Bear spray: It takes practice!

We all know to carry bear spray when out recreating in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, right? But have you ever had the chance to practice with it? Chances are most of us have never practiced: unholstering, flicking off the safety, and actually discharging a can of bear spray. If you ever do need to spray an aggressive bear, wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what to do and how this stuff works?

Enter the Forest Service. They've created a way for you to practice your bear spray skills. They call it the Charger.

Picture a fake but lifelike bear that charges down a track – mouth open and teeth bared. Will you be able to get out your (inert) bear spray in time? You might be surprised at how much adrenaline this activity can generate.

GYC hosted the Charger at the annual Elkfest in Jackson (WY) recently, and lots of people -- including the many Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts present -- got to practice using bear spray in a somewhat realistic scenario. 

GYC's Chris Colligan helps a young outdoorsman practice his quick-draw bear spray skills. With inert bear spray donated by Counter Assault. (Photo GYC.)

GYC's Chris Colligan helps a young outdoorsman practice his quick-draw bear spray skills. With inert bear spray donated by Counter Assault. (Photo GYC.)

Pair this with the bear-aware information that the Wyoming Game and Fish department offered at this event, and folks walked away better educated on bear behavior, and better prepared for a run-in with a bear.

Be sure to not only carry bear spray - but know how to use it as well. And educate yourself on bear behavior and how to avoid bear encounters. A big thank you to Counter Assault Bear Spray for providing inert bear spray for people to practice with.

Hosting the Charger is part of GYC's work to keep people safe, and grizzly bears alive and wild. To learn more, read about the top 10 things we've done to keep bears alive. Thank you for supporting our work!

-- Mac Dukart, Teton Outreach Associate