When Bad Sh*t Happens

When Bad Sh*t Happens

Okay guys, so today is Friday the 13th which sounds like a great day to talk about bad sh*t happening. If you have been following social media, today is also “Jihadist Friday”… which could mean something bad is going to happen, or it could be a big nothing burger.

In either case, today is a good time to talk about bad stuff happening to good people and how to be prepared for it. 

What do I mean by “bad stuff happening”? Well, in this context I’m talking about short term and limited events happening locally or to you personally… NOT a full blown WW3 / SHTF scenario that lasts months or years. There are entire books written about that so I won’t go into that here. 

Some examples might include: 

  • An active shooter situation near you. 
  • A large-scale flood in your town.
  • A serious car accident.
  • A hazardous train derailment near your home.
  • A home invasion. 
  • A personal assault while you’re walking down the street.
  • A house fire involving your family.  

These are really broad and varied “emergencies” that can affect anyone. Each can have its own checklist of what to do. Instead of going into great detail here I’m going to hit on the big picture and give you some ideas to start the wheels turning so you can do a deeper dive. The goal is to try to anticipate bad events as much as possible so you can be prepared for whatever life throws at you.

The most important thing you’ll need in your possession during a bad situation isn’t a gun or even a tourniquet - it is the right mental attitude. The willingness to push through pain and discomfort and take action quickly is critical.

During a traumatic event we all will have a tendency to freeze up. I don’t have to tell you that is the worst thing you can do. So let's address that first...


Have you heard of the OODA loop? It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. It is a decision making framework that helps you filter available information, prioritize it, and take the most appropriate action quickly. It is used by gunfighters, firefighters, fighter pilots and anyone else who needs to make accurate decisions quickly under stress.

If you arrive at a life or death stressful situation, whether that is a car wreck or active shooter, you are already behind the power curve... UNLESS you noticed the early signs and were able to mentally prepare. In most cases the event is going to come in hot and heavy and you’ll need to be reactive instead of able to be proactive, but even a split second of warning could spell the difference between life and death.

Being observant and proactive is what will give you an edge in just about any situation. If you can anticipate the event, even slightly, then you have that extra time to prepare. It might be be turning your car at the last second to avoid the brunt of an impact, shifting what is in your hands so your gun hand is free or even stopping and changing direction so you aren’t targeted by a would be attacker, that extra prep could spell the difference between having a bad day and having a REALLY bad day. 

Color Code of Mental Awareness

When prepping for any life or death situation there are a few universal tips that will put you in a better position no matter what that situation is. No matter what you are doing, you should always be actively watching your surroundings, and the people around you, to give you a slight edge when danger appears. I like to use Jeff Cooper’s Color Code of Mental Awareness as a guide. Here is the Reader’s Digest version: 

CONDITION WHITE — Unaware of what is going on around you. Not looking for threats or anything else for that matter.  Oblivious to your surroundings. You are not in the OODA loop.

CONDITION YELLOW — You are aware of your surroundings but not focused on anything in particular. You aren’t expecting problems or threats. General observation. You should be in this condition most of the time. You are in the “Observe” phase of the OODA loop.

CONDITION ORANGE — You have recognized a POTENTIAL threat, it hasn’t been confirmed yet however. Now you are looking for confirmation signals of what you suspect. You start making a plan of action and take avoidance action (if possible).  You are in the “Orient” and “Decide” phase of the OODA loop.

CONDITION RED — You have confirmed a specific threat and are (hopefully) able to execute your plan of action. You are in the “Act” phase of the OODA loop. 

Just being aware of your surroundings and taking preemptive action has saved many people from getting deeper into a dangerous situation. 

What is something else you can do ahead of time to make a bad day less bad?

Physical Conditioning

I know some of you don’t want to hear this, but getting in good physical shape will help you out no matter what the situation is. As Pat McNamara says, you need to retrofit your “Combat Chassis” so it operates more efficiently at near maximum capacity. In all honesty, being fit has no downside and all upside when it comes to life. Being able to run away quickly from a bad situation just gives you one more option to consider. If you can’t run away, being more fit will help with blood flow and breathing so your brain gets oxygen and you can think clearly. 

There are plenty of programs and trainers out there. Pick one and start doing something. If you are doing something today, you can always do more. And certainly don’t neglect the transverse plane of motion! Pat McNamara says it best: “in the transverse plane of motion lives LIFE SAVING and ASS KICKING”! 

IFAK and Basic Medical Training

There are few “Bad Day” situations that won’t involve a medical emergency of some sort. Whether it is a car crash, chainsaw accident, active shooter, or train derailment, someone, somewhere is likely bleeding, burned, in shock, or dead. Having even basic medical training and a few essential supplies like an IFAK - Individual First Aid Kit, could be the difference between life or death. Thankfully, it seems like this perspective is now very prevalent in the gun community. At every course I take or shooting event I attend, the majority of us have a medical kit and tourniquet somewhere on our person or very close by. I even carry one in my laptop bag and in each of our cars. You just don’t know when you’ll need it, so have it nearby at all times - especially when guns are in use!

Speaking of guns… how are you going to stop a would-be attacker without one? Since this is a pro-2A blog, I won’t be talking about pepper spray, peeing yourself, or personal fog horns… 

Firearms, Ammunition, and Training

Part of being prepared is firearms ownership. Period. End of story. We all know the most effective form of self defense is a firearm in the hands of a well trained individual. It is a force multiplier. With a firearm, a frail, middle aged woman can now stand up to multiple fit adult males if she needed to. Of course she needs to be training and practicing good awareness to spot the threat so she has enough time and distance to deploy her firearm, but at least it is an option for her - unlike during the middle ages (or other parts of the world today) where it is survival of the strongest and the weak get bludgeoned to death...

A firearm is also not a magic talisman that wards off every bad guy in a 50 yard radius either. Guns are inanimate objects, tools. Since they are tools you need to realize that there are different tools for different jobs. You should know the difference and be proficient in each tool you own. Now don't get me wrong, you COULD use an adjustable wrench as a hammer (lord knows I have!) but it is much better to use a hammer for a hammer’s job and a wrench for a wrench’s job. 

The same goes for firearms.   

You should have a compact handgun for concealed carry and a long gun (rifle or shotgun) for home defense. While a compact handgun could still work for home defense, it is a poor tool for the job when better tools exist.

The firearm is only part of the equation. Just like with an IFAK which is next to worthless without some basic training, the same could be said of a firearm. There is a famous quote that says “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training.”      

So that means if you don’t train and practice with a firearm regularly, your chance of using it effectively in a life or death situation is very, very low. 

Of course a firearm is just a poor bludgeon device without ammunition so it is important to have a good ammunition management plan in place. You’ll need to constantly manage the amount on hand you have but also take into account the amount you are using for training / practice. Here is a good post that talks about managing your ammo stockpile. Don't get caught without ammunition! We know ammo shortages happen unexpectedly, so be prepared with an ammo plan as well.

If you are serious about being prepared when that “Bad Day” happens. It is important to keep all of these factors in mind: stay aware of your surroundings at all times, make fitness part of your life, get medical training and carry at least an IFAK wherever you go. Also, of course get firearms training and carry a gun wherever you go. Have enough ammunition! Make sure you have the right tool for the job, never stop learning and keep your head on a swivel!