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Old December 26, 2013, 06:29 PM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
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Improvised Defensive Weapons in Actual Practice

I came across a story in the Daily Mail that I thought had some interesting lessons from a Tactics & Training perspective:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...s-earlier.html

An intruder broke into the home and robbed the wife of $41, dragged her by the ponytail and slapped and punched her face. He then left, only to return at 1:40am that night with a camera and a tripod. Investigators think he planned to sexually assault the woman. The woman and her husband (mid-20s) fought back (they own a Crossfit gym and are in good shape) against their 48yr old attacker. The husband used wasp spray (to no effect), then as he fought with the attacker, his wife broke a baseball bat on the intruder and finally stabbed him with a knife until he ceased fighting.

I was struck by the fact that people will sometimes advise using wasp spray or other non-firearm weapons as defensive tools. I thought this story was interesting in that we had two physically fit adults in their 20s against a 48yr old homeless guy who tested out some of these popular suggestions and found it a lot more difficult to use improvised weapons in self-defense than you might think. I thought discussing the actual effectiveness of these tools might be a good discussion for Tactics & Training.
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Old December 26, 2013, 06:37 PM   #2
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Wasp sprays can be poisonous to you. Some are neurotoxins and hosing it around in close quarters might not do you any good.

Can the British still have long bows?
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Old December 26, 2013, 07:51 PM   #3
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Archery is very popular in England.
But a longbow would be hard to use indoors, 'cause it's, well, long.
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Old December 26, 2013, 08:11 PM   #4
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There are people who are not affected by pepper spray and some who are able to resist tasers.

In this instance only the wasp spray is an improvised weapon. The bat and knife qualify as actual weapons.
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Old December 26, 2013, 10:05 PM   #5
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I think that those who advocate using various sprays do so in hopes that they work like pepper spray, or at least to the point of slowing down or distracting an attacker sufficiently until which time something else can be done, to stop him/her "long enough." The benefit of most wasp spray is that it has range, but depending on the chemicals, may not actually cause sufficient blindness or irritation to have immediate effect.

Quote:
his wife broke a baseball bat on the intruder
That was never stated in the article. Where did you get that the wife broke the baseball bate ON the intruder. All the article said was...

Quote:
The wife originally came into the struggle armed with a baseball bat but that broke during the altercation.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz2odkOn1BA

The bat got broken, but the article doesn't say where or how it got that way.

Quote:
The bat and knife qualify as actual weapons.
The reminded me of a newspaper account of a stabbing incident stopped by a CCW. The comment from the police was pretty silly...

Quote:
Police say the suspect purchased a knife inside the store and then turned it into a weapon.
http://www.4utah.com/content/about_4...eE2rsRhrWCM9dQ
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Old December 27, 2013, 09:01 AM   #6
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I am reasonably sure that most household spray products have no immediate painful effect when contacting skin.

The eyes, however, are an entirely different matter. Even the hydrocarbon carrier in the wasp spray or the paint in a paint can, will have an immediate and very painful effect on an adversary. They also won't be able to see as well as before the stuff gets on to the eyeball.

Get the spray can too close and there might also be permanent mechanical damage to the cornea, lens, and other parts of the eye. That damage, however, is part of the price a perp pays for choosing the wrong target...

The problem is that we rarely have the luxury of thinking these things through in the heat of the moment. We can however, think through options beforehand...
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Old December 27, 2013, 10:22 AM   #7
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Whenever I'm someplace and I don't have a firearm with me I usually take a cursory look around to see what could be used as a weapon. In my office I haven't had much I could use except for a couple of old laptop batteries. For Christmas my daughter bought me a cast iron jack for my office that is used as decor or door stop or whatever you want to use it for. It's about 5" by 4.5" and probably 4-5 pounds. Carrying it in today, I though that it would make a very good striking weapon especially with the sharp edges.

Wasp spray was a good idea if you could get it directly in the eyes. It would at least give you time to get something else I would think. I'm really curious how that baseball bat got broken though.
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Old December 27, 2013, 11:24 AM   #8
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No gun in the house?
Probably not.
So were they “anti-gun”
Hard to say, but certainly not “Pro gun”

One wonders how they feel about guns now?

Turning back to the primary subject matter;
If we look to history as our school master we’ll find one type of weapon that is in the forefront of effectiveness over and over. That being a short sword or something like it.
The Zulus uses a short spear called an assegai. The Greeks and the Romans as well as the Egyptians all use short swords for close combat.

Now the exact configuration of the weapon is far less important than the understanding of how it’s used. In some countries even long knives are illegal. So running right out to buy a Roman Gladius may not be practical, but learning how they were used is VERY practical. Without use of a shield with a short sword, another weapon in the off hand makes for a very formidable opponent
Learning such skills for the fun of learning is a good pastime. If and when it’s not longer a drill, any kitchen knife along with a frying pan or even 2 knives is going to give you a huge advantage.
As in nearly every case, the fight goes to the fighter, not the weapon. A good fighter with a poor weapon wins far more than a poor fight with a good weapon.

Last edited by Wyosmith; December 27, 2013 at 11:42 AM.
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Old December 27, 2013, 11:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
The reminded me of a newspaper account of a stabbing incident stopped by a CCW. The comment from the police was pretty silly...

Quote:
Police say the suspect purchased a knife inside the store and then turned it into a weapon.
It makes perfect sense.
An item is not a "weapon" until it is used as one

Until then it's simply a tool
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Old December 27, 2013, 03:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Can the British still have long bows?
The linked report is from a British newspaper, but the incident was in Seattle.
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Old December 27, 2013, 04:46 PM   #11
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If you look around inside the home, almost anything can be used as a weapon. As I sit here and look around me I see many objects that, if used either offensively, or defensively, would do some damage in the hands of someone who is hell-bent on survival of an attack. As Wyosmith said earlier:

Quote:
As in nearly every case, the fight goes to the fighter, not the weapon. A good fighter with a poor weapon wins far more than a poor fight with a good weapon.
A ; lamp, telephone, chair, curtain rod, snowglobe, fireplace implements, picture frames, cables, screwdriver, can of Zippo fluid, a rather heavy vase, etc. All could be used to open a can of whoop-a$$ on someone if so motivated.
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Old December 27, 2013, 06:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
I thought discussing the actual effectiveness of these tools might be a good discussion for Tactics & Training.
Or lack there of!(tools)

They were both ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deal with a LD scenario (more than they should have been) and the "tools" were tools of opportunity that have failed more times than a firearm to stop someone, and are only good when there is nothing better to be had. Just so happens they got lucky.

The one mistake they did not make that has been made too many times is splitting up and one of them running for help. Had they not fought this guy together, he might have killed the one that stayed behind before help arrived. Also it gave one of them a chance to bring a weapon to the fight, which eventually made the difference. I only say this given the circumstances (Physical condition, how the guy was/was not armed etc.).

The way I see it:
Anything is better than nothing, if your fit enough it's better to fight as a team (as long as possible with an unarmed assailant) than to split up , and the one we might all agree with is that a firearm was the best chance at ending this before things went bad.
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Old December 27, 2013, 07:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
from Wyosmith:
No gun in the house?
Probably not.
So were they “anti-gun”
Hard to say, but certainly not “Pro gun”
Doesn't matter whether they are anti- or pro-gun -- they reside in the UK.

That means they would have been punished more severely for having and using a firearm than the perp would have been if he had raped the wife.

I still have trouble getting my mind around a system where self-defense is not considered a fundamental right.
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Old December 27, 2013, 07:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Doesn't matter whether they are anti- or pro-gun -- they reside in the UK.
They reside in King County, Washington, USA.

Last edited by Frank Ettin; December 27, 2013 at 08:32 PM. Reason: delete snark
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Old December 28, 2013, 04:05 PM   #15
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12 hours elapsed between the two attacks.

In most communities this would have been plenty of time in which to buy a gun. (Unless I am mistaken, even in Washington one can purchase a shotgun or rifle with no waiting period.)

Apparently this couple falls//fell in the anti-gun (or the Pollyanna) demographic.
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Old December 28, 2013, 07:44 PM   #16
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Quote:
Apparently this couple falls//fell in the anti-gun (or the Pollyanna) demographic.
So because they didn't buy a gun after the wife was attacked, they must be anti-gun or Pollyanna demographic? That is some pretty silly logic.

I have met several folks in CHL courses who were the victims of crimes and who didn't arm themselves until after being victimized and none rushed right out and bought a gun immediately.

Quote:
As in nearly every case, the fight goes to the fighter, not the weapon. A good fighter with a poor weapon wins far more than a poor fight with a good weapon.
Interesting logic. I guess one really doesn't need firearms after all. Of wait, I thought it was guns that were supposed to be the great equalizer, allowing those who aren't great fighters to defend themselves against those who are superior fighters to them. So which is it?
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Old December 28, 2013, 07:56 PM   #17
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The Seattle Tacoma corridor is a part of Washington state that is pretty dark blue. It's tough to know how this young couple felt about firearms and self defense previously, but I'm also curious as to how they feel about these topics now. It appears that they have a new baby to protect, and also that the wife's mother was in the house when the attack occurred.

Nothing like having something like this happen to you to drive home the points that (a) such things happen; and (b) there are probably better ways to defend yourself in your home than with a steak knife.

I'm also curious as to how the guy got inside. If they ensured that every lock was "triple-checked" before going to bed, the adversary either kicked down a door, came in through a window, or breached a wall.

Regardless of how he got in, he was carried out - and thats what counts.
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Old December 29, 2013, 12:02 AM   #18
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Quote:
So which is it?
This particular OP was concerning the use of improvised weapons, in the immediate absence of a firearm. For the purpose of this discussion it makes no difference really.
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Old December 29, 2013, 12:39 PM   #19
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Good point. They fought and won. Yes, they weren't up to the tactical standards of some of you. They didn't go out and buy a gun that they didn't know how to use. Sure, shotguns are super weapons that even idiots could use and they should have gone blasting away through the house.

I criticize them for not having good self-defense kitchen knives. We have some chef's knives that look like relics of the middle ages. How dare they not have a kitchen knife with sufficient stopping power!

Maybe they will go get a gun and train - but they fought and won. That's the good part of the story.
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Old December 29, 2013, 02:53 PM   #20
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I have many friends who I would never describe as ANTI-gun that do not own a gun.

When I was in my early 20's I lived in a four bedroom apartment with two other guys. We were drunk all the time, we had parties all the time. Because of that we kept our guns unloaded and in a padlocked closet. So while we all owned firearms and between the three of us we had a nice little arsenal, at any given time the guns were inaccessible.

The couple in the OP's article responded to the threat with what they had and in the end, they won.

I do not recommend using bug spray as a defensive weapon.
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Old December 30, 2013, 03:25 PM   #21
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Long before all these sprays were developed mailmen would carry a water pistol filled with ammonia to deal with vicious dogs. Sprays in the eyes-will give you a few seconds. Ball point pens and pencils make great stabbers. Kitchen knives ? The old long handled OD painted GI entrenching tool made a great skull cracker. A hiker's staff of walking stick-especially a crook top cane. The question is , what CAN"T be used in self defense?-
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Old December 30, 2013, 03:48 PM   #22
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Lots of improvised weapons around you at all times.

There are environmental weapons like the floor, walls, desk, chairs, lamps, glass windows, pencil sharpener, books, keyboard, PC screens, pictures, curtains, soap dish, drinking glasses, electrical cords, etc...

You just need a bit of imagination and you can see the possibilities are endless.

But, none are so effective as a good handgun!

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Old December 31, 2013, 02:05 AM   #23
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Quote:
The question is , what CAN"T be used in self defense?-
Um, I'm guessing jello.
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Old December 31, 2013, 10:17 AM   #24
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Um, I'm guessing jello.
Nope... jello on the floor is quite slippery. You can drop some while retreating (known as continuing your attack in another direction) or spit some in their face.

See, John Steinbeck once said, 'The final weapon is the brain, all else is supplemental.' and that is the truth. Cain killed Abel with a rock and not a Glock!

My two favorite sayings on this are Clint Smith's "Always cheat, alway win!" and Bruce Lee's "Improvise, adapt, overcome."

Look around and see the possibilities!

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Old December 31, 2013, 02:53 PM   #25
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So because they didn't buy a gun after the wife was attacked, they must be anti-gun or Pollyanna demographic? That is some pretty silly logic.
I don't think I said this at all. The fact that they didn't already own a firearm, in today's society, paints them (to an illogical person such as I), as anti-gun or as Pollyanna followers.

The fact that they later had an additional 12 hours in which to do something constructive, makes me question their judgment even further

Instead of spitting Jello, I think I'd be doing all that I could to utilize a weapon that spits lead.
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