The right of self-defense is a time-honored right throughout the
world, and there are many approaches and techniques available to those
who want to be prepared to exercise this right should the need arise.
The personal protection devices youve listed are among these, and
although they are not considered lethal, youre prudent to seek
information on their proper use, do bear in mind, though, as
tutuzdad-ga has already stated, proper training is truly important in
learning to use them safely and effectively. Used improperly or
carelessly, they may not only be ineffective, but may cause unintended
harm. Also bear in mind that the following is for your information
only, and should not be taken as a substitute for such proper training
and, where required by law, certification. This answer cannot
substitute for your responsibility to make yourself aware of and to
comply with such laws in your location that might regulate these
devices, nor is it to be construed in any way as a recommendation for
or against the use of such devices in any situation or in any
particular location. Please see the disclaimer below.
All right, all that said, there is quite a bit of material available
on how to use these defensive devices, in what types of situations
they can (and cannot) be effective, as well as advice on where and how
to locate instruction/training in their use. But another thing you
should be aware of is that, while there is some good general guidance
on how to use these devices, each make/model/type will have its own
specific instructions, which you should read, understand, and follow
for best and safest results, preferably while being guided by a
A stun gun is a very effective protection device that will remove an
attacker from your personal space, or incapacitate them. It does,
however, require you to be right next to your attacker in order to use
it. Also, one big element in the use of a stun gun is that of
surpise. One site explained it like this: It's a bit like walking
up behind someone and loudly saying, "BOO" - they'll jump with shock
and surprise! If you walked up in front of someone and did the same
thing, they would probably just call you an idiot. The element of
surprise is very powerful! This is the reason that many stun guns
are now being made that look like cell phones or some other inocuous
item, so as to maintain that element of surprise in your favor.
The way a stun gun is used is by touching the two prongs to the body
of your attacker for as long as possible, at least 1-2 seconds in
order to disable the attacker long enough for you to get away. Here
is an article that explains the technique in detail:
Read the cautions as well, i.e. if your attacker squirms away, you
must release the button until you can touch him again because if you
dont, the stun gun may stop working.
--Another article: http://www.burkesafety.com/howtousestunguns.htm
--ElectroShield model stun gun handbook:
An air taser has the advantage that, unlike a stun gun, it can be used
from a distance, up to 7 to 15 feet away from your attacker. However,
that is also its disadvantage. Unlike with a stun gun, where the
probes remain a part of the unit, the taser fires the probes at the
attacker, and then delivers the jolt of electricity through wires that
remain attached to the unit. But like a stun gun, both probes must
be touching the attacker, and they must be at least 6 inches apart in
order to deliver the shock. If fired from less than 7 feet away, the
probes wont be far enough apart, and the attacker will not be jolted
or stopped. If fired from farther away, they may miss, or the action
may not even be considered self-defense.
--Heres an article describing tasers, their effects, and how they are
--Air Taser Online Owners Manual:
--Advanced Taser M-series Online Owners Manual:
Unlike stun guns or air tasers, pepper spray doesnt require a whole
lot of skill or practice in its use. It does, however, require you to
have a good understanding of what it is, what it can do, when to use
it, how far it will reach, and the realization that being able to get
to it is critical if it is to be effective. For example, I often
carry a can of pepper spray with me when I take a walk, as a possible
defense against aggressive dogs (or other-legged creatures). When I
do, I always have it armed, and my finger on the trigger just in
case. Then again, youd better be darn careful you dont push that
trigger unless you absolutely want to.
Heres an article explaining the use of pepper spray in good detail:
One thing to note is that the article is entitled Mace Pepper Spray
How to Use It, and this is somewhat misleading. Mace and Pepper
Spray are actually two different things, though some products do
combine them. Bear in mind that in your area, mace may be illegal to
possess and use (except for law enforcement officers), while pepper
spray is legal most everywhere. Be sure you know what you have, and
follow your local laws.
Sites with general instruction about using self-defense products:
--Heres a general site about self defense products, What are they,
how they work, do they work, what will they do to an attacker, how to
use them, and what you should know about them - 15 free articles, plus
23 links to more free self-defense product information. This is
where I found many of the articles above on how to use these devices.
They also have others, and just a lot of good information on
self-defense techniques and products:
--Heres a very in-depth article covering how to use both stun guns
--Good information about range, target and effectiveness of stun guns
vs. tasers vs. sprays:
--Booklet availablefor purchase on the use of pepper spray:
Where to find hands-on training in use of self-defense devices:
--Taser International Training Calendar (numerous locations):
--Aware (theses classes are in MA or VT, but AWARE might be able to
provide information about other locations if you contact them):
Tennessee list of certified trainers:
--Pepper spray certification course (current offering in AR):
Places to purchase personal protection products:
Laws about the use of self-protection products:
--Here is a site with information on laws (U.S., state and/or city)
regulating the use of self-defense devices, including sprays and
--More sites about laws pertaining to self-defense devices and
If you find that you do live in a state or city that restricts the use
of personal protection devices and/or requires certification, it is
highly recommended that you contact your state or local law
enforcement agencies to find out where training/certification classes
might held and/or where/how to contact certified instructors.
If there is anything above that you dont understand, please do ask
for clarification before rating and closing your question so I can be
sure youve found the information youre looking for.
Search terms used:
taser how to use
stun gun how to use
pepper spray how to use
how to use taser OR stun gun OR pepper spray
taser stun gun pepper spray laws OR regulations OR restrictions
taser training OR classes OR instruction
stun gun training OR classes OR instruction
pepper spray training OR classes OR instruction
self defense products training
personal protection products training OR instruction
Clarification of Answer by
07 Sep 2003 10:42 PDT
Im not quite certain what it is youre having trouble understanding.
Perhaps Im just not understanding exactly what it is youre looking
for. Maybe if you could explain more clearly what it is you need this
information for, I might be able to better help you. For instance,
are you wanting to know how to use a specific device in a specific
situation? Do you own any one or more of these devices and dont know
how to use it/them, or what you can expect it/them to do? Or are you
interested in purchasing a device and want to know which is most
effective under certain circumstances? Are you trying to make/build
one yourself? Are you doing research for a school paper? The
answer(s) to such questions would help me better understand your
But lets go ahead and give it a try here. First of all, if you have
not yet read the information at the links provided in the initial
answer, I would urge you to do so, particularly here:
as there is very clear and detailed instruction on exactly how to use
Heres a summary of the main points given:
The recommended stun device self-defense technique is fairly simple;
drive the device into the upper shoulder, stomach, groin area, or
other sort of muscle area such as the neck or kidney, and then pull
1) A short burst of 1/4 second duration will startle an attacker,
cause minor muscle contractions, and have a repelling effect.
2) A moderate length blast of 1 to 4 seconds can cause an attacker to
fall to the ground.
3) A full charge of 5 seconds can immobilize an attacker, causing
disorientation and loss of balance. Attacker may fall to the ground,
weak or dazed for some minutes afterwards.
1) Arm the device by sliding back the Safety Slide.
2) Aim for the center of the chest of the attacker.
3) Fire -- simply press down the Trigger Switch to fire the probes.
--If the attacker is on the ground and there are no other
the AIR TASER on the ground and run for help. Do not throw it.
--If the attacker is not down or there are multiple attackers (or
attacked from behind), hold the unit firmly and prepare to use
it as a
--The AIR TASER can be used as a stun gun with the used AIR
still in the power handle or with the cartridge out of the
PEPPER SPRAY (or MACE):
1) Hold the can out in front of you at arms length.
--As a general rule, aim to spray from between 5 and 10 feet away.
effective range of most spray canisters is between 5 and 12 feet.
someone from less than 5 feet away does not allow for the
disperse as an aerosol, and is likely to reduce the amount of
2) Aim straight for the attacker's face and press the button. Be sure
on to it very tightly and be ready to pull it in close to your body
reaches for it!
3) Although he will be helpless for a few seconds, don't hang around
out. Leave in a big hurry, "spray and run" like mad; run so fast
sunset that it just won't set.
As to how these devices work, heres a good summary:
Stun guns as you probably already know apply very high voltages
across contacts which cause shock to the subject, tazers operate under
the same principle except that they work over a longer range than stun
guns by attaching launchable wires to the contacts, and finally pepper
spray is a chemical irritant that can cause severe discomfort and pain
to the subject when applied to the skin or face. (
And here are some more links to more detailed information on how these
--HOW STUN GUNS WORK (this includes Tasers):
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/stun-gun.htm *Note: There are
several pages containing detailed explanations of how these devices
work. Be sure to click on next to go through all the pages.
--HOW DOES A STUN GUN WORK?:
--STUN GUN INFORMATION:
Excerpt: The stun gun works on the muscular and neural system. It
does not rely on high amperage or pain for results. The stun gun dumps
its energy into the muscles at a high pulse frequency. This makes the
muscles work very rapidly which results in energy loss. It also
interrupts the tiny neurological impulses that travel through the
whole body to control and direct voluntary muscle movement. This
causes disorientation and loss of balance and leaves the attacker in a
passive and confused condition for several minutes.
Generally speaking, a one second contact with the device will repel,
startle and cause muscle contraction. One to two seconds will cause
muscle spasms and a dazed state. Three or more seconds will cause loss
of balance and muscle control, mental confusion and severe
disorientation. The attacker will be unable to recover for several
minutes and effects may last for up to fifteen minutes.
--HOW DOES AN AIR TASER WORK?:
--HOW DOES AN AIR TASER WORK?:
--TASER FAQs: http://www.taser.org/faq.html
--PEPPER SPRAY FAQs:
--EXACTLY WHAT IS PEPPER SPRAY?:
--HOW PEPPER SPRAY WORKS: http://science.howstuffworks.com/framed.htm
Excerpt: Pepper spray results in considerable tearing of the eyes, as
well as temporary paralysis of the larynx, which causes subjects to
lose their breath. Contact with the face causes a strong burning
After being exposed to the spray, subjects' reactions become reflexive
in nature. They immediately cover their eyes and bend over into a
defensive posture to avoid further contact. This reactive behavior
allows officers to gain control and restrain disorderly subjects more
effectively. The effects of the spray generally last about 20 to 45
minutes and leave no residual effects.
One advantage of pepper spray is that it can be applied to handcuffed,
resistant, and violent persons during transport, in lieu of the
hogtying method. Contamination of vehicles is minimal. Generally,
vehicles can be operated within a few minutes after the spray has been
used. After use, no decontamination procedures are required other than
normal cleaning of the vehicle's interior.
--WHAT DOES TEAR GAS DO?
http://science.howstuffworks.com/question340.htm Like the page on
stun guns, there are several pages of information here on not only
pepper spray, but its relatives, mace and tear gas. However, you may
need to click on separate links at the bottom of the page to get all
--FAQs about Stun Guns AND Pepper Sprays:
--Archived discussion about phasers, tasers and stun guns:
In addition to the free information available, which is somewhat
limited (possibly due to liability issues) I did find a video and a
booklet that provides more in-depth explanations and instructions:
--There is a video put together by a professional bodyguard, entitled
Personal Protection Devices and How to Use Them. In it, the
bodyguard explains 50 personal protection devices and how to use
them, including stun guns, mace, baton, pocket zapper, ultrasonic dog
repeller, SOS Shriller alarm, door/window/walk alarm, electronic watch
dogs, professional counter-surveillance systems, tap detectors, audio
jammer, Can Trac Vehicle 360 system, lock pick sets, and others. The
tape retails for $19.95. You can order it here:
--And again, Id suggest the booklet on pepper sprays mentioned
previously, entitled The Tactical Use of Defense Sprays. Many sites
mention this booklet, and it seems to be the standard for instruction
on the use of this device. It sells for only $5.00 (plus s/h) and you
can find it here:
I hope the above information has helped you, but if not, please do ask
again with more details as to what youre looking for and why, and
what more you expect than what Ive already given you.
Thank you and best wishes,
Additional search terms used
personal protection devices how to use OR how do they work OR
how does it work
how things work stun guns OR tasers OR pepper spray
"how does" "stun guns" tasers "pepper spray"