Living with concealed carry: footwear
In this new series of installments, I’ll cover topics related to what one might call defensive living. It may sound strange, but think of it as taking the principles of defensive driving, if you’ve ever taken such a course, and applying them to navigating through life.
In defensive driving, one learns to never assume things will go as expected on the road. Just because that left turn is protected doesn’t mean a car won’t be zooming through the red light. The fact that roads were dry in the morning doesn’t mean you’ll not need to be prepared for snow or rain at quitting time … and so on.
Sometimes, this series might include product reviews and recommendations. Sometimes not.
As I’ve traveled the road of life and concealed carry, the gun is really one of the lesser changes I’ve made in order to live as someone who can take care of their own self—and maybe someone else—in an emergency. Among the changes I’ve chosen is in footwear, of all things. It’s also a subject I’ve seen new shooters literally suffer and be unsafe with, so that’s where this new series begins–from the base.
On the range, open-toed shoes, shoes with designer holes, and shoes that invite missteps can invite problems. New shooters can fail to foresee the possibility of their neighbor’s hot brass getting stuck in a sandal or flip-flop. Unsafe conditions, to say the least, can ensue as they do the hot-foot dance before having developed a consistent sense of finger discipline or muzzle control.
In one such experience, a student who hadn’t fired her handgun in two years showed up for her re-qualification wearing “Crocs,” those rubber clogs with big ventilation holes. She’d been gardening just an hour earlier, and a bumblebee became infatuated with her. To the bee, she was a five-foot-seven-inch flower, covered in pollen.
Despite her attempts to avoid the critter, the bee found its way into Ms. Gardener’s Croc as she was shooting. Stinging began. Chaos followed. Arms flailed; the silver finish of a revolver flashed in the evening sun. I spied her finger, anchored around the trigger. My tall co-instructor grabbed Gardner’s arm in mid-air, stopping the muzzle on its errant path. The entire episode lasted maybe four seconds. Fortunately, it ended without an unintended discharge and the only casualty was the bee, smashed to death inside the Croc.
It’s not just on the range that footwear dangers lurk. Workplace cultures that require or reward footwear that’s painful or unsafe to run in make their own contributions to victimhood when a natural disaster or terror attack occurs. Escaping in slippery-soled or high-heeled shoes is a losing proposition.
Give thought to how your footwear helps or hurts your chances of injury or being less able to escape, on and off the range. There’s a time and place for flip-flops, strappy sandals, and leather-soled boots, but wearing these items may also mean you’ll be unable to perform when it’s most needed. In some urban locales, office workers wear athletic shoes for their on-foot commute and store them under the desk while sporting dress shoes for the workday. It’s a good compromise. So is putting a pair of retired tennies and extra socks in the trunk of the car, in case a breakdown or crippling storm forces you out of the vehicle.
I’ve come to love my Magnum Boots for long days at the range. These law enforcement- and military-proven boots are tough and protect me from range injuries like dropping a steel target on my toe. They’re flexible, so I can instruct from a kneeling position without discomfort. I’m on my second pair now and have found that, with the ankle-high boots correctly laced, I can even run in them. The company also makes full-height boots and shoes.
The Magnum Stealth Force and Viper Pro side zip models both fit my bunion-afflicted feet with a comfort I’ve not encountered in other tactical boots. They’re waterproof, a lifesaver on wet days and in dewy grass. In addition to teaching outdoors all day in them, they’ve been on many hikes on rocky ground, and have great traction and cushion that prevents fatigue. I only wish they’d make a wider range of colors—most models are black, especially in women’s sizes, and most don’t have speed laces, which makes putting them on a bit of a chore. That process is much better with the ankle-zipper Viper Pro I’m currently wearing. I’d expected the zipper to be a source of irritation, but it’s turned out to be a non-issue, since I can’t even feel it’s there when the boots are on.
Your lifestyle may not accommodate daily boot-wearing, but just about everyone can do something to ready their feet for a day that goes south.
Soon as I state a rule of thumb, someone will come up with an example to the contrary, so I’ll just provide the best I know of right here. Brendan, a co-organizer of and competitor in a desert run-and-gun competition, has a unique claim to fame in these miles-long, rattlesnake-infested, armed and on-foot backcountry races. He runs them in flip-flops, has for 15 years, and usually takes a trophy home in a field where handicapping is nonexistent. He’s a consummate marksman and bona fide badass. When you’re as good as Brendan, by all means, run and shoot in flip-flops if you want. I’ll cheer for you and silently pray you don’t step on a nest of fire ants.
The real message here isn’t that dress shoes are somehow bad. It’s that escaping and surviving is a whole lot easier and smoother if you’ve planned for that difficult day. Carrying a firearm is a small step to ensure personal safety, but it’s just a step. Footwear, appropriate to your daily routines and potential visits from Mr. Murphy, can go far in making a disaster or crime less distressing.
What do you treat your feet to each day? Have you given any thought to the self-defense lifestyle as it applies to what you wear each day? Let us know in the comments below. Then, make sure you sign up for Gun Carrier's FREE Newsletter, so you never miss any of these articles.
All photos by Team HB.