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Blog #030: How to Carry Your Pepper Spray for the Streets

Dragun Defense: Imagine a black young lady, determined to defend herself in an alley way, using pepper spray against a bad guy photorealist --s 250 --v 5

What non-lethal defense tool should I carry with me every day?

Do you go outside much? You are probably asking what you mean. Do you go in and out of public spaces like grocery stores, restaurants, or gas stations? If that's you, you most likely are not thinking about your self-defense. In this article, I will discuss an essential non-lethal tool that you should have and carry in your arsenal. No I'm not referring to a bright tactical flashlight with 1,000+ lumens. Although the flashlight is very effective, the non-lethal device I'm referring to in this post today is pepper spray, also known as oleoresin capsicum spray, OC spray, capsaicin spray, or capsicum spray.

Here are nine questions to consider about pepper spray:

  1. What is pepper spray?

  2. What is pepper spray used for today?

  3. Why should I carry pepper spray when I leave my home?

  4. What are some proper places to have your pepper spray handy?

  5. What's the best way to carry pepper spray?

  6. How to properly deploy pepper spray (or OC gel) in a close encounter?

  7. What are some drawbacks to using pepper spray vs. OC Gel?

  8. What is your best advice when using pepper spray or OC Gel defense?

  9. How do I learn more about practicing with pepper spray or OC Gel?

Be sure to read to the end of this article. If you want additional answers to your pepper spray questions, I will leave a link below for you to contact me through a free defense strategy session call. I am happy to answer your questions, point you in the right direction, and connect you to fantastic resources.

1. What is Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray is a generic term for an inflammatory agent, a chemical that irritates the protective layer of the eyes. Its provocative actions cause the eyes to experience immediate tearing and pain and, in extreme cases, temporarily remove vision. Likewise, it can cause coughing and shortness of breath by impacting the lungs, the major organs of the respiratory system in humans and most other animals. Lastly, any exposed skin and mucous membranes will experience a burning sensation.

2. What is Pepper Spray Used for Today?

Pepper spray is an essential non-lethal tool for self-protection to impact someone temporarily while allowing you to flee the situation. The police use pepper spray for crowd and riot control. For all my campers, hunters, survivalists, and bushcraft practitioners, other common uses of pepper spray include protection against dangerous predators, mountain lions, bears, wolves, and even dogs. Lastly, instead of reaching for a lethal weapon, both men and women can use pepper spray in urban places (depending on your local laws and jurisdiction) to avoid, escape, or defend themselves from dangerous and difficult people.

3. Why should I carry pepper spray when I leave my home?

Pepper spray is a powerful deterrent against dangerous and difficult people (and animals). I classify dangerous people as individuals who are able or likely to inflict imminent threats of death, serious bodily injury, or serious sexual assault. Likewise, I rank difficult people as individuals who are troublesome and hard to deal with. It would be best to have pepper spray when you leave your home because it can help you prevent an imminent threat or even ward off an impending attack.

4. What are some proper places to have your pepper spray handy?

Whether alone, with your family, or in a group, I encourage you to carry your self-defense tools. Here are the three top places I recommend you take your pepper spray when you:

  • Enter transitional spaces

  • Go into public or private spaces

  • Leave public or private spaces

No one knows the time or the day when a dangerous or difficult encounter may ensue—all the more reason to keep your self-defense tools with you.

5. What's the best way to carry pepper spray?

You want to know how to carry and deploy your pepper spray (or OC gel) regarding challenging encounters. Carry your pepper spray on your person, which means on your body (like in a pepper spray holster), within arms reach (like on a keychain, bag, or purse), or where you can readily access it wherever you go.

It is good to own effective pepper spray or OC gel within legal limits that work. It is even better to keep it handy and know how to use it. So whether you are out and about or walking on the street, I recommend keeping your pepper spray concealed away from public view. Ensure nothing hinders your ability to grab and hide the pepper spray in your hand.

6. How to properly deploy pepper spray (or OC gel) in a close encounter?

To properly deploy your pepper spray (or OC gel), maintain a safe distance from your adversary. I recommend no less than five yards but generally somewhere between seven to ten yards away from the dangerous or difficult individual. If the person is walking, creeping, or running behind you, keep your body bladed so your adversary is unaware of what is in your hand.

As they move towards closing distance on you, begin to move faster away from them. With your pepper spray (or OC Gel) concealed in your hand and your body bladed, turn toward your adversary and spray them.

If you have pepper spray, you want to aim in a z pattern from top to bottom of your adversary's head. If you have OC Gel, you want to aim for their eyes, deploying it in a left-to-right or right-to-left pattern.

You could spray up and down their shirt for a bonus tactic; if you can get their hands, get them too. So if by chance you missed their eyes, as the adversary attempts to wipe their eyes with their hands or shirt, it will bring in their eyes. Some folks will panic as they cannot see, lose their breath or even throw up if the pepper spray (or OC gel) gets into their mouth.

7. What are some drawbacks to using pepper spray vs. OC Gel?

If you are using pepper spray, it will inevitably get on you. When you spray, it will get on your hands, and the wind can blow back into your face. Lastly, pepper spray covers a certain amount of distance.

For these reasons, you may want to use OC gel. OC gel is more like water; it goes further and is more direct, so you can aim and hit more accurately. Unlike pepper spray, OC gel will cover greater distances.

8. What is your best advice when using pepper spray or OC Gel defense?

Remember, the first thing a person might do after getting sprayed in the eye is run in the same direction toward you or away from you. That is why you will need to move in a different direction. Or you could run for help (and call 911).

Notably, at least 50% of people will attempt to rush you even after getting sprayed in the eyes. What does this mean to you? It means your adversary will still try to get their hands on you, especially if they are going down and grabbing you. If this were to happen, when you breathe in, you, too, could struggle to breathe because of exposure to the inflammatory agent.

9. How do I learn more about practicing with pepper spray or OC Gel?

The tactical version of pepper spray (or OC Gel) defense is if your adversary is moving toward you, spray them in the eyes and move away from them in a different direction. Therefore, if you use pepper spray or OC gel on someone, move away from them because they may not know where you are or where you are going.

Not all facilities are created equal. The best place to train in self-defense using pepper spray or OC Gel would be at a defense facility, fight club, martial art dojo, or civilian defense academy.

My concluding thoughts regarding pepper spray:

In conclusion, wherever you go in society carry your non-lethal self-defense tools with you Both pepper spray or OC gel can be a helpful self-defense tool, but it's not a guaranteed solution for victory. The worst thing you can do is to shake the can of pepper spray and make the motion that you have pepper spray in your hand. If you do that, you ultimately ruin your first mover's advantage, known as the art of surprise.

With this in mind, if you show somebody you are about to spray them with pepper spray through tell-tale signs (like shaking your OC spray), you could lose in the imminent threat because they could react aggressively towards you and have a knife or firearm on them.

So, whether you are alone or in a group and carry your self-defense tools with you like the pepper spray or OC gel. Ensure you can train and practice at your local self-defense school or facility so that when you go out into the world you know how to be aware and proceed with caution.

Lastly, the government would tell you to run, hide, or fight. At Dragun Defense, our mantra is to avoid, escape or defend.

Click here if you would like to discuss your defense strategy options on a free call.

Written by Hasan Harnett

Hasan teaches people how to protect themselves, loved ones, and others. He is a leader and holistic self-defense coach who has integrated fitness, fighting arts, and firearms into a comprehensive system for the everyday person seeking superior defense training and intelligence.


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