Safety and Training

Throwback Thursday: Five Tips for Staying Cool at the Shooting Range

Picture shows the inside of an outside shooting range looking down range at black and white targets.

Are you a member of a private, or open gun range or do you have your own gun range? If you shoot regularly at a primitive gun range—one without shelter, a clubhouse or designated shooting bays—there are ways to make your day at the range safer and more comfortable with these five tips. Remember, always follow the four golden rules of firearm safety!

1. Stay Hydrated

Even if you are not doing anything strenuous, there is still the possibility of becoming dehydrated. If you feel thirsty, you might already be on your way to dehydration. Sip cool water and sports drinks periodically—before feeling thirsty—to stay hydrated. Wearing a wide-mouth camelback hydration pack keeps your hands free and will keep you cooler if you stick ice in it. Further, keep drinks in an ice-filled cooler. Not only will you have refreshing cold water, but also dipping a bandana and wearing it around your neck or head will cool you down.

2. Eat High-Energy Snacks

Being in the heat is exhausting. Keep your energy up by packing high-energy, high-protein snacks such as salted mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, protein bars, and apples with peanut butter. The salt content of the mixed nuts and sunflower seeds will replenish the electrolytes you lose through sweating.

3. Stay in the Shade

Take a pop-up sun shelter with you or a tarp and bungee cords to create a shady area where you stand to shoot. Fold-up camp chairs provide a comfy place to sit to take breaks. Frequent breaks sitting down in the shade, eating a snack and drinking some water helps prevent heat exhaustion. Battery operated fans, even little dollar store handheld ones, will circulate air and keep your face cooler.

4. What to Wear

Wearing a light-colored, loose-fitting long-sleeved cotton t-shirt or a long-sleeved t-shirt in a moisture wicking fabric will help prevent sunburn. The sun does penetrate certain materials, so slather up with sunscreen all over before getting dressed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your face. Closed-toed shoes are necessary to prevent burns from hot brass and bug bites. You should wear pants tucked into boots in chigger- and tick-prone areas. Spray bug spray containing DEET on exposed skin and your clothes. I like Repel Sportsmen Max or Deep Woods OFF.

Pick the right type of shooting glasses for your environment. Basic sunglasses will work; however, many of the cheaper brands do not provide enough UV protection or have scratch-resistant lenses. Smoke-or gray-colored lenses reduce glare and are great for bright sun. Make sure to buy a pair that provides adequate protection from the sun’s rays.

5. Prevent Fires

While, I personally believe the risk of fires from shooting steel core ammunition is exaggerated, there is a slight possibility that very dry brush can ignite from sparks when shooting certain types of ammunition. Certainly, tracers can and will start fires. If any of you were at Wyandotte, Oklahoma in 2011 for O.F.A.S.T.S., you know exactly what I am talking about. It is better to be safe than sorry, so do not shoot tracers when your area is under open flame restrictions or a burn ban. Keep a large bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy to put out any accidental fires.

Do you have your own shooting range? Tell us how you have made it safe and more comfortable in the comment section.


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Comments (5)

  1. My Lady friend’s dog Maxie’s Vet, showed me a trick to Rapid Dissipation of Heat. Is to apply Rubbing Alcohol to Pads of Feet and Inside Exposed Skin Surface of Ears. As the Rubbing Alcohol evaporates it Mimics a Placebo Effect of Fooling the Body it’s time to Cool Down…

  2. The best thing I have found for keeping cool at a local outdoor range in Texas is the Frog Toggs “Chilly Towel” which you wet with water. There are several brands on the market that will work. These towels hold a lot of water and evaporation cools the towel, which I wear around my neck. When the heat builds in my body, I wipe the towel over my face and arms.

  3. My tip for safety at an unsupervised range is to talk to the other shooters. It makes it easier, if one of you needs a cease fire to check or change targets or to go downrange for any reason, to inform the others and get there agreement, if you have established some communication first. Don’t be afraid to confirm with each shooter that they are aware that you or someone else is going downrange, and agree on how to make weapons safe during this period. Also get agreement, when it is time to go hot again.

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