I’m super excited to announce that I’ve partnered with InRange TV to work on a series of mythbusting videos where I’ll be taking a look at self-defense products and strategies, especially those that are marketed especially at women. In each episode, I’ll pick a tool, describe what it’s all about, then test it out before giving you my conclusions about whether it’s something that will actually be effective at helping you be safer. The first one, on stun guns, will be live tomorrow morning on all of InRange’s video outlets!
So many products are developed by people with good hearts and good intentions, but not necessarily relevant expertise relating to how bad guys operate and how violence works in real life. Combine that with a lot of common wisdom that isn’t so wise after all, just repeated a lot until it has taken on the air of truth, and you get some ideas out there that range from useless to dangerous….to you, and not your attacker. Nobody is trying to make you less safe by making these recommendations, but the net result is the same, and I don’t think that’s what any of us want. Talismans can be beautiful and emotionally powerful, but they don’t contribute in a practical way to personal protection. At the very least, all of us deserve to know the strengths and shortcomings of anything that we rely on in order to preserve our lives. Preference might be appropriate for clothing style and cell phone case selection, but perhaps less so when it comes to a decision that can ultimately mean the difference between life and death.
To perform these evaluations, InRange and I will be purchasing these products as regular customers. My evaluation will be based on my own expertise, as well as that which I can borrow from my industry friends and colleagues. That means you’ll get the benefit of neutral opinions from folks who have lots of applicable knowledge and who think regularly and deeply about the problems that are part of teaching and learning self-defense strategies. I am myself a perpetual student who has experience both on the firearms-heavy side of the self-defense world, as well as with hands-on combatives. I’ve studied lethal, less-lethal, and non-lethal tools and skills and what I don’t know, I’m not afraid to ask qualified experts. The special lens you’ll get is that I’m a lot like you: a regular woman who lives a pretty ordinary life.
In addition, I’ll be testing as many of these products as I can, as realistically as I can. Some of them will be safe to use directly, or in a training version, against people like Bad Guy 1, who you’ve seen before on On Her Own. Others may not have effects that I can show, or won’t be safe for me or my roleplaying attackers. In those cases, I’ll do my best to perform limited demonstrations, create simulations, or to explain in detail why I can’t. Regardless, I’ll be using industry standard methods as much as possible to get objective, real-world results for you. This isn’t an opportunity for me to find a way to make products and strategies fail, or to show why everything marketed to women or wrapped in pink packaging is bad, but to test them against the kinds of pressure that can be expected in an actual violent situation.
My conclusions will be opinions, yes, but opinions informed by extensive background and realistic pressure testing, not just “common sense” or “conventional wisdom.” Whenever possible, you won’t be hearing a talking head’s theories about why something will or won’t work, you’ll be seeing it.
Sometimes, I’ll find something that has potential, but requires you to use it a certain way or to acquire certain skills in order for it to be effective. When I run across those, my intent is to show you those tips and tricks, and to give you an avenue to learn and practice them. After all, my goal is the same as every company that makes these products and every person who recommends these strategies: to make you as safe as possible. If there is no safe way to use them, I’ll be honest and tell you that. If there is, but it might be really hard, I’ll be honest and tell you that. I hope that helps you trust what I’ll have to say, even if it means that you might have to put your favorite self-defense tool on hold.
And one more thing – you can help control what direction we go! I need your suggestions about what you’d like me to examine. While I have a pretty good handle on what’s out there, I don’t know what you’ve seen a lot of or are most curious about. It might be something you already carry, something you’ve looked at buying for yourself or a loved one, or something you’ve received as a gift. Trust that the person who gave it to you or who wants to sell it to you has your best interests at heart, but let me help you verify.