MELANIE BOLKE: WHY I CARRY A GUN AND PEPPER SPRAY PT.2
Part One of my article with Shoot Like A Girl instructor Melanie Bolke shed light on her interesting background as a former professional dog trainer, hunting guide, and taxidermist who later transitioned to professional recreational and defensive firearms shooting instructor. I was interested in her take on why women (and men) should carry Pepper Spray in addition to a concealed handgun. Part Two of this article addresses the remainder of the conversation we had on the subject.
Steve: How would I know when I should use Pepper Spray?
Melanie: This is a tricky question. Pepper Spray should only be used if you or another is actively in danger of physical harm from another person.
Steve: So, I can’t just spray someone because they make me nervous?
Melanie: (Melanie laughs). Steve, you can’t just spray someone because they just make you nervous. You absolutely have to be in danger.
Steve: Understood! Both men and women should consider spraying another person to be a serious matter and not something to take lightly. If I can lawfully put my hands on another person in order to protect myself, I can probably lawfully use Pepper Spray instead which is likely safer for both of us.
Melanie: Absolutely. Maximum effective distance of Pepper Spray is usually within ten feet depending upon the type of Pepper Spray canister that you are carrying.
Steve: Last question. Do I need any kind of training to use Pepper Spray properly?
Melanie: I think this falls in line with the answer to the previous question. Yes. Sabre offers free training online and a free instructional video is available when purchased by using a URL code provided. You can also maximize your proficiency by purchasing a practice spray that you can familiarize yourself with that contains no active ingredients. This can boost your confidence if you find yourself in a situation in which you might have to actually use Pepper Spray to defend yourself.
There are professional instructors that offer instruction on when and how to use Pepper Spray. I highly recommend Chuck Haggard of Agile Training (Editor’s note: Chuck was a recent guest on a CCW Safe podcast that should be posted soon). I took his OC/Pepper Spray Instructor Certification course in January of 2021 and it was outstanding. I am now a certified Pepper Spray instructor, and what Chuck taught in the class was really in-depth, informative, and critically important, hands-on. He discussed when and why to use Pepper Spray, and we practiced real-world scenarios that we might encounter in which you would deploy it. We participated in those and sprayed each other with inert training canisters so that we can identify ideal target zones. We practiced concealing and accessing the training canisters under pressure.
You can take online training courses that are indeed valuable, but this was just a great experience for me. I do not want to vapor-lock when it is actually time to use Pepper Spray to defend myself. That class gave me a real feeling of empowerment and confidence that I could actually use it competently if I were ever forced to.
Steve: I guess that wasn’t my last question after all. Do you teach students how to use Pepper Spray for the readers that are simply unable to train under Chuck Haggard?
Melanie: I don’t. Chuck is available to travel, and he is the instructor that I would recommend.
Steve: I plan to take Chuck’s instructor course this year, but there are people all over America that would probably love to take a Pepper Spray class from Chuck or one of the instructors certified under him but aren’t able because of a variety of logistics. Any suggestions for them?
Melanie: I wish that I have had time to offer Pepper Spray instruction but Shoot Like A Girl might be able to assist. In our mobile range that travels around the country we actually do Pepper Spray demonstrations. We have a training dummy in the trailer and talk to the ladies about how to have an option between a “harsh word and a gun” (a classic Chuck Haggard quote) which is a Less Lethal option like Pepper Spray. We talk about some of the same material you and I just discussed and allow them to test the training canisters that do not contain active ingredients. We go all over the country, and women interested in doing this can go to shootlikeagirl.com and see if we will be coming to their neck in the woods. We will be happy to discuss Pepper Spray with them and let them gain some experience with it in addition to firearms and archery equipment.
Steve: This has been a great interview for me. You laid out everything in such an organized and digestible manner and I think it will really appeal to the readers. Thanks for joining me!
Melanie: Thank you for contacting me. It was my very first one, and I was nervous and wanted to make sure that I was properly prepared for it.
Steve: You were definitely prepared and just made my job here super-easy.
Melanie: It was an honor that you asked me for an interview, and I really do appreciate it.
The article written above featured major takeaways from my nearly 30-minute interview with Melanie Bolke. The training community is fortunate to have talented instructors like her helping motivated concealed carriers become better prepared to manage scenarios in which force of any type might be required to secure their safety.
Steve Moses has been a defensive firearms trainer for over 26 years and is a licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer with 7 years of experience performing as shift lead on a church security detail for a D/FW area metro-church. Steve is a co-owner and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. Moses is a retired deputy constable and spent over 10 years on a multi-precinct Special Response Team. He owns multiple instructor certifications, including Rangemaster Advanced Handgun Instructor and Defensive Shotgun Instructor, Red Zone Knife Defense Instructor and Adaptive Striking Foundations Instructor, Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Sight Instructor, and State of Texas Personal Protection Officer Instructor. Steve holds a BJJ Brown Belt in Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He is a content contributor for CCW Safe and writes weekly articles on various subjects of interest to concealed carriers. Moses shoots competitively and holds an IDPA Expert rating. Steve is an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.