes your spider sense tingle. The better we can observe and control our positioning in the public space, the more obvious a predatory movement will appear.

‘Nowhere’ isn’t the name of a bad part of town where all the crooks live, it’s where people come from when we lose our situational awareness and are task fixated by the myriad distractions we encounter daily.

With some simple games and positioning techniques, you will see more than the average iPhone fixated member of our society. You will be the harder prey, and the predators will choose to hunt those that don’t see it coming. The most likely time for an ambush (according to my private security detail friends) is when you’re either parking or leaving in your vehicle. For parents (Joe Six-Packs) like us, I would go on a limb to say that leaving is the most vulnerable time we spend in the public space. In order to have a safer departure, we can position our vehicles upon arriving at the parking lot to set ourselves up for success.

Nothing is as common place as the leisurely walk you take to the grocery store to fill your shopping cart up with the diapers, milk, and eggs you need for the week. Contemplating the next meal, it’s easy to let your mind wander. With a little one in the buggy, it’s also easy to be focused on them while trying to dodge traffic in a busy parking lot. Depending on where you live, you might find yourself shopping at a big box grocer, a gas station, a mom and pop store, whatever. You might park in an open parking lot, a dank parking deck, or next to a gas pump. I’ll lay out some best practices on positioning and parking to maximize your reactionary gap and therefor maximize the time you have to make decisions. Regardless of where you are forced to park, the guidelines are similar.

  • Picking a parking spot. This topic could be divided into several scenarios (light conditions, area of town, parking structure, etc). But really it’s not necessary. The goal should be to park in such a way that positions you as far from hard corners (e.g. dumpsters, corners of gas stations, cement pillars, stairwells) as is reasonable. When possible, you want to keep the ‘angle of threat’ to a minimum. That is, if you park far enough away from a gas station that you can see both sides of the building within your peripheral vision, you’re in good shape. You want distance from large visual obstructions that would limit your view of the area immediately surrounding your car (box vans and the like).
  • I prefer to park NEAR a cart corral now that I shop with my son regularly. The corral disallows another vehicle to park next to me, AND it is a quick walk to drop my cart off without leaving my son unattended, or making him walk with me across a busy parking lot.
  • When feasible, ‘combat park’ your vehicle. That is, back into your parking space so that when it’s time to leave, you’re driving straight ahead and can do so quickly (H/T Marc S.) Going forward is always easier than backing up, and quicker too!

 

  • Reminder:  I’m a realist. Ideally we would drive around the parking lot scoping for a perfect spot and mean-mugging all the people who make us feel uneasy, but eventually we just have to follow some guidelines and get on with our lives. Do your best with this and at least make it part of your considerations for day to day life. Some days there won’t be any spaces near light posts or shrub dividers. That’s OK. Use some of these guidelines. Just being aware of these principles will give you a distinct advantage.
  • Entering a store (specifically a gas station), always park at the pumps whether you need gas or not. By positioning here, you can see all of the hard corners of the building, the dumpsters, and any loiterers that look out of place. Also, Avoid RedBox DVD rentals on the outside of convenience stores. These seem to be the new ATM robbery zones. Task fixation will allow someone to ‘come out of nowhere’ and take your money, or worse.

quickmart front

Upon entering a store, make a direct line to the deepest corner of the store. Turn around and take a quick view of who is there, where they are, and what they’re doing. Don’t need to be obvious, just give it a few seconds. You’ll notice quickly if something is out of place. Look for the main bad guy and possibly a seeded back-up guy. They’re cowards and often run in pairs. Make it a game and eventually it won’t feel like a chore. Then, shop as normal.

BACK STORE

 

  • When parking in a large open parking lot, some similar rules apply. When possible, park near light posts (especially in the dark) as well as cement/bush dividing areas. You’ve eliminated an easy approach from a flank and you will quickly realize if someone is circumventing the natural obstacle to close distance with you. You also will have the time to maneuver yourself to keep cars between you and an unknown contact. You have all but eliminated 180 degrees of approachable avenue and increased your reaction time as well as your ability to determine if someone is up to no-good.

shrubpark light

This post is more generic in that it applies to anyone. Not just parents with children. The same principles should be used regardless of who you have with you. Having your partner (spouse, significant other) with you makes these logistics much easier. More ‘switched-on’ observers help to increase avoidance and de-select you as potential prey.

The next installment of this topic will include how to get back to your vehicle after the shopping is done.

If you find any useful info in this rambling, please share it with your friends and encourage them to share. I just want to get this information out there because I want people to think and keep themselves and their families safe.

NOTE: Inspired by material from (Craig Douglas, Claude Werner, The Total Protection Interactive Hive-mind)

DefensiveDaddy

 

Parent’s Training is Resource Limited Training, part 1

I do not know anyone who has had a child and magically found more time and money for training. I certainly didn’t. Suddenly there’s a lack of all the resources you used to take for granted. This deficit of time, money, and well-rested hours requires us to re-prioritize our training and become more efficient in our practices. Let’s talk about some ideas to compress more training into less time, while spending less money. This topic could easily bleed into several posts, but I’ll try to lay the groundwork here. This post will concentrate primarily on time savings. Reducing training expenses will be a later post. My approach is an integration of periodization, combining cross-discipline skills when possible, having training opportunities at home, and a whole lot of dry fire. 

Throughout this whole process, keep your mission statement in mind. Why are you doing all this? Once again, define this for yourself. A comprehensive mission statement might be, “I want to live a long and healthy life and enjoy it with my loved ones”. You then will have to decide which skills demand the most attention to achieve this mission.

First, make a list of the skills you want to build and maintain. Here’s mine as an example:

  • Physical fitness: strength, endurance, mobility
  • Shooting Proficiency: speed, accuracy, decisional shooting, competition, training courses
  • Emergency Medical training
  • Martial Arts/ Combatives

Now, figure out how much time you want to allocate for training each week. Well, let me clarify and say, “How much time can you actually spend on training?” because it’s probably not as much as you’d want. That’s OK, you’re a Dad/Mom now (or just a busy human being) and you have to spend time with the family that you’re trying to protect. Let’s say it’s two hours a week. If it’s more, good! If it’s less, that’s fine too. You have to work within your limited resources and unlimited desires.

I totally want to go lift weights right now… no really.

Next, decide which thing you suck at most. This will be the priority. This part is important, because it’s easy to want to train what you’re already good at. This can happen with shooters who want to shave a few tenths off of their draw, a runner who wants to shave minutes off of their mile time, or a Jiu Jitsu player who wants to get the next stripe on the belt. Don’t forget that it is very likely the Pareto Principle applies to these endeavors. Honing your shooting to the limits of human ability means that you’re likely ignoring another aspect of your training. Get good enough, and then focus on the next weakness.

In sticking with the mission statement I wrote above, the best probability for achieving my goals (and probably yours too) is to give top priority to Physical Fitness. As Larry Lindenman pointed out at his lecture at the PaulEPalooza 2 Training Event, we’re much more likely to die of heart disease or some other preventable disease than in the gunfight we have been training for. The reality is that the bulk of the training time should be spend on physical fitness. We should concentrate on the aspects of fitness (strength, endurance, and mobility) in periodic blocks to give our bodies enough time to get the training adaptation we’re after, and then switch to a block of time concentrating on another aspect of fitness. Larry recommends, and I have used, 8 week blocks of time on your current weakness. Within this 8 week block, use 75% of your training time building that weakness, and the remaining 25% on maintaining the other aspects. After 8 weeks, switch to the next fitness goal, and put rest on maintenance mode. repeat. Luckily, the non-fitness aspects can be maintained and even built in conjunction with the physical fitness goals. You probably will have to make concessions in your training because life gets in the way.

This guy doesn’t need to be working on his draw-stroke. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.

Note: I’m assuming my audience isn’t an Elite in any of the disciplines that I’ve listed. If you’re a Crossfit God/Goddess, you can probably skip some WODs and prioritize getting some medical training or firearms training. You get the idea.

Here’s a few tips to streamline your training:

  • Keep a journal. Whether you’re strength training, shooting, or running. You simply won’t be able to document your progress without a record of where you’ve been.
  • Film yourself. Use your phone and take some video of yourself doing your practice. Compare this over time. Send it to a peer and ask them to critique you. The feedback loop is important for course corrections. It will make you mo’ better, mo’ faster.
  • Get a few pieces of home exercise equipment. Nothing fancy is needed here. A pull-up bar, a kettlebell (bought or made), a sandbag, TRX bands, whatever. Build a home gym if you have the resources. Try to cut drive time out of your training allotment and you’ll have more time for training. Do the work by whatever means necessary.
  • Combine training time with family time. I’m thinking mostly of fitness stuff here. Get out and hike or walk with your family. Two birds, one stone.
  • Schedule your training when it doesn’t impact your family. If you have to get up early to dead-lift, suck it up buttercup.
  • Dry-fire while you’re taking a dump.
  • Depending on your training budget, try to get at least one course of professional training during the year. Try to choose coursework that will yield the greatest progress towards your goals. This takes honesty with yourself, and a dedication to your mission. It’s easy to go to man-camp and hose 1500 rounds of carbine ammo in a 2 day course. Try to avoid that trap.
  • Combine training when possible. Throw a few repetitions of dry fire after a set of push-ups, do push-ups while you recover from sit-ups, or do a sport that also trains your combative abilities. Try to increase the time efficiency by combining skill building with attribute building.
  • Don’t train for longer than 60 minutes at a time. Whether at the gym, or shooting, you probably have diminishing returns after about 60 minutes.
  • Do a perfect draw stroke every night and get a perfect sight picture as you’re securing your gun for the night. This gives you 365 practice draws a year, for free. 
  • Perform mental rehearsal and visualization. See yourself performing a perfect draw stroke in your mind. It’s free, and can be done while you’re getting ready in the morning.
  • Choose your shooting drills wisely. Here’s The Tactical Professor discussing training priorities. Concentrate on mentally demanding, low round count practice sessions.
  • Train with a plan. If you don’t have a plan you’re going to waste time figuring out what to do, and probably will default to something easy that you’re already good at. Nuts to that.
  • Train things you don’t like to train. Because if you don’t like training it, you’re probably bad at it. Bring up the weaknesses.
  • Compete. You are forced to perform in front of others, perform on demand, and are directly compared to your peers. People often say that one Jiu Jitsu tournament is the equivalent of several months of gym training time. The importance of this cannot be overlooked. Find a sport (shooting, power lifting, whatever) and plan on competing in it. You’ll train harder and with more focus.
One path will make you feel good about yourself, the other will make you better. Choose wisely.

Keep in mind this same approach would work with a single person with no spouse who has a huge training budget and training time. At some point, choices have to be made and priorities chosen.

What time savings training tips do you use to get more out of your training time? 

Get training, and then go spend some time with the family!