Colonel Cooper’s Color Codes

A color code system to reflect how much you should be paying attention to things around you.

Lt.Col Jeff Cooper developed a color-code system to reflect what everybody, armed or not, should know, understand and practice. Col. Cooper explains it himself in the video below, however I’m going to give you the Cliff’s Notes version :

WHITE – This is totally unaware. You should only be in this state in a known safe place, such as home. You are totally relaxed.

YELLOW – This should be your default condition when you’re out and about. “Relaxed attention” is the best descriptor of this condition. You pay some attention to everything around you. You’re cognizant of what’s going on around you. You glance at and assess everyone around you. If you’re in a building, you pay attention to the entrances and exits so you know where they are. You can remain at yellow for long periods of time.

ORANGE – This is a heightened state. You get ready for fight or flight. Someone or something has caught your attention and warrants more examination. They are acting inconsistently with what’s going on around you. You haven’t determined if they are a threat, however you are paying close attention to them to determine how much of a threat they are. To remain in this condition for an extended period of time will mentally exhaust you. So don’t elevate to this condition until necessary.

RED –You have determined that the person you are paying attention to is an active threat. You go into a full fight or flight mode and fire up your OODA Loop to get inside his decision loop and solve the problem to your advantage.

To recap, White is when you are safe, Yellow is paying slight attention to everybody and everything around you. Orange is paying more attention to a single person or object that has gained your interest to determine if they are a threat or not. Going to Red you have determined they are an active threat and you are now in a fight.

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