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Mindset: The Key to Successful Crisis Management

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

* Editors note: TOWNHALL News Editor Katie Pavlich is participating in a multi-day firearms training course at the Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona. Stay tuned for daily dispatches. This is the sixth dispatch. As the dispatches accumulate, they'll all be available here.


PAULDEN, Ariz. - Do you walk with your head down? Do you walk while looking at your iPhone? Congratulations! You’re a perfect target for a violent attack.

“We call those people professional victims,” Gunsite instructor Mike Hughes said.

Criminals select their targets just like animals do. They prey upon the weak and those who aren’t paying attention.

Wednesday morning in the classroom, students watched a video lecture about mental readiness given by Gunsite founder Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper. Cooper has long been considered the authority on defensive firearms techniques.   

“The ability to survive is a combination of physical and mental conditioning,” Cooper said during the video lecture. “The shooting part of staying alive is just one part.”

According to the Gunsite student handbook mindset is defined as, “the key to successful crisis management. Proper mental conditioning allows competence, rather than only by chance, to increase the probability of survival. Preplanning or logical pre-thought of crisis behavior actions, coupled with environmental awareness, has shown to be a great tactical advantage to winners of lethal confrontations.”

As we go through life everyday, we hope there won’t be an incident or violent attack against us. However, if today is the day that’s going to happen, the proper response should be, “Ah ha, I knew this day would come.”


Photos from Katie's dynamic critical incident training drill on page two

In order to prepare students, Gunsite trains students to use Cooper’s Color Code, which is somewhat self-explanatory. Each color represents a mindset and it is important to be aware of which one you're in depending on you're environment. For example, in your home, you're most likely to be in White. Yellow may be when you go to a restaurant and sit near a door or easy exit. Orange may be when you see someone paying extra attention to you on a crowded street. You're likely to be in Red after a long walk in a parking garage late at night when you see a man waiting near your car, etc. etc. 

 photo ScreenShot2013-04-18at14113AM_zpseb525cff.png

As I touched on earlier this week, it’s important to train as you would fight. The mental side of the self-defense equation is no different.

“The best kind of fight is one that’s over before the bad guy knows he’s in one,” instructor Ken Tuttle said.

 (Photos: Alex Landeen,

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