I wrote an article about shooting in the hot summer months in May 2013. The advice still stands. As temperatures heat up, we often find ourselves more active and going outdoors more. We start spending more time outside enjoying the sun and, hopefully, going to the gun range more frequently. If you shoot at an outdoor range, you will want to pack a few extra items in your range bag to prevent sun damage, dehydration and itchy bug bites. Here are some important considerations for summer shooting.
Protect from Sun Damage
Most of the outdoor shooting ranges I frequent have covered shooting bays. However, out on private property or at a range that is totally open-aired, the sun will beat down on you. Depending on the time of day and how fair-skinned you are, it can take only a few minutes to sunburn. To prevent painful sunburn and the long-term effects of the sun’s damaging rays, the Skin Cancer Foundation and American Academy of Dermatology recommend wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Apply the sunscreen to your face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, scalp and any other exposed areas. Remember the tips of your ears or your delicate lips. I always wear lip balm containing SPF. Reapply every two hours, especially if you are sweating.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face and scalp and help shield your eyes. Lightweight, long-sleeve shirts will protect your arms. Shooting glasses with 99 percent UV protection help keep your eyes from sun damage. Polarized glasses are even better because they reduce glare.
To avoid the most harmful UV rays, stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Staying hydrated is important throughout the year. Take a few bottles of water with you and take drinking breaks before you feel thirsty. If you feel thirsty, you are already on your way to dehydration. If you are shooting at an indoor range, do not take water into the shooting area. Drink water outside or in the lobby after washing your hands with cold water to prevent lead exposure.
Avoid Insect Bites
One thing we all hate about summer is the mosquitos. Pack some bug spray that contains DEET in your range bag for the best protection against bites.
Hot Cars, Guns and Ammo
There are always questions about guns and ammo stored in hot cars all day. They will be safe in a hot car all day. However, store them out of direct sunlight. Certain lubes and greases may melt with rising temperatures. Double-check your gun before shooting to make sure it has not run dry. Keep an all-weather grease, oil or lubricant with you in case your firearm needs extra.
High heat over long periods can affect the powder in ammunition, so rotate through the ammo you keep in the car or take just what you plan to shoot.
During these summer months, throw in a few hand towels and some shooting gloves, just in case of excessive sweating. The moisture from your hands may erode certain gun stocks. Furthermore, if your guns are sitting out in the hot sun, the metal can become hot to the touch and possibly burn bare skin.
Summer Shooting Requires:
- Head protection, such as a hat or cap
- Good sunglasses
Do you enjoy summer shooting? What do you pack differently in your range bag during the summer? Tell us in the comments section.