Using Pepper Spray
Many people immediately feel safer when carrying pepper spray.
Your defensive capabilities increase substantially if you carry pepper spray and are able to use it.
A person carrying pepper spray and using it effectively can under ideal conditions incapacitate a number of attackers and cause them to abandon their plan of attack.
Its use doesn’t depend on strength, and can hit a wide area, but it does rely on coordination, quickness and some skill, which increases with practice.
Being able to use pepper spray depends on you being able to grasp it, arm and point it at the attacker with your finger ready on the trigger. In a real situation, you may only have a few seconds to do this.
Foggers and Direct Stream Pepper Spray
There are two types of pepper sprays, with their own benefits:
- Direct Stream
Foggers spray in an increasingly wider spray as the distance increases from the nozzle, having an increasingly effective range from 3 metres and closer (depending on the product and the wind).
Direct Stream pepper spray can shoot a steady line out often as far as 6 metres.
When using a Fogger pepper spray, the closer the person is to you, the more important it is to be accurate, the further away the more the pepper spray may spread, but it also quickly becomes ineffective at further ranges.
When using direct stream – It takes more skill to hit the attacker closer and you must spray directly into their face, at distance even more accuracy is needed as you are shooting with a small line of spray.
We have tested Liquid Bullet's Pepper Spray's Direct Stream and Fogger products (clicking on the links will take you to their site). Cost: The small carry size canister products for either Fogger or Direct Stream Products costs about R165 when when purchased from stores selling the products.
Strengths as a Weapon
Pepper spray as a weapon has some strengths, some of which make it even superior to firearms in some regard:
- Non-Lethal - You do not risk taking the life of the person who is threatening you. The use of lethal force may not be warranted but you can still use your weapon.
- Easier to Hit the Target(s) - You have more “shots” than a firearm, and can instantly change your angle if you see that you are missing the target. You can by movement of body, arm or wrist, increase the area of attack to wide area of space, increasing your chances of hitting the target(s).
- Multiple Attackers and Low Risk of Harming Passer-by’s - Because the spray is non-lethal, and only works at a distance of a few metres, you can fire over a wide range around you, if you were attacked by multiple attackers without serious concern about hitting distant people.
Now that we have discussed the strengths of the weapon, there are some important things that every person who carries one must consider in regard to the particular product that they carry.
Pepper spray immediately increases your ability to defend yourself if you are able to effectively use it when needed; it is this aspect that we will look at in the following section.
What to consider
How quickly can you get your pepper spray out of your pocket or handbag if you need to use it?
If the person is walking towards you, then how far away must this person be for you to be able to arm it and take it out in time before they reach you?
What range can you effectively hit someone at?
Can you use the pepper spray if it’s a windy day?
How many shots do you have before it runs out? Maybe 10-20 long bursts?
If it can be used multiple times then you can just keep firing until you hit the attacker(s).
When you push the trigger, is it easy to push down, or hard? Under stress a person can press diagonally against the trigger and not downwards, causing it to not fire.
If someone walks quickly towards you in a threatening way will you just stand there while you take your pepper spray out? Can you walk backwards or to the side while taking your pepper spray out?
Do you know what kind of size the spray covers at 1 metre, 2 metres, and 3 metres?
How will you stand when you use the pepper spray, will you extend your weapon arm outwards towards your attacker or will you hold it close to your body. How will you hold the pepper spray, like a can of deodorant, or in a different way? Do you use two hands to arm it? What if something is in your hand like your cell phone or bag?
It is one thing to carry a weapon, but the usefulness of a weapon relies in its application. People spend many hours on the firing range with their firearms making sure they can use them effectively. It is not enough just to carry a weapon, you must be proficient at its use, especially even under stress.
These are all things to consider when using pepper spray.
Risks with using Pepper Spray
The following are some risks that should be considered when carrying or using pepper spray:
- Relying on it in isolation – You may not be able to take your pepper spray out and use it in the time that you have – it should not be a substitute having training in self-defence.
- Possibly Ineffective - It may not be as effective as necessary – The attacker may still be able to hurt you in the seconds after being sprayed, or you may have not hit the attacker with enough spray to be effective.
- Not immediately escaping – After hitting an attacker you should escape and not wait for it to take effect or assume or attacker now has no ability to harm you. An attacker is still dangerous even after being hit. It is possible that you may have to physically get the attacker away from yourself.
- Getting some of the Pepper spray in your own eyes, nose and lungs. This is also possible especially when using Foggers – you may receive none, a small amount, or a significant amount of the pepper-spray during the use of it, especially depending on the wind. If you do receive some of the pepper-spray you can seek medical attention, and while painful and traumatic, for normal people (without asthma of some serious health condition) it’s not life threatening.
What we recommend
Our recommendation is to choose a pepper spray and to thoroughly test it - answering the above questions in the 'what to consider' section. Then if you are happy with the specific product, then possibly buy a new one, so that your carry one is full. Keep the other one for practicing.
Note: the correct posture is to hold pepper spray is to hold it as you would make a fist, with your thumb on the trigger, this means it's much harder to pull away from you and its easier to arm with one hand in this position.
Have friend walk aggressively towards you from a certain distance, and then see how long it takes to take the pepper spray from wherever you keep it, arm the pepper spray and have it ready to fire. We recommend you, train this again and again until you feel comfortable about your ability to arm and have your weapon ready for use.
After use: Also note that some pepper sprays may need to be turned upside down and sprayed for a few seconds after use to clean the nozzle. Do this in a safe way, pointing it in a safe direction. Make sure you read the instructions on your product.
Know your weapon, practice using your weapon quickly if you have to. We recommend that you never depend on any one weapon alone. If you cannot use your pepper spray effectively then you may need to know how to use other defensive weapons, including your body.
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Interesting in training with us? See our Self Defence Training.