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The OODA loop is a training concept used to explain the decision making process and to help develop the ability to process information and make GOOD decisions under stress.

It was developed by a young air force fighter pilot in Korea named John Boyd, and is credited with playing a large part of the success in air combat during that conflict.

The OODA loop is an acronym describing the steps needed to make decisions it stands for:

  • Observe
  • Orientate
  • Decide
  • Act

First you need to observe an event – say you are walking up to an automatic teller machine in a “bad” part of town and you observe two male youths loitering near the terminal.

You would then orientate yourself based upon your observation – are they waiting for a friend, or do they seem to be waiting to mug a bank customer? How important that you get the money at THIS location.

Once you have gathered and processed the information you need to decide what to do – pick a new atm, talk to the guys, grab your gun; these are all decisions you could make and some are better in certain situations than others.
What is important is, that after you have made your decision you act with decisiveness and confidence. Half steps or hesitant action in interpersonal conflict gets people hurt. Avoidance is almost always the best answer, but sometimes the only real option is to fight.

When it is time to fight it is time to stop talking and to dominate the exchange.

Now, why the OODA loop is important is because once you understand it, and realize that all decisions run through these steps – you can use this to “get inside your opponent’s OODA” – meaning if accosted you can take action to make them react to you.
As an example, an older post of the former TN handgun permit scenario video shows when a bank robber runs out and points a gun at you – it is not the time to try to draw on a cocked and sighted pistol.

The robber has already decided to take action if confronted and all he has to do is send a command from his brain to his trigger finger, while the armed citizen must see the robber, process that they are a robber, and they are pointing their gun, decide the tactical and legal repercussions, decide to draw, draw, and fire.
Long story short – Action is always quicker than reaction

But what happens if you do something that makes the attacker have to reobserve, reorientate, make a new decision tree, and then react?

This is one reason I recommend concealed carry rather than open carry – going from – Hey I am going to rob this guy to heck this guy has a gun is a large leap for a criminal to make and would most likely ensure I would have a split second to take action.

Remember, there is a big difference between theory and practice, but the more you understand theory, and practice the greater chance you will survive when crisis calls.

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