Some years ago, defensive shooting instructor Jeff Cooper devised his color code to help us identify and prepare to deal with the threats around us. The various conditions of preparedness are as follows:
Condition White…We are unaware and unprepared
Condition Yellow:…We are in a state of relaxed alertness
Condition Orange…We observe a potential threat
Condition Red…The threat is real
Of these four states of awareness, Condition Orange is often misunderstood. Yet, surprisingly, it is a condition that we may face on almost a daily basis: We see situations that could possibly be a threat to ourselves and our family. Let’s look at some of the things we must consider and the necessary mindset for dealing with a potential threat.
That potential threat may take many forms. It might be a group of rowdy teens roaming our neighborhood. It might be a stranger in a store who just looks like he is out of place and may be up to no good. It might be a large dog running loose while we are on our daily walk. Clearly, a threat to our safety can take many forms and you can, undoubtedly, think of many other examples.
Since we are taking pains to be aware of what is going on around us, hopefully we see this potential threat while there is still some distance between us and it. Our first thought should always be to determine a way to get away from the threat. We look for exits. We consider going in another direction. In short, we consider taking whatever action that will help us avoid contact. Since we don’t know, at this point, if the threat is real, we may not take these actions…but we certainly consider them.
Since we don’t know that the threat is real, we will probably not draw our defensive handgun. But we will begin to prepare for that eventuality. We will unzip, or unbutton, any covering garment that is concealing our firearm. We will make sure that our hands are empty or, at least, prepare to drop what we are carrying, in case drawing the gun becomes necessary. In short, we are preparing ourselves to quickly get away if the threat becomes real, or we are preparing to fight if our exit is blocked or our lives become threatened.
The most important thing to remember in dealing with a potential threat is to keep it under constant observation until either it leaves the area, you leave the area, or something happens to satisfy you that this is not a real threat. This is not the time to turn your back on the possible problem and play like it doesn’t exist. In doing so, you have given the criminal—if he or she is a criminal—the advantage.
A good example might be if we see a snake in our yard. We don’t know if it is a venomous snake or not. So we keep it under close observation until it leaves the yard or until we determine that it is non-venomous. In doing so, we stay at a safe distance and are prepared to deal with it if that becomes necessary.
If you think about it, we are in Condition Orange frequently. And the vast majority of the time it turns out that the threat is not real. In that case, we go back into Condition Yellow (relaxed alertness) and go on about our business.
The whole purpose of the Color Code is to help us mentally and physically prepare to deal with deadly threats and dangerous situations. By understanding Condition Orange, we are often able to completely avoid problems before they become a deadly threat.