My training priorities last year were two-fold: I wanted to take at least one course from an icon in the industry (which I did, with my MAG40 class at Safety Solutions Academy) and I wanted to fill in some of my gaps in knowledge. The Law Of Self-Defense class filled in my “here’s when you can bust a cap in someone and here’s when you can’t” knowledge, and the Friday before Christmas, I took a 3 hour class on pepper spray from Florida Firearms Training.
The class was quite good: It started off with the combat mindset and a decent primer on situational awareness, and then moved on to the legalities of pepper spray in the state of Florida. After more talk about use of force and when to unleash spicy treats on those around you, it was off to the range for some practice with inert cans on a charging attacker that’s 15 feet away. We all gleefully hosed down our attacker with our water guns, and that was that. Was it a tough class with many things to remember and a four-page exam afterwards? No. Was it meant to be that sort of class? Also no.
One of the things mentioned in the class is that it’s a good idea to replace your pepper spray cans every 2-3 years, and as the can I’ve been carrying around in my lower-profile setup is at least that old, (if not more) I enlisted some help and went off into the forest to spread some spicy cheer.
First off was discharging my small can before I disposed of it in the trash. I was only able to get a little over 2 seconds of spray on-target, but was able to dump a significant amount of spicy goodness onto a paper plate twelve feet away in that time.
Next up was the testing the inert version of the can I carry with more casual clothing. This time, I wanted to see how long it would take me to deploy the spray from concealment.
And the answer is: Just under three seconds. Almost twice as long as my handgun draw time. This tells me that if I see the potential need to use less-lethal, I’d be better off drawing and hiding in my hand way before the need to spice up someone’s life arises. The good news is, that larger can holds more propellant and spray, so I was able to coat the target with (inert) chemicals for four solid seconds before it gave out.
Lastly, I tried out a Smith&Wesson-branded spray can that was about the same size as the inert can of Sabre I used earlier. Kids, this is why cops and cognoscenti recommend Sabre and Fox sprays over other brands. The Smith&Wesson spray was wimpy and barely made it to the target 10 feet away. It had enough for just under four seconds of spray, but its effective distance was less that I can spit.
All in all, if you carry some spray, get training on it. You’ll learn a lot about what it can and can’t do, and you’ll be able to testify in court that yes, you knew what you were doing when you gave that mugger the full scotch bonnet treatment into his mucous membranes.