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How to Use Pepper Spray Effectively

Posted by   Steve Thibeault
Use Pepper Spray Effectively

Are you looking for ways to fight off potential assailants?

If you’re considering self-defense tactics, adding pepper spray to your arsenal can provide an effective, non-lethal option.

Sadly, many people only purchase self-defense tools after becoming victims of crime. According to a Gallup poll, only 12% of Americans who are non-victims carry pepper spray. That number jumps to 20% when considering those who have experienced crime.

That same poll shows 21% of women between 18 and 34 carry pepper spray as a non-lethal self-defense option, yet a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals 34% of female undergrads have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime.

That number is shocking, and provides good cause to study self-defense tactics further. But not everybody has the time or patience to learn martial arts. A spray, on the other hand, is a quick and easy-to-learn option that takes just a bit of practice.

Ready to know more? Here’s how to effectively use pepper spray in a dangerous situation.

Get familiar with your pepper spray

Each canister is different. It’s a good idea to know the feel of the one you buy so when you grab it you’re aware of how to adjust and hold it in your hand. Practice by taking it out of the compartment you’re keeping it in or rolling it around in your hand and getting the right grip.

Pepper spray canisters also have a safety lock to prevent accidental discharge. Find out where the safety lock is and practice releasing it. Do this over and over again until you’re able to release it quickly without thinking. Quick and accurate handling of the product is key during dangerous situations.

Other things to consider are the range of your spray and how many shots are available in each canister. Most sprays are effective between four and six feet, but some can reach as far as 20 feet. Being aware of how many shots you have can be important if you’re faced with multiple attackers.

Be quick on the draw

Make sure your pepper spray canister is easily accessible from wherever you keep it, but also that it’s in a secure spot where it won’t fall out by accident. A key chain or belt loop are good options. The bottom of a purse or satchel is not.

If you’re walking through a potentially dangerous area, having the spray readily available is key. You don’t want to be rifling through a bag during a dangerous situation.

It might also be a good idea to try storing your spray in different locations and practicing your draw. Do this until you find a spot that feels comfortable and ensures a quick and smooth transition.

Many products come with a carrying case that you may want to use instead. If it has a snap release or other two-step process to draw you should learn to do so quickly. It may also be a good idea to release the snap early if you feel you’re in a vulnerable situation.

Aim and posture

Pepper spray is designed to cause facial irritation, so accuracy is important to ensure you’re hitting an assailant’s face and eyes. The objective is to temporarily blind your attacker so you can get away.

While under duress, it’s possible to fumble with a canister and accidentally aim it toward your own face. One way to possibly overcome this is to practice your draw with your eyes closed. Remember to keep the safety on for your protection.

Another tip is to use your thumb to discharge the spray. It allows you to keep a firm grip on the canister while maintaining accuracy.

Displaying a defensive posture can also help in a dangerous situation. An attacker may be striking or grabbing at you while you draw your spray. Taking a step back will create distance and reduce your profile, making it harder for you to be hit. It also allows you bend your knees for a stronger stance.

Keep both hands up to better protect your face and body. Don’t fully extend your arms in case things get more up close.

Remember to move after spraying an attacker. If they’re blind and remain on the attack, it’s likely they’ll swipe in the direction of your last position. You’ll also want to avoid any mist clouds your spray produced.

Choose a spray pattern

There are three possible spray patterns your spray may use, and each one requires a different technique.

One pattern is the stream, in which liquid or gel shoots out of the canister like a squirt gun. For best use, spray ear-to-ear across the eyes in a horizontal motion. Streams typically have a long range and make it easier to target a single person, but require more accuracy.

Another choice is your run-of-the-mill mist spray. It’s perhaps the most effective of the bunch and the most likely to affect an assailant when in range. Spray up and down an attacker’s face for optimal effect.

The last option is foam spray, which fires like a can of shaving cream. It’s best used in a circular motion while aiming toward somebody’s face.

Use good self-defense tactics

Pepper spray is just a tool in your self-defense kit. Don’t forget there are other things you can do in conjunction with using a spray to fight off an assailant.

Yell throughout the attack! This might be the most effective thing you can do as it may deter the assailant while attracting witnesses and Good Samaritans. You may want to practice yelling, too, in order to overcome the surprise of an attack that may render you speechless.

Do not announce to your attacker that you have spray. There’s no need to offer this information until his eyes are swelled shut. You’re not required to warn a person before spraying.

Have a backup plan. Pepper spray sometimes takes time to work, so don’t be afraid to get physical with an attacker. Use the canister as a weapon if you must.

Once the spray takes effect, run away as fast as possible.

If at all possible, of course, try not to spray upwind and into your own face.

Spray right for you?

Have you had to fight off an attacker with spray? Got any advice or questions? Comment below, and also get in touch with us when you need pepper spray and other self-defense devices.


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