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"The Empty Hand"

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4 Reasons To Throw Out Your Pepper Spray NOW!

My 4 Reasons Why 99% of People Carrying Pepper Spray Should Throw It Away NOW!!

First off, pepper spray is a very useful and effective self defense tool. It can make grown women cry and big boys scream for their mama.

And it can get you those results consistently…IF you know what you are doing with it.

I have 4 reasons why approximately 99% of civilians who carry pepper spray would be better off just throwing it right in the trash (for their own benefit). Here we go…

Reason #1:

I’ll start with the biggest reason: You need to train to know how to use it effectively.

Ok, you just point it and push a button. How much training does that really require??

Fair question. It’s not a complicated system, and if you really want to break it down, it is that simple, I admit. Any Bozo can figure that out. However, some follow up questions to that:

Do you know how long you can spray it for before it runs out? Do you know the pattern you should spray in? Do you even know if you have a spray or a foam? How does the weather affect it? All of these things (and more) matter.

And, have you ever been sprayed yourself? I have been sprayed 2 times (both for police training) and I’ve been exposed to it a handful of times beyond that (on a police call and somebody else sprayed it).

Wondering what that is like? Beyond a pain in my eyes, nose, and throat (oh, you thought it ONLY affected your eyes?) that I can not even describe to you, you look like someone who has sneezed 83 times and has not been offered a tissue. It’s truly disgusting!

Now why is GETTING sprayed part of the training? I don’t need to get sprayed to know that I want to drown that jerk who tried to rob me with spray and make him suffer!

Well, if you have ever used pepper spray, either in training or in a real situation, you know that you are VERY likely to catch some of the spray yourself. This could be for several reasons: you are outside and the wind is blowing towards you, the person you sprayed is very close to you, you sprayed it inside and now the room is filled with spray in the air, you got some on your hands and touched your face, etc.

Just because you are spraying someone else does not mean that you are magically immune from getting any on you. And let me tell you something about that.

It…Sucks…BIG TIME!!!!

And I only know that through training. I knew if it was really windy out that I was not even going to think about using my spray. I knew the times that I was exposed how much time I had before I wouldn’t be able to see or breathe effectively anymore, so I had to get the bad guy in handcuffs before that happened (and I knew the best ways to treat myself after to reduce the burn). I knew how to deal with working with spray in my eyes.


Because I trained to do it.

I’m going to estimate, based on the people I’ve met and talked to who carry pepper spray, that 75% of people who carry it have never trained with it. That leaves 25% of the crowd remaining who shouldn’t throw theirs away (just yet).

Reason #2:

You need to know some weapon retention.

It would be a shame if your weapon was taken away and used against you, wouldn’t it? Look up the statistics on how many police officers are shot with their own weapon. This is a real possibility, especially if you have no training.

Beyond that, some people (I’ll refer to them here as “FREAKS”) are immune to the effects of pepper spray. I’ve seen 3 different FREAKS get sprayed, wipe it away from their eyes, and carry on without a care. Thankfully 2 of them were Good Guy FREAKS in training. Unfortunately one was a NOT-Good Guy FREAK and that was an adventure (story for another day).

Which brings me to another point: Pepper spray is a tool, not a system! You really should know some self defense if you are going to carry a self defense tool.

I’m going to say that, if you have actually trained with pepper spray like I described in Reason #1, then you probably know some level of weapon retention. Therefore, I’m going to say that only an additional 5% should toss their spray in the garbage right now.

That brings us up to 80% total for those keeping score.

Reason #3:

You need to carry the pepper spray where it is useful and accessible.

Guess where the most common place people I’ve met carry their pepper spray?

If you said buried under a mountain of crap at the bottom of a purse, then you are correct!

Doesn’t do a lot of good there.

Some carry it on a keychain. That’s a little better, until I notice their keys are in a zipped up pocket. Others carry it in a holster. That’s pretty good, just be sure to practice unholstering it often (WITHOUT looking at it- do this until you have developed muscle memory).

Hey, here’s a shocking news flash: That scumbag trying to hurt you isn’t going to wait for you to be ready. Have it accessible in order to be useful.

I’ll tell you one more thing about where you keep it: Make sure it is safe.

What do I mean by that? I’ve met more than one person who had accidentally sprayed their pepper spray in their car while driving (and a couple of them were in uniform, in a patrol car)! This is not a good situation.

Based on who I’ve met and what I know, I’m urging another 10% of people that carry pepper spray to toss it in the trash now!

(that’s 90% boys and girls)

Reason #4:

Test it regularly to make sure it works.

You’ve accomplished all of the above, congratulations!

And then it happens. That kid from 4th grade who bullied you every day at snack time approaches you 27 years later. Only now he wants your wallet.

But you just smile to yourself because you have pepper spray!

You’ve trained with it (Reason #1, 75% have not accomplished this), you know some weapon retention techniques and even some self defense (Reason #2, unlike another 5%), and you are carrying your spray so it is readily available (Reason #3, another 10% failed at this).

It is now time to make this slob pay fof the juice boxes, animal crackers, and Flintstone Vitamins he stole from you all those years ago.

Ready, aim, SPRAY…only nothing happens.

Well, except for that pig laughing at you again, beating you up, and taking your wallet. The nightmare continues...

Things don’t work just because they are supposed to or because you want them to. You have to test and inspect to be sure. Pepper spray cans are not indestructible. The top and buttons are generally made of plastic. They can get knocked around and broken. Things happen. It’s your responsibility to check on that.

Easily 90% of the officers I worked with did NOT test their spray with any regularity. Also, pepper spray does expire. They need to be replaced.

I’m begging another 9% to throw that broken, expired can of spray you are carrying around into the trash this instant!

And so there it is, that’s 99% of people carrying pepper spray who probably shouldn’t be.

But, what’s the alternative???

I’m happy to discuss some much better options with you.

Shameless plug, I will always recommend learning some self defense FIRST such as Karate classes at 603 Karate, or taking some private lessons with me. You can find out more about that here: or here:

But, I can also recommend some other self defense tools that might be a better option for you on a day to day basis.

I’m happy to help. Just give me a call or text (603-726-6335) or email at

Stay safe everyone!

-john g

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