Are you in the fight?

How and when does a defensive situation occur?  Are these events that “just occur out of the blue,” or are these events those that we as potential victims can effectively avoid?  There are some “experts” that believe that these things happen simply by happenstance.  Then there are thinkers that believe that through a very simple process, these unfortunate events tend to rear their ugly heads.  For decades our military, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement agencies have used a training technique called the “O.O.D.A. Loop,” to teach those who protect us how to consistently evaluate situations and circumstances that occur.


The O.O.D.A. Loop is considered by many defensive arts instructors as one of the most valuable tools one can have in their arsenal.  This process was developed by a 30+ year veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, Col. John R. Boyd, and remains a mainstay in training programs since its inception.  The O.O.D.A. Loop refers to a continuous cycle of interaction that we ALWAYS have with the environments that we encounter:

  1. O – Observe
  2. O – Orientation (or Orient)
  3. D – Decision
  4. A – Action

Imagine that you enter a restaurant during the middle of the day.  As you enter the restaurant, you immediately begin to OBSERVE.  You are looking at the crowd, how the restaurant is laid out, and possible seating locations.  You then begin to ORIENT yourself as it pertains to exits, restrooms, and the other patrons.  Who is close?  Any sketchy characters in the dining area, and are they near your party?  After orienting yourself, you’re then faced with a couple of different DECISION‘s.  Are you comfortable?  Are you willing to stay?  The last step is to finally take ACTION.

Similarly, imagine the bank robber who just entered the local bank for his next bag of spending money.  Ironically, he undergoes a his own O.O.D.A. processing cycle.  As he enters the bank he immediately begins to OBSERVE.  He’s looking to see how crowded the bank is.  Next, (and we’re sure very quickly next) the bank robber begins to ORIENT himself within the bank.  He’s looking for exits, the security guards, the safe, the boxes, and the positioning of the tellers within the bank.  He’s now getting his courage up (if it isn’t already at a 10) and being faced with a couple of different DECISION‘s.  Does he commence with the robbery?  Does he back down and pretend that he is opening an account?  Does he walk out, and try another time?  Now….he springs into ACTION.

Interestingly enough, both of these situations (just as all others) may at first glance appear to be simply going out to dinner….or an unfortunate bank robbery.  Outwardly, we as observers never see the the mental processing that either the restaurant patron nor the bank robber undergoes.  All we get to see is the ACTION.  Regardless of the situation, it’s severity or complexity we all undergo this analytical process (every time).

Being able to thwart situations that have the propensity to turn negative can also be achieved by applying the O.O.D.A. analytical process.  Those of us that carry firearms for protection from the bad guys (like the bank robber), should consistently train our minds to use this analytical cycle of thought.  You should always be observant….looking for potential threats.  As you orient yourself in whatever the locale may be, you should assess if and how the potential threats could turn into active threats.  At this time, you’re faced with several decisions and you should immediately start to plan your pre-attack behavior (should the potential threat turn active).  Lastly, if the potential threat does happen to turn active, you act.

It’s important to note…..that even if you aren’t in your O.O.D.A. cycle, the bad guy is. Training prepares you.  Make sure that you are prepared!!!

Col. John R. Boyd
Col. John R. Boyd – Developer of the O.O.D.A. Process Cycle

***  If you are unfamiliar with firearms and/or their accessories, and want to learn more, PSA strongly suggests that you find, enroll, and attend a comprehensive and reputable firearms safety course. Firearms safety is all of OUR responsibility.  

We want to thank you for taking out the time to stop by our lane at the shooting range!!  We hope that you enjoyed your stay and hope that you stop back by early and often to catch up on all PSA updates!  We truly hope that we were able to hit the target, and if you ever have any questions please don’t hesitate to shoot them our way!!  We look forward to shooting the breeze with you soon again!!

And as always….remember to watch your six and stay low!!!

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