Cover vs Concealment

To cover, or to conceal

That is the question! But the answer is slightly more complicated. In basic terms, it sounds quite easy to differentiate. Cover is anything that effectively stops bullets. Concealment is anything that hides you from someone else's sight. Pretty simple right?...Wrong!
The most important thing you have to always remember: Cover is the one that's going to save you when things take a turn for the worse.
Cover
Cover is something that will not necessarily conceal your location but stop a bullet, or any other projectile being lunged toward you for that matter. Do keep in mind that some forms of cover can also deflect high-velocity projectiles and send them off into the unknown. You do not want to unwillingly send rounds to a teammate or someone else, and you probably will not be able to control this either. And, then there is the initial "kick" it will project onto whatever it is hitting, for example, a thick plate of steel hanging loosely in front of you will stop or deflect an incoming round, but will also probably kick back a bit and still send you off balance or if it is light enough, give you a nice slap in the face! The important thing, however, is to not be penetrated by any projectiles. Think of your bulletproof vest, for example, if you take a round from a 9mm at say 10m out, it will stop the projectile, but the force that was initially behind the projectile is now being spread into the size of your plates and that can leave you with a proper bruise and send you off balance.
It is also dependent on what the bad guy is shooting. Materials that will stop a 9mm or other pistol rounds will likely not stop more powerful rifle rounds for example.
In general, something that provides you with good cover also conceals you, but there are exceptions, like bulletproof glass for example. In the movies you see guys flipping dinner tables for cover or hiding behind some wooden wall while rounds are hitting it with no mercy, and walk away unscathed. That is not a good idea at all! Unless you have a table that's at least as thick as a small tee! And no, the door panels on your vehicle is not likely to stop even a .22 round! Unless you upgrade it with some good quality steel of proper thickness.
The only few things on your vehicle that will properly stop incoming rounds, are the engine, an axle (if it is big enough to hide behind anyway, and a good thickness wheel.
Keep in mind that cover should not limit your maneuverability too much, as you might still need to deal with the threat. You should either be able to shoot from behind it or when the threat changes position, you should be able to change accordingly as well. You do not want to be stuck in a small space and have a threat walk straight to you. The human body can also stop some projectiles, just do not use your spouse for that duty...

Concealment

If it doesn’t stop a projectile, then it is only hiding you. Which essentially is concealment. If you had to quickly hide behind a couch, you are concealing yourself from who/whatever is trying to find you. You know, like when the debt-collector makes a visit and you quickly lock the door, dive behind the couch and wait for him to leave. If he had to fire off a few rounds into the living room, you would likely have been hit behind the couch. Using darkness or shadows to hide in during the night or in poorly lit hallways are also a favorite way to go for criminals. You often do not see them there, but if you had to throw a rock into their direction, you would probably get a reply. Whereas if they were behind cover as well, you would have a hard time to know they are there.
It is just like the camouflage hunters use, they blend into the environment and conceal themselves from the unsuspecting game. Here in SA for example, our police forces wear a kind-off light blue uniform, which is not that easy to see during the night and is not reflective at all.

I often talk about not setting up bright lights facing toward your home, rather than facing outwards toward exterior walls, as that can be a great form of concealment for criminals scouting your home. Just as much as you cannot see a person from behind a flashlight during night time. The same concept applies. See this post to read about lighting up your yard.

Two dead giveaways exploit you from behind concealment: Noise and motion, Heavy breathing is very audible, and shaking from fear tends to shake and rattle lighter concealment, like curtains for example.

Conclusion:

Good cover is not that easy to find, especially when you are inside a building. So for this reason, you will need to utilize the concealment you have access to and move unnoticed to a place with decent cover, or to escape the threat. So if you're thinking about adding some decent cover to your home defense plan, I would suggest adding some bulletproof vest or blanket of some sorts in your safe room. If you do not have a safe room, I suggest you make one! However, adding some simple pieces of furniture, filled with something like solid wood, cement, or plating.

For more on home defense, read here.

Know yourself

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Question

So the last few weeks have been interesting, to say the least. All around the world people have come together to make great change and unite for a single cause, and although it means keeping your distance from family, friends, and co-workers, most spouses found themselves face to face for a few weeks (depending on which country your in any way), and this has made them either re-spark their interested in each other or a lot of cases spur a bit of anger and frustration amongst each other. Hubby can no longer claim he has no time to tick of the evergrowing list wifey has made up and wifey had to implement a few changes too. So this has led me to think, how well do you know yourself? And, do you know how to control, disarm, and de-stress yourself?

Easy right?

To some, it might sound like an easy question right? Whether they are just ignorant or cocky, or maybe they do invest a lot of time into their own mental and emotional well-being, and they probably do find it to be an easy question. Even if you do, have you ever come to face the type and the scale of the current challenge we find ourselves in?.  Especially as protectors in an active field, we tend to witness and endure some things we do not wish to talk about and humanity, in general, is not supposed to be imposing on each other. Early on you get taught to not attach yourself emotionally to any client, victim, or perpetrator. But, as protectors, that is just not always possible, as we feel duty-bound to care, and for that reason sometimes unintentionally find ourselves attached to some situation. And until that situation has been resolved, we rarely find true peace.

More questions

So again, I want to bring another question to you. Have you ever taken the time to sit with yourself and run over a little assessment on yourself for a change? How great is the risk on yourself, both mentally, physically, and emotionally? And what if one of these underlying stressors jump out one day at the wrong time, under the correct circumstance? Say for instance in a supermarket, an argument with a family member or as mentioned above, in the instance of a lock-down where you can not run and hide from facing your spouse or children?

Many a man/woman have ruined their lives because they have lost control, even for just a second or two. Learning to control our own emotions is something that we seem to have lost during the recent generations. And in the times we find ourselves in nowadays, we must regain control.

It's the challenge we all face

What makes this challenging is that even when you can control your emotions during a challenging situation and act rationally, others will not see it the same way, and ultimately might blame you for any negative outcome. Think of a policeman for a second. At some point in his/her career, he/she will be faced with a decision, such as having to take a young man's life, perhaps even the same age as his child. If he does take the shot, he will save the lives of many, and if he does not take the shot, well who knows how many innocent lives could be lost, especially if it involves explosives or other lethal weapons. Sounds simple in words, doesn't it? Well place yourself in his shoes for a second and imagine that young man is your son? Would you be able to pull the trigger?

Will it impact you?

For some people, it seems obvious, but being behind the trigger in that scenario can and will have a lasting psychological effect. Sometimes, as protectors, we have to do things or see things that are not supposed to be happening in the first place. This can be dreadful for some. As we are sworn to protect, we do not wish to harm anyone for no meaningful reason, unless we truly have to.

Your challenge:

So I want to challenge you today to take some time during this chaotic and emotional shift that is happening in the world and asses your strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan to make sure you do not crack under the pressure. You will find a great deal changes once you gain control of your emotional state and start to perform at your maximum. And yes, it will possibly push you to make challenging decisions, but in the long run, it would most definitely be of great value to you. Reach out to that position you always wanted, talk to more people, and put yourself out there and expand your capabilities. And, if you need to, reach out to others and take your problems by the horn and pin that pain in the arse to the ground! Set yourself up to attack life head-on as soon as this pandemic eases down.

If you'd like, find some questions here and see how you can make a change in yourself today.

I salute you all, and I commend you for the great change you bring every day. Even if you do not see it, you are making things better, and what an honor it is to serve those who need protection!

Risk/Reward ratio

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Risk/Reward

Now and then a well-protected premises gets broken in to, and no matter what the reason was, someone found a way to break through the security systems. Why is that? Well, honestly, unless you live like a well-protected president (who also gets some attacks now and then), you will never be impenetrable or completely safe from every threat. I am not quite sure what other protectors like to call this, but it generally floats around as the risk/reward ratio. Meaning, if ever the reward that is to be gained is worth the risk associated or even more, then the likelihood of it happening still exists. You implement measures to irritate and keep someone from simply taking whatever they want from you. But, you can never really eliminate the urge of someone eager enough to grab it.

How is it still possible?

We have to remember that skills can be learned by anyone willing to learn them. Perhaps not always by the conventional manner we are used to, but either way, a skill can be learned. Many “masters” of their crafts become masters in the first place by developing beyond the conventional ways.

So, with that mouthful out of the way, here is what I mean. In reality, if I have to get or take from you what I so desperately want or need, especially when I have no other choice, I will be motivated enough to get it. And in that case, whatever means you have put in place to prevent me will be vulnerable to my motivated mind. I will most likely figure out some ingenious or perhaps absurd way to pass your measures and get what I want.

I like to call it the Risk/Reward ratio. But whatever the real term is for our industry, It simply means that if my reward is worth the effort, I might just take the risk.

I can think of various ways I have defeated some security systems and things I have seen in the industry, and for obvious reasons cannot mention them here. As I am always confident that just as we protectors are utilizing the internet, social media, and various skilled courses to enhance our capabilities, so are those we fight against. Many wolves amongst the sheep.

Closing off:

So, closing off, I hope it is clear to you that not any measure is impenetrable, think about how the enemy adapts, how technology advances, and how the sheer willpower of one man can change and revolutionize our industry. If an army is in my way, will 2 armies behind me defeat them? If an alarm system is in my way, will something be good enough to defeat it? Face it, we can never, ever be complacent. If you are wondering how to plan around this, then please read here.

Till next time, keep developing.

Defensive gardening

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Defensive gardening

So I'm no expert gardener myself, but I most definitely came to know a few garden plants and bushes through the years that brought me to tears, with a stab or two that is. Although we do not tend to give a lot of attention to the fauna and flora around us, we all know a plant that you would not dare violate! Nature herself has developed some of the best defenses that stood the test of time. So why not use that to our advantage?

Unfortunately, the advantage of these amazing plants and trees can also go to the other side, if you do not give attention to where you plant them or maintain them throughout the year. Think of hiding spots and concealment.

To tree, or not to tree?

So cut down those bushes and shrubs where they can be used to hide in at pinch points such as at the front gate or the porch etc., also trim all your trees on the bottom so you can see underneath them. And trim any branches of trees close to any outside walls or close enough to utilize to climb onto your roof.

If you do like trees, planting something with dense leaves and thin branches will do the trick. Especially if you plant on the outside of barriers.

Shrub it off

On that note, It's a good idea to start from the outside in. Planting some thorny shrubs next to your initial barriers can help keep intruders at bay. Or some thorny roses on top of walls, guided by some trellis or wires makes for a good deterrent - Think barbed wire hidden under some thorns. (evil smile)....

Ideally, you want to keep the shrubs low enough to see over them and be able to watch suspicious movement outside. Too high and dense may help someone hide and wait to pounce on you leaving through the gate.

It pays to plan

Next, we move to the inner side of the walls. Garden design plays a big role here, vulnerable spots such as corners or spots with easy access from the neighbors' house, can be upgraded with a nice thorny plant, or even a fish pond can be quite the inconvenience for intruders if they had to jump straight into it. Or perhaps some wooden spikes is more your thing, I don't judge.

Gravel is your friend

Next on the list is the driveway, pathways, and access points such as windows. Gravel works great for this, it's quite tricky to make no noise walking over gravel. Be creative with this one, think of spaces where someone would likely have to walk to get to your home.

Now go ahead and plant some thorny plants underneath windows or on top of window-sills. Just to stab em some more! And it's a great way to add some color and impress your wife (wink).

Light it up!

The next thing on the list is lighting. This is a very largely debated point, but in my personal experience, you do not want any bright outside lights that are constantly on, not if you are not going to be awake the whole night to monitor who moves in and around the light. So any spotlights connected to a motion sensor work great if you are awake to see it of course. As a kid, we used to have motion sensor lights that simultaneously activate an alarm inside the home, and this was a great concept. You are awakened by the alarm and would know exactly where the movement is, and also whoever was passing the light would hear the alarm and know that someone probably woke up by it.

Another great way of utilizing softer light, such as the small solar garden lights, is to position them in somewhat of a line. In this way, you can peek through a window (with the lights off inside) and if anything passes the lights you can determine movement and direction at the same time. So if used with a silent alarm, it can come in handy.

Also, please do remember to not turn any outside lighting towards your home, if you need to look outside with a light shining in your eyes, your kind of like a deer in headlights, and, whoever is behind the light will comfortably be concealed and have no problems seeing you.

What about the tools?

Lastly, never leave garden tools, ladders, rocks, or any objects that can be used to help someone break in lying around in the yard. If possible, remove them and lock up the tools in a garage or out-house. Face it, it pays to be neat.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Plants can be your best friend when intruders attempt to breach your security. Another great thing about thorny plants is the evidence that could be left behind. Sometimes some drops of blood, some shreds of clothing or even some items dropped when they realized it gets painful. Remember, there is no guarantee any or all of these tips and tricks will work. But it sure beats doing nothing at all!

I will admit, it might take some time and effort to assemble your garden defenses. From researching different plants, choosing the right one in the right amount, and physically planting and continuously caring for them. But it is a rewarding project! At the least, you would have some interesting plants to show off to your visitors, wanted and unwanted that is.

Till next time. Stay safe! And happy gardening!