Proper pepper spray techniques can be boiled down into five easy steps. All of the above also apply when you buy mace spray, since “Mace” is actually a brand name – modern Mace is pepper spray.
Draw Easily: Make sure you can quickly and easily draw the pepper spray from wherever you keep it, but that when you put it away, it’s in a secure spot where it isn’t likely to fall out by accident. You may have to try out several locations and practice a bit to ensure a quick, smooth draw. Many pepper spray brands come with a carrying case. Consider using it. If it has a snap release or other two step process to draw, practice doing this quickly, but if you feel threatened, release the snap ahead of time.
Safety Release: The other aspect to consider is the safety. Become familiar with any safety mechanism on the pepper spray. When you practice, mentally note when you would release the safety and practice the movement with a substitute. (We do not recommend that you actually release the safety in practice in case of an accident.) This should be a smooth motion and part of the drawing process.
Aim and Posture: Pepper spray is designed to cause facial irritation above all else, so that’s your target. However, you should never just hold it in front of you. Using the spray should be part of an overall self defense posture. Keep in mind that the attacker may be striking or grabbing at you while you draw the spray. To defend against being struck, grabbed or jostled, take a step back so that your knees are bent and your feet are more than shoulder width apart. Taking a step back creates distance, and reduces your profile, making it harder for the assailant to hit you. Keep both hands up, protecting your face and body. Do not push the hand holding the spray out so far that your ram is fully extended.
Center and Fan the Spray: One handy tip for properly aiming pepper spray is to look at the attacker’s face while bringing the spray in line with your eyes. Move them in one unit. When people feel threatened they often close their eyes, but don’t do this! It won’t protect you from any spray that comes your way and blinds you to any movement from your attacker. Once you release the spray, fan it back and forth to account for poor aim, the attacker’s movements and other factors.
Yell, Fight and Escape: Yell. YELL! Yell throughout the entire incident! “Stop it!” is a good catch all. You should actually practice this, because in many cases, surprise over an assault may otherwise render you speechless. And once you’ve used the spray enough to create an opportunity, get away as fast as you can. Pepper spray takes some time to work, so you have to shove, hit and run fast in addition to using the spray. You should also be prepared for the risk of being hit by some of the spray, since it scatters and can be affected by wind.