I’ll bet you have a dozen weapons within a few steps of where you are right now.  No, I don’t mean just firearms, though if you have a dozen guns within reach at all times, you don’t have to bother reading the rest of this article.

The world is positively full of weapons you can instantly improvise from whatever is nearby.  I don’t mean like the movie Home Alone (though there were many ingenious improvised weapons there).  I mean things you can use for close-in fighting with less than a minute of preparation.

Do you have a purse handy?  Here are some of the non-gun weapons you might find in it:

  • Metal nail file.  If it doesn’t have a point, breaking it in half might create one.
  • Comb.  Use to poke, stab, or scratch, especially at the eyes.
  • Change purse.  If it is full of coins, it will make a good swinging impact weapon if wrapped in a scarf or dropped in a sock.
  • Lipstick.  Depending on the style of the case, this could deliver concentrated force to any vulnerable area of the body.
  • Pen or pencil.  Use like a Persuader.  If you haven[t had Persuader training, use it to stab vulnerable targets like the inside of the thigh, the groin, or the head.
  • Keys.  These can make good force-augmenters.  Just don’t put the keys between your fingers like porcupine quills – if he grabs your hand and squeezes, you will be in more pain than you were about to deliver to him.

What if you are cooking when Mr. Monster comes through the door?  This is too easy!  Any kitchen offers a smorgasbord of improvised weapons, starting, of course, with  knives and forks.  If you have hot salsa or pepper sauce handy, you have a mild, but still usable, form of OC.  But suppose you are far from the knife drawer because you are busy preparing scrambled eggs.  You could throw the egg mixture in his face, and follow up with whatever implement (fork, egg beater, spatula) you have in hand.  Kitchens are full of various liquids that can be thrown in Mr. Monster’s eyes, and long, sharp things that can augment the striking power of one lone female.

What if you are doing the couch potato thing when suddenly called upon to defend yourself?  Well, a TV remote, shoved sharply into a throat or groin, can get you out of a lot of trouble.  A VCR tape box has corners sharp enough to hurt.  If you are having a cup of tea while you watch TV, both the tea (thrown in the eyes) and the cup (if it is breakable into shards) can be weapons.  Bottled water or beer is even better – instead of throwing it, punch him in the gut, HARD, with the pointed end of the bottle.  (I know a guy who did this to another guy with a beer bottle in a bar fight.  He said the poor fellow doubled over so fast, he couldn’t even pull the bottle back.)

If you are petting your cat or little dog, heave Bootsie or Fido at your attacker – it will be unexpected, and with any luck, all 20  claws will instantly be deployed.

If you have a minute to get prepared (which is not unrealistic if you hear Mr. Monster breaking in), you can fashion a darn good “club” from anything heavy (candle, massager, photo in a heavy frame, . . .) that you can put in the toe of a pair of pantyhose or tie in the center of a scarf or drop in the leg of a pair of jeans that is tied at the bottom.  Just heft it and swing it as hard as you can.

What about weapons you are wearing?  A belt with a buckle can be wrapped around the hand to deliver blows; shoes, whether worn or taken off to be used in the hand, can be quite effective.  Got a barette? Then you’ve got a scratch, scrape, and stab weapon.

Let’s say you are sitting on a park bench reading People magazine when Randy the Rapist decides you look like his next victim.  Roll the magazine up tightly, and you have a wonderful weapon for striking the groin, throat, or eyes.

OK, let’s make this one really difficult.  You are in the shower when you hear someone breaking into your home!   No time to do anything but lock the bathroom door and prepare to defend yourself if he comes through it.  What would you prepare?  Forget putting a towel around yourself – this is no time for modesty.  Toss a big bar of soap or a container of shampoo in the center of that towel, twist it, and you have a club to swing.  Or swing your hairdryer by the cord.  Got a condom?  Use it to construct a makeshift slingshot with anything that is heavy and small.  A razor might not be very helpful (they don’t call them “safety” razors for nothing), but a comb, hair pick, hair curler, or makeup brush can help to deliver a dandy punch.  And the liquids at hand to throw into eyes (nail polish remover, shampoo, hair color) is almost endless.

I read a book recently wherein the heroine, an elderly woman with poor eyesight, unpinned a brooch from her dress and used the sharp pin to thrust energetically at her assailant’s eyes.  That’s quick thinking!  Actually, that fictional heroine might have been better off dragging or scraping the pin on her attacker, particularly if she could not reach a target as vulnerable as the eyes.

The list of things that can be used as weapons is truly as long and varied as the human imagination.  The limiting factor in unexpected situations requiring sudden defensive action is not the availability or unavailability of weapons, but rather the knowledge of what makes a good target and the willingness to use whatever is at hand with vigor!

This article first appeared in the Nov-Dec 1997 issue of Women&Guns magazine.  Copyright (c) 1997 Lyn Bates