The Right Way to Use Pepper Spray

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The Right Way to Use Pepper Spray

I love pepper spray. Well, until you shoot yourself in the face that is. But that was just for testing purposes, and I can tell you honestly. It hurts. Which is why it's one of the most powerful self defensive items on the planet. Used correctly, pepper spray enables you to remove your attackers sight. Even just temporarily, it gives the little guy a fighting chance against a larger opponent. But you've got to use it the right way. Here's how to use it:

Get comfortable with your pepper spray

Spraying aerosol from a can is rather simple. We've all used hairspray or deodorant at some stage in our lives, and pepper spray follows a similar concept. Just point and spray. But the trick is to be able to do this in a highly stressful situation, like when you're being mugged. And that's where a little practice comes in. Because when you're scared or frightened many people simply clam up. They retreat. Freezing doesn't help you here, you need to take quick and rapid action to ensure you don't become the attackers next victim. So you've got to get comfortable with your pepper spray. Buy a couple of cans and practice using it. Learn what a 6 foot effective range actually means, and know how to disarm the safety switch on the canister with just a flick of your thumb. The faster you can react, the better chance you have at coming out on top. Oh and one last thing. Pepper spray is a finite resource. Pay attention to the amount of shots in your container, especially if you're going to be practicing how to use it with actual sprays. My advice would be to buy at least two canisters, so you can learn how to spray correctly and still have a full container that's ready to go. The last thing you need is your pepper spray running out when you actually need it.

Master the quick draw and spray

Your canister of pepper spray isn't going to do you any good if it's buried in the bottom of your backpack and it'll take you 20 seconds to even locate it. You need it to be ready to go in just a couple of seconds if you want it to be effective at all. If I'm walking in a potentially dangerous area, I'll have one hand inside my jacket pocket or my handbag with my pepper spray in my palm and ready to go. Then it's just a matter of disengaging the safety and taking your shot, saving you precious seconds when it really counts. I recommend gripping the canister in your fist, so your thumb is resting on the trigger. Do not use your index finger to spray, use your thumb. This gives you a better grip on the can should it come down to a struggle, and leaves your fist in a natural position to start punching should you need to fight back.

Getting the spray technique right

Once you're able to quickly disengage the safety and spraying your attacker, technique becomes very important. If you're too far away it won't be effective, but too close and you risk being grabbed yourself. Our devil juice spray is effective up to 6 feet away, more than enough room to use it to disorient your attacker and escape. Take a step back and bend your knees, raising both your hands into a boxers guard position. You've got to be ready for anything, and I keep my pepper spray in my dominant (right) hand while my left is up to protect both my face and the canister. When I spray I extend my arm to increase the range, being careful to keep my arm a little bent. It'll help you maintain control over the pepper spray should your attacker try to grab it from you. Start spraying into the face of your attacker, with a focus on the eyes. Remember your goal is only to temporarily blind them so you can escape, and using a left to right motion with the spray ensures you get as much as possible into their face when they're ducking and weaving to avoid the pepper spray. This part is very important. Every part of your being is going to want you to shut your eyes, as you're worried about the wind, the pepper spray getting into your own eyes, or a million other reasons why you don't want to look. Keep your eyes open. Closing them only blinds you to what your attacker is doing, which can be disastrous if they get hold of you. When you use pepper spray there will be a little blowback yes, but you'll be much better off than your attacker who has had a face full of the spray. So keep your eyes open and stay alert.

The final touches and your escape

Once you've hit your target and you can see the effects taking hold, take a few quick steps to the side. Your attacker will want to fight back, and even though they can't see, they're not immobilized like you would get had you used a taser on them. They will charge, and you don't want them reaching you. Stepping to the side ensures they won't be able to find you when they do come back fighting. Of course, don't forget that throughout this entire incident you should be drawing as much attention as possible. Shout, yell scream and curse, because your life may very well depend on it. I normally recommend my students to focus on words like "STOP" or "NO," until they get the opportunity to escape. Just be ready for it when it comes. You may only have a brief window to run to safety, so be ready to take it when it presents. When you're using pepper spray to defend yourself the key is to remain calm, yet alert. Being prepared for a threat gives you just enough time to take action when something happens, and once you use your pepper spray ensure you disable the attacker completely, then get yourself out of there.