Safety and Training

Summer Shooting

A man is summer shooting a rifle at an outdoor gun range.

As temperatures heat up, we usually find ourselves more active and getting out 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.

Most of the outdoor shooting ranges I have been to have covered shooting bays. However, out on private property or at a range that is totally open-aired, the sun will be beating 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, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 15 SPF. I prefer 30 and higher. Apply the sunscreen to your face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, scalp, and any other exposed areas. Don’t forget 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 not only keep the sun off your face and scalp, but help shield your eyes, as well. Lightweight long-sleeve shirts will protect your arms. Shooting glasses that offer 99 percent UV protection keep your eyes from damage. Glasses that are polarized are even better, as they cut out glare.

To avoid the most harmful UV rays, stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This picture is of a painful bad sunburn.
To prevent painful sunburn and the long-term effects of the sun’s damaging rays, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 15 SPF.

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 rage, do not take water into the shooting area. Drink water outside or in the lobby after you have washed your hands with cold water to prevent lead exposure.

One thing we all hate about summer is the mosquitoes. Pack some bug spray that contains DEET in your range bag for the best protection against bites—especially if you are shooting out on private property.

There are always questions about guns and ammo stored in hot cars all day long. Your gun and ammunition will be safe in a hot car all day. However, store them out of direct sunlight. Certain lubes and greases may melt by 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 gunstocks. Further, if your guns are sitting out in the hot sun, the metal can become hot to the touch.

What do you pack differently in your range bag during the summer? Tell us in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (2)

  1. Morning Suzanne,
    Stunner hasn’t quite taken hold up here yet! We had a couple inches of snow just the other day but its gone now. I would add that going to the range in the summer may also be impacted by the time of day.
    As all the things you have brought out in your post are important and should be in any shooters possibles bag. I would suggest that one avoid the 10 to 2 high point of the day and instead shoot in the morning or late afternoon or evenings. In this way avoiding the most intense sun of the day and often the most populated time on a summer range.
    With the increased sun hours (up to 22 1/2 were i’m at and it never really gets dark at all for several months!)we get here in Alaska and the cooler summer temps.(average is between 68 an 74 for the most part) its not so bad but as the higher latitudes act like hight altitudes one can get a very sever sunburn or eye damage much quicker than in the lower 48. As there is less atmosphere to filter the sun. Hats with brims, excellent sun glasses, where a light weight long sleeve shirt are important. If you have a sun shade for your mounted optics I’d suggest you get it out, dust it off, and use it in the summer. You will be amazed at the increased comfort of shooting with optics on a bright sunny day with a shade on.
    One might also consider going to the range only in the hours of the day that they will be hunting. Sort of an acclamation of sun position, temp, and so forth. Many creatures are up early and active, go to ground mid morning, up again late afternoon and active thur the evening. Sort of an acclamation of your area hunting conditions. Temperature and direct sun can have an extreme effect on accuracy and ones shooting ability. Just saying. . . .
    As you suggest, lubricants are important. Choose carefully what you use and trailer it to where your shooting environment is located. If your using open sights check to make sure that they are “sight black” with no reflecting surfaces this will give you an undisturbed sight picture in bright light.
    Remember, in the heat of summer a platform may well shoot differently due to the increased heat and humidity. One may even find a platform or two that can’t be shot well at all in these summer conditions up in winter shoots great. Don’t get angry, stop and hive some thought to what going on. You may, as I do, have a winter only platform that is relegated to that season. So don’t get pissed off and get rid of it. Sometimes it just the way it is. There are things that one may try and correct for this, composite stocks, freeing the barrel from the stock, even something as simple as an ammunition change can be the answer.
    A last thought, should you be just going out to the quarry or a back road for an afternoon of safe fun consider taking a couple of your lawn chairs and your deck umbrella with you, might be a bit of a pain but may also increase the time your out in the sun if you have a way to get out of it. Again, . . . just saying . . .
    Fishing season is here in the AK, the spring King Salmon are running and its shaping up to be a nice summer here. I’mI off to the range to unlimber the 454 Cowsell and the 12ga. for fishing season. The first float trip is planed for this next week. Safe range and field time to you all. Hope some of you may find yourself up here at some point in the future. If you are put out a “holler” on one of the posts.
    Thanks again for a good read Suzanne! Always a pleasure!

  2. this is a TIP i pick up from a fishing magazine . hang a DRYER SHEET FROM YOU BELT [if you don’t know what i’am talking about ask your wife or whoever does your laundry] i didn’t belive this till i tried it IT WORKS now i keep a few sheets in a small zip baggie in my shooting bag and if those pesky thing are out hanging my dryer sheet is the first thing i do ! ! ! ! ! ! !

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