You might remember a time when your parents would let you go off with a friend, but reminded you to always use “The Buddy System.”
I remember growing up without a cell phone, internet, or any clue how to reach my parents if something went wrong or if I’d be late coming home. They’d just let my brother and me run around until it was dark and hoped we’d take care of each other as if either one of us was even remotely capable of any self-defense maneuvers at that age. While we never encountered any issues during our childhood, it was always safer to travel in groups of two or more. Maybe we weren’t even aware that having a friend or two next to us saved our life. I’d like to think so.
It’s interesting how social media, the communication technologies available, camera monitoring systems, and tracking capabilities changed everything. Was the world a safer place without all of these innovative technologies? Or was it the same and we just didn’t know about it because of our limited means of distributing information? While I don’t know the answer to that, what I do know is the rise in technology hasn’t slowed down criminal activity. If anything, criminals are just becoming smarter.
Whether you’re five years old or fifty, using the Buddy System is a tried and true way of being a little safer and less of a target than if you are alone. There’s a reason wolves are stronger in packs than solo. So often, we see video footage from dimly lit parking lots of a victim walking to their vehicle, only for a criminal to attack them from behind. Many times the victim gets shoved into their own vehicle and assaulted without even a chance to draw a weapon or gun if they had one. When I watch these videos, I try to put myself in the victim’s position and figure out what I would’ve done differently.
Now, let’s talk about the Buddy System, and how it actually can be helpful in terms of safety and self-defense. After all, having two people blissfully unaware of the world around them isn’t going to protect either one of them.
Crime doesn’t sleep. We all know that. When you’re with a friend, it’s both your and their job to scan your surroundings, identify exits and entrances, and continuously take note of the people around you. Both of you most likely will observe and identify different things because of your different perspectives. One of the things I learned in a self-defense class is to look people directly in the face as you scan a room because most criminals will feel identified, so they are less likely to attack you. The easiest targets are people with their heads down, scrolling on a cell phone, hands full of groceries, and essentially, easy prey.
I have a lot of friends who “rely” on me to be their protector in case something happens, but the truth is, only you can protect yourself. When using the Buddy System, it is important to know who is armed with a firearm, a knife, a non-lethal, or nothing. Using the Buddy System, if one person is armed, then the other person needs to be ready to dial 911, render first aid, or seek help. Whoever is armed should have their strong side clear to unholster a weapon and it’s even better if they don’t sweep a buddy in the process. This may mean strategically swapping which side you are walking on or if it’s a couple, holding hands so the armed person’s dominant hand is free.
You are never with someone every second of your life, so there will be times when you are without a buddy. It’s important to communicate with a friend, loved one, or family member about where you’re going and what time they should expect to hear from you again. I do this often when I am backpacking, hiking for the day, going out on a date, or traveling for an event. I send flight information, the name of who I’m with, the location of where I’m going, hotel address, and backpacking and hiking routes with the days I’ll be gone with a time to expect me to communicate I have returned.
One thing to remember is that many places like shopping malls, movie theaters, and grocery stores have law enforcement officers on site. It’s okay to ask for an escort to your vehicle if you are alone and especially if you are unarmed.
The best defense is to always carry a holstered firearm. There are no safe places anymore and you have to be equipped with the tools you need to defend yourself. Always use the Buddy System when you can and look out for one another. We are always stronger with others than we are alone.
Kenzie Fitzpatrick is a professional competitive shooter and an active blogger for many firearm websites. As an NRA-certified instructor and National Range Officer Institute Chief Range Officer, Kenzie trains new shooters on basic firearm safety, brings new shooters to competitive shooting, and works major matches across the country. She has a passion for teaching people how to concealed carry and is a positive ambassador for the Second Amendment.
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