Colonel Jeff Cooper - Mount Adams Fish and Game Association

Colonel Jeff Cooper
Cooper’s Mental
Awareness Color Codes
• Colonel Cooper established the
Gunsite Academy
• Was considered the father of
modern handgun training
• His precepts also apply to the
average person on the street
Why do we Care?
• The color codes of mental
awareness will keep you OUT of
• They will also help you to
recognize when you are in
I carry a gun, know
martial arts
• What you carry, what you know
is not of much use when you
give the first shot to the other
• “Lose sight, Lose the Fight”
• Chances are, if you don’t see it
coming you will never get a
chance to employ your skills
Why Is this not just
Common Sense?
• First, common sense is not very
• We try to avoid violence, that is
not the world we want to live in
• Without mental preparation, an
act of violence is abhorrent to
civilized people – you are not
prepared for it
The Color Codes
• No – we are not talking about danger
levels – this is not the airport
• This is how we think to keep
ourselves out of danger
Condition White
• Unaware and unprepared
• Where we would be in a perfect
• Examples:
• Walking, hands in pockets, cell phone or
ipod in the ears
• Sitting on a park bench reading a novel
• Driving, already at work mentally
• Arms full of Christmas presents, in a
dark parking lot
Condition White
• Easily caught by surprise
• Not reacting to your
• Your skill in martial arts,
weapons, running like the wind,
etc. does not help because you
are not prepared to use those
Condition Yellow
• Relaxed but alert
• Not paranoid, but aware
• Hands at your side, head up, looking
• Examples:
• Walking out of Strawberry Mountain
• Getting your morning paper (if we had
• Sitting in a restaurant
• What car is following you toward home?
Condition Yellow
• Don’t look like an easy mark
• Most criminals are cowards
• If they cannot surprise you, scare you, inflict
injury without defense, they will go somewhere
• Your response is much faster because you are
aware that things are changing around you
• You distance yourself from corners, dark
alleys, troublesome looking characters,
• This is the state you want to be in at all
Condition Yellow
• Examples
• Strawberry Mountain Parking Lot
• 2 – 20 year old males pull in behind
• Someone enters a restaurant
wearing a trench coat
Condition Orange
• Identifying a specific potential threat
• Something out of the ordinary now
has your attention
• Time to formulate a plan for evasion,
getting the threat to show his hand
Condition Orange
• Examples
• The parking lot is empty except
for two men smoking
• The truck follows you through
three turns
• The person is wearing a trench
coat, in summer
Condition Orange
• Time to identify the validity of
the threat or extract yourself
from the opportunity
• Formulate the plan for if it is
Condition Orange
• Example:
• You start for the car (with keys in
hand) and the smokers attention
shifts to you; or you decide to find
someone else to escort you
• You make an unnecessary turn to
see if the truck follows
• You decide to leave the restaurant
Condition Red
• You know the threat is real
• Set your limiting condition,
mental trigger
• If your opponents steps over
that line, you act!
• Time for the Combat Mind Set
Condition Red
• The smokers attentions are on
you and they approach – what is
your limiting condition? What
action will you take if they
cross that line?
Condition Red
• The truck follows – if you are in
unfamiliar territory and don’t
know where the police station
is, what is your plan?
• There is a stop light ahead. If
they climb out of their car what
will you do?
Condition Red
• As you prepare to leave the
restaurant the potential threat
pull a weapon from under their
coat and points it at the
cashier. What will you do?
• The perpetrator signal you to
come to the register. Where is
your line in the sand? What
action will you take when he
crosses it?
Condition Red (or Black)
• You are engaged with the threat
• Have the mental checklist ready
• If he does X, I will do Y
• If he indicates a threat to life or
limb I will respond
• Evade if possible
• If not, present the most intense
• There are no points for second place
Is This Where You Want
To Be?
• Alertness, preparation,
following the thought process
for awareness will hopefully
keep you from ever having to
make such decisions
• Once the line is crossed, do not
hesitate, do not shrink or
capitulate, that is the Combat
Mind Set
Moral of the Story
• Stay in condition yellow
• Be aware of your surroundings
• Be aware that your risk profile is
• Already have a plan to avoid
• Visualize your day
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