Using Reflections in the Urban Environment
A Lesson in Situational Awareness
One skill that you can hone easily, and I often do, is the use of REFLECTIONS. They are plentiful in my world – buildings, store front and vehicles – probably in yours, too. I find myself in the urban and industrial parts of cities in central Texas most days, Mon-Fri, so practice is second nature at this point.
Given that most of us get from point A to point B in a car or truck, I will use that as the baseline. Although I office out of my home, I spend a lot of time going to see customers, and my vehicle becomes my office as well.
I had a good Driver’s Ed instructor, which happened to be my Dad – well before that “legal” high school sanctioned course came up. You may have been strongly encouraged to “check your mirrors often.” The “visual scanning” part of defensive driving dovetails nicely with mindset of the civilian operator who travels for work or personal business.
First, one area we can all relate to: using your rear view and side view mirrors. They often bring additional benefits when you are at a traffic light or stopped for other reasons. Your car mirrors might bring you valuable information, faster, than staring at your smart phone screen every time you roll up to a stoplight (side note: had to break that habit as fast as I started it…because a driver gazing at his phone is surely about as alert as someone leaving happy hour). When you are DISTRACTED, you are an easier target.
Okay, so let’s assume that scanning-the-horizon for threats is a given in combat or training exercises. Sure, scanning your car mirrors is a good tool to avoid being rear-ended, or side swiping another car. When you are scanning your world with your eyes, threats are less likely to surprise you. But when you are STOPPED, especially before you exit the vehicle, use mirrors AND reflections off of any available surface.
A quick scan of these surface REFLECTIONS can give you clues that many sheeple-types would never think of:
- car doors next to you (metallic auto paints works to your advantage)
- car windows next to you
Take a look at this example of the dark sedan next to me recently…
You can see my silver vehicle in the reflection here, on my left. And then this Dodge pickup on my right…
What do you see? What matters to you may be different, of course, but what I look for includes:
- Is there movement?
- Is there something out-of-place?
- Is there a dog, car, toddler, person, stroller or bad guy?
(in the case of my side view mirror) Is there a brand new, white Ford F-150 pulling behind me as I shift into reverse to back out? Take a close look at the photo, at bottom left…see it?
And don’t forget glass doors and panel glass in retail or business environments. I always take a quick glance as I approach store fronts, to see what the glass reflections tell me.
- Is there someone on my tail?
- Should I hold the door open for someone?
- Is my carry pistol or other belt-mounted gear showing?
- Is my fly open or do I have an enormous booger hanging?
And lastly is a secondary reflective surface, like a cell phone. Since my smart phone is part of my business gear, it can be handy and is almost always available. Try using the screen reflection with your display OFF. It’s not as good as a mirror, but decent enough. And using it as a mirror while you move about, may hardly be noticed. I can look any direction where there are people on foot, and see someone walking while staring at their phone screen.
Anywhere there is glass and polished surfaces, you are bound to find ways to leverage reflections from cars, trucks, windows and buildings. They can be your “third eye”.
Keep your head on a swivel, keep your weapons handy and keep your mind sharper than your knife!
Reflect on that & Stay Dangerous!